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House

April 24th, 2017

Time to Chop Miami’s Stubborn Tentacles

The house hunt has moved into a new stage. I made an offer on the green house I wrote about a while back.

I am not what you would call a savvy real estate buyer, even though I was a realtor in a past life. I did mostly rentals. While I was part of some sales, real estate is boring, and I forgot a lot of what I had learned. I did the best I could this time around. I picked my dad’s brains. He has bought a ton of real estate. In fact, he’s buying the new house. That was the deal we made. I would not leave Miami until he did, and he would buy a nice place where we would both live. He needs looking after these days, my mother has been dead for 20 years, and there is no one else who will do it.

I considered hiring a single-agent realtor. Ordinarily, realtors look out mainly for themselves. They deal “fairly” with buyers and sellers, but if you’re a buyer, they’re not on your side. There are things they won’t tell you, and they don’t care if you lose your life savings. A single-agent represents you alone and has a fiduciary duty to you.

The problem with hiring a single-agent realtor is that they get a big fee up front, and they can’t show you any of their own listings. That’s not good, if your agent works for a big company. Also, you’re kind of stuck with the agent you hire. I decided to forget about it and negotiate and so on for myself.

I don’t know a whole lot about northern Florida house prices, but after looking at a bunch of places, I got a feel for the situation. The house we liked seemed overpriced by around 15%. The sellers paid even more for it, so they got burned, and they were still burning me after pricing the house to take a loss.

I decided to get an appraisal. I may not be much of a buyer, but I’ve been involved in a lot of sales, and an appraisal just seemed like common sense. I had a listing agent, a transactional agent, and a seller, all trying to get as much money as possible, and none of them represented me. I paid some guy to appraise the place, and lo and behold, the price came in slightly lower than my own guess. The listing price is 18% higher.

The agent was amazed that I had it appraised. He said very few people do that. Seriously? Do people really make bids on houses without getting appraisals? I can’t comprehend that. How do you know what to offer? Asking prices are fantasy figures. Realtors make a little effort to look at comparable sales, but in the end, they guess. Appraisers aren’t like that. They take measurements and use tables and so on, and THEN they factor in other sales. No price is carved in stone, but an appraisal means a whole lot more than an asking price.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems crazy to make an offer on something without knowing the value. The appraisal was expensive, but compared to the difference between the asking price and the appraised price, it’s microscopic. Seems like a good investment.

The agent was trying to tell me I couldn’t get burned. He said his contracts always say the deal is off if the house doesn’t appraise for more than the purchase price. So you’re supposed to make an offer based on nothing and then pray the bank’s appraiser proves you’re right? With real money you actually worked for?

I think the sellers are old. The house has two lift chairs in it. By that, I mean they boost you to your feet when it’s time to go watch Judge Wapner. God rest his soul. Young people don’t have lift chairs. Maybe they’re old and rich and don’t care at all about money. There must be some reason why they spent way too much on the house and equipment and then never felt like they had to visit.

I don’t know what the story is. I’m not all that optimistic about getting the house. The asking price and offer are nearly $200,000 apart. They may just tell us to jam it.

It would be nice to make a deal. The house has a fantastic attached garage plus a detached garage big enough for all sorts of stuff. I can put a split air conditioner in the main garage and stick my machine tools in there. I’ll never leave. It’s almost a thousand square feet. The lot is big enough to feel relaxed on, although sooner or later someone will try to build on the pasture next door. Maybe we should try to pick it up.

I can’t imagine life with no traffic. What’s it like? I barely recall.

I don’t think I’ll be able to shoot out back. The lot is pretty flat. Maybe if I put up a berm.

I feel good that I made a move. It makes me nervous, handling my dad’s money. He’s all for it, though, and both of us hate Miami. I needed to break the ice and start something moving. Now if this deal doesn’t work, I’ll be less stiff about starting the next one.

What will I miss about Miami? There must be something. Fishing was fun, but I’m over it. Boating to the Bahamas was a neat experience, but I’m old, my dad can’t be allowed to steer the boat, and there is no one to go with us. Also, the Bahamas are all about drunkenness and fish. I don’t care if I never see another fish again, and I have developed an aversion to bars.

Miami has no culture at all. The restaurants aren’t great. The air smells like damp socks. There is no twilight, because of the latitude. After May 1, it never gets cool at night. The traffic is getting so bad, in a year, everything may have to arrive by drone. All the ethnic groups hate each other. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. Politics are getting more and more liberal; young Cubans want to be social justice warriors and teach their conservative parents a lesson.

Horrible things happened to my family in Miami. I can’t even drive up I-95 without thinking about the past. I remember my dysfunctional childhood and the decades of misery we went through with my sister. I remember my mother dying in Baptist Hospital, after a short, bleak life in which not one of her dreams came true. She was treated very badly. She was never appreciated. God did her a favor when he took her away from us.

I never have anything to do with the people I went to high school with. They remind me of a terrible time in my life, and I was never close to any of them anyway. I thought I had a few friends, but I didn’t know what real friends were like until I got older. If I were in a mall right now and I saw someone I went to high school with, I’d turn away and wait for them to move on.

I should be able to think of something I’ll miss if I work on it long enough, but right now, it’s not coming. Even the churches here treated me badly.

Let’s be honest. I won’t miss Miami at all. That’s my nature. When I cut the cord, it’s really cut. Ask any of the many people I’ve abruptly ejected from my circle. I expect to be glad I’m not in Miami, every day for the rest of my life.

People in Marion County will not turn out to be the answer to my prayers. I know that, or at least I think I know that. But they’ll speak English, they’ll be polite, and they’ll have a lot more in common with me in terms of religion and politics. That’s good enough. I don’t think I’ll ever feel at home on earth, but some places are better than others.

Because this will be a cash deal, I could conceivably find myself moving stuff north before summer starts. I didn’t think about that until today. Generally, closings take a long time because of mortgage delays. Man. This is starting to feel real. Ack. God will get me through it.

Prayers would be appreciated.

7 Responses to “House”

  1. Cliff Says:

    Good luck!

    Let me know if you need help packing.

    I have a gigantic 15 year old son. We could stand around and watch him work. Offer a little advice. Good fun.

    -XC

  2. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    You are obviously paying cash.
    Nobody gets a mortgage without an appraisal.

  3. Heather P Says:

    Praying! I know you have to be relieved to be getting the ball rolling!

  4. Stephen McAteer Says:

    I hope you get the house – it sounds like it’s what you’re looking for.

  5. Steve Blow Says:

    Prayers will be ongoing for you to land where you should be and be comforted in your journey by Jesus.

    Steve
    Morrow, OH

  6. Ruth H Says:

    Praying for God’s guidance and will.

  7. Steve H. Says:

    Thanks, all.