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Estate Envy

House Hunting – What a Million Bucks’ll Get You

The holidays put a big dent in my house hunting obsession, but the market is waking back up and we’re starting to see some interesting options creeping back into our Trulia search results.

Here’s a little bit of recap of some things that happened last year, that may bring us up to now.

I whipped up a map for Sarah. She is a doll for offering me her expertise in all things real estate and/or renovation. We really want to find an old dog of a house (in one of these mapped out areas) with enough room in the budget to call up Barbara Bestor‘s firm for a hand. Think that’ll happen!?

I like to be near where the map imagery goes green! My Western North Carolina blood courses strong, and it’s hard to feel right when you are stuck out here in this arid sub-tropical mediterranean climate and aren’t near some trees and hills. The red handwritten hoods represent the areas where we would consider residence. We’re looking at the next ten years here, so we have to think long term about lifestyle! That means a ballsy move clear across town might be in the cards, depending on what is out there. Personally, I’m zeroing in on Pacific Palisades.

Househunting in Los Angeles MAP two copyIt is tricky to find a home with trees and that rustic feeling that we crave, one that is also close to the freeway for Jeff’s daily downtown commute. Please note that my map here is super simplified, and I’ve only hit the highlights as they relate to my particular search. If you are a total map nerd, you can really drill into LA’s ubiquitous hoods here.

So, here we go. Here’s what a million bucks will get you.

A WESTSIDE MODERN  I  3BR 2BA  1600 sq ft
What do you think of this modern? The kids came with us to view this one, and they loved it. It had a radical rooftop deck with a view to make up for the smallllll yard, but the monster stairwell smack in the middle of the living space was the deal breaker for me. We toured this home back in August, and it just recently sold for a little over a million. It was fun to imagine our family in the modern setting, I think we’d be happy with the style – but this particular layout wasn’t for us.

This lovely is in Highland Park (up-and-coming type area, right by Eagle Rock that Curbed LA named the top most gentrified hood of 2014.) The home is priced at $1,099 with LOTS of room including a fantastic yard to play in, plus a nice view. Sarah will like it because it is a Craftsman that was built in 1910 and of its 3 owners, no one has been too precious about painting over the oak trim throughout. Lots of fantastic detailing if you are into that sort of thing. One thing that it is missing is a porch that clear curb appeal portrait shot. The perks are in the large yard and the detached garage. You can get SO MUCH MORE for the money on the other side of town. 332 N Avenue 66 Los Angeles,CA90042 (Highland Park)

This makes you wonder what you’d rather have – beach breezes, or almost 1000 sq feet more of living space and a donkey yard?

Here is another one in Highland Park and it’s a biggie. It’s already been updated, so let me take this opportunity to say that when I see a really great home updated in an area where you can just as easily spot a homes with good bones for a fraction of the price, I definitely start fantasizing about flipping. That being said – the dude and I don’t even bother going to look at these homes. Even if the flippers made fun choices (like these guys have), I’d just rather make those choices myself. But dude, check out that bathroom. I mean, dayum. Also making his particular home special is that it is a donkey with 6 bedrooms and 3600 sq feet. We’d have room to add a whole gaggle of kids to our current not-so-nuclear family. 5655 Range View Ave (Highland Park)

So, We never really looked at this sweet little cottage together here on Teot, but back in September the dude and I actually put in an offer at just a hair over a million. Hard to imagine going back to looking at neighborhoods like this one now after all we have seen – but who knows where we will end up. We had decided that we could deal with the small yard b/c of the detached garage. We envisioned opening it up with some sliding doors and making a project space out of the yard. I didn’t love the lack of trees back there, but I did really dig the wall of ivy. It was also a fun project to think about b/c the bathrooms & kitchen needed an update bad and so you can imagine how I started planning that out while we awaited news on our offer. Also, there was this sweet little unfinished area in the attic that was sure to become some strange Betsy hideout where I would sit for hours and real old journals from 1999 and play dress-up. Ultimately, this place was a major compromise on hood though, as it is located pretty close to the freeways and just outside of Santa Monica proper. If we want to live Westside for a million though, we’re going to have to live like this, and compromise big on space. (Walkability and remaining near our westside friends can make up for that though.)

A few other million dollar options in Altadena really got our wheels spinning. You can get a lot of house for that price. See those two stories here and here.

We’ve looked at a bunch of homes over the course of this Los Angeles House Hunting process, but I wanted to document these on the blog for posterity. These have all been an important part of the thinking process that has led us from the north, to the west to the east and now back to the west.

See more here, and follow along until we eventually find the right place to call home!




House Hunting: Pacific Palisades MidCentury in the Park

The dude and I went to visit this home for its open house on Sunday. In my mind, we were just going to scope it out, not so seriously, but as we rounded every built-in planter, metallic wallpaper clad bathroom, or wood-paneled built in bar – well, I fell deeper and deeper in love.  Now I’m all wanty.

One of the coolest offerings, this midcentury ranch style home backs right up to a trailhead that leads through the Santa Monica Mountains and right up into Topanga State Park. I can really get down with the idea of hitting the side yard for a 6 mile hike. Its packing a ton of atomic quirk that I’m super into, but I think Heffe gives it the side-eye as he counts up the renovation dollars. He is always so stoic and he is almost always so right.  As much as I think I’d like to live with grasscloth wallpaper that is still in tact from 1956, truth of the matter – I really want to update. I immediately start making exceptions in my mind when I see something that I like, and since this home is at the tippy top (actually it’s over) a newly established budget amount, I’m trying to pretend like it’s move-in ready and we don’t have to replace the museum worthy pink oven and stove, like immediately.

But, the great thing about viewing this home is the new hope that I feel – that the giant sleepy market may slowly be awaking from it’s long holiday nap, and soon there will be interesting homes available for us to consider. We have a new budget amount and a new resolve to stick it out Westside. Now that I’m growing more and more familiar with the Palisades, I’m finding that it has every bit to offer us that Altadena appeared to have (albeit at twice the price.)

If we can find something similar to this classic midcentury at the foot of the Santa Monica Mountains, something that is either a little lower on the budget spectrum, or a little higher on the actual move-in ready-o-meter…. well, maybe we’ll finally have found our dream after all.


Estate Envy El Medio Bluffs

Sarah sent me a link to this home that is out of the budget and the dude rues the day because I can’t shut up about it.

I drove around to get to know the neighborhood and I thoroughly enjoyed the totally unexpected Asilomar Park at the top of the bluffs. While I sat there, I fantasized about walking my puppy to that park on the bluffs daily, and cruising around the neighborhood on bikes with Heffe’s kids. It’s an idyllic neighborhood with lovely Santa Monica mountain, canyon and ocean views. I’m not sure there is a cooler neighborhood in the country. I’ll be keeping my eye on it, meanwhile peep the perfect post and beam that caught our eye and sent me on the journey. Sarah and I will continue to email back and forth in depth about it’s pros and cons!



House Hunting – Considering PreFab

I have a gypsy fantasy that I refer to as Seven Wanders. It is a fluid fantasy that has something to do with renovating my camper, something to do with Heffe brewing beer, something to do with launching an entrepreneurial hospitality business, and something to do with weekend getaways in Southern California and North Carolina.

Do you do this? Is it normal for people to have abstract fantasies that they name and build a website for!?

So, getting back to the fantasy of living on some mountain land. Once we find it – let’s erect a Pre-Fab! Here are a few options that I dig. I especially lean toward the lean-to shape shed roofs with rustic and modern elements mixed together, lots of texture in the reclaimed woods and walls of glass! So lovely in a natural setting like Topanga Canyon.

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 11.42.18 AM
PreFab homes the estate of things
Connect Homes Model 7.4
eco space studios
jenny pre fab

The Sierra by Jenesys 


The fantasy is ever-evolving on my Pinterest Board Mountain Land Dreaming
Follow Betsy’s board Mountain Land Dreamin on Pinterest.


House Hunting – Disappointment


Whew! In the past two and a half weeks we’ve visited three homes in Altadena and placed offers on two of them, and LOST BOTH. And even though this home tour is old news… I’m still pleased to look at the photos and think what if…

Truly, I’m pushing to remain about as hopeful and positive as I can throughout this process. It’s really started to feel like a game. Losing out on this house (number 3 of 4), wasn’t so bad because I could immediately set my sites on the fourth that I showed you previously. But by now, I admit, I’m feeling a little defeated.

Throughout this process, I just absolutely pour over the photographs of hundreds of home, but when I find one that we visit that we think can work, I grow a bit obsessive. It’s fun if not borderline unhealthy, but I have no self control. I just love to flip through pics and dream up ideas for renovation and decoration.

Our friend Billy showed us this particular Midcentury Modern, and that is what steered the dude and I toward Altadena. We were already pondering moving the home search out of the Westside because it was feeling like we’d exhausted our options. The disappointment of the last few westside tours really helped me to realize that the budget wasn’t going to get us what we deeply wanted in terms of our lifestyle at home – it felt like we should expand our search.

The time capsule quality of this particular home, plus a nice night exploring town with our soon to be neighbor friends got me all bent on living in this sweet hillside community just north of Pasadena.It was easy enough to wrap my head around decorating, and I was stoked about all of the space, the night time glow of the city over the vast landscape in the backyard, and a spot for the camper, plus just the right amount of opportunity to update kitchens, bathrooms, etc. If nothing else, the experience definitely cemented a big move from Santa Monica to Altadena as a true prospect for the dude and I.


House Hunting – Things Are Gettin Crazy

I have more homes to show you, I do. Because last week, while I was NOT posting, we had put in an offer on a midcentury modern (seen here in my Instagram feed) up in the hills of Altadena (record scrrrrrraatch – what?) We were on pins and needles awaiting word, when this one hit the market with a bang. Spoiler alert, we did NOT get the other one… despite our best intentions.

I say that the home hit the market with a bang, because we were literally awaiting final word on the other house when we discovered it, and mere hours after we had the realtor looking into it for us, it appeared on Curbed LA. I’m like “no, no no no no, don’t be on Curbed, we don’t want ANYONE else to know about this home for sale but us. We had a feeling that the other home was going to fall through. That put the tally to 3 offers, 3 times beat by all cash.

So, here she is. This home marks our 4th offer. I’ve skipped a few steps in the natural storyline b/c we went through a bit of a process to move our search over to the clear OTHER SIDE of Los Angeles. But this post is in real time, as we are currently sitting on our hands, awaiting news of on acceptance. I’m not built for the real estate game. I’m way too emo!

Will they accept? Will we beat out by yet another all cash offer that doesn’t give us an opportunity to play for it? I don’t know. But this time I took a moment to write a personal letter to the seller, to let them know why and how we might take up in their house, to pick up where they are leaving off in calling it home.

This is what she looks like…. she is practically a fantasy glass ship having sailed right through the fairy tale land of the Sierra Nevada, anchored in the hills overlooking all of Pasadena and downtown in its orangish purple glory. Wax poetic much? I just hope we get the opportunity to dig into this midcentury with the right guidance to make it home for our future and our family. We are talking renovation budget and honoring midcentury legacy already.

PS. here is a snapshot at the floor plan that the homies and I doodled on while we were fantasizing. How cute right?