The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Arcadia Dream House: Part II

Where were we? Ah yes, Arcadia. In Part I we talked about where Arcadia is and what makes it special and desirable. Now on to the houses we saw:

House 1, Vermont Ave.- The first house we saw was a bank-owned property right at the base of Camelback Mountain. It was built in 1982, 3180 square feet and priced right around $800K.

A bit of the camel from the upstairs deck.

This house was kind of a weird one. At first glance it seemed pretty fabulous. Excellent location with mountain views, recently remodeled and very modern kitchen and baths, nice big backyard with a pool, spa and covered BBQ area. But when we really started to discuss the intricacies of how you would live in this house, its shine started to fade.

The kitchen didn’t actually have much in the way of cabinet or pantry space. The upstairs bedrooms connected in a line, like adjacent hotel rooms and one of the three upstairs bedrooms had a wall that opened up over the family room (it wouldn’t feel like a very private room). All of the remodeling had a faint odor of DIY (the paint edges weren’t nice or subtle, the cabinets had IKEA stickers, the flooring was different in every room).

The house just wouldn’t work for my sister and her family at all. It was a no. And a disappointment. $800K and 3180 square feet in Arcadia isn’t necessarily a slam-dunk, we learned on that one.

House 2, Exeter Blvd.- The second house was a traditional sale (not a bank owned, not a short sale). It was 3572 square feet, built in 1955 and priced at $880K.

We were pretty excited about the prospect of this house. It seemed like the traditional Arcadia cutie. It should have lots of charm from the 1950s and at almost $900K we should be getting a fair amount of fabulousness, right?

Well… sort of. It definitely had some 1950s charm.

The mantle had a detail that might be pretty if it didn't look like it had been painted by a 5 year old with a nail polish brush.

The kitchen had little kitchy saltillo tiles painted with fruit in random spots. OK, I didn't really think this was charming or cute either. But I guess maybe it was interesting? To people with no taste?

Unfortunately, it also had the low ceilings, narrow halls and almost non-existent closets of the 1950s. It had obviously been remodeled in the 1980s, but not completely, and not since. My sister liked the Saltillo tile and butcher block kitchen counter, but not much else.

Dear Sink, Backsplash and Gold Faucet, If you were a person, you would be on a fashion emergency show. One host would play good cop by holding your hand and nodding sympathetically while the other would tell you how you were NEVER in style and are embarrassing yourself. Love, The Bad Cop

This is the best warning against early adoption of brand new technology I've ever seen. "I'm totally going to have this new fangled awesome electric can opener built in to my wall! Everyone on the block will be so jealous of how high-tech I am."

It was another lesson learned for my sister. People often want the history and unique touches of older properties, but the lack of closet space is a deal killer. Or the claustrophobic panic they get from walking down the hall to the bathroom. Clearly people were smaller, thinner and had lamer wardrobes in the 1950s; it’s important to remember. Also, ‘unique touches’ don’t even usually equal ‘pretty and in good taste’, much less always. It’s not like tacky is something that didn’t exist in the olden days.

At this point in our tour, we were a little bit bummed out. Even if we could scrape together a million dollars, it didn’t look we could get what we wanted out of Arcadia. Under a million gets you a house in need of an epic remodel.

Luckily, the next house cheered us up a bit… (To be continued in Part III. When I get around to it.)

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