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    Thursday, April 29, 2010

    further updates in my Housing Adventures

    since I haven't published a blog entry on this subject in a while (most just twitter & facebook status updates)'s what's been going on lately.

    Part of my crazy schedule these days, when not packing (or cleaning) has been spent touring potential places with my Aunt Jody (who's representing me as my broker - she is a residential broker, though she's San Diego county based) and my folks. I've placed multiple bids on potentially good places for me, but most have fallen through (I've been put into a Back Up position) even with my Cash offers. Almost all of these places are Short Sales, too, which means even if something IS accepted by the Seller, the bank may take its own sweet time. 

    Never know though. :)

    I've mostly been looking in the Lake Forest area, since prices are cheaper than Irvine, though as of last Sunday (4/25)  I'm also considering Foothill Ranch. (Found a few units that were cheap enough and seemed perfect for me so I placed a few bids. We'll see what happens. There's potential there, but I don't have any confirmations I can share at this point.)

    As of TODAY, I'm sending in my 30 Day Notice to my landlord telling him I'll be out by May 31st (along with my reduced rent check - hey, he had said if we keep the place clean & allow people to tour, then we can have reduced rent for both April & May. Not reduced by much, but something. Also I don't think he realized how long it would take to market & sell his place even though its not a short sale. It didn't help his case when he RAISED the listing price on this condo. He's now lowered it some since then...I could have told him this place isn't worth that much! Of course he wouldn't want to listen to me. Hehe ;-).

    Where am I going? Well, at this point, all the stuff I've been packing up has been going into some storage units my folks built on their property in Garden Grove. (They were going to store their own stuff from the garage in it, but they've kindly held off transferring their own stuff and let me transfer my own stuff in there for my temporary storage needs. Huzzah! for my parents! :) I'll continue to transfer all my stuff to the storage sheds as I now pick up the pace on packing. Also, now I'm not going to care as much about making a packing mess as I go ;-). As for me personally - my parents have also graciously suggested that they have a spare room (half home office & half guest room) that I can use while I'm searching for a place and or waiting for escrow to close (if any of my bids ever make it that far in the process). I have no other plans for housing as of June 1st, so I'm taking up my parents offer of the spare room. It'll be an adjustment living there. For one thing: I won't have much access to most of my stuff for a while; plus, it'll be a longer commute to/from work for me. And finally, I haven't lived at home for...oh, over 10 years! :) Since college at least.

    Like I said, it'll be an adjustment, but should be temporary. :) And I'm VERY very glad that I even have this as an option!! :) So to my folks who *might* actually read this article (Yes, I'm looking at you Dad! ;-), THANK YOU so very much for all your generosity, love, & support. :) (Both now and over the years.) Love you back! :)

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    finally looked at my Costume College Reg Book

    So I *finally* got a chance to actually *look* through my Costume College (2010) Registration book and I'm just excited about all the classes! Yay! :) I'm torn, though, on what (if any) limited classes I should apply for this year. A couple I'm interested in are out cause I'm teaching my classes against them (there's overlap in times which won't work). And a few others I'm interested in taking...they're against when the guest teachers (Shelly Foote and Shawna Trpcic) have their (unlimited) classes scheduled! Agh! (The ones by Shawna Trpcic are listed as "To Be Determined" right now, but considering I'm a fan of her work - she did the costumes for Firefly, Angel, & Dollhouse! - I'm totally game for attending any and all of her classes. :)

    And with how busy I've been with packing & house hunting (and the emotional drama of dealing with my landlord and his broker while they're trying to show the place and get the condo sold), picking limited classes has not been a top priority right now. If I'm gonna turn in my form, its gotta be received by May 9th...and the longer I wait, the lower Recieved Number I get assigned (each form is assined a number in the order its received as its processed by Programming staff) which would affect my chances of getting into some classes (depending on how 'popular' the are with others wanting to be in the same class).

    SOooo...maybe this year I just don't do any limited classes :). Might be the easiest solution for me. Certainly less stress NOW to not have to think about picking a class and getting my forms in right away.

    Fun Find last night ("Yo Becky")

    Just had to share this fun License plate I found last night:
    "Yo Becky"

    LOL! Wish *I* had thought of that years ago when I got my license plate for my car! :)

    How fun!

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Costume College 2010 Registration Book Arrived!

    as my Twitter post said yesterday, I got my Costume College Registration book in the mail! Woo-hoo!

    Like the new layout and larger format (more magazine style). I haven't had a chance to really look through it yet, but will try to do that today at some point. MUST go through and figure out what classes I'd like to take, especially Limited Attendance classes (registration forms due very soon! May 9th I think?), and when I'm teaching.

    View of the Registration Book Cover (taken via my cell phone):

    and here's the page showing the 2 Guest Teachers for this year:


    I'm *very* excited about this year's convention! (And not just cause I'm on the committee ;-).

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    attempted unauthorized entry into my place!?!

    So this morning, as I was just about to hop in the shower (took a day off of work and was doing things, such as cleaning, before I finally got around to showering) when I heard someone at the door trying to use the keys in both the deadbolt and the doorknob locks. What the...???

    I quickly peeked through the Peephole and verified it wasn't my roommate. It was a guy (stranger or possibly my landlord?1? - hard to tell from the angle) attempting to use keys to get in. Good thing I had flipped the Security Lock that CANNOT be undone from outside! So, feeling relatively safe knowing that lock was in place, I showered. Afterwards I sent the following email to my landlord and his broker (who's selling the place...if you haven't been following along with the latest drama):

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Rebecca (ME)
    Date: Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 11:09 AM
    Subject: attempted entry at [xxxx] around 10:30a?
    To: Broker & Landlord
    Cc: Roommate

    Ali & Fred,

    Did either of you or someone you sent over attempt to enter [xxxx] this morning around 10:30am? I was home and just about to step into the shower when I heard someone attempting to get in (using the key in both the doorknob lock and the deadbolt). As I was planning to shower and had received NO notice of anyone coming over, I had earlier this morning used the Security Lock (installed by my roommate and myself 5 years ago) that can only be undone from the inside to secure the front door.

    I took the day off work and will be in and out all day. If you have people coming by, please let me know in advance of someone attempting to enter to view the place. 

    Thank you.

    [xxxx], Irvine, CA


    And NOW I just got an emailed response from my landlord. Turns out it WAS him and he had some kind of appointment with a carpenter (LOTS of termite damage outside on the stairs leading to our place...we're on the 2nd floor) and the carpenter wanted to see the inside and make sure there wasn't additional damage (besides exterior). So my landlord thinking it was no big deal, attempted to get inside. UGH!

    Here's his email to me in response:

    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    From: Fred (landlord)
    Date: Fri, Apr 16, 2010 at 12:15 PM
    Subject: RE: attempted entry at [xxxx[ around 10:30a?
    To: Me & Fred's Real Estate Broker
    Cc: Roommate

    I was meeting with a carpenter this morning to look at the stairs and some other exterior items that need fixing. While the items in question are the associations responsibility, they are slow and I wanted the estimate as back-up in in case HOA was not able to expedite the repairs. I was not expecting the need to come inside.
    After inspecting the exterior, he asked if he could look inside to make sure none of the items did extend beyond what was visible. I rang the bell a few times and did not get a  reply. I assumed you are not home and  tried to open the door and was not able to do so. So we left. I am sure based on the inspection done previously, fixing what is visible from outside will be adequate.
    Sorry about not providing you with the notice. I was not expecting the need to come inside. I told him to limit his estimate to what he saw and we will take care of any additional items if we come across any. Thanks,

    Seriously?!? That's his excuse? He didn't think he'd need to come inside so because the guy wanted access and he assumed that we weren't home (doorbell doesn't sound in the master bedroom or master bathroom - no way I would have heard it) he thought it would just be OK to let himself in? Uh, No Way! We have rights to privacy still. Just another example of how he thinks cause he owns the place he can let himself in whenever. I'm sorry, per our Lease (and CA law), he must give us "REASONABLE NOTICE" of his intent to enter. Ringing the doorbell was not reasonable notice.

    My landlord just sets my teeth on edge. I can't WAIT to get outta here!

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Follow Up from yesterday's post (housing hunt)

    So, at end of the work day yesterday, I got a response (via email) from the poster of the 3 bedroom condo for rent. And I gotta say, it was a little weird. Perhaps the gal is just overly enthusiastic? (Also, I can tell that English isn't her first language just by the sentance structure and some of the word choices. My co-worker, who's married to a Chinese gal - she's from Taiwan & she's so very sweet/a fun person! - read part of the email response to me and remarked, 'you know, based on the writing, it almost sounds like this person could be Chinese.')

    I had a co-worker do a search on Win2Data (provides property information including owner name) and my aunt do a title search...just cause I wanted to be sure that this person really does own the place their listing...and I came up with a weird discrepency. So guess I need to contact her and ask her how long she's owned the place. (Unless she's not the owner but a renter and needs to sublet while she's away? Hmm....but she did say "I owned the home you are interested in". Past tense, but could be just an issue with not having English as a first language.)

    She's going on some trip and says that the place is available for up to 5 years. Um, ok. Good to know upfront I guess.

    Also, my email had specifically asked to tour the place, meaning the INSIDE of the place, but she responded "You can go ahead and view the surrounding of the house and the neighborhood area". Um. Thanks. Not exactly what I meant. Ok, maybe she just didn't get what I was asking. It's possible....I guess. 

    Another weird point (maybe she's just overly concerned about the care/condition of the property??), she states outright that "also i will be come once in 4 months for visit to see how you are taking care of the home, and if any thing need to be repair inthe home, and fix it back!" I appreciate the willingness to be available to fix things, but having someone Check In on me every 4 months? Kinda weird.

    Obviously she's requesting some information from me (reasonable, when your considering leasing to someone - name, contact info, number of people who'd live there, proposed move in date, etc.). No biggie.

    She also finishes off the email with "Looking forward to hear from you with all this details so i can have it in my file in case of issuing the receipt in your name and contacting you. Await your urgent reply so that we can discuss on how to get the documents and the keys to you..."
    (she goes on about giving this based on trust, etc.), like I said. A tad weird of a response. But then again, I'm used to dealing with commercial brokers and commercial tenants and our process of leasing here. So maybe just my perception of things.

    And to respond to her point about documents & keys - there's no way I'd sign papers/give over any money WITHOUT looking at the layout of the place (inside & out). I gotta know what the insides look like and if it'll even work for me. Like I said all sounds good on PAPER. Gotta see it in real life.

    So basically, I haven't responded yet. Still thinking of what to say. I mean, she just could be a very nice person who isn't as comfortable with English as I am and has a lot things on her mind and hasn't got much time to lease this place.

    Thoughts anyone?

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    New Development in the Housing Hunt

    OMG, OMG, OMG......

    My roommate found a rental listing last night (posted last night - so NEW) on Craigslist for a rental property here in Irvine that sounds too good to be true! 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 carport spaces, larger square footage....and for $100 less monthly than what we are currently paying! (Landlord pays for water & association/management fees vs. in my *current* place we the tenants pay for water in addition to all other utilities. Thought we don't have to pay the association fees. Written in to the original lease.)

    Also, I know the area that this place is located in, and its a pretty nice area. Ok, yeah, I know what you're thinking...its IRVINE. Irvine doesn't really have a lot of "bad" areas with all their focus on community planning, etc. ;-P Whatever. :)

    Moving on now. The write up says "spacious kitchen" and "gas range" - which you KNOW immediately got my attention! :D I have truly MISSED having a gas cooking range and would love to have one if given half a chance. But alas, the last whatever number of years all the rentals I've lived in have only allowed for electric cooking ranges.

    Anyways - I've already emailed the contact person who listed the rental. Waiting to hear back about touring, etc.

    Fingers Crossed!!! :)

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    another annoying message from my landlord

    So tonight I came home to yet another message (left on my home phone) from the landlord about the state of the master bedroom. Apparently, now the "brokers" are complaining that its not organized enough to show it off as well as they'd like ("they're concerned that its not showing well"). Well, tough! This is not a model home, I live here...and I work full time. It takes time to box everything up. And there's no way I can box EVERYTHING up to be out of site. I've got projects I'm in the middle of (including stuff for committees I'm on) and research for classes I'm committed to teach in a couple of months - so I've got deadlines.

    And his suggestion that the items I box up (to create more open room in the master bedroom, in order to show it off better) are stored in the downstairs closet is laughable.
            1) The key doesn't always work - there have been periods of time (*months* at a time) when I could *not* get the key to turn in the keyhole of the doorknob in order to open the door. I've come to think its some weird fluke of the weather affecting it, cause other times it works so easily its like night & day. (And yes, I'm using the SAME key each time. Not grabbing the wrong key and trying it in the lock. Trust me. I double & triple checked :).
            2) We already store things down there's no room to add up to 10 additional boxes (he left 10 empty boxes). Also I don't store things in cardboard boxes down there for a reason (see next item for reason).
             3) We've had rodents in the complex, and they have specifically gotten into that storage closet. There's rodent droppings and dried urine over most of our items down there (one reason I don't access stuff in there much) and the few things I haven't stored in heavy duty plastic/rubber bins have been chewed through and I had to toss. So I'm having to store things off site, which means trips to take said boxes elsewhere. (Yes, I have a lot of stuff, but I also have a lot of hobbies & interests...which means I have to cram them all into my room. Its a bedroom, office, & sewing room all combined into one.)

    I realize that brokers recommend a place be pretty much in 'model-home' condition in order to show off the place in the best possible light to potential buyers. But c'mon! Be realistic! The only *real* way to achieve that look is for there to be no tenant at all! Its one thing to do when you're motivated to sell your own place - but as we all know, this is NOT my place and I live here. So, yet another reason for me to pack up as much as possible while I try to look for a new place to live.

    And before anyone suggests to me just give him my 30 day notice - Not yet. 1, that would be unfair to my roommate to do w/o discussing with her first. And 2, I want as much time to find a place as possible...and time to pack so I don't have to take days off of work. So for now I guess I just get to suffer through things a bit more (and cancel appearing at some of my previously scheduled engagements/events) so I can focus on packing & finding a place to live.

    Whew. Rant over. :) No back to your regularly scheduled evening. (And I'm back to packing :).

    Friday, April 02, 2010

    catching up on stuff (March 2010)

    So it seems like I haven't posted in a while on here. Sorry about that!
    Things have been kinda crazy busy lately.

    First, I started attending Ren Faire Workshops (held weekends beginning March 13 on the Faire site - Irwindale - while Building was going on to turn the area into Faire as we know it) cause they were interesting and good improv/character development practice. I could see how some of the classes could be adapted for other groups that portray different time periods, such as one obviously dear to me - American Civil War. Though it was interesting stuff, and I enjoyed attending the classes (and challenging/stretching my creative side - Improv has never been my strong area, though I'm working on it) I actually hadn't completely decided if I was going to "participate" this year with one of the Guilds. Part of the issue was that I knew I couldn't commit to the *entire run* of Faire as I already had specific commitments for some upcoming dates that conflicted with Faire Dates. Committing to be there every weekend day for run of workshops, with the Dress Rehearsal date falling on Easter (4/3) this year, and then every weekend for run of Faire which starts April 10th and ends May 23rd...and then helping during Tear Down in the weekends that follow is a LOT of commitment. And already busy enough with other things that are important to me, so there's no way I could ever commit to ALL of that. There was a slim chance that one of the Guild's (St. Cuthbert's - Parades & Pageants) might take me in even if I couldn't attend the entire run or make all the 12 required workshops for a 1st time/year newbie (aka "apprentice").

    Turns out, however, that I didn't have to make a decision - it was made for me in the form of my landlord giving me (email) notice on Thursday, March 25th* that he's selling the condo that I rent. Gah! And he insisted that the place be more clean/organized than it currently is for showing (and a bunch of other unreasonable demands given the time frame he gave me - he wanted it lok-boxed & signage up by end of week and clean/organized for show-able condition by end of Month...which meant Wed, March 31st!). Which means that a) this last week I've been busy cleaning organizing in almost all of my spare time, and b) I'm now looking for a place to live (rest of my spare time). I have no idea if my roommate wants to stay roommates and we find a place together or if she wants to go our separate ways (she told me she's exploring all her options right now and won't tell me either way at the moment), which leaves me in a bit of a quandary. And while the new owners (which may be in as little as 30 days, since landlord is advertising 30 day escrow cause he wants this place SOLD quick to earn some money - and no, he has no mortgage or liens on the place, my aunt did a title search and this address came up clean, so he's just trying to make some money...not being foreclosed upon) may be ok with tenants, there's NO GUARANTEE  that they will want tenants. They may want to live here themselves. (By law, since we've been here over a year...actually its been 5 yrs now...we're required to have 60 day notice. BUT apparently there's a loophole that says if an escrow is open, only 30 days is required. Boo!!! Not that I've been informed escrow has started yet).

    There was also the added twist of seeing if I could possibly afford to BUY a place. I've never seriously considered it, knowing that I would never qualify for loans, or whatever, just on my current income alone. Plus So California (and Orange County) is just plain old expensive! But they still have that government 1st time homeowner's incentive ($8K back) and my folks were willing to crunch some numbers to see if they could perhaps loan me the money (instead of me going to the bank) so that I could actually buy and have an investment for the future. (And of course I'd pay them back!) This looked like it may be possible, but we had to rush our thoughts and decisions so much, we felt pressured in making decisions - which is never good. And after looking at some possible places listed - I took one Saturday and drove around neighborhoods in Lake Forest to get an idea of where those listings where and what the places/neighborhoods looked like, how was parking, etc. - we discovered that with lower prices and enough investors plunking down cash still out there, there wasn't that much wiggle room for negotiating the price down (repairs, etc.) and you had to make a deal there and then when you found it or someone else might beat you too it. AGH!!! Don't need that pressure right now when I'm cleaning & organizing and just about to start packing up! So we're back to the drawing board right now. Focus on packing up and start looking for a short term lease so perhaps I can look for a place to buy later in the year. (Who knows? The Government may extend that 1st Time Homeowner's incentive again? They already did it once when it was expiring in November '09 and extended it through June of this year - so its conceivable. )

    So THAT'S been my crazy hectic life so far. Things have been going better at work at least. Haven't had any more problems with my accounting software since they did the system maintenance on 3/25 (yup same day as my notice) and updated things & migrated the software to a new server. So that's been nice to not have to worry about randomly not getting into the program cause of a stupid glitch or getting kicked out while in the middle of using it cause of a different glitch! :) Also been able to get almost completely caught up on my back-log of work. Also nice feeling! :)

    Must run now - if I don't leave, I'll be late for work. Eek!


    - - - - - -

    *Yes, got the notice same day as my trip up to Hollywood to see Tommy & the High Pilots perform at the Viper Room. That was a LOT of fun, and a good distraction from my troubles. I'll write a separate post about it and links to my pics online (there's some cool ones! :).