If you’re getting a free home, make sure you can afford it

Homes in Long Beach, or pretty much anywhere in California, are expensive — and here you thought you weren’t going to learn anything new today.

Last month in Long Beach the median-priced home sale was $760,000.

Time was if you couldn’t afford Long Beach, you’d simply cross over into Lakewood and find something more affordable. That doesn’t work anymore. The median-priced home sold last month in Lakewood was $860,000, a full $100K over Long Beach.

But I didn’t call you all here today to talk about how much money it costs to buy a home. What I’ve been learning over the past few years is that a free house is darned near unaffordable for most of us if we’re saddled with repair bills as part of the giveaway.

My wife and I are Boomers, if you haven’t figured that out yet, which means we were able to buy our home for the same price as you’d pay now for an Aston Martin DB11 Volante, which is a very expensive car, but a very inexpensive house. The fact that we blundered into a home in Long Beach’s East End as we now haughtily call it, doesn’t mean we didn’t do all that stuff your grandpa talks about — bootstraps, avocado toast, Starbucks, etc.

But the house, like some of us Boomers, is getting old, going on 70 years now, and the chickens, financially speaking, are coming home to roost. Last week it was $2,500 for a new water heater; before that, it was $3,000 for new living room flooring; before that, it was $25,000-$30,000 to rebuild a water-damaged bedroom. There’s plenty more: a couple thousand for painting the exterior trim, a few hundred for a leaking refrigerator, hundreds of dollars for the odd major appliance which breaks down annually around Christmas time.

A reader named Donna sent me an email about the water heater incident.

“Not to top your story but a similar thing happened to me this past week and it was $2250.

“Mine was of the ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ variety. Called for a leaking bathroom sink and found the shut-off valve under the bathroom sink broken. Toilet leaking, too, needed new O-ring and that shut-off valve was also broken. “Oh, and to top it all off, a pinhole leak in the shower so the entire shower has to be removed. That last bit will be on top of the $2250.

“I feel your pain….”

So on Sunday I was reading and relaxing in the living room when I heard my wife and daughter having a sort of panicked discussion from the back of the house.”

“It’s coming from the toilet… No, it’s coming from the washing machine….”

Turns out they were both right, and it was coming from the shower as well. Water, water everywhere. I wonder if Samuel Coolridge had a plumbing problem as his muse.

So that’s being taken care of by my overused plumber while I type this and await the financial verdict.

I can already see my planned lunch of avocado toast fading into the distance, along with my dreams of buying an Aston Martin DB11 Volante.

What series I wolfed down over the weekend

I’ll watch anything with Jeff Daniels in it, and last week it was “A Man in Full,” an adaptation of the 1998 Tom Wolfe novel.

Set in Atlanta, the film punches a ton of hot-button issues, including political shenanigans, racial injustice, insane greed and highly toxic masculinity. It runs into the fringes of “Billions” and “Succession” but is inferior to both.

I enjoyed viewing much of the six-episode Netflix series in a couple of sittings but felt fairly let down at its flimsy ending and the lack of being able to latch onto anything resembling a protagonist.

Daniels’s character, Charlie Croker, a financially imperiled real estate tycoon and developer, bullies everyone he comes in contact with, thanks to his heavy blustering Southern demeanor and his dispensing of his macho mottos, such as, “Part of being a man is being able to kick another man’s ass.”

The series is not among Daniels’ finest work (go to HBO’s 2012 “The Newsroom” for that), and, as far as adaptations of Wolf’s work, it falls considerably short of “The Right Stuff,” and a bit better than “Bonfire of the Vanities.”

Tim Grobaty is a columnist and the Opinions Editor for the Long Beach Post. You can reach him at 562-714-2116, email [email protected], @grobaty on Twitter and Grobaty on Facebook.