A HOUSE IS NOT OUR HOME
I’m not sure what exactly the theme of this weekend was, but I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities: “Jerry and Drew‘s House Hunt Weekend” or “Jerry and Drew Spin Into Chronic Depression Weekend”. Real Estate in LA is probably the scariest thing imaginable. If I watched that haunted videotape in “The Ring”, all I’d see would be spacious mid-Wilshire homes with crown mouldings and built-in washer/dryers that were just out of my price range.
When we came home Friday night, the long-feared rent increase note was taped to our door. (We’ve been fearing it ever since our building was sold to a cold, evil, faceless investment corp.) $275 more a month. Well, $277.27 to be exact. The extra $2.27 is some kind of city fee they’re allowed to pass along to renters in their building. When you’re renting a 15-unit building, it’s important to pass along every penny you can to your tenants, because you don’t want to end up eating a whole $34.05 a month, and because listing $2.27 on your rent increase forms will let everyone know what greedy, dickish jerks you are.
So we flipped through the Homes section of the paper and picked out the 3 or 4 two-bedroom condos in Los Angeles county priced under a million dollars and then embarked on our tour of terror. Everything we saw was tiny and squalid and unlivable and not in a neighborhood where we’d want to be and, most of all, if we really crunched the numbers, still probably out of our price range. And lots of real estate agents are aggressive and/or snotty, like the guy who made us take our shoes off even though the carpets were filthy. I’m sorry, I know I’m new at this, but in my opinion, the only thing you should have to take your shoes off to buy is, well, shoes.
There was also the woman who told us she was selling her condo because she was moving to Israel. The thought really made me sad. I mean, to leave sunny West Hollywood for a war zone, you really have to love your God. But by the end of the day, all I could think about was how much better the real estate market is in the West Bank. She’d probably get a place twice the size of her WeHo pad for under 100,000 shekels. Lucky stiff.
If we made any progress, it was in deciding that Westwood is off our list of places to look. It’s no cheaper than West Hollywood, but the places (the ones we saw that were in our price range, at least) were much dumpier. Also, we pretty much decided we weren’t ready to buy a home at all.
Just when we were about to pack it up for the day — and maybe forever — we decided to check out one last place. It was 4:45, so we raced across town to get there before the open house ended at 5pm. I joked in the car that we’d be telling people after we moved in, “Yes, we’d almost given up hope, and we barely made it by the end of the open house, but something told us to check it out, and we fell in love instantly.”
It was an actual house. And it was on a corner lot. It had character, it had hardwood floors, it had three bedrooms. And it had us at hello. We really did fall in love instantly. It was more than we ever dreamed we’d be able to afford, and it even had a cute little backyard big enough to fit all our friends whenever we decided to throw a party. (Granted, we don’t have a ton of friends.) Sure, it wasn’t in the greatest neighborhood, but it was only about ten minutes from where we are now, and it was close to the freeway, so it would actually make our commutes shorter. Plus, it seemed like one of those areas that was up-and-coming, meaning our property value would rise in the years ahead and this home could end up being a great investment.
The problem? It was about $300,000 out of our price range. We told the real estate agent how much we loved it, we took his business card, and then we got in our car and cried.
Oh, well. There’s always Tel Aviv.