The American Dream. Setting the foundation for generational wealth in the family. “Making it.” The symbol of true success. Yeah, I’m talking about homeownership. That’s what I’ve been taught to believe it’s all about. Seeing how both important and challenging that has been for my parents over the last ten years, naturally the idea of embarking on that journey (or nightmare, depending on how you look at it) is scary. The idea of setting roots down in a particular neighborhood is appealing, as is the idea of finally being free from the the hostility, price-gauging, and dread that comes with dealing with a landlord in Los Angeles. I want to have a real stake in the neighborhood I live in, feel like I count because I own property. After much thought and saving, I decided that I would take the plunge.
The most important decision I had to take as part of this process is to pursue the “American Dream” on my own as a single, young, professional woman of color with really no generational wealth to count on. There’s no partner in the picture so this would be done on one income and my parents or a rich relative would not be helping me with the down payment. I knew those were two strikes against me but the thought of doing achieving the impossible made it even more appealing for me. But then there’s the third strike against me–location, location, location. I created a set criteria based on what I can afford and what I am looking for. I knew that first, and foremost, I wanted to stay within the City of LA. After all, LA needs all the property taxes in can get to pay for basic services and schools. I had my eyes set on two neighborhoods, Crenshaw/West Adams area (where I grew up) and Hollywood (where I live now). A small yard for Luna to run around would be the icing on the cake.
I found a house two blocks from my parents’ house that I fell in love with. My mom was especially thrilled because I would be within walking distance. Her dream would come true! I took my mom to the see the house, then my sister Vicky for a second tour before placing an offer. Then came the waiting….and waiting…and waiting. Almost a week later, my realtor gave the seller/agent a call. Apparently, my bid wasn’t even worth looking at. They also forgot to mention another important detail–there were 7 other offers on the house. I was not ready for any kind of cutthroat competition. I had to place a bid above asking price if I was to even continue to be in the running. Needless to say, I wasn’t even considered for the second round of bids. I already had plans for the house, which included a planter in the front yard for growing food, fixing up the backyard for Luna and barbecues, and eventually renovating the garage to have my own office. It was rather silly of me to dream that big apparently because the housing market is starting to pick up again, and I certainly don’t stand to gain much from that.
Everyone that I talked to told me that this was only the beginning. Many of them had placed offers on multiple homes before finally settling on one. They mentioned the stories of crazy bidding wars, couples writing letters to the sellers pleading them to choose them out of all other interested bidders. I was not ready for that level of begging. I’m also not flushed with cash. I set my eyes on a condo two blocks from my current apartment and jumped on the chance the same day. And right as we were submitting the offer and verifying any last minute details with the seller, we found out that someone had already placed an offer. I was outwitted twice in one week. Now I’m ready not ready to deal with the LA housing market.
I quickly felt defeated, angry, bitter, and hopeless. I came to the conclusion that maybe this is not the right time, and perhaps it is not even the right decision for me to make at this point in my life. So for the moment, I’m sitting tight in my current apartment that is one block from the subway stop. That’s as good as it’s gonna get.
In the meantime, I’m staying put, because waiting (to get rejected) is the hardest part.