First Dream House wasn't meant to be

I’ve been watching the Real Estate market since the fall of 2008 when I first thought about purchasing a home because I noticed prices were dropping. At first I considered buying a two flat using my HELOC as a down payment and then eventually moving into the building and converting it into a SFH when and if the then elusive wife and kids arrived.

Unfortunately while I might have just noticed prices dropping in 2008, the bank that gave me a line of credit noticed a lot sooner. Chase was kind enough to suspend my HELOC before I could use it. Had I been smart, I should have withdrawn the entire line and put it in a different bank. I wouldn’t have made any money but I’d have a low interest $70K loan for many years.

I still watched the market and started looking at homes, skipping the two flat idea and going straight to the SFH. There was one particular house that has just about everything I could want and thus I refer to it as my dream house.

It is only a few blocks from the Jefferson Park Blue Line and Metra stations, so I’d have my transportation requirements taken care of. It has a big backyard with a great deck and a two car garage. A finished basement and a modern kitchen. New windows, roof and water heater means that all we’d have to do is move in and paint the place.Dream House circa 2009

In March of 2009, I called a realtor from Zip Realty who made an appointment so I could see it even though we both knew their asking price of $539,000 was way out of my price range. It looked even better in person, especially after finding out it also has an attic that could be expanded into a kick-ass master suite later in life. On the downside, the basement was a little limited, it would be more of a children’s play area than a ManCave, but I’d have to take a longer look if I ever had a realistic chance of getting this place. Which I didn’t. In fact, no one really did.

The owner, who was expecting another child in July, had told me that if she didn’t get an offer in a month or so, she was going to take it off the market because she didn’t want to deal with a closing and a birth around the same time. I asked my standard “why are you selling such a great house” question and they responded that the husband had just got a job out of state. She also added that he could do the traveling thing if they couldn’t sell the home.

Even as a then single guy without children I knew that when the second child arrived that would get old real fast.

My dream house was quietly taken off the market in Sept 2009. Thanks to the Internet you can learn so much about a house. I learned that the owners had a mortgage and a HELOC which combined put them at about $475K owed on the house, so they didn’t have a lot of wiggle room.

In the summer of 2010, on a whim, I emailed the owner. Feigning ignorance, I politely asked ‘Just curious if this home was still for sale and what is your current asking price.”

It was over a week when I got this response:

“Hi. Thanks for asking. It’s not officially on the market, but we would still consider selling for the right price… Nothing below our original asking price. [Emphasis mine.]


The problem with this house is its asking price. Anyone who can afford the asking price doesn’t want to live there and anyone who wants to live there cannot afford the asking price. They wanted almost $540K for it. And while it might have been worth that price at the height of the market, those days are gone for good.

Update:  apparently the owners updated the website they put together for selling this house.  It is not “listed” at $499,000.   

And I cannot blame them for wanting to come away with something for all their hard work. But there was just something about the sentence. Nothing below our original asking price that irked me. As if anything less was a personal insult. It is no doubt this inflexibility on their part that caused them to take their place off the market. It makes me wonder what they would say if someone offered them, say $525K, would they accept, counter offer or just say no thank you.

I think it’s fair to say that they are dreaming if they think they can get their price even in this now improved market.

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