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What $1.5 Million Buys You in California

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This house is in Carmel Valley, which was mostly agricultural land until the late 1970s. Since then, development has been swift, thanks to the area’s proximity to the University of California San Diego and the University City business district. The Del Mar Fairgrounds, a 1936 complex with a popular horse-racing track, is about 10 minutes away by car. The La Jolla beaches are half an hour away, and downtown San Diego is about the same distance.

Size: 2,056 square feet

Price per square foot: $727

Indoors: The front yard is landscaped with succulents surrounding a low stucco wall with a wooden gate, which opens to an entrance courtyard with a stone fountain.

Beyond the front door is a foyer with Spanish-tile floors that extend into the open kitchen and living area. The kitchen was recently updated with marble counters and a Wolf cooktop. Opposite a butcher-block island is a dining area with sliding-glass doors that open to the driveway. On the other side of the kitchen is a living room with a fireplace, backyard-facing windows and a glass door out to the backyard.

To the right of the front door is a guest room with built-in shelving; across the hall is a powder room with Moroccan-inspired tile.

A staircase with a wrought-iron banister and tiled risers leads to the three bedrooms on the second floor. At the far end of the hallway is a primary suite with a balcony that overlooks the courtyard and driveway; the en suite bathroom has a deep soaking tub and a separate walk-in shower with more Moroccan tile. Across the hall is a guest room with hardwood floors and a mirrored closet. A full bathroom with blue tile and a white pedestal sink connects this bedroom to the third bedroom, which has space for a full-size bed and a desk.

Outdoor space: Behind the house is a tiled patio framed by grass, with trees planted along the fence at the perimeter of the yard. The attached garage has two parking spots; there is additional parking space in the driveway. The home is in a community with a number of amenities, including a swimming pool, fitness center and play area; the use of these facilities is covered by the monthly homeowner association fee.

Taxes: $15,696 (estimated), plus a $84 monthly homeowner association fee

Contact: Jana Farella, Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, 858-926-3060; sothebysrealty.com


Capitola is a quiet beach city about five miles from Santa Cruz, popular with weekenders from the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Valley. Many of the houses are second homes or part-time vacation rentals. This property, on a corner lot near the city center, is within walking distance of Capitola State Beach, where there is a pier surrounded by family-friendly restaurants.

San Francisco is about an hour and 20 minutes away; Fresno and Sacramento are about a two-and-a-half-hour drive.

Size: 1,513 square feet

Price per square foot: $991

Indoors: A picket fence separates the front yard from the street, and a brick path leads to the blue front door. Beyond the threshold is a sunny living room with French doors that open to the patio in front and a light blue fireplace surround that stretches to the high ceiling.

Behind the fireplace is a dining area with a glass door that opens to a deck. It faces a cheerful yellow kitchen with a white-tile backsplash and a tiled breakfast bar with seating for two.

To the left of the front door is a room with built-in shelving and a window seat; it is currently used as a den, although it could serve as a bedroom, as it has an attached bathroom with a shower.

On the second level, there are two bedrooms and a lofted office with built-in storage and a view of the living area below.

The carpeted guest room off the landing has sloped ceilings and a street-facing window; next door is a full bathroom with a white vanity and a walk-in shower. A short hallway extends from the landing to a primary bedroom, also carpeted, with wood ceilings and glass doors that open to a small deck.

Outdoor space: Sheltered by the mature trees in the front yard is a patio big enough to hold a table and chairs. There is more outdoor entertaining space on the deck off the dining room, which has a wooden railing and is surrounded by landscaping for privacy. The attached garage holds one car, with room for another in the driveway.

Taxes: $17,256

Contact: Erick Fernandez, Keller Williams Realty, 831-247-0477; realtor.com


Ocean Front Walk, which stretches along the beach in Venice and includes the well-known Muscle Beach as well as basketball and beach volleyball courts, has long been a destination for people-watching and beachfront dining. This condominium is less than a mile from the beach and from the Abbot Kinney neighborhood, home to upscale restaurants and shopping. Santa Monica is about a 10-minute drive; Malibu is half an hour away.

Size: 1,848 square feet

Price per square foot: $790

Indoors: The building’s entrance courtyard sits behind a wooden fence; beyond a glass door are stairs to this unit, on the second floor.

The main living-and-dining area is open, with hardwood floors, a brick accent wall and large windows. The ceilings are high, creating a breezy effect when the windows are open.

The spacious kitchen, open to the main living space, was updated by the sellers with stainless steel appliances and a matching sink. The backsplash is white subway tile, with white cabinets above and slate-gray cabinets below.

A barn-style door in the living area opens to the primary suite, which has two windows and built-in shelving. The en suite bathroom has been updated with bronze-toned hardware and a white porcelain soaking tub.

Two more bedrooms are off a hallway that runs alongside the kitchen; both have en suite bathrooms, one with a combination tub and shower and the other with a walk-in shower and Keith Haring-inspired wallpaper.

Outdoor space: Two gated, carport-covered parking spots, reached through a rear alley, are assigned to this unit. Maintenance of the building and the front courtyard are covered by the monthly homeowner association fee.

Taxes: $18,528, plus a $500 monthly homeowner association fee

Contact: Malyn Dahlin and Alice Cannington, The Agency, 310-773-1107, 310-804-5229; theagencyre.com

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