They wanted a house in Los Angeles without the bidding war. Would their budget be enough?

Kenleigh Weber and Andrew Martin were living in a one-bedroom rental house in Seattle when their jobs went remote during the pandemic. Suddenly, the Pacific Northwest natives were free to think about where they really wanted to live, and they agreed it was time for more sun and less rain. So they chose Los Angeles, where they had some friends.

Last March, the couple rented a townhome in Highland Park, a popular neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles, to land. After a few months, Mr. Martin, who had recently paid out some company stock options to put in as a down payment, was ready to go hunting. However, as first-time homebuyers, the pair faced one of the country’s most formidable markets.

“The price for what you get is wild,” said Ms. Weber, 28, who met Mr Martin in 2013 when they worked in a Nordstrom store. “I also recognize that I am out of state and contributing to rising costs.”

Ms. Weber, who works in marketing, and Mr. Martin, 32, a product manager at an e-commerce retail company, loved Highland Park, whose bohemian vibe reminded them of Portland, Oregon. So they began their search there and in the adjacent areas of Mount Washington and Eagle Rock.

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The goal was to find a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home in move-in ready condition, or close to it. Mrs. Weber dreamed of a 1920s Spanish-style home that looked classically Californian. And they wanted a backyard they never had.

Ms. Weber found an agent, Justin Freeling, of Compass, on Instagram, where his @takesunset team has more than 80,000 followers. Mr Freeling warned that the market was fierce and competition stiff. “We made offers and competed with 25 to 35 buyers on some homes,” he said.

Before long, their initial budget of about $800,000 stretched to $925,000.

Single-family homes priced below $1.2 million on the east side of Los Angeles were the most in demand. “For the longest time, people from the Westside were priced out,” Freeling said. “By comparison, you get a little more bang for your buck with houses in Eastside.”

Mrs. Weber and Mr. Martin went to open houses most Sundays, but had the luxury of taking the time, as they were comfortable in their rental home. They found that most offer prices were low to encourage bidding wars, so they had to shop in a price range just below their actual budget.

Among their options:

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