So we are at the halfway point through our adventures. Just remember, while there will only be five entries (give or take) about this journey, it really has taken us two years to get here. Actually longer if you count the house search we had going on in Kansas. Thankfully, we see the light at the end of the tunnel...until we move and start the process all over again. This is our first house though. I feel that there is some sort of significance to it and maybe that is why we have prolonged our search as much as possible.
There are two main reasons we have had a difficult time with this process. The prices of the homes in our community AND the real estate agents/Realtors.
Let's start with the real estate agents/Realtors...oh yes, there is a difference between the two. Well, there is if you ask them, but I really don't see much of a difference face to face. Let me start by saying that we never signed an exclusive contract, or anything like that, where we said we would only buy a house from "Agent X." We worked with each agent for approximately six-nine months before the relationship sort of dissolved. We were also very clear with each agent, up until this last one, that we were looking at homes to get an idea of the market but would not buy unless we found a great house at a great price. (Wow, I make it sound like we worked with six or seven people, but it has really only been 3.67 people.)
What I Want/Expect from an Agent
1. Someone who is actually interested in me and my family.
2. Someone that will show me a home that I have found online, even if they don't think it is "the right fit."
3. Someone who doesn't constantly say, "oh, I know you will love this" or "it will grow on you." No I don't and no it won't. Oh, and don't say, "welcome to your new home" every time I see a property. Do you really think I want blue shag carpet in my new home? Be honest!
4. Someone who is on top of the market and will send me information about homes that fit my profile the day they come on the market. (With as quickly as some of the homes in the reasonable price sell...if you don't show up that first day you are out of luck.)
5. Someone who doesn't ask me what the amount of loan we have been approved for and then ONLY show me homes that are up there. We don't want to spend that much! Just because we have been approved for it doesn't mean we can actually pay for it.
6. Someone that will actually be an advocate for me. If I make an offer on a home, don't laugh at it. We have done our research and it is a legitimate offer.
Special Agent One we met at an open house. We were brand new to the community and didn't know where we wanted to start our search. She took charge and showed us a few homes that were in our price range that also happened to be in pretty good neighborhoods. We looked at a dozen or so homes over the course of a few months, but after we started looking a bit closer to the homes we noticed that many of the homes she showed us were her listings (commission!) or her daughter's listings (keep it in the family!). We would ask to see other homes that were listed online and we usually got the run around. Finally, after she showed us the same house three times (and we never asked to see this particular house, it was always a last minute thing) we decided that the relationship wasn't going to work out. We cut the strings and waited a good amount of time before looking for a new agent.
Special Agent Two was also someone we had met at an open house, but then our paths seemed to cross more and more through activities. We decided to continue our house search with him. He knew the community well and was willing to show us all of the houses we had requested. We were constantly updated on new homes that were being listed on the market and were happy with how things were going. While we never found the home that was "the one" we thought we had found the agent that was "the one." Alas, he decided to take on a new job and thus we were back to looking for a new agent. "Nooooooooooo!"
Special Agent .6 was a person that showed us two homes. One home we loved and seriously considered putting an offer on it (check out Part Four) and the other home was terrible. After we saw the second home we thought, maybe we should go ahead and put an offer in on the other home. Only to find out that someone else was putting their offer in later that afternoon.
Special Agent Three is currently our agent. She has showed us quite a few homes in the community. We have seen all sorts of homes in differing price ranges, however, when we finally did put an offer in on a home (again, check out Part Four later) we were basically laughed at. Hmmmm....not sure what the future has in store for this one.
Special Agent .07. This agent we have only worked with once. While Agent Three is out of town Agent .07 is showing us a house on her behalf. Man, oh man, why didn't we work with this lady before! In the one home that we looked at (which was a dud) we gained so much information! She was honest and open about the house prices and price per square foot. Told us some good neighborhoods that would always maintain their prices due to their proximity to the university. She also told us some information about a for sale by owner home that we had been considering.
Whew...this is longer than I had wanted so I will keep this next part short.
House Prices in My Community
I could really complain about the prices in my town for quite some time, but I am going to keep it short. This information came from Trulia and the data is less than five years old. The average household income here is approximately $38,000. A good rule of thumb that I have heard is to keep your house around 3x on what your gross income salary is. So, that would mean the average person is here should only spend about $115,000. Yet, the average listed house is $141,000. Now that might seem like a reasonable price to you, but many of the homes that we have looked at in this price range, and slightly higher, have such a small amount of square footage that for many of them you are paying over $95.00/sq foot. The average square foot price in town is supposed to be $58.
It seems like the housing crunch has hit everywhere but here. There are 350 homes for sale in town. Some streets have three or four homes for sale in just one block. Why are the houses SO over priced?