Transforming My Home, It All Starts Now

 

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It was a little over a year ago I embarked on my journey of becoming a home owner in the city of San Francisco. Let’s not exaggerate though, a home in San Francisco is really a 1 to 2 bedroom apartment and if you are lucky perhaps a single family home with 3+ bedrooms. Buying a place in one of the most coveted cities in the United States, maybe even in the world, all by myself, was a huge personal accomplishment. One I am still very proud of to, but also very frustrated by. When you dream of buying a home you envision certain “must have” criteria for your house. I knew buying in San Francisco would be tough, but still imagined I could find a 2-bedroom home, with maybe some outdoor space, and in a lively neighborhood I would want to live in as doable.  I never expected my first place to be over half a million dollars, come with 1 bedroom, and I would be lucky to have gotten it.

From the moment I bought my house I have had nothing but a constant rollercoaster of emotion. Let’s  start with the fact that I do love my place. I love it for its location, central to everything in the city. It is an old Victorian built in 1893 with nothing but that San Francisco charm we all know so well. I have loved older homes my entire life. I have vivid memories of my grandparents old Victorian with the skeleton keys to unlock every room, the large mantels over the fire place’s, a hidden back stairwell, and an attic to escape to. I always wanted a home that held a secret. And yes if I could I would build a secret passageway behind a book shelf, I am just that kind of girl.

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When I first moved into my place I fantasized what the house was when it was first built. How it must have looked standing tall and vibrant in an area surrounded by trees and fields. Who were the original owners? What was their day to day life in the house. How did it all look before it was broken out into 5 separate apartments.  All the stories it must hold. The character is by far my favorite attribute to my home. I love the original hardwood floors, the tall ceilings, the brass door knobs, and the trees standing right outside of all of the windows.

What saddens me about my place is really just a few things. My place is rather large for a 1-bedroom at 800 sq. feet, but it has an awkward layout where the bedroom and bathroom are massive and the kitchen and living room are on the smaller side.  This makes it harder to entertain, which is by far one of my favorite past times.  I always imagined as an adult I would have a home where I could have people stay the night at when they came to visit or after having one too many drinks. I would have an open kitchen and dining room with a large table to throw dinner parties, I would have a patio to enjoy an after dinner drink in the summer or a cup of coffee in the morning. I guess when you live in the city by the bay your home cant have it all because your city already does. You are forced to sacrifice space for your environment.

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With all of that said one of the best parts of being a home owner is if you want change you can do it. You don’t have to settle. All you need is time, resources, and an imagination.  From the moment I placed a bid on my place I knew I wanted to redo the kitchen. I have always seen the kitchen as the heart of the home and although mine was not “awful” I knew it was not what I wanted at all.

We moved into our home in August of last year. We immediately un-packed and then life got busy, which meant little focus on our home after those initial first few weeks.  Now that life has slowed down for a moment and I can breathe I am taking advantage. I decided my goal for Q2 (can you tell I am always focused on business) is to make my home a priority.  I want to nest, to build, and to make it the place I envision in my head. Maybe it will not become a 2 bedroom, but it can be a place to entertain, a home I am proud of.  This last couple of week’s I have started the steps to redo the kitchen. I feel excited and overwhelmed at the same time. Right now plans have been built, almost all of the bids are in, which means hopefully in the next week or so I can sign off and let the work begin! Biggest change? Bringing down a wall to make an open kitchen and living room. I can hardly wait!

Let’s Talk Real Estate in San Francisco-WTF

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Now I know I live in an expensive city. I moved out here from Colorado about 8 years ago and when looking for an apartment I was in pure sticker shock. In college my first house was $1,200 a month in rent for 5 of us to split. We had 5 bedroom’s, 2 living rooms, 3 bathrooms, a huge backyard, and even a garage. The first time I moved in alone it was my senior year in college and I remember thinking how expensive the 700+ square foot apartment was, with the walk in closet, right in our downtown district, for $600 a month. Did I mention that included all bills, even cable!

When I first moved to the bay area I came out with my best friend and she found us an apartment down by San Francisco State university. Now for those of you who do not know the area that is essentially almost Daly City. It was a large 2 bedroom 2 bathroom and we split it for $1,400 a month. After a year my BFF decided to move back to Colorado so I decided to find a one bedroom in the city. I set my budget, I wanted to find a place for $1,200 a month or less in an area I wanted to live in.

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I remember refreshing Craigslist constantly with maybe only a couple of apartments fitting my criteria popping up a week. The posts were always taken down within a few hours due to so much interest. I would go to these open houses with my rental application, copies of my bank statements, a referral letter, copies of current pay stubs, a check in hand for first and last months rent, and anything else that might help sell me. I would apply and apply and never was picked. I was 24 and had only been at my job for a year, so apparently I was not as desirable as a steady older couple. I remember crying to my mom at night that it should not be so hard to find a place to live!

Then it happened. I had just applied to yet another apartment and was rejected. However the landlord felt like I reminded her of her daughter and told me she had a place that was not on the market yet and if I wanted it I could have it. It was a one bedroom 700 square foot apartment, with a garage,  in my top neighborhood Potrero Hill, and it would be $1,35o a month. If I chose not to take it they were going to bring it up to market value which was $2,000 at the time. Now this was more then what I wanted to pay, but I felt lucky and I took it! Did I mention it is rent controlled?

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I have now been in this apartment for almost 7 years and I love it! 2 years ago my wonderful boyfriend and his amazing golden retriever moved in with me. Now my apartment does not allow dogs, but I was so in love and never thought twice about it. Well 2 years later the landlord has finally found out about our amazing pooch and I now find myself in need of a new home.

This is where the crazy starts. Studios in this city, in the not desirable areas, start at about $2k a month to rent. How does one go from a large 1 bedroom apartment in their favorite neighborhood, with a garage, to a shoe box with a man and a dog! I decided I just cant do it! If I am going to be paying $2k+ a month in rent I would rather pay a mortgage. I have wanted to buy for years and always never pulled the trigger. So now I felt like this was a sign for me to buy.

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Real Estate has now become my second job. I research constantly, go look at open houses, and I am obsessed. In 6 weeks I have placed 2 offers (almost 3) and lost on all of them. I am starting to feel like how I felt 7 years ago. That young 24 year old just wanting to find a place to live and feeling completely hopeless. I keep telling myself everything happens for a reason and it took me 6 months to find the place I currently live in, but once I did it has been the most perfect place. However let me say this market is crazy! More to come on this subject, we are only in the beginning 🙂