web analytics

Jungalow Dreams: A Jungalow by the river!!


When we began this house-hunting mission with Trulia, I had no clue what to expect. I didn’t know if we’d get approved for a loan, I didn’t know what neighborhood we’d end up in, if we’d buy a tiny house or a big house, if the whole process would take weeks, months or years. But after some serious deliberation coupled with swift decision making, we put in our first offer on home! We decided on the ‘small and close’ house from this post. (Thanks to those of you that chimed in on the last post–I loved reading your comments and hearing your stories).

Putting in our first offer for a home was pretty scary. Our agent wouldn’t tell us how much to bid. He basically just urged us to bid the highest amount that we could afford. The house was listed at $530,000. We knew that it was a ‘sellers market’ (I’ve heard about 300 people tell me that over the last few months.) We also knew that there were eleven total offers on the home. Yikes. So as our first offer we bid over the asking price at $552,752 (yes we used my lucky number “52” TWICE because very superstitious like that).  Then we waited a day or two and then had to come back to the sellers with a best and final offer. We were told that our offer had placed somewhere in the middle, there were offers higher and lower than ours.


This best and final offer thing was really tricky and annoying. At the end of the day, we decided that we kind of loved the house and that we’d basically go for broke. We were emotionally attached despite everyones warnings. We put in our best and final at $587,752. You many remember from this post we were pre-approved for $590,000.  Then we waited.

A Jungalow By the river

A day went by (it felt like months) and we heard from our agent that someone bid $620,000. Wow. That’s a lot. We were bummed but just tried to remember all the things we didn’t love about the house…it’s small, the configuration is a little weird…and the little galley kitchen and the way the counter comes into the window?! The worst.

And then the phone rings. For some unknown reason, the buyers backed out. There was one other buyer who bid more money than we did but for some reason the sellers didn’t feel confident about their financials and we were next in line. Holy moly. We just may get the house after all. Back to thinking about all the good things about it! Haha. Um, hello amazing location, curb appeal and really bright and airy house!!


Once we decided to go for it, the next step was to put a deposit in the escrow account. I’ve heard the term escrow many times in my life but only this month did I really understand what it means. It’s basically like a holding account where the money goes while everyone makes sure that loans go through and all that. After the deposit was in the escrow account we had a few days to make inspections and negotiate on the price of the property based on how much work it needed etc. We had all kinds of different experts come out to assess the condition of the house: termites, electrical, plumbing, foundation, roof etc. It was expensive to get all of the reports but worth it to make sure we weren’t buying a lemon.

unnamed (2)

And then, in the middle of the inspections we got some bad news. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. The inspections were going fine, but the appraisal of the house came in low at $550,000. Practically speaking, it meant that even though we were pre-approved for a $590,000 loan, the house didn’t get approved. We’d have to come up with the difference in cash, or get the sellers to lower the price, or we’d lose the house.

We had already lost this house once and we didn’t want to lose it again, so we started scrambling. First we hit up our parents to see if we got desperate,  just how much cash we could come up with in family loans. Then we started asking around to see if it would be possible to get another appraisal. Appraisals are created based on ‘comps,’ meaning similar houses sold in the area, so our agent helped us find comps that the appraiser may have missed the first time around. By now we were so deep into this process that the idea of doing this all over again seemed almost unbearable.  We wanted this house bad.

Meanwhile the inspections were finishing up. The house was in decent shape and needed about $15,000 worth of work–not bad for a house built in 1926. So now it was time to tell the sellers how much we’d pay for the house. There was a lot to consider: the low appraisal, the 15K worth of work, and the fact that anything that was over $550K was coming out of pocket from family loans, etc.


And this part was actually kinda fun–nerve-racking, but fun. We knew very little info about the sellers but we did know that it was three siblings who were selling the house and splitting the money. Since both Jason and I have two siblings we kinda tried to put ourselves in their shoes and think about the whole number, but also we looked at the number divided by three–to see how much each person would walk away with.  We were trying to guess what was the lowest amount we could offer without turning off the sellers.

And then, amidst negotiations, (and once both parties had agreed to $573,000) we got notice that the house had been re-appraised at $590,000. Hallelujah. We were getting the house for a lot less than our best and final offer, and the bank would finance the entire loan.  So…we got the house!!!

unnamed (3)

Holy yay. Stay tuned for many, many blog posts about renovating and decorating our sweet little Jungalow by the river!! Eeeeee!!!!

*I’m documenting our entire journey of becoming first-time home owners in partnership with the online real-estate site, Trulia. Catch up on all the posts here.

Alternative Text Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

75 responses to “Jungalow Dreams: A Jungalow by the river!!”

  1. Brittany says:

    Woohoo! Glad the roller coaster ride was worth it in the end. The house is absolutely adorable! Such great light and a wonderful garden. I’m sure you will be very very happy you went with this option. Congrats!

  2. June says:

    Oooohh, congratulations! I am glad you went for “small and close” (even though I don’t consider it a small house, by European standards at least) The whole process must have been so exhausting.

    It’s gonna be great for your readers to see all the ensuing renovations and decorating, can’t wait!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      ha! Yes that’s true by European standards it’s a big place! I just have to start editing and getting rid of a lot of stuff and we’ll make it work!

  3. Sarah says:

    Congrats! It’s so lovely! Looking forward to see what you will do with it! Hopefully the first step is the carpet ;)

  4. Staci says:

    I was so stressed out just reading this! What a rollercoaster for you! I know this place is gonna rule. And it’s YOURS!!! So excited for you and your fam. ❤️

  5. Eunice Duran says:

    Congratulations! The house looks beautiful and I’m sure you will make it your own with your amazing decorating skills! This type of home reminds me so much of Eagle Rock area!

  6. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations, Justina! I just got a similar 1924 casita in Mar Vista in December and I’ve totally loved the experience of decorating such a bright and airy space (aren’t those old front-facing windows the best?) Can’t wait to see what you do with yours – it would be fun to compare!

  7. Barbara says:

    Congratulations! You stayed in the neighborhood (which means we will continue to see you at art sunday) – yay! It is such a roller coaster that last little bit before the house is yours, but then you get the keys and wow.
    I am so excited to see what you do with your new home.

  8. ingrid says:

    OMG! CONGRATULATIONS on the your new Jungalow! So exciting! I’m so anxious to see what you come up with in terms of decor for the interior and the fab backyard! yours is going to be the envy of the neighborhood! tee hee! ;-) I wish you friendly, welcoming neighbors with cool kids that little Ida can make friends and lasting memories with. :-)

  9. kellyjo says:

    In reading this, my heart was beating, my eyes were wide, and then the last picture just made everything let go! I’m so happy for you and your family!

  10. Poppy says:

    Wow, Justina! Congratulations! I, as all your readers, cannot WAIT to see the awesome things that happen here, but personally and design-wise. Hooray!

  11. Zoe says:

    Congratulations, Justina! Thank you so much for sharing this process with us…especially the hard parts. I live in Seattle which is also an awful place to want to buy a house – so expensive! It’s always so encouraging to see someone taking the plunge in a situation you can actually relate to…as opposed to this huge tech community in Seattle that can basically pay cash for whatever house they want.

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      I feel you!! The markets are so crazy nowadays it’s REALLY difficult–but totally not impossible!! xoxo

  12. Danielle says:

    Eeeeeeeek!!!!! CONGRATS :) That was an exciting story. My eyes were wide open and I was inches away from the screen. LOL. I’m so glad you go it. I don’t know personally, but I hear the process is tiring. I bet you have great Karma. First shot and you slam dunked it! Can’t wait to read more.

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      ha! Thanks yeah I felt SO lucky at the end of the day that we got the first house we put an offer in on…I know so many people have t put in multiple offers before landing a house.

  13. Manu says:

    Oh God, I don’t think I would’ve survived all that process! But I’m so glad you did and got the house! HUGHE CONGRATULATIONS!!! This will be a year to remember for you, can’t wait how you ‘jungalise’ the house. Besos!

  14. Celene says:

    HI from a person you”ll never meet who is so excited for you and your sweet little family! Congrats for turning your dream(s) into reality! You just seem to be such a giving, lovely lady. I know this might sound weird, but I hope that you will get sponsors to help you with any projects that cost $$$. You certainly give so much to your readers, you deserve to get some help! And besides, the more help you get, the more your awesome ideas will come to life for the rest of us to drool over!!!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      haha–needless to say I love this comment!! I will certainly be doing what I can to share lots of ideas along the way! hugs!

  15. I am smiling so hard right now!! Congratulations!!! I CANNOT wait to see how it gets jungalowified ;) !!!

  16. Debbie O. says:

    Congratulations! Can’t wait to see how you put your touch on it!

  17. Jennifer Li says:

    Congrats! I remember chatting with you in NYC about how you thought this would never happen!

  18. Congrats! Buying a house is hard, and emotional. There are so many little things that have to fall into place. Our first year was really hard cause we bought a dump of a house for pretty cheap that will be nice one day. I’m actually not sure how it passed inspection…

    Take some time to feel the energy of the house before decorating. It makes all the difference in getting it right. :)

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Such good advice as I am most certainly the type of person that get’s into ‘go mode’ I do need to just go slow and feel it out. xoxo!!

  19. Joda Mize says:

    Congratulations Justina! And how great of you to share your experience with the world. Thank you for inspiring us!

  20. Nicole Valentine Don says:

    Amazingness!!!!! I’m so thrilled and excited for you!! xo

  21. Congrats and how exciting!

    My husband and I had a very similar situation/circumstance for buying our first home last October. So many people initially told us we should buy something bigger and further away from the area we wanted to stay in. But, we couldn’t shake how we felt about the house. The killer neighborhood we’d hoped we’d live in (but typically is too cut-throat to get into), and the character/charm we’d always DREAMED of in our first home. It was the perfect blend of my husband and I’s styles and we just knew, we had to give it a go since it wouldn’t come along again. While it was SO stressful with all the deposits, escrow, bidding, negotiating, and the stress of potentially being WAY out bid, it was such a great experience (and thrill) to go through together. Plus, I won’t lie, the documentary about the tiny house movement really got me rethinking the idea of going bigger.

    Happy closing & welcome to your new home!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      yes!! it’s such a crazy experience but you’re right about it being kinda thrilling and also a good bonding experience to go through with a partner. Happy you guys found something you love!

  22. Jess Davis says:

    Congrats Justina! You made the right choice. Neighborhood is everything. I can’t wait to see how the jungalow takes shape. Please holler if you need some hardware!

  23. Shavonda says:

    Yaaaaaay! CONGRATULATIONS Justina! The homebuying process can be beyond stressful, but im so so happy things worked out in your favor. Im so excited for you and your family. Welcome to homeownership friend.

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      thanks sweet Shavonda. We’re thrilled. :D xoxo! And happy Birthday too! (saw that on IG!)

  24. congratulations justina! this is so so so exciting! such a rollercoaster and glad it paid off for you.

  25. emily says:

    So totally excited for you! We hope to buy our first home one of these days so thanks for all you step by steps! Enjoy!!!!!

    • Justina Blakeney says:

      Thanks so much! Stay tuned I’ll be sharing a lot of practical tips and stuff I’ve learned in the coming months…basically all the stuff I wish someone had told me!! xoxo

  26. george says:

    Fantastic News! Love that Ida is flaked out in the living room in the last image! Is that the result of the roller coaster?! Very pleased you decided to stay small and close – its important for the entire family! (Says she, who has both sets of grandparents residing across oceans) Looking forward to seeing you transform your new home with your magic Boho style!

  27. Kelly says:


  28. Dee says:


  29. Anonymous says:

    So happy for you guys, Justina. It’s gonna be so much fun to create and reimagine that cute little casa.

    As much as I love our home, I miss that move-in excitement. Nesting is the bomb.

    :-) All our best as you start your new journey.

  30. Mattie says:

    That was me, Justina. Not anonymous at all. ;-)

  31. Mutaleni says:

    What a marvellous ending to a nail biting story! I too am looking forward to getting inspired by your “new home” decor. Congratulations on a sweet house!

  32. Congrats!!! I am so excited for you and can’t wait to see the transformation. I will be living vicariously through you for the next several months! We are starting our first house hunt here in Austin, with some similar limitations and I appreciate this honest account of the process. The whole technical part of it gives my creative brain a bit of an aneurism. Bravo for keeping true to yourself and your work and making this dream a reality! xoxo R

  33. rachel says:

    OMG this house is so beautiful and perfect for you! Ive never met you but am so excited for you :) We’re about to start a home search our selves and following your journey has been so helpful! xx

  34. valerie says:

    Oh gosh, what a story!!! I was riveted all the way through :) Yay, how exciting for y’all!!! The house is beautiful and I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  35. aprilneverends says:

    Hooray, Justina, congratulations, it’s so exciting! I could relate so much when reading. I am super-superstitious myself, but in our case the seller turned out to be worse than me in this aspect, so we had to go with her lucky numbers, not mine..oh how bummed I was(and still is)). We also had family trust as a seller..several siblings. It gets very emotional, for obvious reasons, sale like that…we’re not in the house yet, and already I feel responsible for it, like it was entrusted to me, or something. Like a living creature, almost. I really think I animate it too much..))
    People are right, it’s best not to get attached when talking business, but I personally was never able to follow this wise advise.
    Anyhow. It seems like a beginning of another wonderful journey. The house -your new house-IS extremely lovable, and I’m sure it will love you back. It’s so bright, and it has a pretty sunny disposition)) I love all the pictures of Ida there..can’t stop smiling. It’s like she and the house are saying mutual “very nice to meet you!” in a very sincere way.

  36. Daniella says:

    Yay! Congratulations Justina!! Thank you so much for posting this, such an informative heads up. My fiancé and I are looking to buy our first home too, and it was nice to stumble upon your post and read about the process. Thank you for sharing your experience, and I am so happy you got your dream house in the end.

    Your work is amazing and I cannot wait to see how your new home evolves and grows with you and your family. Congratulations again, the house is absolutely spectacular! <3

  37. Alexis says:

    This is such a quaint and pretty house! Love the window trims. Congratulations Justina!

  38. Bianca says:

    Yay! This is soooo awesome. Wishing you a huge congrats.

    I remember bidding on our very first house. I was pregnant and we were feeling super nervous. All these other bidders were coming out of the woodwork in a sellers market — it was cray cray.

    But we “got” our house too. :)

    And your new nest looks worth fighting for!

    Luck + love,

  39. debra says:

    Super excited for you and your family. Happy home making! Looking forward to seeing what you do!

  40. tammyCA says:

    I missed all the posts leading up to this, but congrats on your new home. It is so charming & can’t wait to see how you put your creative touch to it. We live in an older small-ish, cozy house & I love it. I really never want a big house. Like yours it has windows all over and wonderful light & air coming in & original features that have great charm. Have fun!

  41. Lexsea says:

    Wow! Congratulations! I am so happy for you guys and am actually a little in shock… We bought our first house (in Silver Lake) last year, looked for 2 years (actively for about 6 months) and put offers on 5 houses before getting our home… I have several friends on their 6th or 7th offer! I haven’t heard of anyone getting a house on their first try since pre-2010… so this is encouraging. Way to go! Frogtown is so fun. Congrats. I love the house. — xo new reader & neighbor!

  42. […] cost between 5%-15% of the home’s total value. We bought our home for $587,000 (read about it here) so according to that figure our total kitchen remodel should cost around $58,000. YIKES. We […]

  43. […] a lot of money remodeling this side of the house just yet. We just poured all of our cash into buying the house and remodeling the kitchen–so the bedroom will have to wait. In the mean time, I’ve […]

  44. […] are currently renovating your new Jungalow by the River. Can you give us a sneak peak into how you’re using colour? We have dark green Moroccan […]

  45. […] sense, you may want to catch up a bit on this post about how I got pre-approved for a loan, and this post on actually finding our dream […]

  46. […] our new home. If you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know that we bought our fist home last year, we completely gutted the kitchen and did a full kitchen renovation, and now we’re […]

  47. […] Truth is, I don’t think I’d given it too much thought to whether I missed the old house or not. I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time looking back. I think I’m a ‘charge ahead’ kinda person and don’t often reminisce about things like past homes.  And then, right on the heels of that discussion, the latest issue of Inside Out Magazine (it’s a fantastic shelter mag out of Australia) came out with a multi-page feature on that very home. It was shot just weeks before we moved to the Jungalow By The River. […]

  48. […] of things that we loved about this home when we first found it, was that it had a dining room. Growing up, family dinners were very important. We sat around a […]

  49. […] cost between 5%-15% of the home’s total value. We bought our home for $587,000 (read about it here) so according to that figure our total kitchen remodel should cost around $58,000. YIKES. We […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.