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6 Tips From a Highland Park Home Search

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Throughout Rookie Roosts Week, we'll be hearing from first-time homebuyers with tales both awesome and terrible (the terrible ones will compete in our horror stories contest for a chance to win a $2,500 home store gift card - standard contests rules apply). Got a first-time homebuying story? Hit us up at the tipline. Today: lessons from buying a house in Northeast LA.

My then-boyfriend and I bought our first home in Spring 2007, before the crash, but after the boomiest part of the boom. We were looking in and around Highland Park (venturing into Hermon, Garvanza, Glassel Park, and Eagle Rock.) I think the easiest way to tell the story is in the form of tips for other rookies.

1. Don't leave all the looking to your agent. I found our house on Craigslist. The seller's agent did a crappy job of listing it, and as a result, we had no competition when we put in an offer.
2. Don't let a few thousand dollars scare you off. We spent a lot of time stressing over houses that were $10k over our budget before realizing what a small impact it would have on our mortgage payments - and in the end, we got a lot more house as a result.

3. You've got to exercise that imagination. Sure, everyone loves a clean, modern, beautifully staged house. But you can save a lot of money and stress by learning to look past the bad furniture/paint/lighting/decor and seeing the potential underneath. But it takes practice.
4. Go to a LOT of open houses. When it came to figuring out what we wanted, needed, and hated, and how much we should expect to pay for it, no amount of reading made up for looking at house after house until we felt like pros.
5. Do a Saturday night stakeout. We parked outside and ate dinner in the car, just to make sure there were no hidden frat houses nearby.
6. Once the house is yours, do a walkthrough and take photos of every crack and chip, because in a few months, you'll be staring at the ceiling thinking, "was that there when we moved in?"
· Homebuying Advice From a Countrywide Foreclosure Man [Curbed LA]