Horror of Houses

The Housing Market sucks for buyers. It’s a seller’s market, and the Central Florida market especially sucks.

Hola, Readers and Friends!

Months have passed since last I updated this blog, for no good reason other than just… I haven’t. Procrastination, depression, avoidance, call it what you will, I went silent. Just couldn’t bring myself to say anything, since the (internet) world feels so full of noise. I’ve thrown a few stones into the raging sea that is Twitter, but nothing that feels meaningful. I’m still writing a bit, but not as much as I was.

(No, this isn’t a pity party. Stay your ‘close tab’ hand!)

So now you know what I’ve NOT been doing. Let’s catch up on what I AM doing.

The business of work and life have taken precedent, although I’m still watching and reading things. The Terror Season 2, John Wick 3, Disney’s Gargoyles, The Mandalorian, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Watchmen, The Outsider, Birds of Prey…I have not been idle! If anything, I’m watching and reading more than previous, especially new things, although old familiar things are also rewatched ad nauseum in attempts to deal with … the world. Things. REALITY.

I cook more. New things,  not the same old. I got myself some new gym shoes and a Fitbit, which I have become damn near obsessed with. I’m still Bullet Journaling almost daily. Herzog thrives – although he’s learned to catch lizards and I have to rescue them regularly, sometimes from within the house as he brings them to his ‘Killing Floor,’ an old IKEA rug in the hallway.

One good thing I am excited to mention: I am trying to buy a house.

A Nest of One’s Own

Owning my own house has been a ‘back of the mind’ idea of mine for nearly 20 years. Of course home ownership was always tied up with thoughts of ‘When I get married, when I start a family’ and other vague ‘some day!’ scenarios. Eventually I came to realize that my life wasn’t quite going the way I’d expected. Rather than pin my hopes on something that maaaaay happen, I decided to course-correct and begin to make something happen.

I started giving homebuying serious thought three years ago, and thence began preparations on The Plan.

The Plan was simple – get my shit together, in multiple fields. Pay down my debt, save some money. Reduce the amount of things I own. Practice good housekeeping habits. That whole thing where you save three months’ work of paychecks AND THEN start saving for a house was laughable, but by being careful and disciplined I was able to sock away money enough for part of a down payment, and pay off some debts, including my car. I am very fortunate and I know this. I have no kids or spouse, my parents are financially solvent, and my job pays me relatively well. It’s the ideal position to be in, really.

EXCEPT. 

The Housing Market sucks for buyers. It’s a seller’s market, and the Central Florida market especially sucks. I want a freestanding house with a yard. No duplexes or condos, because I am stubborn and tired of sharing walls with other people. I can afford up to 200k, and want a three-bedroom (my bedroom, guestroom, and spare bedroom as an office, and in time the third bedroom would become a child’s room for a foster or adopted child) two bathroom. Those do exist in my area, but they go fast.

Options Explored

My first idea was to commission a Tiny House on Wheels (THOW). A friend of mine lives in one and had sung their praises for years, and just happened to be in contact with a local builder, who themselves are at the forefront of the movement.  I visited Cornerstone Tiny Homes in March of 2019 with my friend James, with plans and a tiny bit of money in hand. It would have been doable, but because the State of Florida would require a THOW to be located on 3 acres of land, I’d have to buy or rent land on top of buying the THOW. That would come out to be about 200 grand. Then I found out that I wouldn’t be able to foster if I lived in a THOW because of regulations requiring the child have their own room and door. Scratch that plan.

Next, I thought I could build my own small, traditional house. I got in touch with an architect and found that new constructions are costing about 175-200 a square foot, depending on the cost of building materials. Once again, I was looking at 200 grand for a house. Not counting the land!

I even looked into building an A-Frame house. The company AVRAME will design a house for you, cut and pre-drill the lumber, and ship the frame to you. You assemble the frame, and find contractors for plumbing, electrical, and roof. It’s basically the IKEA of homebuilding! I was so excited! I would have a clawfoot tub and a spiral staircase in mine! But again, the cost came up to about 200 grand, not including the land. My bank wouldn’t finance that sort of thing, so another plan bit the dust.

Homebuying: The Adult Frontier

So I just said ‘f*ck it’ and started looking for available homes. Some wonderful friends  put me in touch with a realtor, and for almost a month, I’ve been searching. I’ve looked at a lot of no’s, a few maybe’s, and one definite yes, which I made an offer on, but was turned down. There have also been several that received offers before my realtor and I could even get out to see them – we’re talking hours of being posted to the MLS. Things are going super fast, if they’re well-maintained, in my price range, and fulfill my requirements.

Orlando_Houses_Zillow
The blue X represents work. The red dots are homes I can afford near work. Guess where lots of well-maintained homes in my price range with my requirements aren’t! 

I’m currently spoiled by my 10-minute commute. I ADMIT IT. Many folks have it much, much worse – my best friend in Atlanta has to drive an hour one way to work!

And in all honesty, this is a problem many people would love to have – I want to buy a house, but can’t find one. I am financially solvent, have great credit, and little debt. All I have to move is myself, my junk, and my cat. I am fully cognizant of these facts.

I won’t buy a foreclosure as I would feel like some kind of Dickensian villain, twirling a mustache and ‘Mwa-ha-ha’ -ing as some poor swaddled family is thrown into the street. Auctions are mostly for people who can pay cash, which I cannot. I don’t want to flip anything, or rent it out, I just want a house I can call my own, where my folks can stay at the holidays and friends can visit, and I can make dinners for friends on weekends. I want a lawn to mow and space for plants. I want to make my own little Secret Garden in the world, where I can hide from humanity.

It is frustrating. I have given up on many hopes for my life, so a place to take up space on weekends and keep my stuff isn’t too much to ask. I am sure it will happen. A month is no time at all to be trying to find a home to buy, especially since it’s the biggest adult decision most people make in life. But I hope it happens soon. I’m ready. I have been for a while, I realize.

 

 

Author: jennnanigans

Orlando-area writerly person.

6 thoughts on “Horror of Houses”

  1. Honestly, if your rental situation is working now, that can be more financially responsible for the time being. You’re not paying property tax, homeowner’s insurance, property maintenance surprises, HOA, and god knows what else I didn’t even think of… Buying property in FL is not something that seems like a good deal right now anyhow, and their bubble will burst soon enough – the dbags will get greedier than the economy can handle, and I’m sure it’ll happen soon enough.

    1. Yeah, the rental situation is fine but I also feel like I haven’t made any ‘grown-up’ progress in a while. I’ve been wanting to start a family (either by fostering or adoption) and I wanted to be settled in my own house first.
      I’m REALLY fortunate that my rent is as low as it is, and I am aware of the added cost of homeownership (not just the extra monthly costs like taxes and insurance, but if something breaks *I* have to fix it).
      But I’ve just been wanting a little space to call my own, to do what I want with. Yanno?
      I keep hearing that the bubble will burst but I’m not so sure. I guess time will tell!

  2. I’m in the same boat, debts paid off, well-paying job, a tidy little nest egg, you’d think buying a house is the next logical step. But the cynic in me screams in my ear “that’s what they’ve PROGRAMMED you to think!!” If there is a “script”, or “codified road map” that young Americans are supposed to follow, I’ve taken a few twists and turns in my life. And yet buying a house has become a bit of a fire inside me. But even then, the previous poster correct, we’re inflating another bubble, I see it every day here in Winter Park, at least, and it won’t be long until it all come crashing down and we can get a modernist mc-mansion for pennies on the dollar! I figure patience is the best choice. Anyway…

    Have you considered doing a podcast? Reviews and recaps are the bread and butter of the podcast world and your article sounds like something that would fit right in that world. Just sayin’.

    1. Yeah, the bubble thing is frustrating. The MLS listings are showing that the houses I’m looking at sold previously for like, TWENTY GRAND LESS only a year before. Or even fifty! I blame all the speculative pukes who built luxury apartments instead of affordable single family homes driving up demand.
      I’ve thought about podcasting. I haven’t ruled it out, and it might be fun to try something new. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. I genuinely thought you owned the place you’re in now. That being said, I empathize with the chase that you’re on now, because I did it before I had my condo in Delray Beach. The way I finally snagged one was to go see it literally within hours of its initial MLS listing, because my realtor happened to be looking at her computer on a Sunday morning, and I looked at it and made an offer that day.

    I wish you all the luck… it’s difficult to find the exactly right place, but it will be worth it if you find what you’re looking for.

    1. Yeah, we’ve been doing the ‘within hours’ thing and STILL missing the boat. Also not a lot of options are workable. They need more work than I’m able to put in, or they aren’t quite right location- or price-wise.
      Thanks! I am sure I’ll need it!

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