The Recession Hits Agoura Hills

It’s all your fault, oak paneling. You’re on notice.

Disclaimer:  I have no idea if the recession really “hit” Agoura Hills, technically.  I usually avoid learning hard facts about economics and politics too, really.  I go by my gut instinct and the things I see happening around me.  Also, my only regional news comes from the Acorn, which has a delightfully narrow focus.

About 18 months ago, when Agoura Hills Dad and I were house shopping in Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, and Thousand Oaks, it was clear that there was no recession in Agoura Hills.  Houses were snatched up for cash right out from under us no matter what crumbling, garishly-colored condition they were in.  We wound up stretching our purchasing budget to the absolute limit to get into the neighborhood we eventually moved to.

Knock on wood, everything is going well so far.  My husband and I work hard to keep it afloat, and now that the markets and all the people in charge have helped make the economy suck for most people, we have taken advantage of the lower mortgage rates and applied to refinance into a shorter loan period.  So naturally, we had to have the house appraised again.

Despite the doomsday reports on 24 hour news, despite all signs from the zeitgeist that this would be true, I was absolutely shocked when the appraisal report came in today.  According to this particular appraiser, the value is $40K less than our purchase price.

I’m taking the news personally.  Did I not clean the house well enough before the appraiser came over?  Did he dislike the new Zen garden AHD made in the front yard?  I knew I should have painted over that crappy oak paneling already.  I knew we should have called a tree doctor to save the ailing birch tree on the side of the house.

Also, I knew that is a loose forecaster of a home’s true market value.  I learned that lesson back when we found this house in the first place.  In my brain I know that most of the appraisal is based on square footage and comps, but my heart suspects that if I had just taken the extra step of moving the clean laundry basket from the kitchen to the bedroom…

All is not lost, of course.  In the last year and a half I have learned a lot about home loans and how they are done.  If your loan’s amount is below a certain percentage of the market value, you’re in a good position.  We’re fine.  But I’m personally offended by this $40K hit against our house’s self-esteem.  I want to pet it and say “it’s not your fault that someone went crazy with cheap oak paneling and nobody has come along to save you.  Yet.”

And so of course the day after the appraisal visit?  I started prepping those nasty walls for some refreshing white paint.  Stay tuned.


  1. Ouch! We were talking about a refi (already!) given the Twist move that the Fed pulled, but now I’m nervous. My dad is advising us to wait until after the reno is done, when the value surely will have increased. But won’t the $20,000 in plumbing upgrades count for anything?! It’s almost too scary to try to find out.

  2. The Acorn is worth reading just for the letters to the editor. “Delightfully narrow focus” is a great way to describe its journalistic mission.


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