September 24, 2009

The Eternal Boycott

by NY City Boy

In Arlington Memorial Cemetery there is an eternal flame. It flickers and flashes and burns on through daytime and nighttime. That flame does not care if the sun is shining or the sky is filled with rain. It does not ask the calendar if it is Sunday or Monday or Arbor Day. It just burns on. In the corners of my heart there is a flame of another kind. It is the flame of dislike for all things that touch real estate. It is a flame that burns bright and strong. It is a flame that will fuel my eternal boycott of the real estate game for the rest of my waking moments, and beyond. That flame does not take names and it does not take prisoners.

It was a clear, beautiful day in March of 2005. I would say it was during the winter time but this was in the South. They do not get much of what I would call “winter”, especially by my standards of what I grew up with. My wife and I had decided it was time to up and leave our comfortable southern house. It was big. It was vinyl. It was not making me happy. We needed something more from life. We needed to have some fun and excitement.

The genesis of that decision had been our decision to not have little NYCityBoys and girls running around. We looked at all of the “joy” of the kid crowd and decided that maybe it was not for us. That became a problem. We had moved into a neighborhood that was completely centered around the patter of little feet.

To live in a neighborhood that is focused on kids, when you don’t have any kids, is much like being the sober guy at the bar at 2:00 in the morning. At least I think it is. I have never actually been that guy but I am sure I have driven many of those guys to near violence. My life in the cul-de-sac has allowed me to imagine what it must be like to be that guy. You know there is some kind of party going on. You also know that you just do not fit in with the rest of the crowd. Perhaps we could develop neighborhoods that specifically forbid kids. They would be like the no-smoking sections of the old days, say 1992. That way you could know what you are getting into before buying. I think the neighborhoods without kids would be a lot more fun. It is too bad that the only way to get into such a neighborhood is to be in your blue hair, no ass with high pants stage of life.

Upon deciding to sell our slice of The American Dream we did what every well trained drone does. We searched for a real estate agent. I could not just call the guy that had sold our townhouse because my wife did not like him. She thought he was a little too slick. I told her, “he’s a f—ing real estate agent, for god’s sake. What do you expect?” I had liked him because he and I agreed on aggressively pricing the place and we got it sold quickly. I think it took about eight days. My wife thought we had “given it away”. I tried to tell her that this was not the case but sooner rather than later I had given up on that argument.

While searching for a real estate agent I did not take it as seriously as I should have. This was 2005 and the market was still strong. We were in a new development and we had a large house. We could price it right and get it sold. I told my wife, “any idiot could sell this”. Boy, was I wrong.

We found a local real estate agent on the Internet. She had what looked like the stereotypical real estate agent look. She was blonde. She didn’t look like she would be working on any NASA launches any time soon but I figured all I needed was somebody to list the house, take a few pictures and follow up on offers. I could train one of the cats to do that. Oops. I should not have typed that. One of them was looking over my shoulder as I was typing. She is pretty pissed off that I just lumped her in with a real estate agent. I will be sleeping with one eye open tonight.

We met with the real estate agent. Of course she pulled up driving a Mercedes. I rolled my eyes at that. We spoke with her for about half an hour. She seemed nice. It seemed like she understood the area. That was enough for us. We were in a hurry to get out of cul-de-sac purgatory and figured this should work. After all we were dream customers. We were committed to selling quickly. We told her we absolutely did not want to overprice the place. We wanted a quick sale and that should be music to any real estate agent’s ears.

We started talking about getting the place sold. My wife had painted some of the walls with colors that she had liked. We asked if we should paint the walls back to white. She assured us that this was not necessary. I was skeptical but I agreed. I guess I was just thinking about the fact that I was glad to get an answer that didn’t involve me doing anything with blue tape or a roller. We talked about pricing. I think we, at first, thought that the place could be priced around $315,000. That was more than we paid two years earlier. I would have gone even lower but I remembered the “giving it away” comments with the townhouse. Our agent, I will call her Babs (in honor of Babs Cocker-ham or whatever her name is) from here on out. Babs told us that she thought we could price at $330,000 and still get a quick sale. I do not remember if our eyes lit up with dollar signs but I am sure that we were like any other people. We liked hearing the words “quick sale” attached to the $330,000 number. So, we agreed to price it at that level. Based upon what was still selling in the neighborhood it seemed reasonable. We mentioned that we would lower the price quickly if it did not sell. That was agreed upon. We signed a six month contract with Babs. When she left everybody seemed to be happy.

A few days later our house was on the market. Babs told us our listing was up on the MLS. Babs brought a “For Sale” sign to put in the yard. She also brought a little box with flyers that went out by the driveway. We had cleaned the house from top to bottom. Let me pause for a moment here. Anybody that has ever had a house in shape to be shown knows how awful it is to keep it like that. It is like living in a model home. Knowing this I can never understand why anybody would want to allow their house to just fester on the market month after month. Perhaps they quit cleaning. But we had gotten our house into shape to be shown. I even told the cats to try to be less messy since we were trying to sell the place. They just laughed and told me to, “go f— yourself”. The cats are not really what I would call “team players”.

Our listing was on the Internet in a flash. I went out and found it. I noticed two things. The pictures that had been taken looked like absolute crap. The price reflected the first price we talked about, not the higher price. I pointed these things out to Babs. I should have known something was wrong when I was talking to her on the phone and I could hear the wind rushing through her ears. She apologized for the pricing mistake. She said the pictures were just fine. I knew that was a dead end. I just hoped it would not sink us.

The calls for showings began on the first day the house was listed. I had already completed my time at work, and was not ready to head to New York, so I had an opportunity to be at home and keep the place clean. Our first showing was slated for early in the afternoon. I was at home cleaning and hoped to get out of the house about twenty minutes before the showing. This would give the cats the least amount of time to do any damage. As it turned out the real estate agent and the prospective couple showed up very early. I was still in the house. The real estate agent apologized and told me they were running early. She said I could stay. I did not think she was serious. I told her I would get out of the way and go across the street to talk to my neighbor.

The couple was in the house for a little while. It may have been twenty minutes. I did not speak to them. They pulled away and the real estate agent stayed behind a couple minutes. She came over and talked to me. She said that it was early in their search and they had not made any decisions. It was clear they did not love it. She then told me she had to show me something. I asked what it was. She had one of the flyers in her hand. Babs had not printed up new flyers. She had just put a small label over the initial price. If you turned the flyer over you could see the old price and that the figure had been raised. That was embarrassing.

I called Babs and got the reaction to which I would become so familiar. She treated it like it was no big deal. These things happened. I cursed to my wife and started to wonder if this idiot was too much of an idiot to sell our house.

The days passed and our house stayed on the market. I moved to New York City while my wife stayed behind. The showings were racking up. I would try to talk to Babs and ask her if we should lower the price. She would say, “no. We just need to be patient.”

The miracle of the Internet allowed us to see what the many visitors to our house were thinking. Some complained about the size of the lot. I could not do anything about that. Some said they did not like our neighbor’s pool. That was out of control at this point. I also noticed that the teenage daughter was now having people over in the afternoon to swim. They blasted the crappiest music known to man. That was frustrating. Remember what I wrote about neighborhoods without kids. The other little rascals in the neighborhood can have a huge impact when you try to sell. Some complained about, drum roll please, the customized paint colors. It was becoming clear to me that this was screaming one thing to me. It was yelling, “lower the price”. People might be willing to tolerate these things but not at the current price.

My wife finalized her work transfer and moved to New York. The cats relocated with her. The house sat empty. The showings continued. My frustration level was rising.

I now had to have a long distance relationship with Babs. My frustration continued to grow. We would hear from her sporadically. I would have to try to track her down. One day I spoke to her and told her we needed regular updates since we were now dealing with an empty house. She said she would do her best but she was very busy. I had to check that out. I looked at her site on the Internet. She had a listing for some raw land. She had two other listings for some run-down houses. Neither house was listed at even half of the price of our house. I could not believe my eyes.

She should have been treating us like royalty. Instead she was tough to get a hold of and she still would not lower the price. I could not understand this. The only thing I could think is that she was dumb enough to want to maximize her commission even if it took longer. She actually told me everything was going well. Her reasoning was that we had had a lot of showings. I reminded her we did not have a single offer to consider and it had been two months. It was clear that we were priced too high. We needed to lower it and get it sold.

The communication from Babs became less and less frequent. Finally I had had enough. My wife was at the same spot. I told her we were going to kick Babs’ worthless dye job to the curb and hire the agent that had sold our last place. My wife, putting her past thoughts aside, told me to make the call.

I made the call immediately and told him the situation. We still had our contract. He told me we should be able to get out of it. I called Babs and told her I was firing her. She told me that we still had a contract. I told her she was a complete incompetent and that if she fought me on it I would do whatever it took to get away from her. She finally agreed to release the listing but we would have to pay her $600 for her marketing efforts. I did not know what efforts to which she was referring. Perhaps those little labels were more expensive than they looked.

The new (old) agent and I discussed what we needed to do with the house. The first thing he said was, “those walls have to be painted”. I swore a few times and agreed with him. He told me he could find a guy to do the painting. It would be $1,800. I told him to do it as soon as possible. He said he would take photos and create a panoramic presentation. He sent somebody over and they did a beautiful job of it. He said that we should lower the price. I agreed and got the price down to where it had to be. My wife did not object at all. She did bring up the idea of renting it out at one point. I think I slept alone that night after I snapped her head off about, “there is no f—ing way I’m going to be a long distance landlord”.

Babs was still not gone. She would not release the listing until our check had cleared. I could not believe it. She had stopped taking my calls. I know I left her a couple choice voice mails. I hope she kept them. I would like to hear them some day. She was like an STD that would not go away easily. But finally she did. Our check cleared and I was free of Babs for the rest of my life.

Within two weeks our house was sold. We lowered the price again during negotiations and I heard some grumbling from my wife. I think she knew enough not to continue to question it. She did not dare use the words “give it away” on this one. She knew that I just wanted to be rid of that headache.

I did not just get rid of a house. I got rid of Sundays doing yard work. I got rid of witnessing the neighbor’s kids go through their teenage years at their pool while the hip-hop blasted. I got rid of having no flexibility to look for a job where I wanted to look for a job. I got rid of being over $250,000 in debt and feeling like I had to go to work every day and say, “yes sir” because I was a debt slave. I got rid of a lot of things. I got back a sense of freedom and that was worth its weight in platinum. I was all smiles.

The moment I sold that boat anchor was the day I began my eternal boycott. It was my independence day from the scam that is known as “the real estate market”. I could state from that day forth that I never again wanted to deal with a real estate agent. I never again wanted to deal with a mortgage broker. I never wanted to have a house for sale. I never wanted to have to fight with my wife about the nickels and dimes that were paid on the house. Renting is not throwing my money away any more than eating a steak, instead of ramen noodles, is throwing money away.

I will gladly sign over a check to my landlord for the opportunity to pass along all problems onto him or her or whatever. Today I received an email that a good friend in the North Carolina mountains had a basement full of water. I spoke to a colleague in Atlanta and he had pumped 250 gallons of water out of his basement in the past few days. Their tales make me feel bad for them but they make me feel wonderful that I have not bought into the fairy tale that owning a house is the American Dream. I know many people with kids feel they have to own a house. I can understand that. But for me I will choose freedom for the rest of my life. Take that six percent and shove it where nothing seems to shine. You will never see a dime from me.

(Note: My old house languishes on the market. It has been “For Sale” for more than a year now. The current owners do not share my philosophy of “lower the price and get it sold”. I guess they like having an empty house. Perhaps I should give them Babs’ number. It seems they were made for each other.)

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Comment by salinasron
2009-09-23 09:08:28

“Renting is not throwing my money away ”

We sold our house in 2004 and moved to Salinas. At first my wife was unhappy at not having a house because all of her friends did and it brought up the only heated discussions during our 26 yrs of marriage. Now she doesn’t really care if we buy or not. I love not having to do the maintenance and the freedom to move anytime without having to sell first. We have more spendable income and enjoy our lifestyle more. Does that mean we won’t buy sometime in the future, no. It just means that housing isn’t our priority right now.

Comment by lavi d
2009-09-23 12:11:35

She was like an STD that would not go away easily.

I hope Babs reads that while on break at Burger King.

Comment by Mike
2009-09-23 13:56:10

“I hope Babs reads that while on break at Burger King.”


Comment by hd74man
2009-09-24 10:22:18

RE: She was like an STD that would not go away easily.

At least you only had to deal with the twit for a couple months.

Try day to day with this crowd as a straight, legit appraiser for 23 years.


Comment by SD Renter
2009-09-23 14:05:04


That was an enjoyable read. It is much appreicated on a ho hum Wednesday.


Comment by Professor Bear
2009-09-23 14:06:08

Owning is throwing away money on PITI (payments, interest, taxes and insurance), not to mention falling knife capital losses.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-09-24 09:44:14

Don’t forget the maintenance! Nothing like opening your freezer and seeing a cascading ice waterfall because the ice-maker valve went on the fritz.

Or replacing a fence to keep your poor-white-trash neighbor’s pitbull out of your yard.

Or buying costly chemical warfare ordinance in an eternal struggle against termites.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-09-23 09:09:23

Excellent post!

I think you sum up what many of us here feel at this point… even folks like me whose real estate experiences have been limited to watching friends suffer with greedy, crooked, and stupid real estate agents - I can’t think of any of them who had an agent within the past 5+ years that wasn’t a crook.

I look over the list of rotting homes sold at an “amazing” 10% off peak price and think “why bother?” What’s the point? They are still grossly overpriced, taxes are only going to go up, unemployment will continue to increase (so where’s the long-term security needed to commit to a house?), and neighborhoods will be sucked into the ghetto. All of this just to keep the bankers happy and the masses deluded about the “value” of “their” home.

Comment by X-philly
2009-09-23 11:36:34

I look over the list of rotting homes sold at an “amazing” 10% off peak price and think “why bother?” What’s the point? They are still grossly overpriced,

Just heard on radio that Toll Brothers is having a Fall Home Sale this weekend. Are you stoked?

But in Tollworld, a fall home sale does not involve the cutting of retail prices, what the lucky FB will get instead is their choice of upgrade at a 50% discount. So rather than getting a granite countertop at a 600% markup, they’ll only pay the Bros. Toll 3x what the upgrade usually costs.

Where do I sign up?

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-09-24 09:49:21

So, I can get a useless upgrade on a cardboard crudshack that probably won’t outlive the 30-year mortgage, AND I get to overpay?! Oh, oh - please tell me their crummy houses are arrogantly oversized with delusions of manors and are jammed so close to each other on tiny lots that I can hear the ghetto music and screaming arguments of my neighbors into the morning hours? Man, nothing like looming crudshacks in barren, paved over subdivisions without a tree in sight (save for the invasive Bradford Pears.) Wow, who wouldn’t want to pay a fortune for that?

Comment by oxide
2009-09-24 12:50:27

Delusions of manors is right. During the height of the bubble, one of the free For Sale booklets featured ideas for interiors. One soaring great room had a fakey coat of arms over the fireplace, and the same coat of arms repeated in stained glass on the windows. One 55+ community clubhouse had fake Tudor beams in the ceiling — made of painted plastic slats (and the most inappropriate roof pitch). It wasn an insult.

Sorry, in my book, the only people who deserve those sort of accoutrements are $28k/year EMTs and the soldiers serving in Iraq/Afghanistan/NK DMZ.

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Comment by JoJo
2009-09-25 10:04:03

” are jammed so close to each other on tiny lots that I can hear the ghetto music and screaming arguments of my neighbors into the morning hours?”

And yet the same folks who buy these McMansions 3 feet apart look down on people living in townhouses. I fail to see any real difference between a shared wall on each side and 3 ft of room on each side, especially since the townhouse is $100,000 cheaper. You’re still hearing your neighbors and the McMansion lots aren’t any bigger than a townhouse yard.

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Comment by Mike
2009-09-23 14:06:09

“…suffer with greedy, crooked, and stupid real estate agents - I can’t think of any of them who had an agent within the past 5+ years that wasn’t a crook.”

Well said.

Comment by CA renter
2009-09-23 18:16:11

I look over the list of rotting homes sold at an “amazing” 10% off peak price and think “why bother?” What’s the point? They are still grossly overpriced, taxes are only going to go up, unemployment will continue to increase (so where’s the long-term security needed to commit to a house?), and neighborhoods will be sucked into the ghetto. All of this just to keep the bankers happy and the masses deluded about the “value” of “their” home.

Bravo! This pretty much sums up what I’m thinking. To bad the spousal unit doesn’t see it that way. :(

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-23 18:41:50

“taxes are only going to go up”

YUP, while rents will be pretty much limited by the incomes available to pay them. Rent is a great bargain precisely BECAUSE you usually canNOT borrow it! and the available subsidies (so far) are pretty low.

Rising property taxes will even have to make up some of the shortfall in income tax receipts. Glad I don’t pay them directly.

Comment by thistle
2009-09-23 09:15:04

Great story! I, alas, am still trapped in a house & a mortgage, & I have kids…it’s not as bad as it sounds, we bought in 2004, have a fixed rate, don’t plan on moving, & are not underwater (& we like the house & neighborhood), but reading your story brought back all the horror of house hunting & purchasing & dealing with realtors…

Comment by Bill in Los Angeles
2009-09-23 09:18:28

I was stuck in a similar neighborhood for six years until I could afford to sell the house and take a loss.

It was worse for me. I was in my 30s, single, and male. I could see the suspicious glances at me a lot. Like from the next door neighbor whenever we saw each other.

I vowed never to let that happen to me again. What was I thinking? It was bad enough watching the RE prices tumble during the last bubble burst.

I wanted to throw parties like my friend a couple neighborhoods away. I did, but only two parties in six years. It turned out a lot of the other under-35 people moved out of the town. Lots of women left. It was depressing.

I visited that area a few years after living in Tucson. I drove into that desolate valley and instantly became depressed. I think of the wasted youth. I could have had a lot of fun if I lived in a city and not a place of mostly engineers and military types.

I’m still too young for a retirement community but I think I would be depressed if I moved there and was the youngest in the area. I’d wait at least to age 67 before even thinking of living in an over 55 community.

Comment by Bill in Carolina
2009-09-23 13:36:56

Bill, it depends on the retirement community. We have a par 72 golf course, a fitness center that includes an indoor pool, a dozen tennis courts, and a walking trail. Our community is partly on the shore of a large lake so we have several community marinas. Since we all pay for those amenities (the only extras are golf at $20/round and $750/yr for a boat slip), no one moves here who isn’t inclined as well as able to use them. There are literally dozens of other interest groups as well.

Including our property taxes and the mandatory fees, we pay less than just the property taxes our good friends who bought in Florida in 2006 pay. And they just have a community pool.

A further benefit: No teens playing basketball in their driveway most of the night and no boom-box cars driving down the street.

One day we’ll grow too old and decrepit to use what we have here. But in the meantime we’re having the time of our lives.

Gotta run. Have tennis practice in a while to prepare for our next match on Saturday.

Comment by drumminj
2009-09-23 20:32:57

No teens playing basketball in their driveway most of the night and no boom-box cars driving down the street.

But who’s going to help push your car down the street because the starter died and you need to drop it in gear to get the engine going to get it to the shop? :lol:

I lived in a “mixed” neighborhood - mostly older folks, and then the younger folks buying as a result of the boom. It was a good mix - not many kids, and everyone was friendly. I miss that neighborhood, actually. Having a teenager or two around did help, though, as the story above really did happen.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-09-24 09:50:51

“But who’s going to help push your car down the street because the starter died and you need to drop it in gear to get the engine going to get it to the shop?”

The teens in my ‘hood would steal your wallet and your car if that happened to you round here, sadly.

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Comment by kmfdm rules
2009-09-24 10:09:14

Only works with a manual transmission - which is getting to be pretty rare in the US these days…

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Comment by Dave Barnes
2009-09-23 09:29:55

Great post.
Excellent writing.
(This coming from someone who shares ownership of a house with “the bank” and has for over 20 years. I still enjoy “owning” my house and not renting.)

Comment by vicever
2009-09-23 09:36:14

I boycott real estate for another reason. Too many shill buyers in this market. Most the efforts that prompt real estate market like buying MBS with money created by who-knows, $8000 credit, etc. help a lot people with little skin in the market, maybe those people does not fear too much, but I do. The thought of losing down-payment, no money to get children proper educations, no money saved for retirement all terrify me. To have a peace of mind, I am not able to buy a real estate without having extra incomes. It is likely that boycott will continue until one day not many shill buyers compete with me.

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-09-23 09:51:22


We’ve reached the “Idiocracy Moment” when being stupid and reckless is rewarded far more than being prudent and responsible. I’m sure this will work out great for our society in the long term… hahaha…

Comment by azrenter
2009-09-23 10:11:39

Some landlords are wanting long term renter and a good thing, select a place that will fit your needs and then stay there, my LL is happy with me, but I still will not sign a lease longer than twelve months. Who knows what is coming down the road and I like the concept that if things get worse and it necessitates moving I will and not look back. Of course I live in a rural area and that makes the idea that moving will improve my lifestyle somewhat questionable. Cheaper than cities too.

Comment by Carl Morris
2009-09-23 10:23:46

Nice post. I’m only boycotting RE until prices are in line with incomes and rents, but I agree on the enjoyment of being a renter.

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-09-23 11:45:13

I agree with it all, too. Except that’s how I lived my life up until a few years ago. Meaning I lived it up when I was younger, didn’t worry about buying anything, moved from city to city and job to job, had a blast - no regrets. I did it all knowing someday I’d settle down. Had no idea that real estate would bubble up like it did and price me out just when I was finally ready to settle down.

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-23 18:43:31

What Carl said.

Comment by oxide
2009-09-24 13:01:53

I’ll boycott until banks demand 20% down, in cash. No handshakes, no monkey business with 1st and 2nd trusts, no rolling into the mortgage, no paying with cars and vacations, no paying with future tax credits.

No, show up to the table with 20% in $500-dollar bills and a credit report that shows no loans were taken in the past 6 months or so (to prove you didn’t borrow the 20%). That alone will rid us of this meddlesome bubble once and for all.

Comment by Hwy50ina49Dodge
2009-09-23 10:34:00

Thanks for the tale NY City Boy!

“…They just laughed and told me to, “go f— yourself”. The cats are not really what I would call “team players”.” Priceless! :-)

(Hwy notes that Mr.Cole has x2 calico’s (knucklebutthead & knuckledumbass)…he is anxiously awaiting age 10, when it is agreed upon to acquire x2 puppies of the “working dog” breed.)

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-09-23 11:10:00

I even told the cats to try to be less messy since we were trying to sell the place. They just laughed and told me to, “go f— yourself”. The cats are not really what I would call “team players”.

I sold a place in 2005, and my three cats were most assuredly not “team players” during the process.

Mika (RIP, you finicky so-and-so) liked to express her displeasure at, well, anything at all by sh!tting either on the floor of the master bathroom or in the bathtub itself (all things considered, not the worst places by a long shot, but still). It was best not to upset Mika’s world, or there would be p00ps. Needless to say, the prospect of an open house was not a pleasurable experience for her, and she expressed herself accordingly.

I distinctly remember cleaning up both cat vomit and cat sh!t mere minutes before we had to vacate for an open house and thinking, “Gawd, I hope that-there smell don’t linger over top of that potpurri crap the Realtor suggested.” Mika ended up going to visit her grandma in Kentucky before the next set of showings. Thankfully the place sold quickly …

Comment by Bad Chile
2009-09-23 10:52:58

Nice post.

I agree about the kids thing - despite having a spawn of my own (in my mid-30s), I’m of the opinion that our society is too kid oriented.

Also about the “babs” of the world. Me and Mrs. Chile had a Babs moment a few years ago (2005 IIRC). We made an offer about $15k lower than asking and in line with comps during the height of the mania, the sellers came back having lowered their asking by $200.

Me and Mrs. Chile saw realized there was too much distance. We told Babs no, we weren’t even going to bother countering agian, that we were obviously on two different planets with pricing.

Babs had the gall to call Mrs. Chile and accuse her of wasting her time, getting cold feet and needing to grow up. Mrs. Chile called me at work to report this.

Babs got a call from me. I asked her why wasting $15,000 was a grown up thing. Her answer was $15,000 wasn’t that much money. I countered if it wasn’t that much money maybe she could cover the difference. She accused me of cold feet. I told her that if she thought the house was a great deal she could buy it. She told me I was wasting her time. I told her we contacted her on the advice of friends and brought the listing to her, that only only thing she did was pull out a pre-printed form and fill it out (I also told her I’d understand her frustration if she had assumed some liability, but as a Realtor she had no liability so she had no basis in her anger). She reminded me we had a six month contract, I told her I had no intention of buying Real Estate in the next six years.

I haven’t bought real estate yet. And no desire to ever buy in New England.

As for kids, they’re no reason to own. Takes me 20 seconds to fix anything (a phone call), more time with mini-chile.

Again, nice post, NY City Boy.

Comment by sleepless_near_seattle
2009-09-23 11:04:01

-If $15,000 isn’t a lot of money, then why can’t the sellers sacrifice it?
-If $15,000 isn’t a lot of money, then why are new buyers falling all over themselves to make offers for just an $8,000 tax credit.

Your Babs needs a wake-up call.

Comment by Jim A.
2009-09-23 11:29:14

Well you could have offered 14,800 dollars less. But that would have implied that you should have split the difference.

Comment by Skip
2009-09-23 14:59:33

A friend of mine is dealing with “Babs” right now. She told them a price she could sell the house for that was $30k more than they had originally thought to price it. Its only been 3 months now, but in their minds, they have already spent than extra money.

When they talk, its now about how they “need” that extra money.

Comment by potential buyer
2009-09-23 19:02:46

I’m of the opinion that our society is too kid oriented.

Once upon a time, kids were seen and not heard. The older I get, the more I wish that were so. Talk about entitlement!

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 11:53:41

Just think of all the toys and toy plastic junk all over peoples houses. Growing up we had a wagon, some toy guns, a couple of toy dolls and the outdoors, blankets to turn furniture over and make tents, and above all our imaginations. Virtually NO TV, just our imaginations and usually the great outdoors. And we had 1 bathroom for 4. After seeing all the Entitled spawn and their spoiled entitled parents, I am Sure you are correct that it is over the top kid oriented.
Have you seen all the junk parents bring with them to airports? When we traveled by car or train, we didn’t have 2 or more types of car seats? Moms usually had 1 stroller, and mom/dad always traveled with food for the tots.Not now, people with infants and/or disease ie : diabetes seem to travel without foods, or meds. Amazing. They can’t even buy the stuff in the terminals, just wait till onboard and ask. And they travel w/o diapers.
Amazing. I watch and listen to people and this is what I have observed.

Comment by Anon In DC
2009-09-23 10:53:43

Good story thanks for sharing. Guess it’s better to have 3 month listing agreements. Also can you complain to the RE office managing broker and get rid of the bad agent ?

Comment by mrincomestream
2009-09-23 12:41:24

Yes…especially if you’re real insistent…

Comment by NYCityBoy
2009-09-23 12:56:40

I called and spoke to him. I went at it with him. I told him that Babs had been a complete moron. I gave him all the details. I trusted him like I trust Hank Paulson. We were supposed to discuss it again a day later. In the interim his niece died. That is what he told me. At that point I felt I had to be nicer to him. That was really an inconvenience.

Comment by X-philly
2009-09-23 14:01:29

In these parts the broker who runs the office usually gets a cut of the listing agent’s commission. That would make manager less inclined to cut off a possible income source. Especially during the height of the boom, the UHS reigned supreme, sellers/FBs were just riff raff they had to tolerate.

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Comment by Mike
2009-09-23 14:04:35

Don’t use an Agent that requires an agreement. They are a dime a dozen, and they will only cost you money. Furthermore, they are not worth $500 to $1,000 an hour. By the way, the only positive experience we had in our lifetime was with an Agent who did not require an agreement.

Comment by drumminj
2009-09-23 20:48:49

Same here. I used the same agent for buying my house and selling it. Did not require a contract for buying, nor a locked-in agreement for selling (yes, it was exclusive, but not for a set time IIRC). Though, honestly, as a buyer I think the contract could protect you.

When I sold, I negotiated a reduced fee (5.5% instead of 6), dictated the price (a bit below their recommended price), and they had a nice professional photographer come out and take wonderful photos/panoramas. Not sure I got my money’s worth, though, as the place was under contract before the fliers were even printed or I was able to have an open house. The agent didn’t suggest any changes to the house - painting walls (I had pretty bold colors throughout the house), fixing any landscaping, or anything.

It’s nice having someone you can “trust” to treat you on the up and up. Even if it costs a little more.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 11:57:49

I have never heard of an agent with a agreement to sign. Mebbe so.
But the only agreement I know is a “gentlemans agreement” and one that I would honor. That is, if ‘you’ showed me or emailed me a property, then I decided to buy it, I would return to ‘you’ as original ‘agent’ to go through-if things went well. Otherwise, if ‘you’ didn’t show me a property or email me with that property, all bets are off.
If I have a re who I choose to go through, it isn’t with a signed agreement. But I do understand that alot of people don’t do anything with honor these days. Our examples are elected or pastors of churchs etc.

Comment by shelby
2009-09-23 11:07:11

“Babs got a call from me. I asked her why wasting $15,000 was a grown up thing. Her answer was $15,000 wasn’t that much money. I countered if it wasn’t that much money maybe she could cover the difference. She accused me of cold feet. I told her that if she thought the house was a great deal she could buy it. She told me I was wasting her time. I told her we contacted her on the advice of friends and brought the listing to her, that only only thing she did was pull out a pre-printed form and fill it out (I also told her I’d understand her frustration if she had assumed some liability, but as a Realtor she had no liability so she had no basis in her anger). She reminded me we had a six month contract, I told her I had no intention of buying Real Estate in the next six years.”

OMG this is Rich - I wonder if this ball-sy Ho-bag is still trying to strong-arm people into buying Real Estate!!!

I bet she was pissed when you told her you wouldn’t be buying ANYTHING thru her!!


Comment by DJ
2009-09-23 11:10:47

We have rented a small condo to the same person for the last 15 years.We keep the rent at about 75% of market. We bought it 30 years ago as a starter home so are costs are very low so he enjoys a good deal and we have no vacancies or repair requests. A great deal for both.

Comment by CA renter
2009-09-23 18:24:56

This is exactly what smart LLs do.

We’re fortunate to have found a LL just like this. Original owner (probably paid off), very responsible, etc. A good tenant-LL relationship is a wonderful thing.

Comment by potential buyer
2009-09-23 19:05:21

So no upgrades to the property then? See, for me, I really don’t want to live in a home where the faucets are so friggin’ old, I can’t even turn the taps on. It annoys me that LLs can’t upgrade, even just a little.

Comment by eastcoaster
2009-09-24 09:27:08

My LL doesn’t raise my rent (or at least hasn’t yet - been there 2.5 years). They know a good tenant when they have one. Problem with them is, if I ever have to call for a repair they get real pissy with me. I’ve called twice in 2.5 years. Once when the 1st floor was flooding and the other when the roof was leaking. I’ve put up with little maintenance annoyances otherwise because I hate to call them. But I’d much rather be in a place where the LL wants to keep the property in really good shape and, thus, doesn’t mind doing the little repairs. I live in fear of my washer/dryer or other appliance crapping out (they are all verrrrrry old so it’s quite likely). I fear getting attitude.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:03:07

You sound just like my H. Not only do I want a rent reduction, I want my faucets fixed yesterday. My money is good and dangit, if they want to play that game, I will stalk the vacated property and Disclose to all prospective renters what things are broken, old, dilapidated etc. I don’t know how I would accomplish this, but that is what I would want to do. As a previous LL, I know whereof I speak. If you have good tenants, keep em happy. Keep the property fixed and the rent keeps coming in as agreed. See, Win Win! And leave rents in affordable range, maybe up a % for taxes.

Comment by Best Wishes
2009-09-23 11:41:22

Love your post NY City Boy, couldn’t agree with you more. We sold our house in Jan 2006 after owning it for 25 years and haven’t looked back since. I’ve never felt so free!!!!!!

Freedom to us means being “Debt Free” and being able to move when we feel like. We’ve been DINKS all of our lives and wouldn’t have any other way. Don’t get us wrong we Love kids, especially when they’re someone elses.

Comment by Three Grown Kids
2009-09-23 18:18:12

Best Wishes,
I have no problem with people being DINKS, in fact some people should not procreate. I’m glad you love kids because somebody’s kids will be taking care of you ( and possibly me) in the nursing home when your too old or decrepit to live at home.

Comment by Best Wishes
2009-09-24 05:17:40

Three Grown Kids,

Your so right, some people should not procreate. Unfortunatley I think TOO many people procreate and many are terrible role models. This is why we have to keep building more prisions for there are so many unfit parents that continue to procreate.

“I glad somebody’s kids will be taking care of me (and possibly you) in the nursing home when I’m too old or decrpit to live at home”. Sounds like you’ve got great kids. However, I have to say I find your comments a bit cold and crude referring to old people being “Decript”. Hope for your sake your kids don’t feel that way about you. I’ve spent my entire adult life taking care of those “Old Decript” people and find you comments insulting. Good thing I don’t consider them “Decript”. And don’t be so sure your kids will be there for you, the nursing home is FILLED with lonely people who have LOTS of kids that NEVER come to see them. Hope your not one of them.

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-09-24 10:00:42

Decrepit - adj
1. weakened by old age; feeble; infirm: a decrepit man who can hardly walk.

That describes most nursing home residents fairly factually. It describes my Grandma for sure. (She’s 98.) And she’s in a retirement home because she is too decrepit to live at home. Now if he’d called old people “doddering old fools” or “lazy bums who oughta be out greeting mouth breathing Walmaters” maybe I could see being miffed.

I would mention that the ocean can be a bit saline, but I fear I might anger you.

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Comment by Prime_Is_Contained
2009-09-24 10:47:11

“I would mention that the ocean can be a bit saline, but I fear I might anger you.”

LOL! Priceless… :-)

Comment by Best Wishes
2009-09-24 12:46:33

sfbubblebuyer ,

“I would mention the ocean can be a bit saline, but I fear I might anger you”. Thanks for the info!!!!!

Comment by edgewaterjohn
2009-09-23 11:56:03

Nice work! It brings up some touchstone personal and social issues that play a huge role in this nation’s attitudes about real estate. I’d imagine some individuals out there would have a visceral reaction to seeing some of these beliefs even put to question, but I’m grateful for your effort.

If anything, I see one of the biggest arguments against buying today is simply the fact that housing has become such an emotional issue to so many. When put in front of parasitic PTB this emotion towards housing greatly weakens the position of the individual. Housing has become a strong link in the golden handcuffs, perhaps even the strongest, not unlike similar expectations surrounding retirement, education, career, and even family.

Comment by ahansen
2009-09-23 11:59:07


As I read this I could feel my fingers begin to clench and my stomach working itself into a square knot. These people are like some other life form from junior high school, only all dressed up and surgically modified to relieve us of our finances. And to think so many of us fell for their bs!

A harrowing tale. You should have sicced your cats on her the first time she walked in the door….

Comment by Housing Wizard
2009-09-24 15:21:02

Anybody selling something is not to be trusted . Doesn’t mean that there isn’t honest salespeople ,but what is the percentage, 2 out of 10 or something like that ? My sales agents were so bad that I had to do the counter offer because they were so inept . The realtors pulled the trick of looking at their watch repeatedly to try to get me to make a rash decision . I ended up responding in essence by saying that I wanted them to go home and get some sleep because they seems to not have the time to do the job . I took the contract from them ,told them I would meet them the following day when they had time . I wrote the counter offer myself and gave it to them and told them to not change one word. The counter offer was accepted as is by the buyer .

Always watch out for yourself and never be talked into anything that you don’t feel right about .

Comment by michael
2009-09-23 12:40:39

“I did not just get rid of a house. I got rid of Sundays doing yard work. I got rid of witnessing the neighbor’s kids go through their teenage years at their pool while the hip-hop blasted. I got rid of having no flexibility to look for a job where I wanted to look for a job. I got rid of being over $250,000 in debt and feeling like I had to go to work every day and say, “yes sir” because I was a debt slave. I got rid of a lot of things. I got back a sense of freedom and that was worth its weight in platinum. I was all smiles.”

great paragraph…i call this my “peace of mind” threshold. my “peace of mind” threshold is around $ 5K monetarily speaking. unfortunately my wife’s is around 25 bucks.

my “peace of mind” threshold is related to but not exactly the same as my “shit happens” doctrine.

Comment by EggMan
2009-09-23 17:04:35

It’s certainly something to consider. Out here in CA it’s not that hard to be living within pissing distance of a fault line. If a big-enough one hits, can you just move away? Or are you stuck with a very expensive pile of rubble. Gives one a whole ‘nother perspective, it does.

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-23 18:46:12

Michael, I am having a hard time interpreting your “peace of mind” threshhold. Five thousand dollars what? Savings? Expense? Rent? Cash in your wallet?

Comment by SD_suntaxed
2009-09-23 12:56:48

Thanks NYCityboy.

I’m sitting here waiting for a repairman for my AC unit, on my landlord’s dime. I do like that part of renting the best.

Despite how bad things look economically, I still find myself wanting to buy a house I can afford. I would like to be able just to grow some things again in some dirt of my own. Container gardening, community plots and borrowed garden space aren’t workable options for the fruit trees I would like, unfortunately.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve never owned. My co-workers certainly complain enough about all the maintenance their houses cost them. I’ve rented for many years, thanks to school and the housing bubble and I’m pretty tired of it. Looks like I’m still going to be signing another lease because of all the money being shoveled into shoring up unsupportable housing prices.

There is one thing that I do know though (thanks to my last experience in trying to buy back in 2004.)

Never again will I put up with making an offer on a property where I’m expected to grovel or write a letter explaining why I’m worthy of being considered as one of 15 potential candidates to purchase it.
Both UHS and Squirrels be hanged!

I’d rather rent for the rest of my life. :cool:

Comment by cougar91
2009-09-23 14:22:10

It’s really a lifestyle choice + a financial decision. If you are financially sound, you have to ask yourself if owning something for the long-term makes sense to you considering your lifestyle. Your experience with owning or renting plays into that decision of course, but renting also has its horror stories. Let me share some:

Back in 1987 my parents were renting a house when I was a senior in HS. Our lease was expiring but due to some job uncertainties we couldn’t move right away and we secured what we though was an agreement from the LL to stay until we found other housing arrangements. Mid-way through this extension (it was only an oral agreement as the LL didn’t want a written one) the LL changed his mind and began to harass us on a daily basis via phone calls and unpleasant personal visits, threatening to call the cops or the city hall for supposedly having too many cars in the driveway and bunch of other non-senses. It gotten so ugly that my mother began to have bad insomnia and we were forced to move midway through my senior year in HS, just when it was time to prepare for my SATs and college entrance application process, needless to say altering the choices made in that regard. We also had a long battle getting our deposit back since the relationship was very poisoned at that point and the LL was enjoying giving us the one finger salute.

So if you get a LL from hell, maybe your experience with renting isn’t always better than buying, provided it is done using conservative affordability measures.

Comment by SD_suntaxed
2009-09-23 17:08:49

Very true, cougar91. Renting is very much what you rent and who you’re renting from. Your ex-landlord sounds like one I had. I could afford to buy, but I’ve chosen to rent until it makes better financial sense in the long term.

As you related, sometimes there is a price you pay beyond the rent check.

I’ve had landlords over the years who have:

- (2) Entered without proper 24 hour notice to show the property to buyers without telling us that the property was for sale and letting one of my indoor cats out.

(When the property inspector and the appraiser showed up, we got even by pointing out absolutely everything hidden that was wrong with the place. It cost one landlord $20K+ that he didn’t have. The buyers actually came by to thank us.)

-Rummaged through my drawers while I was at work.

-Did not return deposits until threatened with legal action.

-Forced somewhat illegal cleaning inspections every few months. I’m fairly neat so it was more an imposition than anything.

-Tried to force me to pay for things that are their responsibility, like replacing an old hot water heater and leaking pipes.

-Refused to do anything about another tenant upstairs who I’ll call Mr. and Miss Domestic Violence. Mr. Violence was a wanted man as well.

And these were in nice neighborhoods. Heh.

Well, the AC repair guy just left and my current landlord is getting a bill for about $700. Fixed the next day. I’ve had a fairly good experience where I’m currently living. That, and a very patient spouse are the only two reasons that I can still say I’m continuing to rent.

Comment by dal_in_dc
2009-09-24 10:32:41

I read an article in the washington post around that time about buyers writing letters like this. I realized that things were crazy and only going to get worse. My finding this blog a year later confirmed my suspicions.

Comment by Mariusz69
2009-09-23 15:05:35

Nyc — don’t know if you were being ironic or not but this Blog has been instrumental in my own “life decisions” of
1) Never having kids
2) Never getting married

Thank god I started reading this blog when I was in those dangerous “early-30″ years where the pressure to settle down was the greatest. Bachelor for life, that’s me!

Comment by Pondering the Mess
2009-09-24 09:59:56

Additionally, if you ever do buy a house, not getting hitched will save you the trouble of having bought a house for somebody you hate after the probable divorce (50%+ chance these days.)

Comment by JackO
2009-09-23 15:26:54

Well, I bought my house 43 years ago, paid off the $26,000 and now just sit an relax. Only things I have to do is what I have to do, and that is what I want to do. Taxes, and insurance,plus utilities and gardner are less than a month’s rent for similar house, and so I just put money in el banko, when I don’t want to spend it.

three kids through college, two MA’s, one PhD, and no loans on house to pay for college.

And no debt today!

Now when I get too old to care for myself, I can pay rent to myself and hire a caretaker and personal attendent! LOL

But, to each his own, some people will feel differently, no doubt!

Comment by NYchk
2009-09-24 05:38:15

“less than a month’s rent for similar house… And no debt today!”

An excellent point. Often, “home”/”own”/”rent” are emotionally high-charged terms, and sometimes the baby gets thrown out with the water.

In the upheaval, we shouldn’t forget that ultimately any decision should be based on economics - what is better financially- including putting the dollar value on “opportunity costs” (for example, freedom of up and moving).

Determine the premium you’re willing to pay for renting freedom, compare long term costs of renting vs. buying, and DCF the answer. Rent if it’s cheaper to rent, buy if it’s cheaper to buy. This decision - “own or rent” - does not have to be so emotional. JMHO.

Comment by skrewd
2009-09-24 23:34:18

Good for you JackA…

Comment by not taken for granite
2009-09-23 15:38:06

Thanks, NYCityboy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. You’re a fabulous writer. I ‘m ready to look up Babs and give her a swift kick and a renter’s gloat.

Comment by Georgia Girl
2009-09-23 15:49:30

I really enjoyed reading this story! I grew up in rented apartments, eventually owned a home, sold it, and now rent. I’m out of the real estate game and happy to be renting and free to do as I please.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:12:09

Just a note, during urban planning classes, stats are that over 40% of population are renters.Well, those stats were 2001. I would venture to say those stats might be around the same after much foreclosure process.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2009-09-23 16:13:06

In a way, I was lucky with my agent when I had to sell in 2004…..told him I
didn’t/couldn’t sit in the house for six months, just to pick up a few extra thousand. We came up with a “price to sell”, and closed on the sale 45 days later.

OTOH, to me, there was something wrong with the process, when the ex and the agent walked away with more money (after everything was settled) than I did.

Being unemployed, I’d be totally screwed financially if I had to continue making all the outlays (mortgage, taxes, insurance, upkeep, etc. etc.)outlays for a house. At least I’m not in a position where I have to jump on the first crappy job opening that comes along. (Again OTOH, everyone else seems to be joining the Chptr 11 bandwagon, wondering why I don’t……..)

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:13:12

Good thing you don’t have any more hands! lol. (OTOH referrals)

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-09-23 18:01:52

Ny City Boy: Absolutely outstanding post, and my God, every emotion you had, I had too. It is true, you know. What a nightmare. I BARELY got out of Florida alive. Long story.

I am so thankful to be a renter. So thankful.

P.S. My very good landlord just put a new furnance/A/C unit in my place yesterday. I complained because the old one cost too much re utility bills. I was right, he agreed, and bingo! New utility bill!!

Comment by Lenderoflastresort
2009-09-23 18:02:06

“Perhaps we could develop neighborhoods that specifically forbid kids. They would be like the no-smoking sections of the old days, say 1992. That way you could know what you are getting into before buying. I think the neighborhoods without kids would be a lot more fun.”

Switch the word “kids” with “dogs” and now you’re talking. I really can’t ever buy again because you never know when an irresponsible dog owner will move in near you and make your life into a living hell. Been there done that. I’m now renting in a nice neighborhood, but still have the problem! Not as bad, but still a problem. To understand more, go to three double U’s dot barking dogs dot net. Look up forums. I got that address here, BTW, a few years ago.

Comment by X-GSfixr
2009-09-23 18:28:56

A buddy of mine was attacked by the neighbor’s loose Rottweiler one night, when he pulled into the driveway after work (1-2:00 am).

Rottweiler + S&W .44 magnum + trashbag + dumpster at work = no problem.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Comment by drumminj
2009-09-23 20:57:33

While certainly I’m not a fan of barking dogs, not all of us dog owners deserve the scorn y’all are heaping. I have a well-behaved 60 lb boxer that doesn’t bark (except when a real threat is present - I think I’ve heard him bark 3 times in the 6 years I’ve had him), doesn’t pee in the house, chew on things, or jump on people.

Now the puggle(designer mutt), the dachshund that just moved in, and the former beagle across the way are another story…

Comment by sfbubblebuyer
2009-09-24 11:22:23

In a neighborhood, everybody knows where the inconsiderate dog owners are. Nobody knows where the considerate ones are.

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Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:15:24


Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-24 17:11:27

There was a neighbor had a dog and Bingo was his name-o….


And barking was his game-o….

Comment by Housing Wizard
2009-09-24 14:51:48

drumminj ……I got a big old boxer myself ….great breed . This is my fourth boxer . This one I rescued from the pound . I’ts true that boxers don’t bark unless they perceive a real threat . They use
Boxers for seeing eye dogs also because of their control . If you have a bad boxer it is because the owner is doing something
wrong IMHO .

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Comment by DD
2009-09-24 19:09:58

They have issues with gas, so frankly that oughta keep the burglers away! Great breed.

Comment by Mariusz69
2009-09-23 21:39:33

I agree too… I can’t wait until this media obsession with dogs ends. I don’t know what started it.. maybe it’s the “Oprah effect” with that stupid “Marley & me” book. But I really think dogs should be banned from urban environments, the same way roosters are due to their noise creation.

Comment by pismoclam
2009-09-23 23:40:32

Our little burg has an ordinance that we can’t have more than one rooster.

Comment by Anon In DC
2009-09-24 20:15:47

I live on Capitol Hill. So many people here have dogs. There does not seem to be room enough in little yards of row houses. I will say the nearby park (Lincoln Park) is amazingly clean dog doo, considering how many dogs walk there. Why they want dogs that have to stay inside all day while the owner is at work don’t know. Few of the dog owners seem retirement age.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-23 23:39:32

I’m a renter with no pets. the irresponsible next door neighbor (who owns) has a dog that she puts out for hours at a time. Dog is a nervous barker. One started, the barking doesn’t stop. It can go for 2-3 hours straight in perfect shrill rhythm.

It seems that the owners are the problem, not the dogs. If everyone is gone all day at work, school, whatever….don’t own a dog. If you can’t put the effort into training….don’t own a dog. If you can’ keep the animal contained to your yard….don’t own a dog.

People are the problem, not dogs.

Comment by ET-Chicago
2009-09-24 08:53:44

It seems that the owners are the problem, not the dogs.

Absolutely right.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:16:43

Bingo bango x2

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Comment by Housing Wizard
2009-09-24 14:45:38

Everybody loves my dog in the neighborhood ,so I must have a good dog ,or maybe I’m a good dog owner .

Comment by Floodguy
2009-09-24 11:33:14

omg..YES!…Dogs and their incessant barking have become the bane of my existence in home-ownership land. I’ve written letters…never sent (YET)to the neighbors about their blood yelping at all hours.

Comment by CA renter
2009-09-23 18:35:13

Excellent story, NYC Boy.

We had a similar experience with a realtor a few years ago regarding the pricing and pictures. I solved the problem by taking pictures myself, adding text to be included with the pics, then sent them to the realtor, telling her to replace what she had in there ASAP. Also, there was originally just one picture in because the brokerage didn’t renew a contract with them. I told her to renew the contract so multiple pics could be viewed, or we would take our listing elsewhere. They made the changes, and we sold very quickly.

Just offering this up so that other potential sellers know that they do NOT have to deal with ineffective realtors. Make sure YOU control the process, because YOU are the one buying/selling a house. Don’t let an agent’s arrogance/ignorance shut you down.

Comment by GotRocks
2009-09-23 18:46:08

Glad I have a family…I’m contributing to the future of this nation.

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-23 18:52:00

That’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is, all of us who are here are contributing to the rapid degradation of the planet, and your kids will continue that process. I would like the human species to continue, but there are already 10x too many.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-09-23 19:07:47

Yeah, az, yeah… “scept Oly, SanFran, Shorty…

The Beat Goes On.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:18:21

and…? ahem. ?

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Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-23 23:47:28

According to the peak oil prognosticator James H. Kunstler, the earth has a carrying capacity of about 1 billion humans. The population we had around 1900 before oil entered the picture in a significant way.

So, maybe we’re only =~ 6x overpopulated.

btw…my family did it’s part. My dad had 3 sisters. Mom had 2 brothers. So far, only two children out of 7 siblings and we are not having any kids ourselves. The family is going to die out.

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-24 15:06:45

That’s a really interesting number. I can sort of agree that OIL is exactly what allowed the push beyond sustainability…because oil represents thousands and millions of years of past sunlight, whereas we started out living on PRESENT sunlight. Well, not to worry, the past sunlight will be all used up some time, and that’s a GOOD thing, not a bad one. Except it’ll mean a rapid decrease in human population in ways that probably won’t be pretty.

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Comment by Best Wishes
2009-09-24 05:35:02


I couldn’t have said it better. Your sooooo right!!!!!!

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-09-24 11:49:50

Kids –

Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.

I can say that without another generation of kids around to take over and also take care of them, the baby boomers’ retirement will be really sucky.

Comment by james
2009-09-24 13:55:03

So, we’ve decide to opt out of the whole survival thing today? Basically figure use the one child policy for the next 100 yrs and we’re back down to the sustainable 1B people we need. But why stop there? Keep working at it and we’ll all be gone in 200yrs.

Assuming travel between stars is possible, some aliens will find our remains and go “odd, they just opted out of existance”.

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Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-24 17:09:00

Assuming travel between stars is possible, some aliens will find our remains and go “odd, they just opted out of existance”.

This will never happen. We’re programed to reproduce. The urge is overwhelming.

Comment by Muggy
2009-09-23 18:49:50

The realtor that sold my joint in 05 was a nice guy, lived in the ‘hood, and knew all of the properties and their issues. Since Rochester isn’t, or wasn’t, crazy then, finding a normal person/realtor wasn’t difficult.

Then I moved to Florida…

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-09-23 19:11:21

That’s OK Mug, you’re young, highly intelligent, and kick-ass ocean experience, ya dig?


It is Hell everywhere.

You best be in the top 4 percent, or you are history, Baaabe.

Comment by Muggy
2009-09-24 15:59:34

“It is Hell everywhere.”

The Zen of Ate, strikes again!

Comment by X-GSfixr
2009-09-23 18:56:53

Was just watching some “Jim the Realtor” videos, of little, old houses selling for over $600K, and condos next to the massage parlors and head shops in Oceanside selling for $800K. Now I’m just depressed. This “move the decimal point one space to the right pricing” out there just stuns me.

Best quote: “The city paid the guy a million bucks to go away, back when a million bucks was a lot of money…..”

I’m beginning to realize that I have more in common with the poor barefoot Chinese guy working in the rice paddy, than I do with anyone from California.

The $615k house he showed (that sold for asking in one day) is virtually identical to about ten million other houses out here in flyover country, that you would be lucky to get $100K for, and a bunch of them sell for a lot less than that.

Are salaries six times higher in California? Do the weather and the ocean justify a 6 times higher price? Especially when every town across America looks pretty much the same anymore? (Same boulevards/major arterial streets, same Walmarts, same MickeyDees/Outback/Wendy’s/BestBuys/TacoBell/etc., etc., every 5 miles or so..). This stuff just blows my old, tired, frugal Midwesterner mind.

I need to get away from TV, newspapers, and the Internet for a while.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-09-23 19:18:04

Is not that the truth. Life is a television with 50 sponsers.

Comment by ATE-UP
2009-09-23 19:24:13

Hey Oly. how do you spell sponsers? Sponsors? Yeah, I think I got it now.

Comment by SDGreg
2009-09-24 10:15:51

Are salaries six times higher in California? Do the weather and the ocean justify a 6 times higher price?

On the salaries, no. In San Diego, barely higher the median for the country, if that. While costs for most things are higher, they aren’t anything close to 6x higher except perhaps for house sale prices. Sales prices for houses are still WAY out of line. Some of these places went up 600 percent in 6 years. Supply is up relative to the situation when those price rises began. Once the artificial props are removed, those prices will eventually fall. Renting is definitely the way to go and even the rents are inflated relative to fundamentals. Rents will fall some too, but not as much as sales prices.

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 12:33:39

Doing a Relocation essay that I may post later.
The entire US and what it has to offer. In generalizations of course.

For example Northwest-upper= rainy.
Southeast = rainy, tornadoes, hurricanes,
lightening strikes, bugs, critters, sun, humid,sun, hot, rainy, hurricanes, massive traffic jams during hurricane alerts, crowded, firestorms, out of control kudzu, termites, immigrants and so forth.
Midwest, rain, snow, flat, snow, cold, cheaper, 5 minutes of spring, cold, snow, rain, lightening, tornadoes, tornadoes, tornadoes, tics, potholes in roads, floods, um floods again and did I remember tornadoes.
Southwest coastal. expensive, crowded, to many midwestern transplants(heheh) fires, sunny, fires, mudslides in few areas, once in awhile an earthquake. Sunny, expensive, crowded, fires. Did I say crowded and expensive? Fleas on the coast. No fleas way inland, but HOT. Very HOT. No= 4″rain yoy, inland=way inland.

Comment by cashedin05
2009-09-23 22:02:54

Great Story! I agree 100% with your boycott. Wife and I sold our house in 2005, felt like a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders. We did look around this year and considered buying and taking the tax credit. We finally came back to our senses and signed a new lease. We too have no kids and enjoy the flexibility and freedom of renting.

Comment by Giacomo
2009-09-23 22:22:37

Great post, NY City Boy.
Enjoyed the other stories as well.

It brought back a lot of memories of our selling in 2006, both of unregulated next-door teenagers and our own “Babs.”

Re: kids. Bless the families with children, but I’m to have to do my best not to live next door to any of them (unless maybe there’s a couple of acres between us). Call it my own preference, or lack of tolerance, but I just can’t take the noise. Maybe no one wants to talk about it, but I think the presence of car-driving males aged 16-19 on a given street probably affects property values as much or more as a couple of foreclosed houses.

BTW, my lovely wife has come full circle on ownership. She gave up the last house reluctantly, and was initially anxious to buy again. After 3 years of leasing, and being envied by many of her house-holding friends, she recently announced that she’s not sure she cares about owning again. Having a pile of money in the bank(s) is a good feeling.

Comment by southwest guy
2009-09-24 08:23:05

Item cost $1.00, you make $2.00 you buy item for $1.00 and hold back $1.00.
You have no job, no income, thus you can’t buy the item for $1.00 and there is the whole problem, no money,no job=depression not recession, these folks are very good at making the elephant in the room seem very, very small?

Comment by NYCResident
2009-09-24 10:11:06

Excellent story, NY City Boy,

With the real estate bubble having made property unaffordable, your position makes complete sense. We could have a decade or even multiple decades of price declines in real dollar terms, nobody really knows. Having said that, if you find a place that is cheaper to buy then to rent, and you have no problem making a long-term commitment, you should reconsider. Any community would benefit from having you “buying in” to their neighborhood.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-09-24 11:28:30

Some great comments are showing up these days on the MarketWatch dot com web site. For instance:

ShowMeTheMoney200 2 hours ago
+20 Votes (20 Up / 0 Dn)

a house is a place to live and protect us from the elements and a right. a house is not an ATM. someone should tell this to the banksters and fed

Comment by palmetto
2009-09-24 12:43:13

There’s nothing wrong with children. We were all children once. Having or not having them is a matter of individual choice. I personally like most children. When I don’t like a child, it’s usually because of the parents.

And sometimes the grandparents. I was swimming at the indoor lap pool at my retirement community. Some mouthbreathing, blubbery grandad brought his female grandspawn to the pool after her school one day. She decided to do her swimming practice in the lane I was already occupying. Fair enough, I moved over a tad and put up the with splashing and kicking and cooing while Grandblubber held a stopwatch and coached her. Then the precocious spawn asked me if I’d like to move to another lane, “so she wouldn’t bump into me”. I very politely said no, I was sure she’d be careful and looked pointedly at Grandblubber, wanting to see if he cared to challenge me.

He was pissed, but didn’t say a thing. After a few more laps so as to save face, they moved to an empty lane.

Comment by IE Fencesitter
2009-09-24 13:25:07

I personally went from one extreme to the other. I went from a single life to a life with two step-kids because I was in love with my (now) wife. I have to say I have a different perspective since they are not MY kids per se, and it is not easy. I admire your freedom and could go back to that but I feel an obligation to raise them to fruition so to speak. Which brings me to my next point, that we felt that we “needed a house” for the kids and we just got one. I can tell you all the headaches are true. From the super-sweet real estate agent who became a complete scumbag once we had our offer accepted, to the unforeseen “emergency” repairs and endless uncertainty (over the RE market, over how the kids will turn out, etc). But overall I am happy, and I am happy for your choice as well. To each his own…life is an adventure whichever road you choose.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-24 17:27:02

Wow IEF! I’m in the same position. Been dating a woman for almost 2 years now. She has 3 kids. I have none. It’s hard.

Any suggestions?

Comment by IE Fencesitter
2009-09-24 19:10:42

Hinestly, sad to say, but if I had to do it over, I may not have done it. Once you’re in, it’s an obligation that can get in the way of the relationship. Tread carefully and discuss everything up front as to your role, her role, your views on parenting, etc.

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Comment by DD
2009-09-24 19:16:32

Date a single woman.

I am still boggled why men zero in on women with kids, but aren’t really interested for serious with women who don’t have offspring.
I mean, wouldn’t you like to be the center of attention for awhile?
Or do you guys think women who have kids will take care of you too? Just asking.

When I was younger/single, firm, moneyed, propertied, athletic and interested in finding a great guy.. Only older men approached, the younger ones around my age bracket were chasing a woman with kids. Never ceased to amaze all of us single women w/o kids.

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Comment by IE Fencesitter
2009-09-25 10:14:06

Sometimes it just happens that you meet a woman with kids, I don’t think it’s “planned.” And many single women are either out to “use” men (because they are hot/athletic/monied etc) or immediately start trying to get that “ring” and produce offspring with the guy. Then you are REALLY on the hook (child support if you divorce etc). A single mom is grateful to have a guy around and the guy knows he is not stuck as he would be if he had his own kids with her. Not my reasons, just answering your question in general.

Comment by robiscrazy
2009-09-26 18:48:01

Yeah, it just happened for me. Didn’t look at her and say to myself “she has kids I want her”. In fact, the kids kept me away for a long time.

Comment by NYCityBoy
2009-09-24 13:34:22

My main reason for not wanting kids is that I didn’t want to have to deal with other parents. Too many modern parents are whiny, self-indulged, panty-wastes that want to be their child’s best friend. They believe the stories of their children before they believe what other adults have to say about their kids. That would never have happened when I was growing up. The whole, “not my child” attitude drives me crazy.

Kids haven’t changed. Parents have. And it has been an awful change. For that reason I did not want to join that club.

Comment by az_lender
2009-09-24 15:12:24

I think you are right, and it goes a long way towards explaining how “education” has gone to H in a handbasket. Teacher criticized my little Murgatroyd! Baaad teacher!

Comment by IE Fencesitter
2009-09-24 15:30:08

That’s assuming they even have parents. I assume most of us live in slightly more middle-class to affluent areas, but I can tell you that in our “less-fortunate” inner-cities, kids are lucky to have one parent, who then works 3 jobs and leaves little Juanito to be cared for by his “homies.” And the birth rate is much higher for that populace than the educated few. Where does that leave us in the future? (and I am Latino so no “you are being racist” comments. These are the facts).

Comment by DD
2009-09-24 19:18:29

Birth rate for teens is highest in the southeast. For all US.

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Comment by Professor Bear
2009-09-24 19:22:24

I avoid the type of parents you describe like the plague.

Comment by Professor Bear
2009-09-24 19:24:33

No wonder the price of The Precious™ doesn’t seem to respond much to the Fed’s massive amount of liquidity injections.

September 23, 2009 09:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Federal Reserve Admits Hiding Gold Swap Arrangements, GATA Says

MANCHESTER, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Federal Reserve System has disclosed to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc. that it has gold swap arrangements with foreign banks that it does not want the public to know about.

While the letter, GATA says, is far from the first official admission of central bank scheming to suppress the price of gold (for documentation of some of these admissions, see and, it comes at a sensitive time in the currency and gold markets. The U.S. dollar is showing unprecedented weakness, the gold price is showing unprecedented strength, Western European central banks appear to be withdrawing from gold sales and leasing, and the International Monetary Fund is being pressed to take the lead in the gold price suppression scheme by selling gold from its own supposed reserves in the guise of providing financial support for poor nations.

GATA will seek to bring a lawsuit in federal court to appeal the Fed’s denial of our freedom-of-information request. While this will require many thousands of dollars, the Fed’s admission that it aims to conceal documentation of its gold swap arrangements establishes that such a lawsuit would have a distinct target and not be just a fishing expedition.

In pursuit of such a lawsuit and its general objective of liberating the precious metals markets and making them fair and transparent, GATA again asks for financial support from the public and from all gold and silver mining companies that are not at the mercy of market-manipulating governments and banks. GATA is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit educational and civil rights organization and contributions to it are federally tax-exempt in the United States. For information on donating to GATA, please visit here:

People also can help GATA by bringing this information to the attention of financial news organizations and urging them to investigate the Fed’s involvement in gold swaps particularly and the gold (and silver) price suppression generally.

Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer, 860-646-0500×307


Comment by NoVa Sideliner
2009-09-25 13:02:19

Perhaps we could develop neighborhoods that specifically forbid kids.

There used to be such things. If I remember correctly, it was under the auspices of G Bush the Elder that this was made illegal. I lived in a kid-free building at the time and liked it that way. Government interference in people’s lives, I said at the time. Let people make their own rules and forbid kids if they choose!

And now that I have kids, you know what?
I feel the same bloody way!

My neighborhood is full of kids, but I can definitely see why people wouldn’t want them around all the time. Yet to do so now by setting up a kid-free neighborhood (exception: over-55’s) is a violation of federal law. “Land der Freiheit” says one of my Austrian friends, snidely and sarcastically, but probably accurately.

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