We'll be rich, the buyers will be ecstatic, and the agents will
bask in the satisfaction of bringing all these good things to pass.
What followed then, in one of the letters, was a list of recent
sales with the amounts paid, mostly for houses on streets I can see
from my upstairs windows.
The prices were breathtaking -- almost grotesque.
I live in what was called Santa Ana Heights when we moved here 22
years ago. Somewhere along the line, it took up the tonier name of
Bayview Heights. And two years ago, we became part of Newport Beach.
The main reason most of my neighbors wanted to be annexed by Newport
Beach was their conviction it would increase our real estate values.
Man, were they right!
I had reasons to be dubious. Santa Ana Heights is a highly
eclectic neighborhood in a city of establishment wealth. Our homes
are a mix of the remnants of a middle-class housing development a
half-century ago, a sizeable number of creative remodels, and a
growing number of tear-downs that are being replaced by houses best
described as mini-mansions.
We still have horses walking our streets, mobile homes and trucks
parked in our driveways, open garage doors and aircraft from John
Wayne thundering over our patios at what seem 30-second intervals.
But we also have comfortable homes and spacious yards, and we
connect with our neighbors and feel a strong sense of community.
Except for the aircraft , those of us who live here embrace the
eccentricities, but I suspected they might turn away buyers at the
prices I saw listed on that real estate letter.
Man, was I wrong!
Real estate agents seem to be seeking properties to sell in my
neighborhood more aggressively than adding to their waiting list of
That raises a critical question for those of us fortunate enough
to own such properties. Do we take the money and create a whole new
lifestyle somewhere else with considerably less financial stress? Or
do we see it as a pleasantly startling increase in our paper wealth
but certainly not a sufficient reason to upend a lifestyle that is
During the same week I got those real estate letters, a number of