Real Estate News From the Trenches

It’s Friday and I feel hungover, though unfortunately, I missed the party that would have caused the hangover.  I don’t know if it’s my allergies, stepping up my work out routine (in an effort to combat stress), or the fact that my summer is turning out to be anything but relaxing, but today my head feels like a lead balloon and my body is dragging.

We finally received the dreaded home inspection report, and it turned out not be as dreaded as it is annoying.  There are quite a few little things that the buyers are asking to be fixed by licensed contractors, which means many phone calls and meetings with various people.  It’s all very exhausting.

It still eats at me (though I’m trying really hard to forget), that had we caved into everyone of the demands of last year’s buyers and not dumped a bunch of money into our house, we still would have made out better, financially, moved into a neighborhood we liked, and just perhaps, my kids still wouldn’t know any curse words or heard stories about the girl whose dad beats her.  In other words, a few more years of innocence. Amazing what a difference a year can make.

So, if you’re wondering what the real estate market is like in NJ, I can tell you that prices are still down, and not just in my town.  There down in pricier towns, too, like the one we’re moving to.  The house we want to buy may go for a hundred thousand less than what they paid just three years ago.  The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  And, I’m not even certain we’re at the bottom, yet, folks. In fact, in my very inexpert opinion, I think home prices are still going to drop.

But still, it’s all relative, because even though we are begrudgingly moving up in price point (goodbye shore house) chances are our next house will have less square footage than the house we are leaving.

And although prices are down, there’s no surplus of inventory in the town where I’m headed.  What is good, and priced right, is going fast, with multiple bids, and for what I believe, still inflated prices.  

It doesn’t help that I’m in NJ.  It’s expensive to live here.  Taxes are for the most part, out of control, home prices, high, unless you’re living out in the sticks. A fact that, for most of us in this state, is just an accepted way of life.

I often wonder what out of state buyers must think when they come here expecting a pristine, updated house in a good neighborhood for a half a million dollars and find out that they are buying a small outdated, every window needs to be replaced, highly taxed home.  If I wasn’t from NJ, I would definitely think twice.

In fact, the first time we had the house on the market, we had a couple from Pittsburgh looking at our house.  The husband had put in for a transfer/promotion and got it.  They became so disenchanted by the prices and taxes that he told his boss, no.  He turned down the promotion and stayed in Pittsburgh.

As for the house we made an offer on, the updated colonial, with the weird bathroom that jutted out into the kitchen.  We found out the other offer didn’t work out, so we put one in.  She may accept our price, but she doesn’t want to accept our settlement date. It’s all very frustrating.  She’s moving out of the country.  She has to be here, apparently, until Sept. 21.  My kids, obviously, need to start school.  No one will rent to us for a month….

But the messed up part of this all is that even though I can see us happy there, I really like the neighborhood, and the house is move in ready, I only like the house.  I don’t love it. The bathroom in the kitchen thing is ruining it for me, as is the price, but still, I would take it.  Is that strange?  All these concessions and yet, we might not get it.  Oh, and there is another offer on it, too.  That would make three that we know of, you see what I mean about competition?

The fact of the matter is that the houses in the town that we are moving to, are for the most part old, and over priced (can you say broken record).  What is new, is, in my not so humble opinion, grossly overpriced, with cheesy builder’s grade fixtures and windows, on postage sized lots.  I marvel at what people paid for some of these houses.

The whole housing boom really did a number on people’s heads, including mine. It’s left me feeling really weary about everything and not very anxious to end up in a losing proposition, again (oh, the always lingering transfer).  Every house we walk into, I wonder if, just what if, my husband were to be transferred within a year, would we come out all right.  Maybe we shouldn’t have passed on that under priced rancher in the same neighborhood we want to move to.  Maybe, we should rent.

Yet, at the same time, I vowed not to live in the land of what ifs.  So, I am looking for a house that I can see us happy in for many years to come, a house that is a home, not a money making venture.  

Frankly, it’s all very confusing.

But one thing’s for sure, if we don’t find something soon, come Sept. 6th, I’ll be typing from the Residence Inn, fielding calls from social services, after my kids tell everyone, because that’s just how they roll, that we are living in a hotel.

Happy Weekend.


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