Has the Whole World Gone Mad?
(Water Sobchak: The Big Lebowski)
A funny thing happened to me again yesterday. I call is Foreclosure Mania, that intense desire to purchase a foreclosure, so much so that all other listings on the market are ignored regardless of their inherent value. The following anecdote will demonstrate how the affliction manifests itself in today’s buyer. But first, a description of the property involved.
This is a very cool, shed-style, 80’s era cedar-sided contemporary in the woods for 114k. Move-in ready but could use some updating in the kitchen and baths, and all this could be done on the cheap, but the improvements are not absolutely necessary. Lots of wow factor to the place. Open floorplan; vaulted ceilings; hearth-like fireplace; much like a mini ski-lodge). In my opinion, a steal at 114k. And that is the asking price. These are negotiable buyers. Also a very good location that is convenient to town, campus, and the East Side Athens retail corridor with grocery stores, banks, restaurants, cafes, bars, etc.
OK, so last night I got an automated text message from our lockbox provider, telling me that the above home was shown by a local realtor. The house is vacant house, so I had no prior indication that the place would be shown, which is fine. The showing agent is also a good friend of mine. I called him a few hours later for feedback. He said the showing went well and that he was showing houses to a friend and he really wanted her to see my listing, which had been on his radar for a while. The basics of the conversation: Young woman buying first home, and according to the agent she “doesn’t have a lot of scratch” (love that term!). She wants to be on the East Side of Athens. She likes the house very much but “really wants to buy a foreclosure.” There wasn’t a touch of irony in how he said it. Forget that the house already has a killer price tag. Forget the new roof, new interior paint throughout, a two car garage in a neighborhood of one car garages, new HVAC, original owner and more. Forget that you would never find a foreclosure on the East Side in this good of shape at this price. Not in a million years. Forget that it is already priced like a foreclosure and the sellers have told me to market their negotiability.
What gets me is that the buyer and presumably my friend are both wearing blinders (I chastised him for this, don’t worry). I mean, what are you shopping for, a home or a foreclosure? That’s like saying, “Yes, I realize that is a great sweater at a great price and I really really like it, but it’s not on the clearance rack!” OK, It’s not a closeout! It’s not on sale! But darn it, this is a kick butt house in a great college town, and it can be yours for probably lower than 114k! One Hundred Fourteen Thousand Dollars! Hello?
Sadly, I’ve heard this story so many times in the last two years that I am beginning to have a visceral response each time I hear it. Last night, I was driving while having that conversation, and I began looking for the largest hardwood tree close to the road so I could steer my car right into it and end the pain! Nahh…that’s too easy. I guess I will just grin and bear it.
But seriously, somebody tell me what I am missing? Am I not seeing something here that would explain the near sightedness on the part of the buyer and her agent? Isn’t it incumbent upon him to step up and disabuse her of her notions? Instead, I think he gulped some kool-aid too. When is this going to end?
“I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused.”
(Elvis Costello: Angels Wanna Wear my Red Shoes.)