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The Real Estate of Things

This category features a few home lovin’ habits that Sarah and Betsy can’t shake. From cruising through town for a little game of “Know Your Neighborhood,” you know, the one where you roll slowly past and soak in as much detail about the trim and paint colors as is possible without pulling into the drive and totally freaking out your neighbors… to lusting after attractive real estate opportunities via “Estate Envy” to the occasional “House Hunting” diary that accompanies the search before a big move. Fellow home lovers should follow along for a look into the latest lust worthy homes that these girls are unearthing.

House Hunting: It Goes On and On and On

Remember that house I said we could flip… the one that I said I felt little emotion over. I could live there or not… 

Well, we threw our hat into the ring with an offer. It’s not very much unlike the other home on the same street that we recently put an offer in on. It’s missing a few features, namely the larger corner lot – but it also has a few characteristics that we prefer.

Interestingly, despite the similarities, this home scored pretty low on our scoresheet system. Transitioning from “meh” to brainstorm mode has been interesting. I went to view the home a second time and it was great to get a bit more time inside to wrap my head around the space. The homeowner has lived there since the home was built over 40 years ago. It’s in pristine shape but her touches from 90s are a little distracting.

The upside in all of this is that we’ll have a fun renovation to follow here on the blog if we can land the deal. So, here we go again, with fingers crossed.

Here is what she looks like.


House Hunting: Determining Priorities with a Scoresheet


We hit the open house circuit this weekend. The home pictured above is the only interesting Palisades home in our budget range to hit the market since we learned we lost out on the last interesting home that hit the market. What a game this is! This open house was a busy one, there are far more buyers than there are homes at the moment.

My approach has changed. I have just about zero emotional interest in this home, but if we live here, that will be fine too. I told the dude tonight as we were swapping our thoughts on its merits, “I’d MUCH rather flip this home than live in it.” If I were just flipping it, I’d know exactly what choices to make when swapping out the carpet and the awful 1997 kitchen cabinets. To live in it, I can’t identify what to do as easily.

But we can get into flip fantasies another day.

I’ve received enough questions about the scoresheet recently, to feel confident enough to share it with you now. I believe this has been a godsend as we navigate through our process. Here is what it looks like, including the most recent home, pictured above. Her 52 point score might indicate my lacking lust!

House Hunt Score The Estate of Things

We know that compromise is required when it comes to our budget and our options. So this list items might seem silly at first glance, but here’s my thinking.

First, I listed out EVERY little thing that we could think of that we cared about, from the Must Haves to the Would Be Nices, and I even included some of the dreamy things, eg Seven Wanders Brewing , which will accommodate the dude’s obsession with homebrew, and Room to Park the Camper, which is my obsession with our poor derelict vintage shasta camper that is waiting for us to have the space to fix her up. Suffice to say, we thought of everything we wanted.

This led up to something like 32 variables for our house hunt. (32 variables we would never bore our realtor with, but nonetheless each one affects our thought process for every home.)

After that, I made up this formula that is perhaps genius, perhaps arbitrary (I never know with math) but the idea was to prioritize each item with a scoring system 1-5 per line item. Toggle your priorities from 1-5 until your final score equals up to 100. We did it this way:

5 = Must Haves
4 = Strongly Preferred
3 = Preferred, Could Live Without
2 = Would be Nice
1 = Only in Dreams!

We each went through and assigned our own values. Now, I’m not going to hide the fact that this part freaked me out. Because initially – and probably without thinking about it too much, the dude prized his Pew Room (which he where he gets online with his dork friends that he has worked with all day long and together they save planets by killing robots and dancing the safety dance on top of these jetskis that hover, aka “hoverskicraft….“) above having room for all of us plus future family growth. Pssshhhh.

When I confronted him about this, it was like a scene from The Last Man on Earth except not anywhere near funny. Just totally man v. woman. We worked together. It’s hard to see the future.

So, that’s it. Once we had that all numbered out to 100, we pulled out the maxes, to make sure we could see a combined score that represents the uncompromisable differences between the two of us – and now we have a system where for each house, based on a yes or no – it spits out a score for me, for him and for the compromise to see how each home stacks up to others.

The other El Hito, (the recent home with the double white doors that we put an offer on) was a tie score for both of us and a solid B grade overall. So, you can see why we were so into it, and bummed when our offer fell through. We know that we don’t need an A+ because yeah, sure not everyone gets to have all of their dreams come true all of the time… But at least we know we are looking for a passing grade! And I’m thrilled that we can more easily see why when one or the other of us is really into one.








House Hunting: Onward and Up the Hill

Front Door from inside

After driving through Topanga on the way home from Soccer the other weekend, Heffe and I played a little game of guess how far from the PCH our most recent house interest is. I was sure it would take ten to fifteen minutes to cruise up the hill, but he was right. It took no more than five. And what we found up there was an incredible little neighborhood, and a promising home for sale.

The neighborhood, known as Marquez Knolls, features a slew of perfectly pristine midcentury ranch homes of varying affect. The ocean and horizon tilt and turn with the curvy roads and rock outcroppings jut out of a hill lined with the pinot vines of a hilltop winery. It all makes me feel real excited about puppy walks and nearby trailheads.

Palisades Hillside Winery

I made my way over to the agent’s open house on Tuesday to test our assumptions, and found it to be pretty feasible. We immediately scheduled a second tour for Heffe. There are 4 legit bedrooms, a lovely walkway that I immediately noted would be ideal for outdoor entertaining and it all sits on a rather large corner lot. The home is perched well above street level and some old dowdy hillside bushes. Taking advantage of the yard space will require some creative thinking. Even our agent commented that the current landscaping needed a deep rethink. I’ve pulled a Google streetview for your reference and for mine!

corner lot


The home was built in the early seventies and has a unique blend of midcentury ranchalow with a Metrie-like door and a funny little courtyard alongside a Spanish style roof with archways here and there. This mix of style has an eccentric quality that I feel will play well to our sensibilities and is decidedly SoCal. A mix of Italian marble and porcelain tile on the floor are my least favorite feature and luckily Heffe agrees that a new hardwood floor throughout is a worthy pursuit.

We scored the home with our handy house hunting score formula and she is a solid B. She will be an A+ once we have remodeled the master bath and added a backyard shed for art and homebrew hobbies.

We are currently holding our breath for news on the offer we put in. Inventory is still quite low and thus we were one of 9 offers made. We will know more soon. I can already tell you that I am wrapped up in ideas. If it falls through, there will be despair. What a wicked game this has been so far.

Here is a little tour via MLS. The pictures piqued us initially but they really don’t do the home or the hood justice.


House Hunting: Peeved in the Palisades


Dear God, will we ever find our home? I’m a little frustrated with this one y’all.

It hit the market out of nowhere (inventory is still super slim) and we were stoked to have such a classic specimen of Midcentury Modern architecture perched atop Temescal Canyon. You might recall my earlier fascination with this neighborhood. It’s got that magic feeling that makes us want to live there.

Excitedly, I went to the agent’s open house on Tuesday. Upon initial visit, I wasn’t so sure it would work for us. It represented some of the same challenges as Silver Spring – with only 3 bedrooms and no den. But I talked with the dude about it over the next two days and realized in talking with him, that what we had on our hands with this home and it’s price point (freaking $550K less than Silver Spring), is the opportunity to renovate and one day even expand! This home scored a 48 on the spreadsheet of dreams (our scoring system), but with said expansion, it came in at a whopping 96… That my friends, is an A.

The opportunity to update a Midcentury gets me really excited! It took me a minute to come around, but then I was sold and this was our home. I started shopping for our new Viking Gas Range on Pinterest, picking out exterior paint colors, and flipping through my desktop rolodex for my old friend Barbara Bestor‘s celly.

I emailed the agent to let her know we need another looksee with Señor Heffe in tow.

While I awaited her response, I paired a rustic greyish brown exterior with navy and robin’s egg turquoise accents. I wondered if Barbara Bestor would be available soon after her Lautner project wraps up, and I thought about our expansion along the back wing for an additional bedroom or three. I decided we could reclaim the studio converted garage up top and use the current master as the new den space. I picked out patterned tile for the current baths, and I started an inspiration board for the perfect execution of my Bohemian flavor in this Midcentury Mod decor.

All of this… only to find out that there was an offer deadline, and we were too late.

This wasn’t advertised information, and so I was a little disappointed that this detail wasn’t on our radar. I knew these midcentury homes move fast, but I really felt like we didn’t even get a fair chance to play. But they don’t care, b/c they have 7 offers on the table and will be in escrow before I have had the chance to pick my jaw up off of the floor.

The 1966 house, built by architect Alfred T. Wilkes has three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, views of Temescal Canyon, a two-level deck, and a pretty fun yard. It lacks some much needed landscape love and the parking situation leaves a little to be desired. Thogh, there is a garage (with skylights,) but that’s been turned int a studio.  We will never get to see this funny looking honey remodeled into our own. I couldn’t wait to rework the face of that garage. It was starting to shape up real nice in fantasy land.


House Hunting: A New Traditional Near Palisades Village

off market listing

The home on Hampden falls right into The Estate of Things’ wheelhouse, right!?. It’s recent renovation opened up the floor plan and played well to traditional leanings with admirable millwork throughout.

During my tour, I instagrammed a snap of the den with it’s excellent indoor/outdoor flow, and got a few questions about why we aren’t preparing our offer!

I’ll chalk it up to it being at the tippy top of our budget while missing a few crucial lifestyle needs (mostly project space via garage). I could definitely nerd out on you, and share the scoring system that Heffe and I have devised via spreadsheet — but I’ll spare you the minutia. Meanwhile, Hampden only scored a 34 out of 100. We don’t require an A+, but we are holding out for a passing grade.

The Hampden home is an off market listing. I got the feeling that the agent didn’t find the home to be very photogenic. But, I also gathered that this home is highly desirable due to its proximity to the elementary school and Palisades Village, a quaint little area walkable to shopping, coffee and cafes. This makes the home a great score for a family with some younguns. This might mean a big marketing push isn’t necessary.

See the images I snapped with my cellphone below.



House Hunting: Silver Spring

I can’t get this home out of my head. The moment that I stumbled upon it, I gasped and frantically copy/pasted the link over to Sarah as soon as possible and then the dude. I’m sure he’d appreciate that I toss links over to my homegirl before him, right? What dude buying a house wouldn’t?

At any rate, I needed her help, because this home needed a game plan. It was a total tease in its description which wielded but 2 bedrooms, an obvious write-off for the dudliest of dudes. He’s pretty set on 4 at this point and selective memory forgets that we once were perfectly content with only 3. But with this house clocking in at 2800 sq ft – well that is more than enough living space. So what gives with the 2br status? Maybe something unpermitted is going on?

Here’s the part of the description that had me trippin’.

The seductive master suite w/office, opens to the garden terrace with splashing fountains and lush greenery. A cozy guest suite on the main level and a separate guest/maid’s apartment on a lower level complete the picture perfect environment.

See, that kind of sounds like 4 bedrooms to me. Hell, it sounds like veritable inn. A bed and breakfast if you will.

His response was just as I suspected… a pretty quick write-off due to the bedrooms. Sarah and I plotted. We MUST get the dude to this house to see what is going on with those rooms, the photos just don’t tell the story. Here’s what we’re looking at! I’m so full of wanty that it’s painful. The blue windows captured my heart.