Coming Home

24 Sep

When Hawke was born and we started accumulating a lot of things for him,  I had to buy a second shed for our large backyard and it pretty much immediately filled up.  At that time, real estate prices were still low and mortgage rates were at an all time low.  Our small house was starting to fill up with a ton of toys and clothes,  I told Lea it was now or never.   I have a knack for spotting trends, patterns on both behavior and just life in general and I was pretty sure we’d never see these rates, at least not for a long time.   My dive buddy Byron works real estate with his brother Gus Quinonez and another member Laurie at Keller Williams so we talked about selling our house and finding a bigger house, preferably in a really good school district.

Our old house in Garden Grove

My most favorite kitchen in the whole world, at our old house 😦

I did a lot of statistics work, school test scores, crime rates, per capita etc and cast a wide net from Cypress to Mission viejo. We came really close to narrowing it to Mission Viejo but there’s only one freeway that I’d really be able to commute on, the 5 and if there was any traffic I’d be stuck. Our realtors took us to see a ton of houses, unfortunately anything in our price range was pretty old and we didn’t want to remodel another house all over again.  So we started looking at north Orange County and ended up centering our focus on Placentia, Yorba Linda and Anaheim Hills.  The houses were newer there and had a bit more land, many also had excellent school districts.

We started out filling paperwork, and to our delight, our old house sold in record time, pretty much the first day we put it on the net we had some bids coming in and a few days later had buyers lined up. The timing was perfect because there was such competition for houses and we got several great offers which bumped us up to the next level of houses that we couldn’t really afford before. We bid on a few, lost some and then lucked out and found a beautiful house in the hills with a city light view and 60′ long pool on a pretty big end lot.  It had a big driveway that I could fit 6 cars on but more importantly It had enough room for Hawke to grow, and another room if we were lucky enough to have another child.  We can hike a block away from the house, there’s a big park with a castle jungle gym two blocks away, a couple of city park lakes I can teach Hawke to fish, and school districts that are all rated 10/10. The owners of that house were two police officers that were moving and they seemed like really nice people.

The new house when we first saw it

Our bid was accepted and we started going through escrow. I won’t rat out their real estate agent but I will say she was an absolute Hag, the most unprofessional agent I’ve ever seen.  Once the house inspection went through we requested for a few things to get fixed.  Our agents emailed her the list a few times, I kept asking what was going on and finally after our 17 days passed she wrote a nasty email claiming that we had sent in the paperwork late and now it was too late for her clients to fix what we requested. When it was pointed out that we had sent the info several times, she replied, “oh it must have gotten lost in my junk mail”. I’d be the first to point out that is not my problem you loser!  As time got closer to closing escrow I kept wondering when we would be able to see the house for final inspection.  And then we got word: she said the present owners were mad at us for getting them the list so late and they were busy packing for their move and couldn’t take the time to show us around.

That stressed me out because I knew I had to learn how to run the alarm, the pool equipment, and all the kitchen appliances. I knew they were moving the next day so I picked up a case of soda to keep them awake for the drive and headed to their house unannounced. I figured at the least they’d yell at me and I could explain what happened.

With Hawke in tow, I pulled up to their house, as predicted they were busy moving out. The owner didn’t recognize me at first and then I explained who I was. He broke out with a big smile and I apologized about the big mix up. The first thing he told me was that he knew it wasn’t our fault because we were so nice when he first met us. He also said his real estate agent was a loser, she was not returning his calls and her assistant was no help what so ever. He offered to show me the house without me even asking and showed me pretty much everything I wanted to know. He couldn’t be more accommodating and before I left he gave me his cell number in case there were any problems.

That was probably the happiest I’ve been in a long time, the stress was taken away immediately and I called my wife and let my agent know what happened. The best part? A day or so later their agent called and said that since the owner had vacated it would probably be okay for me to check out the house, my agent told her “oh Chris already went down there and chatted with them, brought them drinks and they were happy to show him around”. She was furious, when the time came to get the keys she wouldn’t even give them to my agent, she put them under the mat and gave them a call and coldly said “the keys are under the mat” and hung up. Good luck with that attitude lady, you are going to get the worst yelp review ever and I’ve already told my neighbors what a loser you are, good luck selling any houses in that area.

Escrow closing dates were up and down, we figured out when we would have to move and unfortunately it was mid week and thus most of my friends would not be able to help out.  I ended up hiring a moving company, Right Choice Moving which I found via Yelp.  The owner coordinated the timing and his guys showed up pretty much right on time with a big moving truck.  Wow, we had boxes all over the place, in the garage, in the sheds, in the house and the guys said right off that they had never seen a house with so many.  In hindsight we should have started earlier and thrown out a bunch of stuff because we would have saved a lot of time and money but with Hawke taking up most of our free time we just didn’t have the time.  Those moving guys really worked hard, it was mid summer heat and we had to do two full truckloads.  A couple of my buddies were able to help us out as well and that speeded things along.  After all the big things were moved (we had to lift our gigantic fridge over part of the kitchen counter, WOW) I cut the movers out and to save money did the last little things by myself.  It would be 3 am before I pulled my truck into the new house driveway with the last load.  We both knew we’d really miss our old house, we had recently renovated the kitchen and bathroom, I still think about that house now and then.  Man that was my dream kitchen..

While the new house was not a fixer upper, I still wanted to do a lot of things before we could call it home.  There was a GIGANTIC pine tree in the front yard that really shaded the house but it also was busting up my neighbors walkway so I immediately got quotes in to have it removed.  It was fairly expensive but man the pine was probably over 60′ tall with a root system that was at least two feet off the ground.  After the tree was removed I had a landscaping company come in and remove the soil and broken roots and put in some sod, that was also a huge job and when I was interviewing companies I was impressed with their knowledge about what was needed to be done.  The job came out beautifully.  The last thing we did was have a vinyl fence installed to enclose the side part of our yard, Manzo went out of his way to get me the best deal (a lot of the guys I called didn’t even return calls because I only needed 16′ of fencing), about half of what everyone else was charging.  Now my dogs have full run of the yard.  And finally we had a pool fence put in to keep the dogs out of the pool and to make sure Hawke stays safe while he’s playing.   It took a while to get everything dialed in and done, permits were a pain in the ass and really slowed down the process but thank goodness the hardest parts are over and now we can start to enjoy everything.

The Gigantic Pine Tree that dwarfed the house

Huge Root System being Marked for removal

Tree and root system removed and waiting for grading

Vinyl Fence Installed

New Sod and sprinkler system installed

Viking pool fencing

With the help of online communities I was able to get the alarm system up and running, took apart locks and had them re keyed, fixed broken shutters, tuned out the attic fan, got the pool equipment worked out and a billion other things I can’t remember.  We’re still settling in but are delighted on our purchase. We’ve already met both our side neighbors and they were so welcoming it was unbelievable. When I go to the nearby stores all the employees are eager to help you, they aren’t just sitting around trying to dodge the customers. Everything is clean, there isn’t a bunch of trash laying around even in the parking lots and everyone pretty much returns their carts in the cart racks.  I’ve seen deer under the pines down the street and saw quail a few weeks ago running down the road. Sure the drive is going to be hell for me, but in the long run it’s going to be worth it.  When we all were splashing around in the pool and Hawke was happily kicking his feet and splashing his hands I knew we were finally home…


And after all is said and done I was even able to sneak away and shoot a few yellowtail for dinner…

Some of the guys I used that I’d recommend, they don’t sponsor me I just thought they did great work 🙂

The Quinonez Group Real Estate 714-469-6061

Right Choice Moving 714-539-3797

Torres Tree Service (

Farmers Landscaping 888-501-8733

Manzo’s Fencing 909-545-0855

Cal Viking Pool Fences (


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