$500,000: WHAT THE VALLEY'S MEDIAN HOMEBUYER CAN AFFORD


You’ve made it! If you’re like most first-time home buyers, you’re in your 30’s and have started a family. You and your spouse’s household income, around $88,000, is stable. It’s time to stop renting.

If you’re like most Valleyites, your average household income is $88,000. With a reasonable 10% down payment, you’re qualified for $500,000.

Yes, the average couple is qualified for a house worth a half-million dollars. What does that get you in terms of homes for sale in the San Fernando Valley?

Put simply, $500,000 is the tipping point for nicer homes. It’s the border between average and “getting nice!”. Make no mistake, everything under $500,000 is a starter home. There’s townhomes, smaller single-family residences… or really nice condos!

Ultimately, your taste in house is subjective. One person's hot pink bathroom is another's nightmare. But in my experience, houses become retirement-worthy after the $700,000 range. To qualify for that price, you’d have to report at least $130,000/yr.

Here’s what you’re looking at:

  • SFR’s in the East Valley: San Fernando, Sylmar, Arleta, Pacoima, Canoga Park, and parts of Winnetka

  • Townhome in Northridge/Granada Hills zoned for GHCHS

  • A condo anywhere in the Valley

Single-Family Residences

Most young families want an SFR. The yard’s for the kids. Driveway’s for the cars. There’s no HOA payment and you’re not squished between neighbors. The white picket fence seals you in the safety of your own American dream.

For $500,000, you get a smaller SFR in the East Valley. If you’re lucky, one will pop up in parts of Reseda, Canoga Park, or Winnetka. However, most of those will be 2 bedrooms. Make no mistake buyers - these are rougher areas. You'll have to move towards $600,000 to make your way into better areas.

Nonetheless, a house is a house. Crime rates are on the perpetual downswing, so safety shouldn't be a concern.

  1. 13541 Mindora Ave, Sylmar 91342

  • $499,000

  • Bed / Bath: 3 / 2

  • SqFt: 1,106

  • Price per SqFt: $451.18

  • Lot: 7,637

  • Garage: 2/ Attached

  • Opinion: It's in the Sylmar foothills, which is north of the 210 freeway. In other words, it's a good part of Sylmar. The yard's depressing dirt. The laminate floors and smooth ceilings are a plus. There's a boring galley kitchen with no upgrades. The lot size is fantastic, however.

2. 21041 RUNNYMEDE St, Canoga Park 91303

  • $500,000

  • Bed / Bath: 3 / 2

  • SqFt: 1,106

  • Price per SqFt: $452.08

  • Lot: 6,499

  • Garage: 1/Attached

  • Opinion: This is off De Soto & Saticoy. It's not Canoga Park's best area, but it's still West Valley. If you know where the Winnetka DMV Office is, this one's down the street. The house is upgraded. It's not worn. The lot size is reasonable. For a family that's tired of renting, this can be a slice of heaven. Interior decor goes a long way!

Townhomes

The exact definition of a townhome is fuzzy. Generally, it has its own entrance. It's usually attached to other units and shares community amenities, like a gate or a pool. This is different from condominiums, which are all housed in one large building.

The actual size of the townhomes can be similar to the SFR's listed above. They just lack the privacy and yard space of SFR's. The quality of the interior is often higher than SFR's as well.

1. 17729 Kingsbury St # 1, Granada Hills 9134

  • $490,000

  • Bed / Bath: 3 / 3

  • SqFt: 1,250

  • Garage: 2/ Attached

  • HOA Fee: $200/mo

  • Opinion: It's Old Granada Hills, which is near GHCHS. That's a desirable area. It's upgraded and has a good yard, for a townhome. The HOA is a ridiculously-low $200/mo. You're normally looking at $300+. If you're qualified for $500,000, this is a good buy.

2. 18134 Killion St # 1, Tarzana 91356

  • $500,000

  • Bed / Bath: 3 / 2

  • SqFt: 1,464

  • Price per Sq Ft: $341.53

  • Levels: Two

  • Garage: 2/Attached

  • HOA: $425/mo, includes water bills

  • Opinion: It's in Tarzana, off Ventura Blvd. The house is large and is upgraded. You're getting bang for your buck, especially given the area. The HOA is a tad high at $425/mo, but it includes water bills, which are usually around $100/mo anyway. The community pool is always desirable. Why own your pool anyway - most barely use it throughout the year.

Condominiums

If you're like me, you don't need all that space. It's a lot of cleaning. I'm barely home anyway. I just need a spiffy spot near work and nightlife.

If you buy a condo, you'll get the most value.

You generally access your condo by first entering a building, then either taking an elevator or stairwell to the entrance. In other words, it's an apartment unit - that you own.

Most Americans like space. That's why we move to the San Fernando Valley. It's suburban sprawl.

1. 21650 BURBANK # 114, Woodland Hills 91367

$499,000

Bed / Bath: 2 / 2

SqFt: 1,229

HOA: $412/mo

Opinion: This is Woodland Hills living in the center of the action. The kitchen, floors, and paint are upgraded. It only has two bedrooms, but as previously stated, most families are not growing in condos anyway. If location is important to you, then this is it!

2. 626 E Orange Grove Ave # 204, Burbank 91501

  • $499,900

  • Bed / Bath: 2 / 3

  • SqFt: 990

  • Garage: 2/Detached

  • Opinion: Hey! You can even get a spot in Downtown Burbank! SFR's over there are trending towards $1 million. This condo's a steal. You don't find much anything in Burbank for that price.

Conclusion

A half-million isn't what it used to be - but it's still something. A piece of the American dream can be yours for $500,000.

The SFR's could be nicer, but anything's better than renting. Townhomes and condos, on the other hand, pull their own weight.

For more information on getting qualified for a mortgage, call Julian (818) 390-3265.

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