August 27, 2010

Real Estalking

Hi all : )
Here's another post on one of my favorite subjects, real estate!

Minh let me take a look at a list of foreclosure homes. As a real estate agent or lawyer (I'm sure there are many more who can get access, lenders, banks, etc) you can get access to a list of short sales and foreclosure properties. I remember back in college, one of my law student friends said she just wants her law degree to say she's a lawyer, but really focus on property investments. She says that's where the real money is at. But it does take money to make as of today, she's working as a bankruptcy attorney in Chicago (but also with a bar license in California) : )and has not yet been able to do what she has a passion for..investment properties. I'm sure she's still very interested in property, and just saving her way to reach her ultimate career goal. Of course, you know I'm going to use this list with all this juicy real estate info to my advantage and see what's out there.

Since I am about a year or two from buying a home in Seattle or Bellevue, WA (I could totally buy 10 houses in Michigan right now (lol scroll down to see why!). The debate is so hard for me right now...move to California (where my parents want to retire)..or just stay in Seattle and settle. Sometimes, I think Seattle is good because I am far from any kin drama. lol Homes in Seattle, WA and Southern California are about neck in neck. Seattle does have a higher cost of living, and sales tax.

Viet people have lots of family drama because their families are so large! I have 14 Aunt and Uncles on my Dad's side...and 9 Aunt and Uncles on my Mom's side. That's a lot of cousins, and a lot of Aunt & Uncle in-laws. Let me tell you now...they don't all get along. Nor do I with some of my cousins...I even have some cousins that I've never met, and probably will never get to meet.

Anyhow, back to real estalking I just like to keep tabs on what's out on the market in California, Washington, and Michigan (where I'm originally from). The economy in Michigan is just terrible! Homes are practically free...I found one for $300! (Of course, in a bad area in Detroit, but still! You could be a home owner for a couple hundred bucks!) More on that below : )

Back some fun facts,

Did you know that by having a law degree you can actually handle real estate transactions without having to take the time to study and take the "real estate exam." I can only imagine that most real estate agents really dislike lawyers who dabble into their profession on the side (surprise, surprise right?). You could understand why, lawyers are not in that tight knit "real estate club." But they're able to take a piece of your pie. No one likes that!

I can just see now lawyers who dip their foot into real estate acting obnoxious even though they're probably not as good as a real estate agent would be in helping take care of their clients. You have to admit, most real estate agents are (by motivation) overly nice lol. Attorneys on the other hand. not so much..niceness can really only be found in their personality. All else, they're quite serious and less of a friend when communicating with their clients.

So there's another perk if you're considering law school. But then again, being a real estate isn't that don't need many prerequisites. Minh thinks I should consider real estate since I have such a strong passion for house hunting. I'm just nosy to see how much something is worth. I just need to know and I love to compare. (Probably the retail student in me). I could definitely tell you where all the nice houses are : ) But, I prefer a business career most of all. If it's not DSK, it's would be working at a different company or small business. I love managing every aspect of a business. And if it's not managing it, I just love to know every step, and learning more and more each day about a market.

I think what makes a job or career most enjoyable is if you have a strong interest or a great passion for that field. I love what I do, and I know my bf loves what he does. I think we would both pick our work over each other...which is kind of bad lol. At least we're committed to working!

Now for the fun part with pictures and prices!

With help of that list, I found this gorgeous home in Bellevue, WA
It's actually only a block or two away from where we used to live (we rented the house).
This house is currently owned by Bank of America...
and I can probably tell you why. It look like it was sold in 2007 for $1.4 million dollars.'s listed for $670,000 by the bank.
BUT, the current zillow value is around $980,000
It looks so perfect, but there has to be a flaw somewhere. I'm going to check it out with Minh after he gets off work. This house seem so ideal in price right now. A million dollar house at a discount! I've always told my mom and dad that I'm going to buy a million dollar house one day for half price. They think I'm in over my head (think property tax). I just hope the housing market keeps diving as Minh & I start building our wealth. We recently opened a joint bank account with the purpose of saving for a house...we as of right's more me saving. lol He has too much baggage to take care of...debt.

Him and I are quite backwards in thinking.. but both our families don't seem to mind anymore (they did). I think being financially independent has a lot to do with why my parents are more hands off in my lifestyle. They don't tell me what to do much anymore...if anything they just suggest what to do.

If I was not working, or still in school, my parents would probably be planning and dictating every detail of my life. I'm sure a lot of you younger Vietnamese-American / Asian-American girls can relate. When you're under your parents almost have a sense of fear that you'd disappoint them. Oh the obligation of being an Asian girl in America! lol

I think I just lucked out and met the right guy at the right time in college. He speaks the same language my parents speaks, he's educated, starting his law career...and has really easy going Viet parents... Viet + Viet = happy parentals.

I guess you could say my parents are more easy going as they age (it's weird!) My little sister is so lucky lol. I couldn't even go hang out with friends past 9pm! (flashback!)

They just have raised me well enough (to their standard) to trust me in making lifestyle decisions. I'm honest with my mom and dad, I tell them almost everything. I might hide the fact that I ate ice cream that day, but still..I'm quite honest with my mom & dad with everything else! : )

Ideally, Minh and I would like to buy a house together before we get engaged or married (ring money, and wedding money can wait until after we've secured property!!!). My mom...thinks I should buy a house with her and my dad in California. lol It's kind of a debate right now. I have no idea what my future has waiting for me. Maybe I shouldn't speak too early. You never know in life..things change at random.

Minh's parents and my parents brought up the whole marriage thing while my mom was out here visiting, and I just said no way, Jose. I think I said to his mom that he has a lot of debt and that I don't wanna be poor. hahaha. She was like well you can be married and help him pay off his debt. (SRSLY?) lol

I don't want much commitment with him until he's more stable (5+ years!) We're both pretty much newbies at living and working in the real world. Minh's 27 years old, and I'm 23 years old if that helps you gauge where we're at in the stages of life.

The last thing I want in my life is to have a cheap (fobby) wedding, be married, poor and with a small ring! AHH scary!
That's my biggest fear.

Ideally, I would like to be married in my late 20's with a heavy bank account, and a yacht! Just kidding about the yacht, neither Minh and I can swim! haha I did take swimming classes though..but I just never got it! I think it's the whole almost drowning as a child really scared me.
BUT I must learn one day. Survival skills! posts have become more and more boring and selfish... but it's where my mind frame is at...and obsessing over at this moment in time.
I got my eye on the prize = house/equity. LOCATION/PROFITS!!!
I don't want to miss out on any opportunities, I want to let my money work for me.
Not work for my money. That's how the rich get rich!
Also...everyone should read Rich Dad, Poor's really a life changing book.
Speaking of books...anyone read Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness yet?
I can't wait to get my hands on it! He's one of the co-founders of

But back to that $670k...check out the zillow "zestimate" $982,500 as of yesterday.
Imagine buying it for less than $670k..fixing it up a know plan some flowers, lol.
Wait a few years for the economy to pick back up and turn around and sell it for the $1.4 million that it was once worth in 2007? Will we get those years back? Will the US pick back up?
That's the question that is driving us all mad!
Especially my mom lol. She's so eager to secure her retirement home in Sunny California.
While I'm here in Seattle...mentally calculating the time I will have saved up enough for a down payment. Then when that time comes...will the house of my dreams even be available for purchase!?!?!

The land looks like it was sold for $145, alone! That's about how much my parents house costs in Michigan.
There is some land for sale right now in Bellevue higher up with a view of Lake Washington going for $440,000 the last time I checked. The homes up there are worth $1-2 million.
I should go snap some photos sometime and share it on blog. It's kind of a hidden area in Newport Hills (Bellevue, WA).

This bad boy has 5 bedrooms and 4.5's SO perfect. I will raise my family in a house like someday. 4,910 square feet.. Excuse me, I just drooled.
It's so beautiful...a house just like this would probably only cost $250-$300k in hometown Kentwood, MI.

Now for some CRAZYYYY affordable properties in Detroit, Michigan.
From the can probably tell that your life would be at risk every day if you lived in this these areas. lol

You can OWN this for $300.

$'s two stories!

$ even comes with a mini grill out front!


$ own. That's one month of my rent in downtown Seattle!!!
Minh and I were like flipping out lol. That's a nice brick home!
One month rent plus utility bills in any major city!
Poor Michigan...
Check out this baby for $9,900 ...less than a car!


$5,900 and you have a house that reminds you of gnomes lol

Now to the nicer side of East Michigan (close to Detroit).
This is the same condo development where I almost bought a condo!
Auburn Hills, Michigan! : )
Home of the Detroit Pistons
That price is super negotiable too since I've already been there done that lol.
My real estate agent at the time showed me a 3 bedroom, 2 bath similar to the one pictured that was priced for $61k, and he suggest we offer $52k. lol

This is the NICER side of town too...
I think I've actually been inside 121 S Vista while I was condo shopping.
Did I mention right down the street is the largest mall in Michigan?
It's an awesome, kick ass area. If I wasn't in Seattle, I'd probably be living my life right in Vista Dr.

There's a law school could so rent this out!

If you're in the Auburn Hills, East Michigan area and are looking for a great real estate agent, I can definitely give you a referral. I remember I had some East Michigan readers : )

Shout out to Troy, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, and Auburn Hills readers! :D

Also, my female attorney friend is working in the Chicago area..she's also licensed in California.
If you're in those areas and need legal counsel, I can give you a great referral.
Also, if you're from Michigan ~ I can give you great attorney referrals as well.

I just think references are the best way to meet helpful trustworthy people.
People always seem to take better care of their friend of friend clients.
Just saying! It gives you an edge.

That is all..thanks for listening to my thoughts : )
I better go clean my room and hang up all my clothes.
My aunt arrives in 6 hours and 15 minutes!
First impressions are everything!


  1. Gosh, you're so freaking inspiring, only three years older than me but you've pretty much got it planned out on what you want and you're already working your way towards it. I really hope that I can be in your shoes one day because I've got that same intrigue in business management though I've still got another two years until I graduate as I'm doing a paid internship for Pepsi for the year before I go back to uni and do my final year.

    I've never really looked at your personal blog before but its definitely really insightful. x

  2. @misskayanne ^_^ How is the internship at Pepsi going? I was driving by Coca Cola in Bellevue and the employees were on strike with signs outside the building!

    Thanks for visiting my blog, it's just full of hopes & dreams! :D

  3. my bad Steph... The primer potion is 29$ USD but the value is 45$. hahaha and oh my.. $300 house? wow never heard of that, until now. lol I for sure know who to look for when I'm searching for a home ;) wink!

  4. Whenever I read your real estalking posts, I know exactly what you're talking about! :] Probably more out of just being "in" and exposed to it, since my mom's a real estate agent, since I was 5 than anything else, too, haha. (My mom even told me to get my real estate license when I turned 18 this month, since I already work at her office as a receptionist.) I feel like, if you really like this home in Bellevue, and you like the area/can see yourself there for maybe 5+ years, you should definitely see what you can do. Here (in Princeton, which besides being susceptible to NJ's ridiculously inflated housing prices, but also has a ridiculous amount of people who are loaded, 670k would've bought you a small single family home or townhouse about 5 years ago. We're talking 2.5-3 bath, 3-4 bedrooms, and now, prices are in the mid 500s, depending on size/location. An apartment in downtown goes for around the same price, too, depending on square footage. Really, in a nice neighborhood and for that much space, I'd definitely go for it. (But you don't have to pay attention to me, haha, that's just my inner real estate agent talking) Just keep in mind, even if you're going to just ask about it, bank owned homes are harder to close on. There's a lot more paperwork that goes into it, no matter where you are. Good luck with whichever choice you make!
    And I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to disappoint Asian parents. It's hard, and being financially independent is hard too (as I'm starting to learn), especially when they like to meddle and tell you what to do with your money. And last thing before I end this super long comment, parents always seem to go easier on the second child. Or at least mine are with my little sister, too!

  5. Dang cheap houses, too bad were stuck in WASHINGTON, houses here are so expensive! :) But I cant wait to see your next blog. Maybe you might just end up buying that half a million house. hehehe! I love how you share so much stuff, I learn something new everyday. I follow you on twitter and its awesome how you just love to share your daily stuff. I enjoy it much. <33

  6. @Ada, I'm so glad someone shares my passion ^_^ It must be so awesome to have a real estate agent as your mother! You get so much insight into the subject.

    The homes on this list, are all bank owned, so my mistake, they're not a list of short sales.

    I'm so excited for you, when are you planning on taking the exam? Do you have to take classes & fullfill hour requirements?

    With your experience on a $670 price tag, how much should the buyer offer? The owner is currently Bank of America

  7. Wow Steph, I never thought your could buy a house in America for less than a designer bag.. Something's gotta be wrong there!!
    Do the houses have wooden doors and windows because of... guns???? (sorry this is me thinking like the movies lol)
    Houses in Australia would never hit that low in price even if it was in a dodgy area!! I'm just so surprised houses are so cheap even if they are in bad neighbourhoods (wait are they really that bad?)
    Really interesting post Steph!

  8. Haha, when I got interviewed for my placement with Pepsi, they asked why I wanted to work for their organisation and I told them it was because I went to visit the Coco-Cola factory in China and the bottling process was so captivating to watch. I think it shocked my interviewers a bit...!

    I'm loving my job for Pepsi though, apart from the early 8am mornings, I absolutely adore being able to travel around Europe and meet people from all different aspects of the industry such as purchasing, manufacturing, marketing and HR.

    The best part is talking to people who have been in the company for 15-20 years and having them share their invaluable experience with me. I've been there 2 months already, it's pretty bumming to think that I'll be finished when next July rolls round! =(

  9. amazing house!

    I have a close friend in real estate that encourages me to purchase an investment property to start me in the property market.

    I have a reaaaallly stubborn old fashion dad that hates debt tho... and you cant help having debt with purchasing a house.

    As an asian australian, my parents also leave me and my sister to do what we want as we are old and responsible enough to think sensibly. They used to be reaaaally strick when we were young so i guess that was a great foundation to how we are now.

    since my dad refuses to owe the bank money to get a house.. (we rent a house with my relatives) i felt i should join the property market and have an investment property at least so it can be back up for my parents when they retire.. at least they'll have a home (well a back up one) if they need it :)

    best of luck with your property!!


Thank you for your comments!