Finding a home

October 28, 2009

The journey of finding a California home has underscored everything we read in the news.

As you know, we hope to rent for a year, as we solidify our plans. We’ll actually keep a place in Tampa and one in California, so my life will be pretty much as it’s been for years.

Except better.

After being put off by one property manager, I’ve had a house-wanted ad running on Craigslist for three weeks. Despite being specific about our needs, to the extreme, here’s what we’ve gotten:

  • Someone who wanted to rent us and our 5 pets a room in their home
  • A mobile home
  • Several townhomes without backyards
  • Inquiries from apartment property managers
  • Inquiries from Alum Rock area (we specified not that area)

Over the weekend an owner sent us photos of a fabulous, pristine 3,600 sq. ft home in Los Gatos. It was everything we wanted in the location we wanted. I couldn’t believe he was so aggressively pursuing us. In a phone call yesterday, we found out why. He and a partner built the house on spec 18 months ago and are seriously under water. They have a third investor and they are looking for a $775,000 equity partner. But they couldn’t even tell us what percentage equity that would buy.

We wanted a rental. We did not want to join these two guys in their bad investment. Lesson: if it seems too good to be true, it is.

What we’re seeing is desperation. People are so unable to afford their homes that they are pushing even when it’s clear that they aren’t offering what we are looking for.

Also yesterday, we heard from an owner in Los Altos that he had renters for the gated home on Grant Rd. that was equally gorgeous. So back to Square One.

But this morning, he emailed that his prospects are “thinking about it.” We’re back in play. He wanted to set up a viewing for next Friday and I solidified it.

Two caveats: The house is on a busy road (but it’s fenced and gated.) And it doesn’t have a/c, something M. really wants. I lost my credibility when I told him that it’s usually so cool in California, then both trips we made in spring were during incredibly, unseasonably hot weather.

Another woman I’d been working with on her fairly suitable home emailed that she had several who wanted to rent it but since she and I talked first, could I send someone to see it and decide long distance. (No. But if it’s still there next week, we’re on it.)

We still have the other property manager to work with next week, so more prospects. And on Friday, I’ll post another ad on Craigslist. We also have our realtor looking for something to buy and she found a great house we’ll be looking at next week.

I think we’ll find a home. But it’s interesting — and sad– to see firsthand the lengths people are going to to rent their places.

We leave next Thursday.

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