When my husband and I got married almost 19 years ago, my husband surprised me with a tiny 1 bedroom condo in West Hollywood. As I think back on this now, I was actually pretty upset that he just purchased it without consulting with me.

His reasoning was, we needed a place to live and he didn't want to rent. We had tono place like home start someplace.

A couple of years later, we sold the one bedroom for just enough profit to put a small down payment on a 2 bedroom condo that was just rehabbed in Monterey Hills, close to South Pasadena.

The Monterey Hills condo was beautiful. It was on a 3rd floor of Drake Terrace, a corner unit and had absolutely spectacular views. We had both of our kids there and stayed there for ten years.

I sold that condo for the highest price at that time in Monterey Hills, a whopping $136,000. I was being congratulated by all my fellow real estate agents when in reality someone should have sat me down and consulted with me about whether or not I should have sold vs. rented it. The same condo sold several times since then and is now worth somewhere in the high $300,000 range.

The rental market in Monterey Hills has always been great since its close to USC, downtown LA and Old Town Pasadena. In any case, my mistakes are not what I wanted to write about - back to the story.

The reasons for moving out of our 2 bedroom condo were simple: our family was getting too big - 2 adults and 2 kids in 2 bedrooms tend to be tight and we needed good schools. Monterey Hills is part of LAUSD. We lived close to South Pasadena and San Marino - both cities with great school districts.

A friend of mine told me that there was an area in Pasadena and San Gabriel that had homes which fell under the San Marino School District jurisdiction. I found one of those homes in San Gabriel. We borrowed money for an additional down payment and spent at least $50,000 more than we wanted to, to purchase our new home.

Our new home was close to 3,500 sq. ft., had a pool and a spa, was very private, backed up to the Sunnyslope reservoir and above all offered us the schools that we needed. I signed both kids up with San Marino and never looked back. We paid $438,000 for it ande let me tell you it was painful. We scraped and saved to make those payments.

This month, we sold the same home in a down-trending market with multiple offers for $1,075,000 and moved into our new home in San Marino itself.

The morale of the story is owning a home is not for everyone, but

  • if you want a home to call your own,
  • if you want to start building equity,
  • if you want to have a write off
  • if you want to build your wealth

I have many clients who come to me wanting to buy a home, but their wants are much bigger than their pocket books. Please, please start some place and move up a bit at a time. Don't wait too long to realize your own dreams of home ownership.

Here are some of the Monterey Hills condos for sale on the market now.  This list is updated with new homes for sale as they become available:

READ MORE:  Pasadena real estate update 2012 – see luxury home sales.

Irina is a Top Realtor and the founder and President of Pasadena Views Real Estate Team™. She is available to assist you in all of your Real Estate transactions. Email or call her today at (626)629-8439.

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