So I think it goes without saying that the current real estate market sucks with a capital S-U-C-K-S! This was certainly evident when we were looking for our house where almost every other house we looked at was either in foreclosure or a short sale. Our house itself was a foreclosure, so we understand the whole “buying low” phenomenon. However, we are saddened to see so few people taking advantage of that opportunity. So this is an article directed at any person out there that is even remotely able to buy into the housing market right now.
When we went to the first showing of our house, it was actually two showings for the price of one! There were two houses for sale right next door to each other and both were in our price range!
Both houses were a little worse for the wear and obviously needed some major TLC. We ended up going with the smaller of the two houses because, let’s face it, we didn’t need that much space for two people and a pup! There were also a few aesthetic differences, but other than that, the two houses were essentially the same.
Now that we’ve moved into the smaller of the two and the previous tenants have moved out of the house next door, we’ve been keenly aware of realtors and prospective buyers who have come a-calling! In fact, we were outside working on our house this weekend when another family stopped by to look at the house next door and after they were inside for a good 30 minutes, they stopped by to talk to us about the neighborhood, what we knew of the house, etc. While it had been awhile since we had been inside, we had no idea just how bad it was! The windows are apparently leaking (which was also a problem for us, but we have managed to stay on top of it and fix it as we go), there is mold growing inside of those leaks, there are holes in the walls (another problem we have dealt with in our house), and it has suffered from overall deferred maintenance. It’s a pretty sad situation, but none of the problems are so difficult that they can’t be fixed.
What we’ve realized is that most prospective buyers simply aren’t as “brave” as J and I were. And by “brave”, I simply mean energetic! When people see a house that has been built inside of 5 years ago, they assume a great deal about a property; i.e. newer house = no problems and no ridiculous upkeep! However, these homes were, I hate to say it, built at the absolute height of the real estate boom, so they were built fast and furious without much regard for aesthetic details and/or longevity in mind. The smell of new carpet was enough to dupe most buyers in this neighborhood into buying, but after living in the house for a few years, our neighbors all have the same complaints; builder’s-grade cheap finishes (poor flooring, mouldings, and fixtures) have not held up over the years and so many of our neighbors have done already what we are doing which is replace much of what the builder initially procured for this property.
So therein lies the conundrum – a newer-ish house is for sale in our neighborhood, it is in foreclosure, so likely owned and “managed” by a bank that is responsible for selling it. While the bank has absolutely no desire to keep the house, they are, as they say, not in the business of “selling houses”. Therefore, the property is likely to be sold “as is” and in a newer neighborhood, nobody wants to buy a house that is less than 5 years old and requires a lot of work – unless you’re insane like us! Sweat equity is money in your pocket down-the-line, but so long as our house sits next door to a vacant home I don’t think that we will have any problem with our property values skyrocketing…at least not yet!
So, in the end, while J & I are very secure in our home purchase and all of our hard work is really starting to pay off, I think we would feel better if there were some equally insane neighbors that would move in next door and really spiff up that pad as well. Honestly, if somebody did move in next door, they would easily see an awesome return on their investment a few years down the line….
Here’s hoping that there is a prospective buyer out there willing to give this house a good owner ;-).