I’m back, bitches.
Back in Canada, that is. After cutting my Korean adventure a couple of months short for reasons I will TAKE TO MY GRAVE, I’m back in Canada with my lady friend. You may know her as Vanessa, but I don’t. To be honest, I’ve barely learned her name. She’s either “sweetcheeks,” “toots,” or “get me a sandwich.”
Yeah, that last paragraph is getting me a punch to the kidneys.
Anyhoo, now that we’re back, we have plans. We’ve picked a nice community to settle down in, and are in the process of starting some fun new stuff. I’m not sure y’all will ever hear about it because, frankly, I hate all of you. Okay, not true, it’s just something that’s more local in nature.
As part of deciding to settle down, we have decided to buy a house. Yes, I know, that I’m the same guy who has made the argument that your house isn’t an investment and the guy who actually shorted the real estate market via the banks. But hey, you gotta have a place to live, and I like the freedom of having my own place. If I want a sex dungeon in the basement, I’m putting in a sex dungeon, dargbloomit! Like I said in the house isn’t an investment post, as long as you view your house as a store of value only, buying isn’t so bad.
So the lady and I decided to go looking.
It wasn’t just as simple as the two of us getting house horny. We’re looking in rural Alberta, a place where oil’s decline has been felt hard. We kept tabs on the market while in Korea, and for months it seemed like most of the same houses lingered on the market. And I’ve even been hearing stuff about how both CMHC and Genworth are making it more difficult for anyone in Alberta to get financing. These are all music to a buyer’s ears.
We’re on about month five of the oil bear market, so I figured that there might be some desperate sellers out there. Combine that with the stuff I mentioned above, and I was thinking that it might be time to start making some deals.
Yeah, I was wrong. Sooooooooooo wrong.
We found a grand total of 18 houses that were in our price range, between $200,000 and $250,000 (remember, this is a small town). Some where ones I only liked, while others were on Vanessa’s wish list. Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I told our Realtor we might as well knock them all off in one day. I figured that we’d find 3-4 out of the 18 that we were interested in, and then go from there.
The first surprise was when we met her at the office. She told us that out of the 18 we identified, three would be unavailable because they already had accepted offers. That left us with 15, another one which had an offer on it that morning.
Okay, so we go off to see the places. I’ll spare you the details of each, and instead give you guys the highlights. Reasons for passing on these places included:
- Obvious water damage in the basement
- A slant so bad that it felt like you were downhill skiing
- A house with shag carpet and the oddest smell you can imagine
- The bottom two feet of drywall ripped out because of flooding
- A house with a giant bong on the coffee table
- Mold in the basement
- A hump in the concrete so big that the owners cut out the metal support posts to ensure the whole house didn’t bulge up
- And etcetera
Out of the 15 listings, we found two we actually liked the inside of, but were in crummy neighborhoods. And they were the two houses that were above our $250,000 threshold.
So what now?
There was one house that had a decent enough upstairs and just needed some work downstairs, including new carpet throughout and some paint. It probably needs some other work too, but we felt like it had good bones, y’know? It was right at the top of our price range, but we need a place to live. So we submitted an offer at 0.5% under the asking price. Fingers crossed!
Just kidding. I actually threw up in my mouth a little typing that last paragraph. Here’s what we’re really doing.
First off, we’re not looking at places until the market slows down again. I’ll be damned if I’m going to compete with somebody who’s just looking at how much it costs each month with a down payment from mommy and daddy burning a hole in his pocket. When asked, I told our Realtor that I wasn’t interested in getting email updates. I’ll probably delete the app from my phone. Getting involved in a market like this tends to only end badly.
One of the reasons why I like small towns is because the cost of living is so much lower than large cities. By shelling out a quarter of a million on something that has serious issues, I’m falling into the same trap as the average homebuyer in Toronto or Vancouver. Those of you in larger centers will scoff at me not wanting to pay $300,000 for something I view as reasonable, but the whole reason why I want to live in a small town is so I don’t have to pay 300 large for a g.d. house. I refuse to accept that this is the “new reality,” or whatever is the buzzword surrounding this insanity.
I wanted to come back and find a nice place to settle down. It looks like that’s not going to happen, at least for a little while. But if I’m patient and values fall 10-15%, I’ll put anywhere from $30,000-$50,000 in my back pocket. For that much money, I think I’m okay with renting for a while longer.