We are retired — both of us. we live in a beautiful house in a wonderful town — Westford Massachusetts. Our plan is to sell out house and move to Cape Cod. Its a plan we’ve had for a few years now. The thing is though — our house isn’t selling. In the past we’ve sold three houses together. They all sold right away. The last one sold nine years ago two weeks before it was to go on the market. Some folks saw it almost by mistake and made a better than full price offer twenty minutes later. So as prepared as we were for a tough market — we weren’t prepared. We take excellent care of our houses. The one we have now in not an exception — its is in much better shape than when we bought it. The infrastructure is in top shape, it is esthetically beautiful and very comfortable. It is larger than it looks at 2156 square feet, cozy yet spacious. Yet it is currently listed at the same price it was nine years ago — $419,900.
Right now my wife and I are in a kind of limbo — waiting for someone to buy our house. The real estate market is log jammed with people wanting to move on and buy a new home but unable to do so because they can’t sell the one they own. This market is stagnated to the point of near non-existence. At least that’s how it feels to us.
Our house is priced at almost exactly the mid point for houses in our town. In other words its not a cheap super buy and its not excitingly, over the top luxurious. Its a well kept, comfortable home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms on a treed builder’s acre. But it doesn’t draw many potential buyers nor is it the subject of criticism. In other words there is little to do except wait.
We work at maintaining the house and did repaint our kitchen and family room recently on the advice of new brokers. Our most recent project has been to clean up the damage to trees due to the October storm.
We withdrew from all of our activities in town, resigning from the town and church committees we belonged to. I resigned from the art gallery I helped create. So we wait. Organize and get rid of stuff and wait. We can’t afford to just move, leaving the house to be sold in our absence. So we wait. We look at listings on Cape Cod where we want to live, visit there once in a while and we wait.
Meanwhile the occupy Wall Street movement has taken hold and many of the non-rich or less rich also grow impatient. Dreams deferred dry up like raisins in the sun. The economic crisis was created by the greed and arrogance of the investment banking world. The lawyers and professional investors who have milked the working public for decades have finally gone too far. When we were kept happy with an acceptable share of the spoils the system seemed to work. But behind the gloss of daily economic life there always were the bankers and investment pros buying IPO stock at 10 cents and selling it at 10 dollars. Securitizing near worthless mortgages and then betting that they would fail while at the same time selling the securities to the great unwashed masses. I’ve spoken to some of these ‘gentlemen’ and heard them speak of how stupid the public is, how easy a mark we all are.
Now we in the middle are afraid to act. Housing prices have rarely been more attractive. Interest rates have never been lower. Yet the market doesn’t move. Not in the price range of our house. The less expensive and more expensive homes do seem to sell at a faster rate. We are still waiting. Of course its “only” been 6 months but with so little traffic coming through our house we are likely to wait a while longer.
Once we do have a buyer I wonder if we will have the courage (or the capital for that matter) to buy. We may stay out of the real estate market for the rest of our lives becoming renters. Will that put us in a lower class? I doubt it — I think we will have plenty of company.