Real estate reality check – Farm and Dairy

“Being an adult and trying to find a new apartment suddenly makes people refusing to move out of their new haunted house in movies very realistic.”

– Internet Meme

Last year Boywonder relocated for work during the pandemic. He was forced to rent an apartment sight unseen. Going by the photos, it was a cute little place. Natural lighting, clean walls, fresh carpet. They called it a “Garden Apartment.”

In reality, this apartment bore as much resemblance to the photos as I do to Elvis. What he actually moved into was a dungeon-like space that had a hole in the kitchen counter, no refrigerator for the first 10 days he was there and a footprint on the ceiling. The ceiling? How does that happen? We can only assume that the previous tenants were circus performers, bless their hearts.

Roughing it

All those years of Boy Scouts and roughing it, in general, served him well. He figured this apartment could not be worse than, say, sleeping outside without a tent.

He was wrong. Muddy water pours into his windows and cascades down the wall in any rain. The heat is finicky and he often goes days without any before it magically returns – if only briefly. Sewage has come up the drains – on more than one occasion. He has not had a doorknob on the bathroom door since he moved in.

That last thing may be intentional. They probably know that if any raw sewage comes up the drains, you’re going to want to get out quickly. A knob might slow you down.

As his lease winds down, it seems like time for him to move. Buy? Rent? Live in his car like a hobo? All would be a step up from his current abode. Having been raised by Mr. Wonderful and I, he is also frugal, practical and doesn’t want anything too flashy. Just a nice normal house in a nice little Midwest town.

Market

It’s been a few years since I bought real estate, but as BoyWonder peruses the market, I am certainly getting quite a shock. We see real estate listings that appear to be one part magical thinking, two parts losing touch with reality and a dash of insanity for good measure.

I am closer to being a seller than a buyer and while I would like to believe all our homes are worth whatever price tag we invent for them, I don’t think that is how it is supposed to work. Realtors are posting some overly clarified, fisheye lens stretched photos of a brick and a stick and then asking a cool million based on “potential.”

Never mind that absolutely no comparable sales support the inflated prices. We keep reading that “the market” is causing this. It’s a “seller’s market.” Okay, maybe, but unless you manage to round up a lot of buyers with more cash than sense, somewhere a mortgage lender also has to agree to the asking price.

Possibility

I am the queen of seeing the possibilities in even the most worn-out places. I basically bought a newel post that just happened to have a house attached. They threw in the crime scene tape (yes really) for free. In fact, if anything is too “finished,” I lose interest.

Why buy someone else’s taste when you can spend two decades – and a lot of blood, sweat and newly honored profanity – making a place your own? All this do-it-yourself appeal aside, who is misleading all these sellers into thinking they do not even have to try at all?

Not trying

Goodness, the photos. “I’m going to list a house for the cost of a small island, but not going to bother to get a non-blurry photo or tidy up at all.” I get it. Those trash bags, pet crates and the massive hole in the drywall all add character.

We have tramped through a house with a foundation so bad I was legitimately scared to go upstairs. Windows are missing and water courses across the floors. The entire structure has developed a pronounced lean. They listed it for twice what they paid just a year ago and the disclosure form says “no issues known.” Isn’t that adorable?

I still say you should be able to stay a day or two in a place. It is silly to me that you get to test drive a vehicle before you buy. We try on clothes. We even get a probationary period at most jobs. Yet, what is inarguably the greatest purchase of most people’s lives is decided on a walk-through and some stranger making an inspection.

You should be able to make a deposit and spend the night in a potential home you are considering for purchase or rent. Find out if you like the water pressure, heating and cooling systems, or ghosts.

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