Time for a Real-i-ty check

See what I did there? So reality has been setting in and it’s time for me to face realty facts. The first, we may not be able to sell our house in the next 4 years *our neighborhood is in a ridiculously low price range* so selling at a profit is laughable and second fact, even if we were able to sell *by some miracle* my dream house may not be for sale. So faced with these unwanted truths, I need to come up with a serious game plan. Four and a half years isn’t that much time in California real estate. When we started looking to buy *way back in 2005* we spent every weekend *and some Thursday evenings* for a year and a half at open houses. By the height of the cuuurazy housing bubble, we were putting in offers on houses sight unseen and even considering 1 bedroom/1 bath just to get into our desired neighborhood *back then we wanted Eagle Rock*. That was the old days, the sensationalism is now gone, people are taking their time, loans are harder *close to impossible* to get. We are stuck smack dab in the middle, too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor. I keep hearing my Mom’s voice in the back of my head telling us to wait to buy. Well if it were up to her, we would have built our own mini-estate on her 10 acres *complete with pool* in Apple Valley yet she still isn’t convinced that Antz 4 hour daily commute isn’t fathomable. The neighborhood I want to move into has pros & cons, even if we were in a position to buy, I only have eyes for my lovely dream house

Although I would have to paint a red door *Chinese tradition says red doors bring prosperity & luck* and address the lack of a step issue.

I really wouldn’t want to even live in Atwater Village unless I bought that house *the brat in me is alive and well* Everyone keeps telling me I’ll find another house that is better but I have done my research, there are very few houses that have all the amenities I am looking for.

Dream House Pros:

LOCATION – not only in Atwater Village *the area with less crime and nicer homes*, but within walking distance to Glendale Blvd shops, in close enough walking distance to Los Feliz shops and restaurants, far enough from heavy traffic, sweet area full of families. We have walked there often and met rad, friendly people like us! In the vicinity of Griffith Park, great schools *Liv’s Preschool* and less than 10 minutes to Antz job. Yet it’s still close to all our regular places; Fresh & Easy, In & Out, my dry cleaners ans car wash, we already know a rad couple who live in the neighborhood, the Americana & less than 20 minute drive to Olivia’s future elementary school. That has me sold already!!

1920’s Spanish style – Although I am more of a Craftsman bungalow type girl, this Spanish has the most unique features

the fireplace is super awesome *and it works*
I love the 2-story bathroom

Rumor has it, an architect once owned the house and added the 2nd story in the bathroom because there was a lack of natural light. I love the height of the ceiling but the baby blue must go! I can live with the light fixture for now.

I love the arches and Moorish details
Barrel ceilings
Not a fan of the previous owner’s furniture but I could see our style fitting cohesively with the house. The faux paint has got to go. Every room in this house needs paint and new flooring.
This huge arched window in the living room is my favorite feature.
Formal dining room, yet open to the living room so I can complete #6 on my Life list.

Small yet perfect for me *the non-chef* galley kitchen with eat-in breakfast nook. I LOVE the retro stove and stone flooring

I have never been a fan of granite, I would most likely install marble countertops and cement tile backsplash
I’ve always wanted a dutch door, which I would paint pink.
Although I admit, this is more like my dream kitchen!!
white, bright with an island

It’s an older home *which gives it room for renovation* but has so much character and surprises. The house has room for improvement but we won’t have to sink most of our money into big structural *not fun* projects like our house does. Besides paint, refinishing the floors, decor, new light fixtures and window treatments, it’s move in ready! So many sweet elements make this house my absolute favorite!

this space off the master has so much potential

SECURE/PRIVACY – After spending the last 4 years in a secluded property *well at least in our backyard* a private living space is a necessity. This house already has an alarm installed and although the fence needs replacing in the front yard, it’s gated. Our old apartment’s balcony faced 3 other apartments and it was awkward sitting out there with 3 other people staring at you. The backyard has total privacy and high trees and bushes to keep the looky-loo’s at bay. As well as, a locked front gate to stop the unwanted solicitors.

Look how happy this guy looks by the pool!

GUEST HOUSE – I used to think a guest house is unnecessary but this one is a total bonus. With my Mom/Mom-in-law, BFF, and friends who tend to get drunk and are unable to drive home, this has become a must have. I also like the idea of having an entertaining space that won’t wreck our entire house *as well as guests not using our bathroom, yecch* When we visit our friend Keith’s to go swimming, I always feel weird using his *very manly* shower so I always fantasized about having the perfect guest bathroom, with tons of towels, guest toiletries and a dryer right there to throw their wet bathing suits in.

It’s a large space with room for a sleeper sofa and a bar
I would also use the guest house as a craft space

2 BEDROOMS/DEN – Since our family is now VERY complete, I know exactly how much space we will need. We have 2 bedrooms now but Antz lost his separate office when we converted into Liv’s room and I never had an office space *I have a tiny desk in our bedroom* of my own so I roam around the house on my laptop. I would love a den that would serve as our family multi-purpose room *both our offices, our TV room and a casual hangout room* I love the layout, it’s perfect for our needs.

The media center is hidden behind the doors
This is a nice outdoor space for a lounge set

POOL/PRIVATE BACKYARD – I grew up swimming everyday. I need to be in the water. I want to teach Olivia to swim like a fish. Not having a pool in California is like not having air conditioning in Las Vegas. I have searched every single house *thanks to Google Maps* in Atwater Village and of the 20 or so that have in-ground swimming pools, this house is the only one that has all the requirements I need. I want a small enough pool that it doesn’t feel like a chore to maintain, round shaped and it’s already set up with solar heat. There was another pool house a few blocks from this house for sale but it was much smaller, didn’t have a guest house, traditional style *yawn, boring*  the backyard didn’t have any grass *concrete is lame*, the pool was outdated and lined in brick and no privacy. I even considered scheduling an appt. just to see it but Antz and I walked past it one evening and saw the condition of the house and the street it was on and were totally turned off. Now look at this beauty…

The only thing I would change is converting it to a salt water system

I LOVE that the previous owner had this sanctuary area off of the master bedroom *so something I want to do* and although there is more trees than I would care to have, it feels very tranquil. I would add a water feature or even a pond. That is something I haven’t found in other houses, the feeling of a resort in your own backyard. Although our house has beautiful 180 views, you have to look past the dozens of rooftops and crappy surrounding houses. It may be worth not having the hillside views to not hear my *eye roll* horrible neighbors.

I LOVE the outdoor fireplace, *after a makeover* it will be perfect for roasting s’mores!!

Well, believe it or not, there are some Cons to consider.

Sustainability of the neighborhood – I worry that the recession will continue to force all the Mom & Pop shops to close on Glendale Blvd which would negate the charm about Atwater that we love. So many of my favorite shops *Coldstone Creamery {which I know isn’t a M&P but I love their ice cream} Black Maria Gallery, Amelia Fitzwater {cutesy shop} and All Aboard boutique* have already closed which sucks. There still is a strong community energy that we don’t have in Highland Park. People actually smile and say “hi” when you walk past them. There are community activities *an active Neighborhood Council, Atwater Summer Nights, Trick or Treating, Christmas Tree Lighting and Movies in the Park* besides crappy garage sales and taco trucks that’s all Highland Park is famous for. As you saw last week, even celebs frequent the area and I have read that Canele is owned by a celeb’s wife.

CRIME – No matter where you go, it’s still LA, there is still crime/homelessness. Antz and I have spent alot of time in the area and have always felt comfortable walking around *particularly past dark* but there is the seedy area near the LA river that bothers me. I have read about homicides, burglary, cars being broken into or windows being smashed and there’s a paint your curb scheme constantly happening. It’s less crime than Highland Park but enough to keep the doors locked and the alarm set.

NO GARAGE – I have been spoiled having my garage at this house, as little as I use it *I just shuttle in and out of my car and occasionally take out the garbage* not having a garage to park my car seems tragic. I have a solution to this problem but it would take space away in the backyard that I wanted to use to set up a play area for Olivia.

Use this grassy corner

To build a 10 x 10 Modern Shed *similar to this* in the backyard corner

We need the storage and ideally a space for home improvement projects. Antz has always parked his truck on the street so I would park my car in the driveway. It’s all about compromise!

ONE BATHROOM/TINY CLOSETS – Currently, the house has only 1 bathroom. I vowed to never live with one bathroom again. Liv will one day need her own bathroom, and I would love a huge master bathroom. The bright side is, we could add a guest bathroom to the guest house. The not-so-bright side is who wants to go to the guest house to take a shower? That leads me to the small closet space problem. I have monopolized our bedroom closet *I swear, I do not have that many clothes* so Antz has been using the office closet well, now that we have an addition to our clan, he is now sharing the tiny closet with his daughter. In the near future, that will no longer be an option and Antz will have to keep his clothes in the backyard. This house has even smaller closets *love how economical those folks in the 20’s were* BOO!

The spacious master bedroom closet, no I’m serious!
The second closet in the den

So despite having the closets outfitted by Easy Closets and condensing our wardrobes to the bare minimum, I will be pretty miserable with the closet space and storage. We are bursting at the seams now, I can’t imagine not having more closet space in our future home. I have always envisioned an adorable closet like this one


I would love to have a craft closet like this one

PRICE – Bah, this one grumps me out the most. It always boils down to money. I can rationalize till the cows come home but the fact is, I don’t know if *who am I kidding, I know* we can afford this house. Purchasing our house was a breeze, we had a good mortgage broker, decent credit, we had a pre-approval letter for $600k fromt he bank, a drama-free closing and we were able to negotiate *thanks to our wonderful agent* so we got all of our closing costs back at escrow. The time’s they are a’ changing! Even if, we sold *which I have no clue how that can happen* we would have to sell at a loss which leave no profit to use as a 10 or 20% down payment. And even if, the house was for sale Zillow is zestimating the value at $723k. It is literally is the most expensive house on the block. We would have to be able to afford that price range and getting a 30 year fixed mortgage today is near impossible. Olivia’s school tuition/my travel plans,  spending money to repair our house to sell…we can’t afford it! I know what’s in my heart and I know this Atwater Village house is in my heart. I am used to challenges and making things happen. For the first time ever, I am completely clueless how I can make this happen. I am beyond grateful that we have our modest little house. I am beyond happy my hubby has an awesome job that provides us the luxury of me being able to stay at home and take care of Liv. I am so counting my blessings that we are happy and have more than we need. I just want to provide Liv with a safe environment that allows her to have a rad childhood. I don’t see that happening here. There are no parks I would take her to around here. I can’t take evening walks with her around this area *so not safe and full of barking vicious guard dogs* and we spend so much of our time in Atwater Village that I feel like such a poser, why can’t I make this work??!!


One thought on “Time for a Real-i-ty check

  1. Ahhh, housing woes… Can be such a pain! I can definitely understand where you're coming from with all of this! Now that I have Lily, I want to get into a house in a neighborhood that she can grow up with an amazing childhood. At least you have been able to find a location you love. And, if your set on getting that house, maybe, JUST MAYBE, you can make it happen! Hey, you never know! Things change everyday. Just do what you can, and see what happens. For all you know, between now and the time it takes to sell ur current house, you may find a house you love way more than that one (even though right now it seems HIGHLY impossible)! Like I said, things change everyday! U just never know! But don't give up on your dreams. Something tells me, you and Antz can make just about anything happen!

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