House Hunting in Orange County

As I’ve mentioned before my husband and I have lived in Orange County for five years (well, him since April 2004 and me since January 2005). Needless to say, we arrived here at the height of the real estate market and therefore put off buying. Now that “regular” homes are in an attainable price range – well, attainable/normal for SoCal – we’ve begun our search. And what a search it is. All I can say is UGH!!!

I don’t know if I’m being unrealistic, too picky or what, but finding a home has been a challenge. Maybe it’s because we’re pretty open to a lot of neighborhoods and cities. Maybe it’s been because most have been complete disasters. However, we’re going to stick to South County, because it’s close to work. It probably doesn’t help that we’re looking for pretty much what everyone else is looking for: 1,500+ square feet, 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.

We began looking in April, I have seen 125+ houses, if not more. A lot of them are short sales or Real Estate Owned i.e. bank owned. Generally, the short sale homes, that are still occupied, are in OK condition with some upgrades: granite countertops, new floors, etc. Most, that we’ve seen anyway, seem to have run out of money or time or both during the renovation process and require quite a bit of work. The bank owned properties on the other hand are disasters! Basically people are pissed that they are losing their home and have to move out. I’ve seen homes where the clothing bars in every closet were removed ditto for ceiling fan blades, doorknobs, kitchen cabinets, faucets, etc. You name it, I’ve probably seen it or as the case my be not seen it. Oh and I can’t forget the best part … a lot of them smell. Bad.

If there happens to be an equity seller or as I call it a “real sale” you better move fast, especially if it’s in decent condition, in a nice neighborhood and priced well. It will sell in less than a week. I am absolutely not exaggerating either. The competition is rough people.

So with all of that background, here’s where it gets a little tough for me swallow and comprehend on many levels. On the one hand I feel bad that people are losing their homes, especially if is because of job loss or illness, and they have kids. What do you tell them? On the other hand, I’m a little pissed because people took out adjustable-rate mortgages without really thinking of the consequences of having your monthly payment jump from, say, $2,000 a month to $5,000.

Anyone else in the same boat? Any successes out there? I’d love to hear what some of your stories are.

Stay tuned … I plan to share a few more of my trials and tribulations. I’m just mad that I haven’t taken pictures of some of the more disastrous homes.

7 Comments so far

  1. yocco on August 17th, 2009 @ 8:31 pm


  2. Jon (oc_jon) on August 18th, 2009 @ 7:36 am

    OMG! Disastrous home shopping pictures would be awesome!

  3. evan on August 18th, 2009 @ 8:30 am

    Good luck! I’m shopping right now as well, on the Westside of LA. It is indeed very frustrating. From everything that I’ve heard, don’t bother with a short sale–the hassle and wait isn’t worth it.

  4. pittrollie on August 18th, 2009 @ 8:55 am

    Jon ~ I know, I know. The real bummer is I’m getting even pickier about what I’m going to see, based on previous experience, so I doubt I’ll have a “gem” to take a photo of. I will however, take my camera with me from here on out … just in case.

    Evan ~ Thanks! I agree, but there are just sooo many of them out there. They’re hard to avoid. Good luck to you as well!

  5. DanGarion (dangarion) on August 18th, 2009 @ 11:39 am

    It took us about a year till we found our home. We probably looked at a total of 50 properties, off and on, on our own. The moment we found a Realtor (instead of just using Redfin and Trulia) is the moment we found our home. The first day he took us out we found the home we ended up buying, it was an REO that had just been put on the market that day that we walked it and we made an offer the next day. It was the first and only offer the bank got.

    If you want to read through the whole story from me bitching about the loan process to the finalizing of papers you can check out my blog posts about it here and then just keep going to the newer entries.

    Let me know if you have any questions! :)

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