I sit here vibrating with a busy and intense day of trying to win a very challenging competition. The housing market. I’m in California and it’s absolutely ridiculous. The housing prices are at pre-bubble popping, pre-recession crashing prices. No one could afford them back when the bubble burst around 2008 and nothing has changed since to make it affordable for people now. I read an article the other day that said that the housing prices are not only up to that crazy amount they were years ago but people’s salaries are only a tiny percentage higher. So, how are buyers doing it?
When the lender really sat down with me and went over what a mortgage looks like with principle, hazard insurance, property taxes, and mortgage insurance if you don’t put a full 20% down…I was shocked. We are a low-income family. I don’t feel like it because we have no debt, no cards, no car payments, live frugally…I feel middle class and in the ’80’s we would have been…maybe. So, we only qualify for 150K and when we really got into it and my little brain started to work around the whole math, numbers, blah, blah, blah, well, we only really qualify for 120k and have to come up with the other 30k. Holly Tomatoes!!!
This is California. The average house is now around 400k. Here in Sacramento, it used to be cheap. A frugal ladies dream. Now the average house is 300k. So, what was I to do, besides have a grand ol’ meltdown? I didn’t. I brewed coffee, put on some music, told myself this was a challenge and we were going to overcome it if we had to buy a trailer out in some God forsaken field somewhere.
I went to small, dusty towns far and wide, I looked into trailers, I looked into buying land and putting a modular home on it, a tiny home, a double-wide. I looked at foreclosures (you need cash for those by the way), I looked into pre-foreclosures, I looked into fixer-uppers from hell and beyond.
Finally, one day I found a little cottage. It was in Yuba City and priced at 149K. It was adorable with a new roof and paint, new carpet and windows. There was an orange tree and huge walnut tree in the back. It spoke to me. It even woke me up at 2 am and said, “wake up, look at me, look at me!” I went a little crazy the next morning and texted my realtor as soon as was legal and daylight. When I didn’t hear from her I tried contacting the realtor selling the place. I put a shout out to anyone with a realtors license and when no one called I said, “I’ll start cleaning, the phone always rings when you get busy with a project.” Sure enough the minute I turned up the music and started cleaning everyone called. I traveled over to Yuba City to see it, gripping the steering wheel tight. I was sure it would be in a bad neighborhood. I really wanted it to NOT be in a bad neighborhood.
It wasn’t. It was in a small, working class neighborhood with houses that were neat and tidy. Some need paint desperately but the owners were showing some pride in keeping up what they had the money to keep up. The house was adorable and my sons rolled in the mud in the back yard, filled with boyish glee. It called to us, “See you love me, the boys love me. Make it happen lady.”
It’s Thursday morning and I have to wait for Monday for a final answer as the seller is out of town. I made the best offer I could and even wrote him a heartfelt letter with our family photo. The realtor suggested this. I felt awkward about it and then I realized that I have nothing to lose but a chance at this house. Investors are out hunting too and they have cash and time. Every house under 200k is being swooped up within days. I’ve been watching it happen for over a year now. So, I have a few competitors; the investors, the property flippers, and rising housing prices.
I will be honest, if this house doesn’t get handed over to me, I will be visiting Taco Bells dollar menu and crying in my cheesy bean and rice burrito. I’m tired already.
We have worked and prepared to buy a home for years and years. Paying off debt, cleaning up credit, building credit, fixing the husbands credit, saving and scrimping, living frugal and going without on a huge level. We don’t go out to dinner, I went to one movie in 4 years, we go to the dollar menu once in a great while after a day of errands. I make all my food from scratch…most of the time. I buy all our things at thrift stores, we have the cheapest cable you can legally have. I had an antenna and loved it but we are in the city and get the worst reception. I reuse and recycle everything! I write books about being frugal and then I only charge .99 cents a book so people on budgets and getting out of debt can afford them. I earn enough for good coffee and book covers so far.
But here we are, we have finally come to the day where we have trained for years, prepared for years and we can now enter the race. And we are now completely priced out of the market. Ah, but there is hope, there is always hope and faith and all that good stuff. The Universe does provide. It just doesn’t always look like you had envisioned (that’s why I say don’t waste your time doing visions…or maybe that’s why…oh well). And it certainly doesn’t come when or how or where you thought. It doesn’t even play out as you thought it would.
On Monday I will receive the verdict. Foolishly I have already started planning my garden and where I will hang the clothesline. I’ve looked up nurseries in the area and decided on the fruit trees. Last night I tried to mentally set up my house. I can’t wait and although I should relax and keep looking for homes, not putting my eggs in one basket, I feel like a house has energy and life and the right one calls to you when it’s time. I have known when it was time to move or find a new house every time and I always knew right away when I happened upon it. I always knew when a house was calling to me and I was supposed to be there. However, since having children my senses seem way off.
This house is old, is funky, it’s got old world charm. It has a 1948 kitchen. It has an orange tree filled with oranges no one is picking. It’s small and has only one bathroom. It is where our great grandparents started out. No one wants this kind of home. They want the new, big, fancy homes. I even hesitated. But I love old world charm. I detest all the modern world with it’s strip malls and walls around the suburbs that are all various shades of tan. This house is old and it’s in the old historic part of Yuba City. The only attractive part. And right next door is the old historic Marysville. One day others will see these towns potential and then it will be too expensive there too. But for now it’s still shaby and people like me have a chance.
We will see. By Monday I hope to have a reason to blog good news and helpful advice.