In our 21st-century fairy tale, Goldilocks is house hunting in the woods of Long Beach.
She’s not strapped for cash, living comfortably off her story royalties, but she’s a person of decidedly less-than-extravagant tastes. Give her an ample chair, a nice bowl of medium-temperature porridge and bed that’s got just enough bounce to it and she is, if you will pardon the term, golden.
It’s this winning formula that Goldilocks is using on her house-hunting expedition.
Her Realtor picks her up in a Jaguar and takes her to Naples Canal, where Goldilocks tours a $4.5 million, four bed, six-bath property with a koi pond, marble fireplaces, a waterfront gym and a third-floor roof deck sporting a Jacuzzi.
“Good Lord!” says Goldilocks.
“Do you like it?” asks the real-estate agent.
“It’s a little over-the-top,” replies Goldilocks. “The koi pond is rather gilding the lily.”
The Realtor scowls, watching her commission taking wing and fluttering out over the canals. “OK, we’ll go check another place that may be more to your liking.”
It’s not. It looks like a place where you’d take dangerous household chemicals and paint to have them disposed of properly, but the employees merely dump them on the ground after you leave.
It’s two bedrooms, one bath sprawled over 730 square feet. “They’re asking $299,000,” says the Realtor, hoping she can at least get a big enough commission check to fill up her Jag.
“I don’t know,” says Goldilocks. “It just doesn’t feel like home.”
Our Realtor is flummoxed. “I don’t know what you want. You don’t like opulence, you don’t like squalor. What DO you like?”
“Medium,” says Goldilocks. “I like medium, just like I like my chairs, bed and porridge.”
The median list price for a house in Long Beach is $560,000. So off we go to this nice little three-bedroom, two-bath home at 2970 Gale Ave. in the alphabetical neighborhood on the city’s westside: It’s the last street in a run of avenues called Adriatic, Baltic, Caspian, Delta, Easy, Fashion and Gale, the easternmost westside avenue before we hit the 710 Freeway and L.A. River and run out of letters.
The home, listed at $559,000 (buy yourself a coffee with the money you saved), has a freshly-flipped look to it, with good curb appeal, thanks to new little palms and fresh stucco or paint. It’s the nicest looking house on a street that could use some similar touching up. It sort of runs counter to the realty rule that says you should buy the worst house on the best street.
It wasn’t too long ago that $560,000 bought you a dream home. Now we’re talking starter, although at 1,368 square feet, there’s ample room for a family of four, if you can live with a lot that backs up to the freeway with its steady parade of Port traffic in what air-pollution experts cheerfully refer to as The Death Zone.
And, history buffs will note that the location is just half a block away from the Gale Avenue explosion and fire of Dec. 1, 1980, when a subterranean petroleum pipe ruptured, and a geyser of highly flammable naptha burst through the concrete and caught fire, destroying one house and damaging 11 others. But what are the odds of that ever happening again?
For our Goldilocks, who doesn’t like extremes, the house on Gale Avenue was just right and she lived there—with only a bit of trepidation accompanied by a nasty cough—ever after.
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.
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