For you Bear Feeders who are living and dying on post from my blog, you are probably itching to get an update on the Habitation Master Plan! For the 99.9% of you that either occasionally read the blog, use it for something to stare at while on the toliet without actually reading it, or just came across this post because you hit a link for an ad of something we don’t want to know about — the Habitation Master Plan is the plan I have to find a more permanent place to live. If you feel you need to know more … I just frickin’ gave you two links to the original blog. Learn Technology already … weirdo.
Where it currently stands, Auggie T Doggie and I are in a rented house in Montrose, but the plan has always been to buy a home once I figured out the area. So for most of the last two months, I have been “Figuring Out the Area”. The challenge I have is I fall within a very hard to swallow price range. Without sharing personal financials with the Bear Feed community, I am looking for a place in a price range that will challenge me initially but become affordable as life slows down (e.g. I win the lottery, finally marry a C-List Celebrity, find undiscovered oil in the backyard, etc). For those of you who don’t live in this area, it would be good for you to look at housing costs to see what they are for reference … just don’t drink anything while you are doing because you will likely spit it out in surprise. For serious, my down payment will be well over the full sale price on the house I owned in Kansas … and then some.
All the work I have done up to this point is running the Open House Circuit. Basically this means, my free weekend days are spent in the usual pattern: Wake Up, Check for Listings with Open Houses in places I may want to live, Burn a Tank of Gas driving around, Occasionally stopping to tour a house & dance around subjects with whatever agent is there to ask me questions. Open Houses are events that just make it easy to see a house, and sometimes that means getting wowed by a listing, but most of the time it means getting your hopes and dreams crushed under the weight of reality. The truth is, the houses in my price range are going to either be unacceptable to my needs, or have something remarkably wrong with it. For instance:
- A nice two bedroom bungalow in Burbank, right across the street from a major railway line, which is right next to the Burbank Airport Parking lot.
- Hillside three bedroom, with a fantastic opportunity for a view – this after suffering a fire that gutted 3/4 of the house and leaves it uninhabitable until repaired, rebuilt, & inspected. To tour required booties so you didn’t pick up the still heavy soot there.
- The clown car house – two bedroom, one bath house that was still occupied by no less than fifteen people. There were literally beds stuffed into every nook and cranny; some of which had sleepers in them when I visited.
- The 1950’s era wood paneled everything, open aired, flat a-framed, hillside home, I’ve dubbed “The Shadow”. During the open house, an old woman sat in a bedroom watching a movie with headphones on (and we had direct orders to not disturb her). An occupant had died in the house (they have to disclose that), and her urn was prominently displayed on the kitchen table. One bedroom appeared to be used by a younger fella, because he left a poster of a naked woman on wall. Though the most memorable part of the house is that it smelt so bad of marijuana that it made your eyes tear up – the agent wouldn’t even step inside. The thing smelt like a Seth Rogan movie looks. Cheech & Chong would stop by and say “maybe you need to slow down on the reefer buddy”. Too bad they didn’t have fresh baked cookies there, because I really had the munchies. Ironically, this house is still number one on my list (and I seriously don’t even touch the stuff).
Of course, I make it sound bad – there are a few really good houses out there. But it wasn’t the right circumstance. Like a house in Sylmar that was beautiful & in my price range; but was way way too big and way too far away from work. Or the house that had a view of the San Fernando Valley just the right size for me, but needed an offer ASAP – and the realtor seemed incredibly shady (plus the house was on Badger street, so people back home may start to think I like that overrated university there). My real dream home is literally across the street from my rental – a nice 3 bed, 2 bath with a great yard and updated everything … but it just happens to be about a quarter million more expensive than I can afford (and they are getting a little tired of me peering over the fence hoping the price drops a couple hundred thousand by accident).
Regardless, the hunt is now afoot, and it will continue for a bit. Luckily, I have the luxury of time and options. The trend I am seeing, though, is that it is going to need a bit of luck to find a place I am really happy with. There’s going to be a sweet-spot; where a house is move-in ready but isn’t so nice that the whole market jumps at it – but doesn’t need a lot of work so all the contractors jump on it to flip it. That spot where the give and take is less give and more take; but not to the same extent others jump on it. Everyday I watch for new listings, every day I cry a little when listings go ‘pending’, and everyday I make a plan on what to do to search out for what I want. Every week I try to see something, and if not that, play the lottery.
Now back to the hunt.