How I Bought a $19 Million House (in a sense)

August 31, 2010
The Joys of Home Ownership

"The Joys of Home Ownership"

Fans of Westside Shadow Buyer, and they are legion, have followed the saga of the Shadowbuyer family since 2009.  As I wrote from the get-go, I am real, but I’m not a realtor.  And, real people have to deal with the realities of life.  Fortunately, my reality is pretty great.

After exhibiting extreme patience (and comparative, but not extreme frugality) for nearly 10 years, my reality in the last couple of years has pointed to, “it’s time to buy a home in Los Angeles.”   I managed to miss the last couple of  years of economic badness that has hurt so many recent home buyers, and to keep dry and ready a nice chunk of money.

So, when it came time to buy  something, I figured I’d be good to go.

Ah, so naive. Read the rest of this entry »


The Quickening – Shadowbuyers in Escrow!

February 27, 2010
Thanks to

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

The Shadowbuyer family considered its rental home possibilities one evening a couple of weeks back, with the help of Westside Rentals.  It was truly depressing to see the available options in the single-family residence section in our price range.  Then, as determined as ever to get out of our current rental before Shadowbaby #2 makes his debut this summer, and accepting that a new rental was off the table, we broadened the list of neighborhoods in which we might buy.

That’s when it happened.  On a virtual flyover of the westside, from La Cienega to the sea, and from Mulholland to LAX, we spotted something interesting.  It was in a neighborhood that we both knew and liked, but hadn’t really considered previously.  It was an unspoiled example of an architectural style that at least one of us loves.  It checked almost all the boxes on our must list – bedrooms, bathrooms, parking, non-disgusting condition, sidewalks, largely single-level, kid-safe yard, caffeine proximity, and so on.

The following day, I gave it a drive by, fully expecting it NOT to live up to the online photos.  The door happened to be open, and a realtor waited inside.  Read the rest of this entry »

Shadowbuyer’s Residential Clock Is Ticking

February 9, 2010

Hello, Shadowbuyer fans.   The pace is quickening.  Since my last real post, we’ve made some progress on multiple fronts, but still have no transactions to report.

My residential clock is ticking.

As you may have read in the comments to my prior post, after the holidays we launched a 5-point attack on some long-listed homes in our target areas.  Some of those offers yielded no response, others earned us counters.  We countered on some of them, but didn’t hit the bid or close the deal in any of the situations.

So, it was back to the drawing board.

Now, I may not have mentioned this to the group, but if you saw her in person, there would be no question in your mind, so I’ll tell you – Mrs. Shadowbuyer is pregnant.  Like, very pregnant.  That means that we have a special kind of time pressure at hand.

Let’s call it the “residential clock,” a play on the biological clock.  The logic on the biological clock goes like this (single ladies out there, am I right?):  if I don’t meet THE guy by age 36, date him for a year, get engaged, then plan and have a wedding within a year of getting engaged, and get pregnant ON THE HONEYMOON, then I’m at risk of being 40 and childless, so I have to make this happen RIGHT NOW!

The residential clock works like this:  our baby is due on June 1 (he’s not, but let’s Read the rest of this entry »

New plan to turn this market on its head

December 14, 2009

At Shadowbuyer HQ, we have hatched a new plan that has the potential to turn the stuck-in-the-mud, mid-high-end Santa Monica/Brentwood market on its head.  This will be the last you hear of it until after the first stage of the plan has been executed.  Wish us luck.

Gasping For Breath In the Salt Air

December 8, 2009

Under water, and feeling scared.

This whole home search has become bogged down.  I’ve got a life-savings-sized pile of loot ready to go, a wife and daughter who have taken to declaring that they’ll do this or that, “once we get into our new house,” and even I have just about had it with the indignities of our current rental situation, lovely, and even enviable, as it may be.

Why the bogginess, you ask?  It’s the sellers.  The over-leveraged, overambitious (circa 2006) home “owners” who went for the brass ring, and realize now that the free ride they were looking for was merely a mirage.

As an example, let me tell you about the perfect house we found.  It’s really nearly perfect for us.  Read the rest of this entry »

Whatchoo Talkin’ ’bout, A. Quincy Jones?

November 12, 2009

"It took Diff'rent strokes to buy this house, yes it did."

Regular readers will note that I’d prefer to live walking distance to stuff, in a kid-friendly area with sidewalks.  But all that might  be out the window, if Mr. Drummond‘s house falls into the mid $2s.

This is one A. Quincy Jones one-story sprawler that looks well worth the drive into the clouds (with oxygen tanks) that it might require of its inhabitants.

Curbed has the whole story, and Redfin has all the details.

Frustrated, Incorporated!

November 8, 2009

This is Shangri-La, oh, oh!

Jumbo mortgage rates are down.  Lenders are opening up their vaults.  Loan to value requirements are loosening.  ShadowBuyer has liquidated all of his equity positions, and is ready to pull the trigger on a home purchase.  Whether you think prices in Santa Monica still have further to fall or not, you can’t disagree that now seems like a better time to buy than 1 or 2 years ago.  There’s no telling what the winter and first half of 2010 hold, but if we can find a place that we like, and that’s big enough for the next 5-7 years or more, then we would feel  good about getting a deal done.

So, what’s the problem?  My problem today is inventory.  5% of homes turn over each year.  We are halfway through the 1-year window in which we are really ready to buy.  That means that every 40th house, give or take, has come up over the last six months, and that another 1/40th of the inventory will come up for sale in the next six months.  Unless you want to live in a planned community where all of the homes are more or less identical, that scarcity of Read the rest of this entry »

The Doctor is in, and he is on fire.

October 31, 2009


A bubble. Frozen. For now.

There is a guy blogging under the handle Dr. Housing Bubble, over at the Dr. Housing Bubble Blog.

Dr. Housing Bubble is prolific, and does an extremely thorough job of researching and considering mortgage, banking, employment, and other industry stats, figures, and mechanics.  His most recent post highlights why we are in the eye of the mortgage default and foreclosure hurricane, and how 2010 and 2011 are shaping up to be absolute bloodbaths for banks and over-extended home “owners.”

Even so, a guy’s gotta live somewhere.  When I find the right place, at the right price, I’m still going to buy it.  If it happens that you have a home you’re considering selling that matches the parameters set out in my initial post, please drop me a line.

Why the housing badness must be coming from the sky

October 29, 2009

mountain_shadowIf you live in the flats of Santa Monica or Brentwood, it probably feels like home prices have started to level off.  There’s something to the adage that the one thing you can never change about a piece of property is its location, so choose wisely.  Certainly prices for low-end properties (tear downs and scraped lots) are down over the last 18 months.  But for whatever reason, they seem to have stabilized for a minute.

Not so, up in them thar hills.  Westridge.  Bayliss.  Queensferry.  Mandeville.  Kenter.  Tigertail.  Bonhill.  Norman.  Robinwood.  Bundy.  Lindenwood.  If you are trying to sell a home in Brentwood’s northern reaches, more than a 1 minute drive north of Sunset Blvd., Read the rest of this entry »

A Crystal Ball Into the 4th Quarter

October 24, 2009

In February of 2008, the following news about Q4 2008 home sales was released by an industry trade group:

Most metropolitan area median home prices, impacted by distressed sales, trended down in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.  At the same time, existing-home sales rose in only six states from the fourth quarter of 2007, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors.

That median home price stat is somewhat irrelevant to the Shadow Buyer family.  If there existed such a thing as a median priced home in Brenwtood or Santa Monica, believe me, I would never have been inspired to create this blog.  I would be playing in my median backyard with my far above median kid.

For Q4 2009,  in the micromarket that I hope to call home, based on my reading of the market, I predict that Read the rest of this entry »