Thursday, May 25, 2017

Blood in the Water

So here's how it works. This morning, I saw a new listing for a small, remodeled house a few blocks from Katharine's. Although it doesn't have everything I want, the remodel is well done, and I like it. List price is $250K, which seems a steal for this 1400 square foot remodeled home. But there's no Open House scheduled, and I'm pretty sure that low price is only listed to generate interest. Starting this afternoon, there will be a bidding war, and the house is likely to sell for up to 30% over list. The rub is that it probably won't appraise for that, in which case the buyers have to come up with the difference in cash, but in this market, it's likely they will.

This is not my idea of how to do business. I know I'm old fashioned, but it's so not my style to wheel and deal, to barter. Frankly, I find it offensive. In this market, that's a losing attitude, and I know that I won't find a place to buy in this market with that attitude. 

So for now, I'm out of it. In the interim, Kath has graciously allowed me to stay with her. I'm paying her rent, of course. I'll resume looking for a new place later this summer, when/if the market begins to return to normal.

Monday, May 15, 2017

House Hunting, or Why I Hate Real Estate

I've always viewed the place where I live as my home, never as an investment. And therein lies the problem, I suppose. So when a young mother from down the street approached me as I set out spring plants and asked if I was getting ready to sell my house, I admitted I was. When she said she and her husband were house hunting and would love to see it before I listed it, I agreed to let them do so. When they made an offer, albeit 10K under what I'd planned to list it for (which my agent had agreed was a fair price) I reluctantly accepted it, thinking it was the decent thing to do because despite the money I'd poured into it in the past year getting it ready to go on market, the house being 41 years old I knew there were still things they'd have to upgrade. But decency has nothing to do with real estate. It's all about the $$$$$$. To my dismay, as soon as I'd accepted their offer, their agent began cut-throat negotiating to try to get me to drop the price considerably lower. I agreed to a couple more concessions, then told my agent I was perfectly happy to walk away and start all over before I would go any lower on the price. The deal went forward and we closed on May 11, but it turns out in this market I would probably have gotten at least $25K more had I listed it, shown it, and ended up with half a dozen couples trying to outbid each other. What's done is done, but this error on my part may end up being an expensive one because in the past week I've submitted bids on several places, all of which have gone for considerably over list after a bidding war amongst potential buyers. I'm paying with cash, so there's no contingent financing involved. The last place, in addition to agreeing to pay 2K of seller's closing costs AND bidding over list AND agreeing to give them 2 days to move out after closing, etc., etc., etc., they still didn't accept my offer. Last night, looking at places online, I saw a small house that I found interesting. At 67, I don't want a house because I don't want to be responsible for all the maintenance, but I liked what they'd done with the interior, so from the website I clicked on a link to send it to myself. The computer auto-populated my agent's name in addition to mine, so it showed up in her inbox early this morning. She assumed I wanted to see it and tried to make an appointment, but by 8AM it was already GONE (i.e., under contract). So it was on Realtor.com less than 24 hours before it went under contract. In the meantime, I'm living on savings. I haven't yet filed for SS, because if I wait until September, when I turn 68, I'll get an additional 8% which, quite frankly, I need. I also haven't started drawing on my 401K, because I don't have a clue what I need to do. Does that sound stupid? Yes, I'm sure it does. If I pay $5,000 to a financial advisor, she'll walk me through all of this. $5,000 isn't a lot if you're working I guess, but my SS will only be about $18,000 per year so $5,000 is significant to me, so I haven't leapt at the opportunity. And the sad thing is, I'm in better shape, financially, than the majority of boomers, or so all the financial people tell me.