After getting outbid multiple times, Stella Guan finally scored a Los Angeles-area home — with toxic black mold.
Despite renovations, Guan was unable to rent it out or lure a new buyer. She sold to an iBuyer company out of desperation and only recouped 50% of what she spent.
Guan shared her story and advice for navigating the current ultra-competitive housing market, which she feels can push aspiring homeowners into decisions they regret.
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Stella Guan had pandemic housing fever.
During the summer of 2020, it seemed like everyone was getting engaged, or adopting a puppy, or, yes, buying a house. Guan, who was living in a New Jersey apartment, decided she wanted in on the action.
She told Insider that the signs to buy a home cropped up everywhere, from the targeted real-estate ads that dotted her Instagram feed to emails touting record-low mortgage interest rates that bombarded her inbox.
Winter loomed. Guan, a graphic designer who started an online virtual design school, started to feel claustrophobic at the thought of spending yet another season locked down in a cramped condo.
A few months of frantic searching and bidding later, and Guan landed what she thought was her dream spread: a ranch-style home in a Los Angeles suburb.
But the purchase was the biggest mistake of her life, costing her half her life savings. Guan told Insider her story, highlighting where she went wrong and what she would do differently next time.
Get familiar with the state of the current housing market
There years prior, Guan had bought a New Jersey condo with a view of the New York City skyline. That process, Guan told Business Insider, was painless. She had a good relationship with her realtor, her search was short, and she only put offers down on two properties before one was accepted. It lulled her into a false sense of security when it came to searching for a home this time around; she thought she knew what she was getting into.
The pandemic accelerated Guan’s move to Southern California. “I wanted to get things done fast,” said Guan, who wanted to get settled and “focus on my actual business.” She had recently quit her graphic design job to venture out on her own and start a virtual design school, Path Unbound — which she realized she could do from anywhere. Why not somewhere with better weather?