… and we take advantage of the foreclosure mess.
When we bought our first (and so far only) house, my husband and I questioned the role of our Realtor. A rock star of the East Bay real estate world, she certainly earned her pay–she negotiated a refund for our old furnace and got contract-type things done faster than it probably took her to pull on her Italian leather pants every morning. But she didn’t actually help us find the house we bought. We didn’t understand all the talk of “realtor’s tours” and email alerts. We knew how to use the Internet, after all.
When we went to see the leaking-roof house in Dunsmuir, the local Realtor had done some homework ahead of time and knew that the house down the street, another foreclosure, made its market debut the day before. Handily enough, she had the door lock code. Smart woman.
The house, built in the 1930s, lacked the charm of its leaking neighbor. No dormers there, or wainscoting in the living room. The owning bank, in a desperate bid to offset the tanking regional prices (home value graphs in Siskiyou county look like double-black-diamond slopes), hired some local handyperson to paint the entire house beige and lay down some what-were-they-thinking brown-and-black shag carpet where there wasn’t already beige linoleum.
Although a smaller house than the 45K alternative, this one sat on much more property. It had a driveway. It didn’t need a new roof before the first snow. It leaked exactly nowhere. We could bring the kids up the first week of ownership and camp out on those hideous carpets. For the convenience, it cost more than 100,000.
Mind you, in the Bay Area, any 1400-square-foot house for 120K would come with custom-broken windows and your very own meth-addicted squatter (free!). But $120K came in $20K above our price range, given that we’re not really the kind of people who can afford a vacation house, despite our actions to the contrary.
Still, we love this little town nestled in a valley worn down by the Sacramento river. It’s walkable tip-to-toe in 10 minutes, and the brewery downtown serves a decent fish taco. A 30-minute drive takes us to a local ski resort at Mount Shasta or to Castle Lake nearby.
So we did it. We bid low. The bank countered. We countered back. The bank countered again. We gave our final offer. The bank declined. A week later, the bank relisted at a price close to ours. We countered again. They accepted our bid.
What a funny little dance, culminating in a house sold for a song. So now we’re in escrow.