architecture

The disingenuous housing market in Los Angeles: What’s this girl to do?

My son is a fairly happy go-lucky boy, who tries to play with everyone, looks out for younger kids, and believed on fairness. He’s beginning to see that the world is a bit unfair as he catches snippets on the local news and is starting to understand the house-buying market in Los Angeles. Which is great, because as his mommy, it took me a while to catch on to the inherent craziness of house-hunting in Los Angeles. 

While, I’m annoyed, frustrated and bemused by this process I have willingly (well, that’s debatable) taken on, I’m glad my son can get some early on life lessons that don’t scar him. When we told my son, our house offer was rejected his mouth dropped open and he noted that was unbelievable. We felt similarly. Let me walk you through our craziness.

At this point, I dare to venture we have seen over 100 houses. We have been looking since January. Los Angeles isn’t a single market but consists of of another 100. You have downtown LA, West Adams, Jefferson Park, Echo Park, Silverlake, central city, mid city, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, Park Hills, Vermont Harbor and so on. Then you have the burbs of Huntington Park, Glendale, Downey, Gardena, Torrance, Burbank and so on. Its unnerving. And each area is supposedly the new up and coming part. And once it labelled that you’ll be lucky to spend $650,000 for 1500 square feet. I kid you not. 

You know what is the worst of this all? Well, there’s actually too many things to say on this. Most neighborhoods are blah looking. Most neighborhoods will entail an hour commute to your job. Any job: the one you have today or the one you have tomorrow. Most neighborhoods have crazy drivers. But here is the worse of the worse: the sellers often underprice their houses by a lot in the hopes of starting bidding wars. I find this completely disingenuous. Is this part of the LALA Land facade? 

Let me give you a prime example. We went to look at an open house at around 3pm. It had started around 1pm and was going till 4pm. It was priced at  $480,000 for 1400 square feet or so in a neighborhood that was ok (ish) and that would maybe improve within 5 years. By the time we got to the open house, there were already 6 bids and it was already at $600,000. Yeah, we talked to a fellow buyer about random stuff and left laughing. Do you find this outrageous? I do.

We then went back to another house we had seen and decided to put a bid. We came in above asking price. That day and night we proceeded to get numerous phone calls noting that the seller wanted our first born kid and all our paystubs and taxes for the past year, despite us having a preapproval letter for more than the price of the house and really awesome credit scores. Then they wanted us to use their preferred lender. We said no and despite our offer on its face being the best they rejected it. 
Am I bitter? Sure. Who wouldn’t be. But I will tell you this: I believe in karma and I believe in seeking positivity in life. The right place is waiting for me to discover it. My son saw the unfairness of it all but he also saw us get right back up and in the game. And once we find that place, we will get a dog and we will be hus girever family. All good things in time. 

17 replies »

  1. Those prices make me even more grateful for being a Texan. It’s around $1.25 per square foot here. Some list for more, but a lot list for less. Keep walking through doors lovely. God will open and close them for you. xx

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  2. Whaaaat? What’s it to do with them who your mortgage is with? I had heard of the underpricing thing here (more in Sydney and Melbourne than here in Tassie), but that is totally weird. Here we’ve just sold our house, on the first day it was open. We got a good price in the upper level of the price range we had it listed for, so that seems pretty fair on everyone. There are standard contracts and regulations and their offer is ‘subject to finance’, which they have up to 21 days to arrange. We wouldn’t have a clue who their finance is with, as long as they come up with the money. I’m not sure we’re even allowed to ask about that. I’m flabbergasted.

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  3. What you are experiencing is what happens in a “hot” housing market, probably just about anywhere you’d go in this country. Speaking as someone who has been on the other side, when I practically had to give away my house, you might also be amazed at what some BUYERS demand. Girl, there are stories I could tell you, but I don’t want to make your hair any curlier! This happened to me both in So Cal and more recently in Nashville, which is also now again suddenly a “hot” market. I still shudder and shake with anger when I recall, even after nearly six years, what the “prick lawyer” who “stole” my house in Nashville wanted me to agree to do in order to get rid of it, to get out from under my mortgages. Yes that’s plural because the other side of a “cold” market is that a buyer has a lot of options to choose from, so they can be picky, which is I know how you wish you could be. That way it would be a more fair process from your perspective as a buyer. Bottom line, as others have commented, is that EVENTUALLY, you will find a fit that will work for you as the buyer and also for your counterpart as a seller. It may not be totally ideal but it will be a place that you and your family can settle into and know as your HOME. Meanwhile, remember that real estate, at least for the “professionals” like brokers and agents and loan officers, is a business, and not a personal, transaction.

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  4. I’m sorry this is a frustrating experience. Last fall, I sold my childhood home ( a two-bedroom townhouse, about 950 square feet) and it went for over fifty thousand our asking price – which was already high. We got over thirty offers in just a few days and my agent basically had to give a hard deadline, because people kept trying to give offers. We were in such a good position as sellers, that we required that everyone wave the inspection contingency and we asked for personal letters. This was a very emotional decision for me, so the personal letters were the biggest factor when I narrowed it down to a few buyers. Besides the letter, the other thing that swayed us to pick the buyers, was they were financially in a great position- plenty down and they just seemed like a very safe bet. We found out that they had put offers on dozens of houses for over a year, with no luck.
    We moved to Oregon, which is much more affordable, however I’m hoping that we will move back to Southern California. I wish we had held on to the house, because it’s going to be frustrating trying to find something new.
    Best of luck!

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