Sunday, July 25, 2010

3103 Singingwood Drive

When I spotted a brand new rental listing of this house. I immediately fell in love with it and made a phone call to set up a viewing appointment only 2 minutes after I saw the 1st day listing of this house. I am familiar with the neighbourhood enough that I know this is the house I want to rent. It has the square footage we need. It's in a very nice part of town, with great schools and great looking streets.

This house is located at 3103 Singingwood Drive, Torrance, CA 90505. It has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths in a total living area of 1,872 square feet. It also has good size (in Los Angeles standard) front and back yards, attached garage. The total lot size for this house is 5,000 square feet. The monthly rent is $2,995.

The interior and layout also matches my ideal. I totally love it. After the appointment, I was so looking forward to the tour scheduled the next day and the signing of the lease. Unfortunately, just when I was ready to head out my door to the house tour, the broker called me to cancel the appointment because the house was leased earlier in the morning and therefore was no longer available. I can't believe it, it was only listed the day before! I was so disappointed that my dream house was taken by someone else before I even had my chance to see it. This is another heart breaking defeat that I had from my home hunting ordeal! I feel terrible again!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

2772 Border Ave

This townhouse was one of the very first we saw when we were thinking about buying instead of renting. It is detached, has 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, living room, formal dining area. It has a total of 1948 square feet. Located on 2772 Border Ave, Torrance, CA 90501, this townhouse was listed at $559,000 when we visited it back in May 2010. On 6/30/2010, it was sold for $518,000. Do I regret about not making an offer? No. We never wanted to make an offer at the listed $559K price, and we never was interested in even submitting a low ball offer to bargain it down. There is just no price that is low enough to entice us to live in this townhouse. So we passed it on.

During our drive along Sepulveda Blvd towards the south east of Torrance, I just began to develop a bad feeling about the property we were going to see because the sights outside the car window began to look shady. They aren't ghetto at all, just they aren't like those clean residential parts of Torrance we passed by earlier. The scene just started to change when we were approaching the property. When we arrived at the complex, the first thing we saw was a long train of cars loaded with chemicals passing by with a loud roaring noise. We couldn't believe how long the train was and how long it took to completely go away. When we saw that train right outside, we just wanted to get back in our car and forget about the townhouse. Unfortunately, the broker was already there waiting for us. So to be polite, we went ahead to see the inside of the townhouse.

The living room is very bright and spacious. The entire townhouse has very nice hardwood floor.
Big size private patio with a nice wood deck. Unfortunately, it's also very close to the train path.... My husband felt that having a train track so close to the townhouse was a life threatening hazard if the train loads of chemical ever blows up due to accidents or acts of terror. Besides, we absolutely don't want to live in a place that is constantly subjected to the noise of train traffic.

Dining area by the kitchen.

The kitchen.
Formal step-up dining room that was used as office.
Master bedroom, which is pretty small. All bedrooms are kind of compact.

The bathroom inside the master bedroom. It's okay in size. A lot smaller than the other ones we saw in other townhouses. I have no problem with it, just the vanity cabinet and counter top is plain to my taste. I personally hate white tile counter tops because they take too much work to scrub and clean to maintain a clean look.

We would have made an offer on this townhouse if it weren't sitting right next to the railroad track. Because of the railroad track, we don't want to live there even if it's rent free, and no way we want to pay over half a million dollars to live in a place next to a hazard like this. All it takes is one stupid accident, or one suicidal attempt from one idiot to decide to park his/her car in the middle of the track .... This had happened not long ago on a track of a commuter train in Los Angeles, the guy later changed his mind and walked out of this car, just a whole bunch of other innocent people died during the train crash as a result of this detoured suicide attempt.... Can one imagine the consequence if the same happens to the cargo train on this track behind this townhouse, which is specialized in transporting industrialized chemicals?

Friday, July 9, 2010

14144 Burbank Blvd, #3

After being rejected unknown number of times for my application to rent a house / townhouse. I decided that may be it would be easier just to buy a place instead....

Today during lunch time, I went to see this listed condo in Sherman Oaks. This condo was built in 1965. It has a monthly HOA fees of $190, which is resonably low in LA standard. From the information on the real estate website, this condo unit looks nice and the fact that it's listed for $250,000 just makes it a must-see property. I had never seen anything this cheap in Sherman Oaks, CA. Well, now I know why......

First of all, this property is a couple buildings next to the gas station on Burbank Blvd. Burbank Blvd used to be part of Van Nuys (not really a desirable area for investing a home), in recent years, it's been re-zoned to be part of Sherman Oaks. So now, this is a Sherman Oaks property that has a little Van Nuys vibe.

Burbank Blvd is lined with muti-units condo buildings, townhomes compelexes and many apartment buildings. Many of the apartment buildings are old and run down looking. So it's really not the quiet and valuable residential street. The school district is LA Unified, (not a hot school district either).

I can put up with traffic noise from Burbank Blvd and I can live without a good school district because I don't have kids. But I can't live as a prisoner in my own home where I will have to keep my blinds all closed and my home in complete darkness 24/7 just to have my privacy. One thing I have to say about my current apartment is, I can open up all the windows and see the sky and trees and not other people's windows or walls.

I just can't imagine myself living in a place where I am walled in, and I have no freedom to open my blinds. The cheap and beat up apartment building next to this condo building is so run down that just by looking at the windows, one can imagine just what kind of tenants are living there. One may ask why should I be bothered with the quality of tenants from an apartment building next door? Well, I won't be bothered if their windows aren't so close in distance to the windows of this condo unit that I was visiting.

Front view of the building where driveway to the garage is.

Living room area opens to the unit's own fenced private patio. The ceiling is high so there is an extra section of window above the sliding doors to the patio. However I don't think that section is too practical because when the blinds are open above, the neighbours living in the next beat up apartment building can see the entire living room and also the step-up dining area in close proximity. I am not sure anyone who lives in this unit would like to have the blinds on top open. If only they had sealed up that section of the wall up to the ceiling, I would like this unit better.

Step-up dining area and open kitchen. All the kitchen appliances are gutted and taken away by the owner. The first floor is all bamboo floor. It's a bit dirty and there is some tear and wear, but it's one of the kinds of floor that I like. The kitchen has nice cabinets, granite counter tops and stainless steel double sink. This is another plus, but then the kitchen window is too close to the condo neighbour across. Again, makes me feel there is no privacy and too claustrophic.

The second bedroom. The size is reasonbly good for similar condo units I had seen. Unfortunately, the window of the bedroom opens right next to the beatup apartment building next door. Anyone who lives there and any of the visitors of the tenants there will have a very close view of the bedroom, whether they stay in their units or they walk up and down the stairways to and from their units. What homeowners want to put up with traffic of an extra apartment building where they don't even live in? There is a lack of privacy issue here. I just can't see myself closing the blinds 24/7 and make myself a prisoner of my own home. Both the master bedroom and this bedroom has berber carpet.

The bathroom inside the master bedroom. This bathroom is very spacious that has nice size bathtub, a separate shower stall, nice granite coutner tops with double sinks and very nice carbinet. There is also a huge walk in closet in this spacious bathroom. There is another smaller full bathroom in the hallway outside the master bedroom, and a 1/2 bathroom (without bathtub or shower but with laundry hookups downstairs). All bathrooms have nice counter tops and nice travertine floors. I like the bathrooms number and also their condition.

The unit has its own 2 cars garage with storage inside. The garage is of reasonably good size. Just it's not attached to the interior of the unit. There is a separate entrace outside next to the main entrace to the unit that goes down to the garage. I prefer attached garage. Above the garage is the master bedroom. The master bedroom is spacious but there is a door opens out to the connected hallway (balcony) that connects all units' master bedrooms in the building. (Look on the top of the picture). Again, there is a privacy problem for me because the master bedroom's only window opens to this connected wrap around common hallway of the building. I just can't tolerate neighbours or traffic passing through my bedroom window. What homeowners want all this traffic right outside their bedroom and the fact that they have to keep the blind closed 24/7 to maintain privacy? This is the biggest turn off for me. Besides the traffic, neighbours inside the condo units across the connected hallway, can also see into the master bedroom within close proxmity. Beyond them, tenants in that beatup apartment building next door can also have a very clear view of the master bedroom interior in close proximity. This condo building is very small and is right next to this beatup apartment. Privacy is a huge issue.

I wish this condo building wasn't next to a beat up apartment building. I wish this condo unit wasn't so walled in and surrounded by neighbour's close scrunity. I wish this condo building wasn't so close to the gas station. I certainly won't want to buy it at $250,000. I rather add another $250,000 to buy another townhouse that is bigger, in a nicer area and that has more privacy. But does a townhouse / house like this exist in Los Angeles?