Saturday, December 31, 2005

We're baaaack.....

All the "delays" in paperwork left us with a decision to make: either spend the long weekend in another LA area hotel at a not so affordable rate, or drive back up to San Jose, pick up a few more things and sleep in our own bed.

An easy choice for us, especially since this drive we get to do together--after 1 week, 2 hotels, and eating out every night, we're looking forward to sleeping in our own bed tonight.

I'd said I wanted to be in our own house on New Year's Eve--I just thought it would be our new one :-)

Friday, December 30, 2005

Signed the docs

I signed all of the loan document yesterday... Finally.

It was all pretty uneventful, although I continually find it amazing how rendundant and unnecessary most of the documentation is. I think i signed 6 different individual documents whose sole purpose was to inform me that I have a variable rate loan and the payment will change after the initial term. Many trees lost their lives for this redundancy.

I signed the docs at an escrow company in Encino... in the 'valley'. All I can say is that I am pleased we did not buy anywhere near Encino. It was near nothing, was indistinguishable from any other suburb and was really run down. Yuck.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

updates on move in dates

The plan when we drove down was this:

  1. Arrive in L.A., stay at the downtown Marriot

  2. The mortgage broker and realtor would get everything all prepared Tuesday, December 27th morning

  3. Gary would sign documents at the escrow company on Tuesday, December 27th afternoon

  4. Documents would be sent to lender & they would approve + fund Wednesday, December 28th

  5. County would record transaction on Thursday, December 29th

  6. Gary + Sarah would get the keys on Friday, December 30th

This did not take into account the lender needing all kinds of strange requirements from the new condo Home Owners Association. It
also didn't plan for the HOA president going on vacation. One other point which was not forseen was waiting for documents from the
lender in San Francisco to be e-mailed and a major transformer being blown, therefore taking down the phone & internet for
the lender.

To make a long story longer.... Gary is not signing documents until Thursday, December 29th, which kicks all the dates up, and
with Jan. 2nd being a holiday.... Gary & Sarah are looking like they will get the keys on Wednesday, January 4th, 2006.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

a photo diary of san jose to los angeles

Here are some photos we took along the way from San Jose to Los Angeles.
LA downtown reflection
Downtown Los Angeles, Disney Concert Hall in view. Taken from the 12th floor of the Marriott downtown.

LA_drive_Dec2005 003 (Medium) highway 152 exit off 101 in Gilroy Pacheco Pass & reservoir Pacheco Pass, highway 152
Sarah in the rearview I-5 ramp from 152 Stopped on I-5
Stopped on I-5, no actual reason for bad traffic, only more cars on the holidays.

Wave to Sarah, we are now stopped on I5

Stuck in traffic Beef Jerkey & Caffeine break Caffeine break, near Bakersfield better gas prices?
We probably should have stopped somewhere else for gas. Sarah's car was driving on fumes at about this point.

Sarah at the gas stop LA_drive_Dec2005 016 (Medium) Grapevine, just outside LA

Heading into the Grapevine area. It looked like it was going to storm like crazy, but it never did.

Sunset, north of Los Angeles Coming down from the pass, nice sunset into Los Angeles.

Dinner stop, Marie Callendars We stopped for a little dinner just north of LA. Marie Callendars was charming :). This was near Magic Mountain.

Filled the closet, hotel room New home, hotel room, downtown LA Hotel room view, downtown LA

Sarah's First Day at LACMA

Today was our first day in LA. I got to work at 9 and started out with my employee orientation. LACMA is so much bigger than I'm used to! 400 employees, 4 buildings, plus another on the way, and way too many people to remember all their names! I think I'm set up with email and intranet access, but I'm sharing an office with the woman I'm replacing this week, so I haven't had much time to get my bearings on my own. There's a lot to learn this week as I prepare for two solid weeks of budget meetings...I can't wait to start getting organized and use my new palm I got for Christmas! It's not even 8, and I'm already ready for was a very busy first day.

we arrived

We survived the drive down to LA. Things started well, got through 101 to highway 152 without incident, the 152-156 interchange was slow, but not unreasonably. but then once we got on I-5, just south of where 152 enters, it was a parking lot. Crazy. Both of us had to go to the bathroom, we stopped at the next rest stop, and there were probably 150 people in line for the toilets.

Crazy, the women's line was too much. In the restrooms, only 1 stall was functional. We ended up skipping the rest stop and going to the gas station 2 miles down the road. It's bizarre that Caltrans doesn't staff these places over the holidays.

But we arrived all safe and sound, the traffic broke up 10 miles down and went quickly until things gummed up again entering Los Angeles. We also made a couple laps around the hotel trying to get to the right street travelling in the right direction. Dang one way streets.

Linda, Erik & the kiddies had a letter, bottle of wine & dinner gift certificate waiting for us when we arrived. Pretty nice, we'll eat out later, we went to Marie Callendars on the way down.

- Gary

Monday, December 26, 2005

we're on our way

Today is the day of the big drive. We are soon to head down, its about a 5 hour drive to LA, hopefully we can get there in decent time with a break for lunch.

Sarah and I are both driving, with about 5 days of clothes for Gary and 20 days of clothes for Sarah. The place in West Hollywood should hopefully have escrow closed and all the stuff ready for us to occupy on Friday, December 30th. Everything kinda has to go right for all this to happen, if not we will not be in there until the 3rd of January or so.

We are going to stay at the LA Downtown Marriott. It should be close and convenient to most places. We stayed there when house hunting a few weeks ago also.

- Gary & Sarah

Monday, December 19, 2005

the sale is on...

on thursday december 15th we got our first offer on the condo in san jose. we had listed the place for $489,000 and got an offer for $470,000. Somewhat dissapppointing. Part of the reason for the price we wer asking was how much we would 'net' in the sale. Mainly we wanted $### to be able to apply to our purchase in West Hollywood. The entire goal of the buy/sell condo is to keep our monthly expenditures, mortgage payments, etc the same. So the offer $19k less that what we were asking led to hand wringing. We were wondering what our counter offer should be (do we really want to take $480k or so?).

This entire time Gary is travelling on business in Vienna, Virginia . Very convenient.

Anyway,on Friday December 16th I called back our San Jose Realtor, Brian, to discuss and he mentions we have a second offer. This takes the pressure off, 'cause now Brian tells the 2nd offer there is a 1st offer, so that one better be good and he talk tell the 1st offer there is a good chance their offer will be outbid. The 1st offer is recinded, the second offer comes in at asking price ($489k). On Sunday, December 18th, Brian presents us the offer and paper work. The offer looks great, the only real issue we made in our counter offer was the potential buyer wants the fridge, washer & dryer and we were planning to keep them. Our counter was that he could keep the fridge.

We didn't ask for the fridge, washer & dryer in the place in West Hollywood, it kinda slipped our mind. We found out they will not be included (we could buy washer + dryer for $500) but the dryer there is gas, ours is electric. So we think we may offer the same deal to our buyer. Keep the washer & dryer for $5-600, seems fair, i think we paid $1000-1100 for the pair. Now we get to buy all new appliances. You know, 6 months ago when we paid them all off, it felt very good, now we get to feel that sense of accomplishment all over again.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

we must see this house this weekend

Looking on zip realty today in the Eagle Rock area of los angeles i found the coolest looking place.
we need to see this place.

2872 DELEVAN DR, Los Angeles, CA 90065

- Gary

Bungalows Heaven

LA_Houses_Dec2005 014 (Medium)
Originally uploaded by Minnaert.
Really cool looking bungalow in the Bungalow Heaven area of Pasadena. Only one problem, it's a 1 bedroom 1 bath 575 square foot home!!! Kinda snug. This photo displays the majority of the home.
- Gary

Huge patio in Culver City

LA_Houses_Dec2005 005 (Medium)
Originally uploaded by Minnaert.
This place was pretty sketchy on the inside... but the patio was huge outside.

- Gary

Pink bathroom?

LA_Houses_Dec2005 023 (Medium)
Originally uploaded by Minnaert.
Sarah loved this bathroom. This was actually a pretty cool condo, but it was a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom. Great location in Pasadena, but smaller. And the appliances were original from 1955, see my other posting.
- Gary

Realtor Advice... looking back

Sarah and I had a plan when looking for real estate in LA. We got a couple recommendations for realtors from a few different people. We had one show us places in saturday, and the other places on Sunday. We didn't tell them about each other. Then we figured we would inform one that we would go with them. It was like a blind tryout or something.

I guess traditionally you interview 2-3 realtors when you are buying or selling a house, then pick one. They then have you sign some sort of exclusive agreement. Our realtor in San Jose did this for us. Neither of them in LA did this.

So when we informed the realtor we didn't pick that we were using the other realtor, they were kinda pissed. We never signed anything, so we didn't actually make any guarantees or commitments. But using this method forces you to make uncomfortable phone calls. If you thrive on the confrontation and those types of phone calls, have at it.

If you prefer to avoid awkward phone calls, here's some advice:
Interview some realtors. Look for the best deal.
Tell them this is a tryout.

There are big differences, we felt more comfortable and confident with one versus the other. The realtor is going to make a monster pile of money working with you... make 'em work for it.

- Gary

slow going selling in San Jose

The real estate market is a bit slow over the holidays, and we keep hearing this. Our condo got posted on MLS last friday, and while we were in LA house hunting there was an open house. It must have been a secret though, 'cause no one showed. Bummer.

It is a good time to buy, you can make a nice offer, but its a poor time to sell. Half good, half bad for us. A realtor showed our place to a single guy last night though. Maybe we will get some bites.

Our realtor is convinced that our place falls under the radar for may people since it is a 1+ bedroom 2 bathroom (instead of a 2 bed, 2 bath) place. We have a bedroom & a den. A bedroom is defined as having a closet in real estate terms. Most people are looking for at least 2 bedrooms, including us :-)

So one option is to buy an armoire/wardrobe, put that in the den and say it stays with the sale. Then the place can be legally listed as a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom. Sneaky, huh?

We'll see, I gotta go find an armoire before the weekend.

- Gary

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Real Estate

We've been so busy with meeting realtors, we haven't been able to post! On Dec. 1st we met with Brian, the realtor that will (hopefully) be selling our condo in San Jose. He's really great to work with, although our open house this weekend was a complete no-show!

We were in LA over the weekend meeting with 2 different realtors and trying to cover as much of the greater Los Angeles area as we could. Things didn't go as well as we'd hoped, but our LA realtor, Daniel, is trying as hard as he can to find us a place.

It's been such an extreme week for us! Of course I'm a total mess, and of course Gary is taking such wonderful care of me. Maybe if we get a few spare minutes this week, we can post some of the photos we took on our house hunt over the weekend...maybe...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Dispensing of the tickets...

Sarah and I are lovers of theater and concerts. One problem with moving is that we have tickets which we will not be able to use.
Hence the trying to sell or give out the tickets we have. I have been a season ticket holder for the San Jose Repertory Theatre for a few years now, looks like I won't renew this coming season.
I am hoping someone looking at Cragslist will be interested, if that someone is you, look here:
San Jose Rep tickets listed on Craigslist

- Gary

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ski bus informants

yesterday i sent out a note to my fellow hosts and riders on the Bay Area Ski Bus. I've been riding the bus for 5 years now, and all my ski buddies originated from there. It looks like I will only get 2-3 trips in on the ski bus this year. The ski season in the sierras is pretty slow this year, no resorts are actually open right now and a few hoped to. Last year, the resorts were open before Halloween.

Anyway, it looks like maybe I will try and get some skiing done down south. I've never heard anything very good about southern california skiing, but maybe I will be surprised.

- Gary

Looking for a home

Gary and I have been looking on-line for houses and condos for sale. We've been searching through ZipRealty. We just sent the LA Realtor an email with a few places we liked. We hope he'll give us some good feedback, as we're still pretty clueless as to what makes a good neighborhood and commute in LA. We've just purchased tickets to fly down to LA the weekend of 12/3-4. Cross your fingers that we'll find something that weekend and be able to make an offer!


Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Bad New of Benefits

I officially accepted my new job at LACMA yesterday after reviewing the offer letter and benefits package. Turns out I'm not eligible for any benefits (health coverage, sick leave, vacation time) until April 1, 2006. I better not get sick in the next few months! We'll have to figure out how to keep me covered over the next few months.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Moving companies

So i filled out a form online to estimate moving expenses from San Jose to Los Angeles.
Of course there are few places which will actually put a $$ online for what they charge. But I put in the info on moving, and got 4 e-mails in about 15 minutes. They have the fastest turn around of any place I have seen.

In case anyone is wondering, 40-50 cents a pound. But the movers ask kinda dumb questions: "How much does the contents of your house weigh?" Who actually could provide a guess that was even close to accurate?
- Gary

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Ring

Here is a photo of the ring

The Reason & the Purpose

We decided to start a blog to record the next 2 months or so.
Lots of new things to document, engagement, new job & moving.
We will try to keep an active posting, but we're gonna be busy.