Even if you are new to real estate, you are aware of the old adage: the three most important things in real estate are 1. Location 2. Location and 3. Location! Have you ever struggled with this? Have you ever loved a house that really wasn’t in a place you wanted to live? Did you try to fool yourself into thinking it would be okay? I have! Oh my goodness, sometimes a house will just make me weak in the knees and I have to give myself a serious talking-to. It’s easy to be swayed by lovely design and finishes. But once you leave the oasis of that dream home, what are you left with? Remember, you aren’t just buying a home, you’re buying a neighborhood.
Everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences. Some people think of their childhood home with a sense of nostalgia and seek to recreate that, some do not. My whole life, if my father said “that just screams 1923” I knew it was not a compliment. Why? Because the house he grew up in was built (by his father) in 1923. You think he would wax nostalgic for those vintage details but noooo. I suppose I can understand. I grew up in a mid-60’s tract home. My best friend lived at the end of my block in the exact same floor plan we had. Not exactly inspiring. I have a serious aversion to popcorn ceilings, boring boxy rooms, and cookie-cutter neighborhoods. I love unique one-of-a-kind houses in neighborhoods with interesting topography, lots of trees, and as close to the coast as possible! I don’t need (or even want) sand in my front yard, but to see or feel the ocean, or some body of water is a huge draw for me. I do not want the neighborhood I grew up in and houses of that era, unless lovingly restored, just scream “dated” to me. There’s no nostalgia whatsoever. I will occasionally get sucked into a lovely house in just such a neighborhood and it’s a struggle to remind myself: “buy a house for the things that can’t easily be changed.” What’s the hardest thing to change? Your location.
My house of the week this week is the smallest I’ve ever reviewed, just under 1000 square feet, but Oh, the location! 31731 Seacove Drive in Laguna Beach is an amazing surprise. The house feels bigger than it’s 993 square feet. The bedrooms aren’t as tiny as you’d imagine, there are 2 bathrooms (a must in my book), the kitchen has a great layout and plenty of counter space, the living room is quite generous (and smartly mirror-lined to reflect the amazing view), and the dining room is all you’d need on an every day basis. Where this house really captured my heart was what happened outside those living room doors. The ocean is literally one house away AND… drum roll, please… there is a pool! This is the dream scenario for me. Beach-close but still has a pool. I love to look at the ocean, walk along the sand, and squeal when it splashes my ankles. But I have no plans to swim in the ocean. I want to swim in a nice, clean, warm pool where I can see the bottom and no seaweed will wrap around my leg. The pool was 9 feet deep, giving away it’s age, they simply don’t make them that deep any more. You can lounge by your pool and see the ocean! If you’d like to visit that ocean, just walk out your side gate, walk past your neighbor’s house, and use your special key to unlock the gate to the famed Table Rock Beach. The location is so great, and so rare with it’s swimming pool, that I’d want to invite everyone I know to share in that unique experience, which could be a problem, given the size of the house. The lower level by the pool has a laundry room and bathroom of sorts, but it’s pretty primitive. I’d love to tear out the whole lower level and build a fabulous master suite on that level. There’s easily the room to do that, and it would bump this house into a whole new echelon of fabulous.
The house in it’s current condition was a 5.5, the location is a 10, and since the house is easier to change than the location, I give 31731 Seacove Drive 8 hearts out of 10. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
My next featured home is the exact opposite – where you love the house but don’t exactly get the feels for the neighborhood. This is not to say there is anything wrong with this neighborhood… What appeals to each individual is deeply personal, and one person’s dream-come-true is another person’s ho-hum. I’m not into tract homes and suburbia and strip malls. One woman at the Open House was raving about how this was the best street in the neighborhood and they all know each other and play golf together. That made me really happy to hear and I’m sure that this house will get snapped up by someone who feels it’s the whole package. For me, it was SO great that I really wanted to overlook the fact that it’s just not where I’d like to live, but if you listen to generations of real estate advice that have come before you, that’s just simply not the best idea.
1873 Tahiti Drive in Costa Mesa is spectacular. This property had so many features that I’m looking for in a house: entry courtyard (read: cat-escape-proof), a fire pit and water feature right in that front yard, crisp white paint throughout, including vaulted ceilings painted a glossy white. The floors were wide plank white oak, and there were 6″ (maybe even 8″?) baseboards. There was an abundance of light and sun, but the air conditioning was running on a very warm day and the sunlight was a welcome feature, not something to hide from. There were fun “porthole” details, including faux portholes (with mirrors in them) in the pantry door, and a genuine brass porthole in one of the showers. Hardware and handles were substantial and quality-feeling and light fixtures were top-notch choices. The bedrooms were all of a comfortable size and the master suite was downright luxurious, with a sitting area, a view of the beautiful backyard, and a master bath that checked ALL of the boxes for me. The kitchen was crisp and white, with tons of space and storage, and had a pot-filler above the stove and a great island with eating bar for 4 (across from each other in a friendly fashion instead of in a row). The backyard was spacious and had great details, including numerous sitting areas, raised vegetable beds, a big grassy area that would become my croquet court, citrus trees, and most impressive of all, a huge water feature. I had to ask myself if I really loved the house or I was just falling in love with the interior design, but I really did love the layout of the house, how it functioned, and it’s show-stopping backyard. It would be very easy to live in this house and love it every day. Perhaps Mesa Verde life would even grow on me.
This house is 9-3/4 hearts (I’d like the master closet to be a bit bigger) but the neighborhood (for me) is just a 6-1/2 or so. I’m going to average this house out to 8 mixed-emotion hearts. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
What’s your ideal neighborhood? What location inspires you the most? Let me know in the comments below!
Have a great week!