Persistence only gets you so far in a market where many homes are being sold for cash at well over the asking price.
AS I write this, I’m waiting to hear from my realtor on whether or not I just bought a house. It’s my sixth attempt at purchasing a home in Seattle this year, and you know what they say: The sixth time is the charm! Or maybe it’s the 16th?
Well-meaning people keep offering unsolicited advice. But even my 3-year-old daughter can tell you that if this offer isn’t accepted, it’s not going to be because of anything I did or didn’t do; it’s going to be because “someone else has more money than you do, Mama.”
It’s been a harrowing adventure, trying to buy a house in this market in the year since my marriage ended and I was shooed from the family home. I’ve learned more than I care to know about poured concrete versus post-and-pillar foundations, stucco versus EIFS siding, knob-and-tube versus modern-era wiring, interior perimeter drains, exterior perimeter drains, sewer scopes, sump pumps and the nesting habits of rats.
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This market is a hungry, greedy beast — insane in a totally predictable way.
I wish people would stop telling me I need to keep the faith because my perfect house is right around the corner. I need them to stop suggesting I look for houses in neighborhoods they would never set foot in, let alone purchase property in. I would appreciate it if people stopped recommending fixer-uppers and tear-down-ers. And if one more person suggests that I include a heartfelt letter and photo of my adorable children in my offer packet, I will lose my mind.
I’m on top of all these things, and I promise they aren’t enough. This just isn’t that kind of market. No seller is going to accept my offer of 20 percent over the asking price when someone else is going 30 percent over. And no one would choose 20 percent down over 100 percent cold, hard cash, no matter how cute my children are. (For the record: extremely.)
There’s nothing quite like waiting for the call from your Realtor to find out whether you just spent your entire savings and then some on a house that may or may not survive even a minor earthquake. (You won’t know until said earthquake hits because you had to waive the once-standard opportunity to have the house properly inspected because inspection contingencies are so 2015.)
Nevertheless, you hope beyond hope that you get this house, despite the fact that the foundational supports are shimmed up with a log, a brick, a wedge of plywood — and is that a stack of plates? And if you have to write one more sickeningly earnest letter about why you’re the best buyer for this home, you might have to call it quits and move back to Iowa, where hundreds of thousands of dollars buys you an entire operational farm.
I’m in the state fellow home-shoppers know as “trying not to get your hopes up about getting this particular house while maintaining a modicum of enthusiasm for the general process because you might have to resume the house-hunting slog tomorrow.”
Like a job interview, it’s totally nerve-wracking, and it feels both personally judgy — like a beauty pageant — and vitally important. It’s like hearing from the surgeon after the operation: “The good news is that you’re going to live. The bad news is …”