More on the house hunt... my apologies ahead of time, this is a 'mostly for me' blog, and it ends badly.
I couldn't wrap my mind around how such nice houses were in such a crappy area, so I did what I do, I obsessed, and I researched (obsessively). Crime stats are good. In the four mile radius around the neighborhood, no crime at all for the past 30 days. In the zip code, a few aggravated assaults and thefts, but no murder, rape or burgulary. It sounds bad, but it's pretty much on par with where I am now. I looked at flood plains, very low risk there. Awesome. I looked at days on the market, slightly less than where I am now. Good sign.
I finally realized that in the original zip code where my search began, there is usually a one street difference between the good part of town and the bad. What is the difference? The houses in this area are actually nicer, and much, much larger, they just aren't as close to the city. As a result, there isn't as much income potential when I go to sell the house, although two of the three are undervalued so there is a sort of instant equity already built in.
My decision is to go visit the area this weekend and see it for myself. Resale value isn't as important to me at this point. If I stay in this house for another year, I could end up losing equity, it's all risk. My house is already not quite worth what I'd hoped. It's a great house, people ooh and aah over it when they walk in, so I'm hopeful that when it goes on the market there will be a lot of interest and it will sell quickly, and for a good price, but you never know. The houses in my neighborhood have been on the market for an average of 145 days. That is a frightening number, especially when I look at the pics and don't see anything wrong with them (of course, things are different in person so there could be plenty wrong). Also scary -- when I price them out, most of them are priced under the $/sq ft from 2009. There are two exactly like mine but I have a renovated bathroom, new windows and gutters, and a large patio so I think I have the advantage, but it's all about finding the right buyer.
As far as why the prices are so low, I discovered that my front runner has probably been empty for the past three years. That explains that price. It looks like it was put on the market, taken off the market after five months, then recently put back on the market two years later, but never sold. The tax info says it's owned by "such-and-such estate," so I figure the owner died, and no one has lived in it since. One of the other houses is a foreclosure, which explains the price. The third house is more expensive, it's also turn-key and privately owned. So I'm happy with all the facts I've uncovered. I think Bob has a point, my agent knows his specific area very well, and his area is urban, it's close to downtown so that's the kind of real estate he appreciates. I'm used to a suburban setting, I kind of prefer it to be honest (really I want a rural setting, but we're taking that in baby steps...).
This real estate education I got is all like a mirror of what's happening in the economy. One of my friends lost her job with NASA... she has three kids, and child support isn't going to cover all of her bills. I have another friend who is a teacher, and she will be jobless come June... her husband recently quit his job for health reasons and the tenants in the condo they own are moving out (condo isn't paid for... the tenants were paying the rent). It makes me edgy. I don't like to see people in those situations. And every day they pull more and more funding from our budget, we're managing, but there will come a point when decisions have to be made, I hope not to be one of those decisions. I imagine that some of the houses I plan to look at are on the market as a result of this economy and it makes me sad for all of us. There doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, just more problems to throw money at, more wars to fight, more taxes to pay.
Eyore, signing off....
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