Get to know Christine and her role at The Girl and The Home.
Where did you grow up, what is your background and your role at TGATH?
I grew up mainly in Northern California, east of San Francisco until my little family (husband and young son) moved to Los Angeles in 2008. Prior to that, I was born in Vietnam and also lived in Saudi Arabia through elementary school. My dad, who was from New Jersey, was drafted into the Vietnam War while he was in college and met and married my mom in Saigon, and they had me. I was born 3 months before the Vietnam War ended and the United States withdrew. Despite living in different countries throughout my young childhood, I consider myself a California native, as I most closely identify with the culture, creativity and diversity of Los Angeles. I earned an MA in Visual Communication from San Francisco State in 2009, and also have a BA in Liberal Studies. The experience I gleaned from running my own studio as freelance designer for almost 15 years is something that allows me to work seamlessly not only as an agent, but also in helping to give my clients vision in achieving their goals through investing in real estate or in finding their ideal home. As a partner at The Girl and The Home, I aim to give an empowering and informative voice to the initiatives to educate our clients through insight, experiences and research on all things real estate.
Tell us about your own homeowner story and what you’ve experienced as a homeowner.
My husband and I always wanted to be homeowners and especially after the birth of our son, Grey in 2005 we really tried to kick into high gear a strong savings plan in order to get a down payment. After the economic downturn in 2008, things were really different in the real estate market as far as lending standards being very strict, so we knew that having ourselves be on solid financial ground was really crucial in making this happen. We always bought used not-fancy cars, sacrificed on things like expensive vacations, paid off all of our student loans (which were low due to a combination of attending community college and grants), and also we just stayed really disciplined and didn’t splurge on the new coolest gadget that would come out every year, i.e. I had a Blackberry until 2014. Basically, we were savers not spenders. At the time, every single real estate agent we came across said we had no chance of getting a house with out 20% down, so we scrimped and saved in order to do this. Thankfully, my husband had a very stable job and was doing well, but I have to say it took YEARS and a lot of patience to get that down payment. We purchased our home (that we LOVE) finally in 2013, after being outbid on 4 other homes we had offered on in the North East LA area. Our offer (above asking) was accepted over 5 other offers and the process of being outbid on other homes that we really liked, was a huge learning experience for us (gotta be in it to win it!). The owners also told us our letter to them made a difference because they bought a house a block away and were going to be our neighbors.
Our home is a modestly sized 1931 Spanish bungalow located in the Atwater Village neighborhood of LA, which borders the neighborhood of Los Feliz and city of Glendale. What we loved about our home was that it has tons of original, architectural charm and is located in a very walkable neighborhood which was really important to us and rare in car-centric Los Angeles. We are close to a lot of great restaurants, shops and Griffith Park is right up the street, which allows us a place to escape and be active as a family. We did have to give up some things on our list in order to be in such a great location, like a second bathroom and third bedroom/office, but what I realized as a first time homebuyer is that you don’t always get everything on your list the first time you purchase a home and compromise and flexibility is an important mindset to have when looking at your first place. It’s rare to get your “dream home” the first time (but can you make it your dream home…someday?). We saw the opportunity in adding value to our home and we put a lot of work into making it exactly how we want it through upgrades like re-doing our kitchen (award winning from HGTV and featured as Kitchen of the Week on Houzz), working on landscaping and designing and furnishing spaces that we enjoy with our friends and family. We still have projects, big and small but it’s rewarding because we know what we put into it just goes right back to us, literally in to our own pockets, through building equity. It’s a true labor of love.
In 2018, we looked into purchasing an investment property as we were done (at the time) with some major projects we had for our primary home. We had thought about investing in some type of a rental property in LA, but as many of us have seen, the market can be tough and expensive, and everything we looked at in our price range was depressing and right by a freeway. We had a family member who lived out in the high desert in Landers about two and half hours away, and after years of going to the area to visit, we thought to check out Joshua Tree as an option to look into a vacation rental. I saw a listing (literally the very first listing I opened to check out) for a really sweet looking 1953 mid-century brick cabin ranch, which was literally half the price of what we were looking at in LA. I remember driving out there that day and sort of feeling dread (like Ugh, is this going to be worth it?!), but then we got to the property and just fell in love with it immediately. The location, (once again - it’s important) just gave us the exact right feel between a true getaway yet not too remote, as it was only 12 minutes from the national park entrance and 6 minutes to the center of town. It had gorgeous views of the park from the front of the property and while feeling authentic to the area, it still was conveniently located on a paved road, which is sometimes not the case in the more rural/ less developed Joshua Tree area. I wrote a glowing letter to the sellers about how much we loved the house, we put in an offer and it was accepted as the one and only offer they got on the house within 3 days of it being listed….What a huge difference from the Los Angeles market!
As an investment property, and as a short-term rental property our mindset was slightly different than with our primary home. We worked really hard on designing the space to appeal to those wanting to experience and love Joshua Tree the way we did, but we knew we were going to have a variety of people coming in to our home, so we wanted to furnish and design the space in a way that wasn’t so precious that we would be sad if an item broke or got ruined. It was a rewarding and fun challenge (which I will detail through another post soon), but in the end with a ton of thought and planning, the space we created was a reflection of the authentic desert lifestyle while being practical for the different renters that we would be sharing our home with.
Over the past few years, there has been a huge interest in how to purchase a home in the high desert as an investment/ short term rental, and I love to share my experiences and tips and plan to do this in a variety of ways through the Girl and the Home, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can check out my house in the desert on Airbnb, Rancho de Soñadores.
Christine and her dog Napoleon in her 1931 Spanish home in Atwater Village, Los Angeles.
Name 3 things you want people to know about you as a person.
1. I love meeting new people, enjoy entertaining, cooking and hanging out with friends.
2. I love music, art, design, culture… pretty much anything creative is interesting to me. My husband works in the live music industry as a talent/booking agent, and we met while working in a record store in the Bay Area during our late teens/ early twenties (yes, it was kinda similar-ISH to that movie from the 90’s Empire Records). My early adulthood was all about going to shows, my husband being in a band and just basically being obsessed with music and us trying to build a life together while doing something we loved and enjoyed. 25+years later, I guess we are more or less doing that.
3. Being helpful and showing love and care for people is really important to me, which is something that gives me purpose. I try to do this by taking time out to be giving to others of my time, and make that my priority in life.
How did you get into real estate and why do you enjoy it?
After my first home purchase in 2013, I never stopped looking at real estate, and loving real estate. In Los Angeles, you have so many interesting properties that just captivate you with a combination of unique history, architecture, interior design; it’s just an epicenter of interesting stuff that I’ve never been able to shake my obsession with (yes, I’m kinda OCD). I’ve had such a rewarding experience with real estate as a homeowner and investor that I have a desire to want to give people a glimpse into what could be possible for them too! It’s just fun, and can be a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. Being a realtor is a job that is a culmination of several different skills and interests that I’ve been able to hone over a period of years as a businesses owner and creative professional. Also, Juliana is one of my closest friends and with her encouragement and mentoring, I’ve been so incredibly thankful to have someone supporting me to work in something that I truly enjoy and find interesting on a lot of different levels. She’s a twin, but I joke that I’m her other twin cause we have so much in common on how we think and want to do things. It’s a joy!
What are the things that influence your approach to working with your clients?
Because I care so much about people making choices and decisions that help them in life, what guides me in my approach to working with my clients is making sure that they are heard, understood and also giving them my honest perspective on what to look for out in the real estate market. I strive to be authentic and warm in my communication with people so they have a positive experience during what can be a really emotional process. It is likely most people’s biggest investment and a huge milestone in life, and I want them to feel like they can trust that I’m going to do the very best I can to make it as painless as possible.
What are your goals at The Girl and The Home?
My goals at The Girl and The Home are:
1. To be a great friend and support system.
2. To be as helpful and kind to every person that wants to work with us.
3. To impart as much knowledge and perspective as I possibly can in helping people make decisions that are right for them.
4. To be a good, well-balanced person.