A Rant About Home Buying

So last week I was feeling pretty proud and confident about the relative success of our little wedding reception for my son and new daughter-in-law. We didn’t spend a fortune, and everyone seemed to have a good time. At that moment, and for a few heady days afterward, I felt I could conquer anything. It seemed that everyone’s lives were going in the right direction, and I was going to be able to start the next phase of my life with mr husband – as empty-nesters!

That was a nice feeling. It didn’t last long. It lasted until I offered to help the newlyweds find a place to live. The criteria was not all that stringent; given their budget and their needs and their sensibility, they were looking for a two bedroom house, a yard or a park nearby, in a neighborhood where they weren’t risking death while going for a walk, with a half-way decent school district. The house didn’t need to be pretty (we’re rather handy with paint, etc.,) but it did need to be sturdy, liveable, and free of nuisance residents, such as rats, mice, or squatters.

That doesn’t seem like a difficult order. Back in 1988, mr husband and I were confronted with a similar situation. Our budget was WAY below what any realtor said was possible, but we managed to find a 1920s bungalow that was sturdy, dirty and cheap. I didn’t think, in this depressed economy, it would be hard to do here and now.

Boy was I wrong. Having bought 3 houses in my adult life, I thought I understood how things worked. You found a house, made an offer, counter-offered back and forth a little with concessions, repairs, etc., applied for a loan and moved in a few weeks (or months, in the case of VA financing), and that was that.

The world has changed, and anyone who has bought a house in the past 3 years knows this. How HAS anyone managed to buy a house, anyway? These foreclosed wrecks sit unnoticed for months or even a year, and the minute you put in an offer, suddenly there are 6 other people wanting the place and you are in a bidding war. I thought this was a sale, not an auction! How does this happen? Are these other “bidders” even real people, or just a ruse to get you to up your offer?

As I ranted away to mr husband and anyone else who would listen last night, I likened the situation to shopping at a grocery store. You go in, see the milk, decide $1.99 is a good price, take it to the register, hand the clerk a $1.99, and she turns to the guy in line behind you, who says he will give her $2.15 for the milk. Then three guys behind him all offer differing amounts, and you CAN’T buy the milk until the clerk decides who is offering her the best deal.

I know that is an absurd example, but isn’t this the same thing? These houses are not offered at auction. They have an asking price, and I offered that, plus a little more, no concession, and it will be a cash sale. I understand, now, that this is how it works, but it really is absurd, aggravating, and a little unfair. I still don’t really believe there are that many people lining up to buy that tiny little house that no one wanted last year when it was listed for $10k less!

And then there are the investors, who don’t even live in this country, who are out-bidding everyone and buying up everything in sight. If someone can explain to me how that is allowed, or even legal, I’ll give you a bag of donuts!

People need places to live, and not everyone makes enough money to buy an expensive home, or qualify for a $200,000 mortgage. Not everyone even wants that – they just want a nice, clean, safe place to live that is THEIRS. They just want to buy the milk.

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About claymire cottage

I'm a museum curator who lives with a wonderful husband, Rowley the golden Retriever, and 2 cats; Mr. Cookie, and Mabel the Magnificent.

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