August 12, 2010

House Stalk Talk

Hey everyone, as many of you know my weekend hobby is to stalk real estate. If you only saw my collection of house fliers you'd shake your head. lol My cousin was in my car and he's like WTF.
I collect them like I collected Pokemon cards as a kid. :-)

I have Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams.
Now that I'm a bit older, I realize how my life priorities have changed. I always though it was an "old people" thing to get excited over home decor. I never understood it. My mom loves to decorate, and I found it super boring while I was living at home. Now-a-days it's not the only home decor that I've gained interest in, it's the home itself! There's nothing I want more right now than to live in a gorgeous home (note I did not say own). Part of me wants to sell off everything I own to save up to live in that future house. Before this year, my life goal was to hoard and buy all the things I want (that I could afford). I'm sure many of you girls are at that stage of your life. Your goal may be to collect as many MAC lipsticks as possible, or collect as many cute pairs of shoes as possible. But if you put into many lipsticks that you actually you actually use? -.-
And some shoes go out of style...sitting on your shoe rack, or in your donation box.

I'm at that stage of my life where I want to have few quality things.
I think I've also over cluttered my life and my apartment that I'm just stressed and tired of walking into a room full of stuff. As of right now we have a bookcase FULL of books, binders, and magazines! Looking at it makes me dizzy. The whole idea of having a library is really intellectually romantic, but moving the books to that future library location is not so romantic.
I think I want to get a kindle, but then again...getting a kindle would add one more item to my clutter. FML sometimes.

I tell my mom about my house stalking every other day. lol She thinks Seattle, Bellevue is way overpriced and tells me to save my money and invest in homes in CA (where she wants to retire surprise, surprise). 75% of my relatives on both mom and dad's side live in California. My dream in college was to graduate and move to CA. Mr.BF side tracked my plans and now I've invested part of the 22nd & 23rd year of my life in Seattle, WA.

I usually drive around like a crazy person (back and forth to get on the right side of the road to pick up those fliers! ^_^) through Medina, WA & Clyde Hill, WA both of which are neighboring "cities" to hunt for homes that are for sale, not to be confused with "on sale" (I wish). I consider Medina the "Beverly Hills" of homes in Washington. Medina lies right along Lake Washington right across from Seattle. Medina & Clyde Hill are both part of Bellevue (area code 98004 one of the most affluent in all of the US). Bellevue, WA has more jobs than it does residents. That definitely shows you how prosperous this area is, and it also foreshadows the shiny future of this city.

Medina currently has 64 homes listed for sale. Notice how they're 5.28M, 2M, 1.25M lol
I do see a $799, but that's probably someone's shed for sale. haha

Can you see the two floating bridges connecting Seattle to Bellevue?
It takes us 15 minutes without traffic to get from one side to the other, but in traffic say 5pm traffic it takes a long 45 minutes lol. When you go anywhere here, you want to time it just right.

I do think Bellevue is a good investment, but homes are so very expensive here.
A nice 4,000 square foot home in the Medina/Clyde Hill area "retails" for $1-2 million dollars. A nice 4,000 square foot home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you can most definitely buy for $400-500 thousand dollars if not less! The economy there is terrible right now. Remember when I almost bought that 3 bedroom condo built in 2001 for 52k (not yet negotiated?) lol. Homes are so darn affordable in Michigan.

You can't even find a decent home in Bellevue for less than $450k. Even at $450k it's most likely built in the 1970's (for example, the house we used to rent). lol It's for sale now for $450k, 2,000 Square feet, Bellevue/Newcastle Area, BUT with a Renton school district. Renton = not fabulous, just average.

Back to Bellevue,
Downtown Bellevue is very new, clean, and still very spacious. It's only a matter of time before more high rises start popping up. There are so many vacant condos and apartments in DT Bellevue. It makes me wonder if these building owners know something the general public does not. CNNMoney even ranked Bellevue as the 4th best place in the USA to live. Maybe in 5-10 years, Bellevue with double, triple or quadruple in value? I hope it does & I hope I invest in a property before it does! lol Did you know that 25% of Bellevue consists of Asians : )
Yay, for wealthy Asian-Americans. :D

If I had to settle in Washington (for example when I'm married, have children, etc), I would settle my life on the east side of Lake Washington in Bellevue, hopefully Medina or Clyde Hill. Clyde Hill is known to be ranked nationally as one of the #1 public schools in the US.

I consider Bellevue, a high end downtown/suburb mixed into one.
You can have a waterfront mansion 1/2 mile from downtown Bellevue.
It's quite pleasing : )

Bonus, Downtown Bellevue has Neiman Marcus, Downtown Seattle does not!
NM at the Luxurious Bravern (hate their parking).
You have to pay if you don't buy anything & get your ticket validated.

Back to the Local Seattle Area
Then again, there's also Mercer Island right between Seattle & Bellevue! There are a lot of fabulous homes there as well. Mercer Island = $$$ since most of the homes are waterfront, if not water/mountain view. But the town is so so tiny. I don't think I would enjoy living there.

From my 9 months experience living in WA, I've noticed the high life downtown Seattle & just Seattle is more focused towards single people, while the Bellevue/Mercer Island side is more focus towards family life. Or maybe I just haven't stumbled across a great suburban area in Seattle just yet.

Moving on, I think I want to start blogging about my favorite finds each week. I honestly look at houses every weekend with Minh. It's my FAVORITE thing to do in WA (I'd rather house hunt that go to the casino or shopping on any given day). I get such a high when I see a gorgeous house with a beautifully manicured lawn & some Porsches parked out front in their fancy curved or round about driveways! (Cayenne Turbo, Cayenne S, Cayenne GTS ..everyone owns a damn Porsche in this town, it's their eveyday car I swear). Their fancy cars are Lambo's, Maserati's, Ferrari's. Some people so very fortunate & I'm sure they earned every penny or at least someone in their family did : ) I want to earn my pennies & save them for the future generation of DSK babies lol

My eyes light up whenever I see a gorgeous custom home with a for sale sigh out front. We've been exploring more of Medina every Sunday after puppy training. Medina has a gorgeous dog park, so stop there enjoy the peacefulness of the area. Everyone there is so damn loaded lol. I LOVE IT. I love watching the cars drive by, I love meeting & talking to the people there. Everyone is so educated & friendly. Did you know Seattle is the most educated city in all of the US? Having a college degree comes standard here, just like having a high school diploma everywhere else in the US. They always joke that the person making your coffee more likely than not has a college degree. ^_^

Here's an example of a home in Medina, gated, fabulous & completely easy on the eyes! You are one of my favorite websites of all time!
Thank you for saving me gas money on the week days : )

The price tag, $3,998
Monthly payment of $15,755 hmm
Imagine all the honda civics you could have each month lol
Imagine the PROPERTY TAX you'd have to pay each year.

Gorgeous, is she not?

There's a street in Medina called Overlake Dr. near the dog park and the homes there are so amazing!
See how long Overlake Dr is? lol the pic is small, but you get the idea of this lust worthy street.

Now take a look at this ugly box of a house on Overlake's $5mil + because it's on the water.
Property Tax is $32k/year! Uglyyyy

Now take a look at this beauty below.
What I would give to have a home like this one day.
Look at all the green grass! I have a thing for perfectly manicured lawns. It just adds SO much more value to the property, plus it makes the home look more friendly and safe.

How many cars can we park there? I would so have a wedding reception in the driveway area. lol
How about YES.
Gimme Gimme!!!
Price tag: $6.1 Million

Minh assures me that 95% of the folks who do own these homes are all old. lol
I hope so...I'm starting to feel self esteem issues if the owners of this home are in the 20's or 30's!

Will Stephanie Nguyen ever own a 5 million dollar home? Probably never for this Stephanie Nguyen, but my breathe of hope of a 1 million dollar home keeps me driven! I don't think any home over $2 million has a good chance of appreciating. I can just see it getting outdated as the years go by, and the owner being stuck with a hefty mortgage. But I'm no real estate agent...just a girl with a passion for luxury custom homes. They're great to look & and day dream : )

Realistically, a $700 home is ideal for two professional incomes, I can easily see that appreciating to well over a million once our economy here in the US picks up. Talking to a few real estate agents we've met from touring these homes, they all tell us that the million dollar homes are currently marked down to the hundred thousands. The common number I've noticed is $700, I assume with negotiation you could buy that "million dollar" home for $650-$675.

Buying a home versus rent a home or an apartment is very much similar to the debate between leasing a car & buying a car. Is owning a home really worth it?
Should I buy or lease my car? Isn't buying the car, then trading it in and upgrade more worth it than just leasing it? Isn't it mind puzzling?
I love to read, and hear everyone's opinion on the buy versus rent debate.

We know someone who shall not be named, bought a $850k home in Bellevue 2 years ago. Their home is today worth a mere $650k. Look at the value they have lost, around $200k. They are still paying that $850k mortgage. If they're lucky, and hang onto their home the value will appreciate, and they could even out their investment. But the feeling you get knowing your home is worth less in the current market has to be depressing. OR if they had to pick up, move and sell their place..they'd definitely be screwed.

How can we predict the housing market? Is it really at it's all time low right now?

It's just nice to know that I can live comfortably if I play my cards right.

Most Asian parents would say you're stupid to not want to own a home, but in today's society don't we want to experience different lifestyles, live here, and there? When you own a home, you're more likely to be committed to living in that home for years & years to come as you work towards paying off your mortgage (boring?). Whereas, when you rent --you don't have a long term commitment to stress over. You're more mobile & your bank account may be bigger. It's interesting for me to hear different people's perspective on buying versus renting a home.
What are your thoughts? Do you rent? Do you lease your car?
Do you own your home? Do you own your car?

I have fallen in like with the Northwest as my time here progresses.
Seattle is "Portal to the Pacific." I like being able to see sea lions, and jelly fish every once in a while. lol You don't get that back home in Michigan, that's for sure.
I have yet to see any whales. Maybe I'll make a date to go whale watching. ^_^

Anyhow, it's not likely that I'm going to settle here, but in case I do...I want to be prepared an know the area of my future home & it's value potential to the best of my ability! To think that home is out there right now..or at least the land is out there right now... I just have yet to meet it and step foot on it.
When I was younger I would always day dream about my future boyfriend or husband. I just think to myself..he's out there right now. I wonder what he's doing (probably not saving himself for you "0_p.) haha, because if you think about it...he would have to have already been born..unless you wanna go super cougar. But you get the concept.

As the dapper Michael Buble would sing, "I just haven't met you yet."

Mmmmm ....

I Might Have To Wait
I'll Never Give Up
I Guess It's Half Time
And The Other Half's Luck
Wherever You Are

Whenever It's Right
You Come Out Of Nowhere
And Into My Life"

How I adore Michael Buble.. His music give me butterflies.
MB's concert was amazing, and we can't wait to see him again next. : )
I'm super excited for Josh Groban's new album as well. I've been following his vlog lol.

But back to these houses! Some of you might think I'm a fruit loop, but I really want to start blogging about the homes I come across each weekend. I also kind of want to start blogging about the places I visit in Washington. There's so much I want to do, if only I was a more organized blogger. I wish I had more structure to my lifestyle. I'm so stuck on doing what I want when I want that I lose structure. I think that's one thing I miss the most out of being in school. Having a daily agenda. I wish I had more self discipline. I sleep in until 11-noon lately, it's kind of sick :p But my cousin who's currently visiting is the same way. He's 21 by the way turning 22 August 24th. He's a night owl & sleepy head just like me in the AM. lol No wonder we're family right?

Minh wakes up at 6-7am everyday to get ready for work. He always tries to make me feel guilty for sleeping so much, but why the hell would I feel guilty about sleeping? I stay up until 3-4am daily, I need my slumber! He says to me when I wake up he has already worked 4 hours. He thinks I don't realize that because I try to put him to work right when he walks through the door. Maybe I'm wrong to do that, but he should help around the house too. He doesn't pay me anything for living here. And all the money he makes at work goes towards his law school debt. I don't really benefit from being in a relationship wit him right now. lol FML
Maybe I should tell him to call me in 4-5 years. har har har jk
We have our moments. He says I have this cycle where I love him, hate him, hate him, hate him, then love him again.

But I keep him around because he's a smart man. I like having an intelligent person to talk to everyday. I always learn from him, and he's always reminding me that I know the law so much better than the average person. I know the process & legalities of forming company and could definitely make money helping newbies. Even his peers haven't yet helped anyone form an LLC or S-Corporation, but I have! lol, one up for Steph. Woo. He says I'm more valuable to society because I am with him. Maybe, maybe not : P I'm just a knowledge absorber, no matter who I'm with I remember everything that comes out of their mouth that I find as beneficial knowledge.
I've always been very good at retaining information, and memorization. It's gotten me quite far, and Minh's always impressed by how well I repeat what I hear from everyone and anyone.
But because I do remember ishh so clearly, it's very easy for me to get upset and offended if someone says anything the wrong way. I'm pretty good at deciphering meaning behind people's words. It has it's pro's and con's. I know for a fact my little sister is the same way. She has an even more amazing ears and remembers literally everything. lol Maybe that's why she's got a full ride to Harvard, and I did not. Anyhow, I wonder who we get it from. Probably our mom cause she's sharp & talks A LOT. haha maybe we had to be good listeners to keep up with what our mom tells us.

Back to my Mr. BF
I can't imagine having a boyfriend who smokes, drinks, and goes to bars (or worse..plays video games & watches sports). Haha so many people I know are guilty of all the above. AKA, big!

Thank goodness Minh enjoys reading... at home ...with me. haha
I guess sometimes I just have to sit back and make that mental list of pro's and con's regarding our relationship. I do like the fact that he's tall for an Asian guy. He's 5'9, I'm 5'3 3/4".
I wish he would be open to piercing his ears & getting tattoos though. But at least he agrees to get his eyebrows threaded :D :D :D

I think my future plan is as so: I'm going to buy a home with my parents next year in LA, move there with the puppies, Timmy & Wally. Minh & Nickel will stay in Seattle, while he work on his career ~ study & take the CA bar, and hopefully if all things work out well we'd reunite in CA & live our lives together.

I do have a good chunk of change saved right now thanks to my mom who has helped me better prioritize my finances.
But if it doesn't work out that goes on. : )

haha, OR let's live our life like a Korean drama, where the guy and girl need to spend years apart before they can finally be together lol. My good friend Danielle & I were joking about kdrama earlier today and how they force the characters to be apart for years. I swear in Korean dramas they associate separation to equal stronger love. lol, I guess it makes the reuniting & being together forever at the end of the drama extra special for the viewers.

Speaking of my friend Danielle, I want to give her a big Congratulations!!! on her fabulous career offer as a corporate attorney in $$$Manhattan$$$ : ) Hopefully, the next time I see you ~ I can stay at your new place in the city, and we can go to Sephora together and leave Yuan at his computer. haha :D

I've learned so much about the different areas of New York thanks to Danielle. Upper East Side = Old Money, Upper West Side = New Money, but far from the Subways lol. It's so fun to me to learn NY culture. Minh & I are both n00bs when it comes to New York.

Wow, this was a long post. I spent the last 2 hours and 45 minutes house stalking online.


  1. Great post Stephanie, those are beautiful homes! Love Seattle & Bellevue. One of my bosse's here lives in Medina.

  2. One day I'd love to live in a very nice house; nothing too fancy or anything - so long as I'm comfortable. For the moment I can dream, but until then I'm looking around my area for a nice apartment for my boyfriend and I to live in about 5-6 months from now. One day I'll be able to have that dream house too - those houses are super pretty, but expensive! XD

  3. I'm no real estate guru, for the buy/rent debate on a house, I guess it just takes a realistic view on how long you think you will stay there. So long as paying rent doesn't go over the house value over time, I would rent. Until I'm sure i love the house, neighborhood, city, and have plans of having a family, I wouldn't want to own a house.
    I've lived in apartments, fixer uppers, and reaalllyy nice houses.. at this point in my life, I just want a simple home with charm.

    This was a really good post btw. I support the "house faves" idea. =]

  4. great post steph, i think the only way I would want to own a house worth over 3 million is if i somehow overnight became the next hannah montana and earned over 10 mil a year or hit the lotto. here in winnipeg those houses 4000 sq ft, 5 bedroom and all the bells and whistles run from 800k to 2 million i think the most expensive house in my city is 2 million and its like 8000 sq feet lol put that house in california, or bellevue and it would probably quadruple in price lol

  5. I know what you mean about expensive housing in the area you live in; I live in Vancouver, BC and our housing prices are insanely high. At times it's depressing but at the same time, it drives me to be more successful to be able to afford my dream house. (And I have to live in the city!).

    Being Asian, my mind-frame is always buy, because for me, property is an investment. Land does not depreciate in value, rather it will only become more valuable in time because land will become more scarce as time goes on. I think the economic situation between the states and canada is different right now, so maybe that's why my opinion is like this.

    Btw, those homes are gorgeous -- you should also look at the homes in the British Properties in West Vancouver (I know you aren't planning to move here, but no harm in seeing house styles!).

  6. I can't look at these beautiful homes...esp not the one with the personal pier...aaah. It's just an unbelievably fabulous lifestyle that I can only dream of for now.

    My first home will be a modest one for sure. My parents live in the middle of nowhere and have a ginormous house which cost only a little more than a 1 bedroom condo in Boston.

  7. it's always interesting to read your long posts, you're right, it's always interesting to read other people's thoughts about things! i agree, it's important to start saving up for bigger and better things.

    my bf tries to guilt trip me for sleeping late too, but i sleep later than him! i don't get it. he gets annoyed sometimes when he wants to go do something and i sleep half the day. it annoys me :(

  8. aww woman you and your house stalking -_-" glad i'm not dragged along doing that for awhile!!!! LOL complete torture! but it sure does make you happy!!!



Thank you for your comments!