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!


BetsyThanks for playing,


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  • That Eagle Rock house is INCREDIBLE! OMG. I live in Austin where the real estate market is going to surely burst. Houses 1/2 the size of this are nearing a million.

    • Celine!
      I love checking in on Austin Real Estate. On of my best friends just moved out onto a ten acre ranch in Wimberley after living in northeast Austin for a couple years. (She did not pay a million for it.)
      There are so many cool neighborhoods with mash-up homes. I love the south Congress hoods.
      What a great town you live in, wonder when that bubbles gonna burst?

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