Well, I’ve done it. I’ve almost completely lost my mind. I’ve, at the very least, confirmed my pathway to madness.
Today, I met with a realtor.
I may have mused to you before about how I should probably buy some real estate some time in the near future, seeing as how the interest rates are stupidly low and the housing prices are lower than they’ve been since I had mall bangs. And I need to secure my financial future and make a solid investment that will supplement my paltry 401(k) and IRA, which have suffered, if not losses, then anemic growth in the four years since I opened said IRA. I have no illusions about home ownership vis-a-vis that of my parents’ generation: I fully expect that mine will not be a generation that profits nearly as much from its dealings in land and structure. No, unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg (who’s a few years behind me), mine is the generation whose screwedness in all things financial resembles a small monument in size. The baby boomers sucked everything up and dumped a bunch of debt and market shenanigans in our laps and now we’ll never retire, have Social Security or reap the reward of living in the wealthiest nation with the best opportunities of a once-in-a-lifetime global growth and trade boom at its zenith.
But congrats to those of you who will. I don’t begrudge you that one bit. Unless you’re responsible for my generation’s impending destitution. In which case: This is a stickup.
Alright, so anyway, since market volatility has the world freaked out and the low interest rates have my mattress doing a better job of generating appreciable savings APY than my banks (and lately there ain’t been much appreciation going on… hey-oh!) it still seems as though real estate is the last best hope of creating some growth in the old portfolio.
So why is it crazy for me to start looking?
Well, I don’t really know what my job will be in a month/season/year.
You see, I don’t particularly like where I work right now, and it’s only getting tougher. And this isn’t about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, here. This isn’t about self-actualization. This is about the company and management treating people really, really poorly, among other, more corporately colossal clusterf—s of legal and financial weight. As regular readers may recall, I’ve been looking for a job. There is the possibility of returning to my old job, but I don’t know that the odds are tremendous because I think they want to promote someone from within, pay him less than I’d need and then hire to fill his spot on the cheap. And I’m constantly worried about losing the job I have. And I don’t want to get stuck in it, either.
But there comes a time in every woman’s life when she has to be a grownup, and those anti-anxiety meds I’ve been on for two weeks are kicking in, so I’m feeling a little adventurous. Or at least less like I’m going to die from hyperactive nervousness.
Market instability, professional uncertainty, mild mental illness. This is a great combination for homebuying, no?
I’ve been surfing the market via the Google Machine for a few years now, trying to note trends in prices and areas that spark my interest. I also have the advantage of having parents who have bought ten properties and sold seven in their lives. They kind of know the game and they like it when I ask them things. Then again, if I had done what my father wanted me to do four years ago, I’d have bought on an interest-only loan and would now probably be using my hands to paddle down a creek that smells not unlike feces.
So there’s that to consider.
In my searchings, I have found several houses I really liked, and the market is finally coming around to my way of thinking vis-a-vis how much money (and will to live) it wants to suck from me. I’m lucky that I know my city pretty darn well, so I can look at a zip code or a main road and know whether it’s a good, bad or borderline area. The other day I found a listing that I adored. It was a borderline area. My voice teacher lives four blocks away in a good part; a couple blocks east of the house gets dodgy. With gentrification, it has the potential to be a moneymaker in a shorter time than other places. The asking price was great and the seller was willing to bring as much as $17,000 to the table to unload the property. That part made me fairly sure there’s a body walled up in there somewhere, but I’d be silly not to be interested in the house. After all, it had three bedrooms, inlaid and hardwood floors, a good kitchen, good bathrooms and a full finished basement. Plus an attached garage, over which I nearly passed out with excitement, because having an attached garage in most parts of my city is like having your own unicorn. And I’ve always wanted a unicorn.
Being the curious and safety-conscious person that I am, I drove by the house semi-slowly yesterday after my voice lesson. There’s a school directly across the street, which is good for safety and maybe not so good for noise. The house looked, from my brief observation, well cared-for and tidy outside. I went back last night after work to see what goes on after 11pm. All was quiet. A woman was outside walking her dog. Wow, I thought. Exactly what I’d like to be able to do. Today I went back by again. And you know what I saw that I missed the first two times somehow?
Two boarded-up houses, three and four doors down.
But I met with the realtor, Hottie McHousehunter, to get the ball rolling on my education, at the very least. He apparently “specializes” in first-time homebuying, including finance options and ways of getting around mortgage insurance if you can’t do 20% down. I might, but then I’d be broke, so it’s not a bad thing to investigate. He walked me through the basics of the process like I’m a five-year-old, which is exactly what I need. And I was relieved to realize that I do kind of know some stuff, although I was disappointed to confirm that, as it has every day of my life since I’m in fourth grade, my brain shuts down and my vision gets all swimmy when people talk to me about finance and number-examples.
But that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
At least if I don’t like the house I’m looking at, I’ll still like something I see. Hottie McHousehunter is going to be nice to work with.