Saturday, March 28, 2015

Are we there yet?

Well, we did it. With heaps of help from our families, we survived three consecutive weeks of The Barbarian being gone during the workweek. I'm pretty sure the last time he had three weeks of travel in a row, I said we'd never do that again, but alas. Shit happens. 

The kids were sick the second week, OF COURSE, because it is apparently our lot to deal with illness while he's away. And not just the sniffles, mind you, but an up all night with hacking coughing fits and difficulty breathing, sitting up in bed or rocking, rocking, rocking kind of illness. The only saving grace there was that The Barbarian and I managed to avoid the plague this time, so, you know, that was nice. 

Oh, and we sold our house. During that three-week period. Meaning on top of all the normal stress of being sans partner, I was busting my ass getting the house ready to show, fielding calls and texts from interested parties and scheduling said showings, cleaning the house top to bottom every day, and vacating the house as much as possible. Yeah. 



But we did it. 10 days on the market and we accepted an offer from a lovely young couple who are first-time homebuyers and really, really love the house and want to make it a home in which to raise a family. Being that our house needs some work and was priced to reflect that, we could have easily ended up with only offers from investors looking to flip it or people looking to do the minimal required work and rent it out. And we didn't want that. Well, I didn't want that. I think The Barbarian probably would have been happy to get more money for it, especially a cash offer, which is totally understandable. But passing it on to another young family who will cherish it and raise babies in it and be good neighbours and generally keep the love train moving forward was really important to me. I'm sappy like that.

And we got pretty damn lucky in the fact that the couple has agreed to allow us to rent back for up to two months once we close escrow because the somewhat majorly unsettling truth is that we have nowhere to go. 



I'm telling you, the whole contingency dance of selling one house and buying another at the same time is kind of the dickens. There's just no easy way to do it. If you find a house to buy first, you're stuck needing to secure alternate financing, and while they offer things like bridge loans so you can finance something new before selling your current house, ummmmmmmmm, yeah, no. Fuck that. It essentially means carrying two loans on two houses for however long, and you end up paying closing costs twice in some instances, and it's basically just a gigantic nightmare. Yet until you officially close escrow on your current house, you must make contingent offers on anything you want to buy, and most people don't want to deal with that. And while I get why that is and all... COME ON, PEOPLE. What the hell are we supposed to do? Even with a buyer in place for ours already, who the fuck knows what could happen between now and the close of escrow, so it's not like it's a done deal in any sense of the phrase, and that uncertainty is seriously hampering our efforts. 

The other issue we're facing is that the market is fucking crazy right now. Again. Because apparently it's also our lot to buy in a seller's market. Which was great for this end of the equation, of course, but the competition in our price-range is fierce right now. The job market has recovered enough to allow more people to afford to buy, yet there just isn't enough inventory to support the demand. So we're back in a situation of multiple offers, cash offers, bidding wars, people offering tens of thousands above asking, writing intro letters and sending family pictures in an attempt to pull on some heartstrings and sell ourselves to sellers. The whole process is unbelievably obnoxious. 

And while we could primarily focus on the upper end of our price-range and maybe avoid some of that competition, I just can't bring myself to do that if we can reasonably avoid it. Because playing the real estate game for people like us (i.e. those who do not come from money) is a bit like playing poker, in my opinion, wherein you must have the capital to buy in in the first place. If you can find that capital upfront and then play your cards right, you will be able to just roll everything you make into a new game (also known as a house in this example). And that's exactly what we got lucky enough to do. We scrounged up a down payment, bought at a really good time, waited for the market to pick back up, and we'll end up with a healthy stack of cash once we close escrow. Ideally we'd love to find something that's been upgraded and remodeled and is all shiny and pretty, but the reality is that having that cash upfront means we can buy something much cheaper and fix it up ourselves, lowering the amount we need to finance and, therefore, lowering our mortgage payments going forward. Sound financial planning, right? But that means we're once again in heavy competition for more "affordable" houses, which I put in quotes, of course, because this is California and what's considered "affordable" here is a hugely distasteful and unfunny joke.

So that's where this post finds us. One rejected offer down and who knows how many to go. The last time we did this, we wrote a dozen or more offers before getting this house, and while we're in a better position overall this time, I'm already discouraged and ridiculously stressed and completely fucking over it. 

Yay playing grownups.

So stay tuned for upcoming installments of Where in the World Will We Fucking Live Next, as it's sure to be a gas. 

Because there's nothing more entertaining than watching someone lose their last few shreds of sanity obsessively checking MLS every hour, right? 

Mmmhmm. That's what I thought.       

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