Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Rich Man, Poor Man

There was a screw up at the closing of my house. The final numbers were wrong, so I was notified by the Title Company that I owed the buyers an additional $4K which I'd need to provide in the form of a cashier's check. According to my bank's website, the bank charges a $10 fee to issue a cashier's check, but when I went to the bank to get the cashier's check, I was told "Oh no, we won't charge you for that! There's no fee for you!" The reason for this is that for now, the proceeds of the sale of my house are in a savings account at the bank, and so they've increased the measly percentage of interest that I earn on my money and waved all sorts of fees that I previously had to pay when I had considerably less money in my accounts. I appreciate the temporary savings, but I can't help but think this policy, of charging all sorts of fees to the customers who can least afford them, is just cold and cruel. It's yet another way that America punishes people for being poor.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


So last month, I placed a bid on a place that I really loved. The couple who owned it had already bought another place in the western US, and they had a number of stringent conditions regarding the sale of their place here in Dallas: the closing had to take place in early June at the latest; they had to be able to then rent it for another couple of weeks while they moved out, yada yada yada. I thought the list price was too high and my agent, who is also a broker who normally does tax appraisals, agreed, so after researching the price per square foot for comparable homes in the neighborhood, I made an offer. It was slightly under the list price, but I could pay cash, and I had no problem agreeing to all of their other terms. I had to provide proof of my ability to pay cash, which I did, and in addition, the sellers wanted to know about me personally, because they didn't want to sell their home to a developer. My agent said there was one other offer, from a couple who had cash for the standard 20% down, but who would require financing for the rest of it. She predicted the house would not appraise for the list price (and she should know), in which case, in addition to the 20% down, the buyers would have to pay the difference in cash. She told me there was no way anyone could close in the desired short time frame if financing were required, so she was confident my bid would be accepted. Accordingly, we were both shocked when the sellers accepted the slightly higher offer which was dependent upon financing. The sellers suggested I put in a back up offer, which would require my depositing several thousand dollars into an escrow account, and that money would be tied up until their deal either closed or fell through. I said no thank you. I was disappointed, but I decided then and there that I'd wait until the market cools a bit before bidding on anything else.

This afternoon I got a call from my agent, who said she had received a call from the sellers' agent who said it appeared the buyers' financing had fallen through so they wanted to know if I was still interested in the place. Three weeks ago I very nearly bought the place, and if my bid had been accepted, I'm confident I'd have had no regrets, and yet this afternoon I told my agent I'd have to think about it. Getting turned down forced me to give a lot of thought to what I want, and for that matter to how much I'm willing to spend. I didn't have a big budget to begin with, but because I'm retired and have a fixed income, I've begun to think perhaps I should plan on spending even less and banking the difference for unanticipated big expenses, e.g., having to replace the AC or furnace. So I didn't jump at the second chance to buy this place. I came home and looked again at every photo of every room. The house is beautiful; there's no question of that, and the location is good, so it will certainly increase in value. And yet I hesitate. It's a traditional home, built in 1971. It's had a fire and has been remodeled, so the interior and exterior are like new, and yet there's a part of me that would love to move into something brand new. So I was trying to decide what to tell my agent when she texted me again. Apparently the buyers haven't officially backed out, and asking me if I'm still willing to buy it was simply a ploy, I'm not sure by whom, to apply leverage, I'm not sure for what. But I am thoroughly disgusted.