Now that I’ve laid bare my Los Angeles house hunting experience, this first-person series on house hunting is finally coming down to the wire.
I’ve foolishly revealed my finances and the nitty-gritty details of my mortgage application process and tried to scratched the surface of gentrification, a very layered topic that surely deserves a series of its own. Whether you’ve been reading for purely entertainment purposes or seeking a real-life scenario of another LA millennial trying to buy a home under $500,000—or both—I hope my story has helped shed light for other prospective buyers in similar shoes or better.
What it’s like to buy a house in LA
This story is part of a first-person series on house hunting in LA.
Part II:How we saved for a down payment
Part IV:How we survived the bidding wars
While I’m not here to offer my own two cents on solutions to remedy the very scary state of LA’s residential real estate scene—that’s what the experts are for—the goal is simply to share how I managed to navigate through the insane seller’s market in the City of Angels.
After sitting on the edge of your seats for that past few months, dear reader, here comes your chance to finally weigh in on what and where you think my husband and I ultimately bought. Below, see five contenders, and let us know in the poll at the end which house you think made the cut. Let the games begin!
1. Mediterranean-style three-bedroom in South LA
What: Three-bed, two-bath single-family home, roughly 1,000 square feet, total lot size approximately 3,600 square feet
Where: South LA
This Mediterranean-style house built in the ’20s features an upgraded kitchen and enough bedrooms for our growing clan, all packed into just over 1,000 square feet, which may eventually feel cramped. Though the street itself is clean and charming, we’re not thrilled that it’s just one major boulevard away from LA’s most violent neighborhood and that the nearest public schools have low ratings. The investment could pay off in when the Metro Crenshaw Line and Rams Stadium open up—a move that neighborhood experts say contributes to the negative effects of gentrification.
2. Spacious four-bedroom bungalow in South LA
What: Four-bed, two-bath single-family home, about 1,600 square feet, total lot size approximately 7,000 square feet
Where: South LA
With a new kitchen, new hardwood floors, plenty of front and back yard space, freshly-painted exterior, and more upgrades, this cute bungalow checks off everything on our house wish list. Built in the early 1900s, the house offers enough indoor and outdoor space for a family of four—but the same concerns with safety, schools, and negatively affecting the community remain as with the other South LA home.
3. Cabin Craftsman three-bedroom in San Fernando
What: Three-bed, one-bath single-family home, 1,100 square feet, total lot size about 6,900 square feet
Where: City of San Fernando
A cabin Craftsman fit for Smokey the Bear, this charming and light-filled Valley home boasts a grassy front and back yard. Although it’s listed as a three-bed, one “room” is more like a glorified laundry room or walk-in closet and the awkward kitchen would eventually need a reno. Almost as far north as you can get in the city of Los Angeles (the 405 basically starts in these parts, not to mention it’s freakin’ HOT), my husband’s looking at a one-hour commute minimum each way. The trade-off would be coming home to a spacious living and dining room.
4. Classic Post-War three-bedroom in Van Nuys
What: Three-bed, one-bath single-family home, about 1,200 square feet, total lot size roughly 6,800 square feet
Where: Van Nuys
Nestled in the Valley ’burbs (crank up that AC!), this classic post-war home has decent-sized bedrooms and a kitschy pink bathroom, tiki-themed cabinets and all. The very dated kitchen leaves much to be desired, but the living room’s vaulted ceilings, the separate dining room, and massive back yard are all major pluses. (You can bet these long-time renters will be Googling how the heck to keep a lawn alive.)
5. Midcentury two-bedroom in Tujunga
What: Two-bed, one-bath single-family home, 930 square feet, total lot size about 5,770 square feet
Just a short drive away from my parents (read: free and frequent childcare), this adorable midcentury Tujunga abode is the kind of place that would’ve charmed us in our early 20s. Though the roomy back yard features citrus trees (free lemons are the real California gold) and tons of play space, we’d definitely outgrow this two-bedroom house and would eventually want to modernize the outdated kitchen—something that would break our hearts as two vintage enthusiasts.
Ready to vote? Cast your ballot below and stay tuned to find out the verdict.
Which under-$500K home did I pick?
Mediterranean-style three-bed in South LA
Spacious four-bed bungalow in South LA
Cabin Craftsman three-bed in San Fernando
Classic Post-War three-bed in Van Nuys
Midcentury two-bed in Tujunga
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