Tuesday 31 May 2016


THEN. You drove up and down the streets in the neighbourhood of your choice and copied down the phone number of the agent when you saw a For Sale sign on a house that was within your budget.
NOW. You go onto the website realtors.com, zoom in on the area you are interested in, and read the specs online. You look at the picture gallery, knowing that the rooms are smaller and dingier than they appear. You learn the language of real estate ads. Quaint means tiny and outdated. Friendly and family-oriented means kids screaming obscenities and leaving trash in the bushes.  No mention of parking? There is no parking!

THEN. If a property looked promising, you viewed it in the morning and came back the next day to see how it looked in the evening. You took a week to mull things over with your husband and the in-laws who helped with the down payment. Then you mulled it over some more. Finally you put in an offer 5% below the asking price because you have concluded that this the ideal house for you and you don’t want to offend the owner by offering 15% less, as you had planned originally. Of course you make the offer conditional for five days, pending financing.
NOW. You take a quick look around the house and scan the inspector’s report, which tells you that things are in order as far as they can see. Of course much of the wiring and the plumbing is concealed, perhaps on purpose. You only have time to exchange a knowing glance with your husband and hasten to put in an offer, hoping the house didn’t sell while you were studying the concealed plumbing. You put in a firm offer 15% above the asking price, but the agent tells you there are five offers on the table, and so you make that 20% above the asking price.

THEN. Your offer is accepted, although they make you pay a few thousand more just to flex their muscle, and they give you only three days to arrange for the financing. You can’t sleep and worry non-stop until the bank approves your mortgage five hours before the deadline.

NOW. Your offer is rejected because someone else offered 25% above the asking price. You can’t sleep and worry non-stop because there is nothing else in your preferred neighbourhood that’s affordable. So next day you go out, looking at houses that you can’t afford.