1020 Las Ovejas Ave San Rafael, CA

May 25, 2008

Asking: $799,000

This is another one found on Craigslist, originally found during a search on April 3. This is a nicely updated mid-century modern house just north of San Francisco. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths.

I am really loving living in a city again – it’s been years since I lived in Beacon Hill in Boston, and even more since I lived in the East Village in NYC. Far too long; I forgot just how fun it could be. But, the trade-offs are less living space, smaller outdoor space if any at all, and you have to swallow a much higher price per square foot. And there’s the fact that most city public schools aren’t so good. So sometimes I imagine moving back out to a nearby suburb. San Rafael seems pretty nice, according to Wikipedia.

Google maps says this house is just under 22 miles from the San Francisco city center. I used to live about 38 miles south of SF, and that commute was a bit too long, so I guess 16 miles less would be better. Still, it seems a bit far. When I was living in the Boston area, I went through the classic process of slowly moving outwards from the city center. First Beacon Hill in downtown Boston, then Somerville, and finally to Arlington. Arlington is only about 9 miles from downtown Boston and less than 6 from Cambridge. I highly recommend Arlington as somewhere where you can get the real estate you’re looking for in the Boston area while still being very close to the city.

Anyway, let’s get back to this place in Northern Cali.

PROS:

The totally unique fence is pretty bold.

The kitchen and bathrooms have both been updated really nicely. One bathroom is especially nice, a mix of vintage and modern just like I like things.

CONS:

The totally unique fence might be a bit too bold.

The manicured lawn kind of creeps me out. Way too gated-community-suburban. And it is a bit small – compare this yard to 48 Whitney’s, which is in the city. Much larger, wild, and ‘European classy’ than this.

The house sort of reminds me of my grandparent’s house in Ridgecrest, CA (aka the middle of nowhere). My grandparents were amazing people and I love them, but their house always gave me a bit of the creeps. 50’s style, single story ranches always do this to me. Especially when rooms have wall-to-wall carpet. At least the ones in this house aren’t shag.

At 1500 square feet, it is sort of on the small side for a house that is not in the city.

All in all, I think the cons outweigh the pros, but it is still a cool mid-c modern, near SF, for under a million.

View the listing

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1627 Long Ave, Nashville TN

May 24, 2008

Asking: $309,900

With 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and nearly 2000 square feet, this place is a bargain. Then again, it’s in Tennessee. However I’ve been to Nashville several times and always enjoyed myself. I think it could be a very fun place to live, as long as you can endure humidity.

I like to check out houses in less-expensive-but-still-fun cities like this one. It reminds me that there’s always that option to take work a lot less seriously, cut back on spending (and earning), and still have a really great home in a hip and energetic place.

Like the previous post, I found this back in early April, so it has been on the market awhile.

Very cute bathroom. I like the black walls and the claw foot tub, although those are prettier to look at then they are to use – I’d rather have a huge spa tub. Do they make spa tubs which look like claw foot antiques? They should. I don’t like the tiles on the floor or in the little shower alcove however.

Nice kitchen, nice beamed dining room. Not totally sold on the chandelier but it might be nice in person (or spray painted bright blue).

Cons:

I don’t have any specific cons, only that I’m not falling all over my self in love with this house.

Overall, a very attractive house for the price.

Found via craigslist. Here’s the listing on Zillow.

Austin, TX (Gypsy Grove)

May 23, 2008

Asking: $639,500

I can’t believe this is still available. I first saw it on April 5. That shows you how slow things are moving, even quality places.

From what I can tell, this price seems a bit high for Austin, but it is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen in the area. Three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and central air.

It is interesting to note that this house is significantly larger than the one I reviewed in SF in my previous post, has more (and larger) bathrooms, a larger and fancier kitchen, all while being HALF the price! Location x 3, as they say.

This is a seriously nice kitchen. I love subway tiles, and the white marble countertops. Glass front cabinets and the huge stove are great too. I think the floor is slate, which I love.

I love the detail in the floor and the large old windows in the bathroom too. Also, more subway tile in the separate bath room:

CONS:

Well, you can’t see the other bathrooms in any of the photos, so that’s a risk.

Also, I don’t love the paint colors, although that is easy to change.

The ceilings are high but there’s no molding in most of the rooms, which leaves something to be desired:

The front is a little flat and funny looking. I’d give it a B for curb appeal.

I fear that this house borders on Pottery Barn catalog status. But the kitchen and master bath set it apart.

This house is “not in the MLS!” – I found it on craigslist.

48 Whitney, Glen Park (SF) CA

May 22, 2008

On the market for: $1,195,000

Welcome to Real Estate lust. In my free time I search the country’s real estate listings, thanks to services like trulia and craigslist, imagining what it would be like to own these homes. A loft in Brooklyn? A modern prefab in an Oklahoma forest? A mid-century modern outside of Austin? A Victorian in San Francisco?

Right now my husband, son and I live in an apartment in San Francisco, so let’s start there.

We live in the Glen Park area, and we love it. It reminds me of Cambridge, MA or smaller neighborhoods in Brooklyn because of the way it’s still the city, yet it’s not downtown. It’s got hip restaurants, culture, parks, friendly families, and public transportation to the big bustling city. It’s not the suburbs, yet you get to live in your own home, not in an apartment.

I’ve been browsing the Glen Park/Noe Valley real estate listings for a few weeks now. The basic criteria:

  • minimum 3 bedrooms
  • single family home

The unwritten rules:

  • High ceilings
  • Wood floors
  • An actual nice kitchen renovation (or a hopelessly horrible kitchen with a price which reflects the cost of a remodel). If the kitchen is redone, I probably won’t like it. Most look like Home Depot renovations, some sort of off-the-shelf generic redo which is supposed to appeal to everyone but actually just sucks.
  • A yard.
  • Bonus: a hot tub! The weather in SF is perfect for it, and it would be a great break at night after our son goes to sleep.
  • A large wall in the living room for our projector (we don’t own a TV).
  • I like to see a combination of vintage/antique and modern. Old windows that have the look of an old factory, brick, detailed molding and wide pine floors mixed with high ceilings, clean lines, white paint, large open spaces, and slate-floored bathrooms. Beautiful. Again, beware of the Home Depot version of this which makes a home look like it came from the pages of a Pottery Barn Catalog.

And the result? My latest real estate lust goes to: 48 Whitney St, SF CA

The home’s website

PROS:

The kitchen renovation is great. Although it’s not my most favorite redo I’ve ever seen (I’ll post some pictures of those soon) but the lines of the cabinets, the glass doors, and the ceiling light are all great. I like the old stove too. I’d repaint in a bright green to make the tiles seem a bit more modern. I also love the wood floors and the great old window in the eating area.

Damn that’s a big yard! And I love brick patios! No hot tub, but certainly room for one.

The guest room/office space with bathroom which has its own entrance is great. We own our own business so it would be perfect for being nearby while also not ‘working at home’.

I love the beams in the bedrooms on the second floor.

CONS:
Only a half bath on the second floor. Would need to add at least a standing shower stall.

The tile in the downstairs bathroom leaves something to be desired.

The wall dividing the ‘reading room’ from the living room is a bit of a shame, although it could probably be opened up without too much problems.

Take a look for yourself. If you buy it, let me know so I can be jealous. LINKS:

The Zephyr Real Estate Listing

The home’s website

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I’ve got a lot of pent up real estate lust, so stay tuned for posts about an antique beauty in Austin, a tiny single family loft-alternative in Nashville, a converted carriage house in Fort Greene (Brooklyn), a mid-c modern in Northern Cali, contemporary (think Dwell) new developments in the middle of nowhere, and a cute cottage on Long Island. Oh and I plan to do reviews of the real estate section of the NY Times. Sometimes I think they put ugly homes in the ‘what you get for…X million’ section simply to make us all feel better. Till next time…