A love letter to potential home buyers

by Kate Torok

Dear Procrastinators,

Please stop waiting for the $8,000 tax credit to return. It won’t. The government has other concerns and debts to think about and the credit was simply a quick fix/PR lightbulb that helped ease the housing market pain for a short time. The good news is, if you do some quick math, you’ll realize that the interest rates are the lowest they’ve been in DECADES, and you will save far more than $8,000 in interest over a 30-year mortgage. So, really, NOW is the time to buy. And MY house is the one you want.

Thanks so much,

Frustrated and Homeless

It’s funny, really. My husband and I had been thinking about trying to get closer to my family in Syracuse. (His is in Philadelphia, and they are thinking of moving to Charlotte. We like the four seasons too much to do that.) So, we talked about maybe a year from now, or maybe by the time our daughter started school. Then, out of nowhere, my dream job landed in my lap: a public relations position at a college in Rochester, an hour and a half closer to my family. And a free education (in 16 years) for my daughter, to boot. Sweet! So, I applied. That was in February. It was a long process, but I was offered the position in June, gave my notice, and the “For Sale” sign went up.

And it has stayed there ever since.

I started my new job in August, commuting the hour and a half from and back to Buffalo each day. It wore quickly on me. But, we really didn’t want to pay two mortgages, nor could we, and we knew we needed to stick it out until our house sold so we’d have some cash to put down on a new home.

In the meantime, my husband put in for a transfer at his company, and that came MUCH sooner than we thought it would. So, after two months of commuting, and a quick transfer, we decided to pack up and move to a short-term rental in Rochester.

So here we are. We moved Oct. 1, and have paid rent and mortgage for two straight months. Our savings is slowly thawing out, and I’m petrified that we will run out of money. So, where is the funny part that I mentioned above? It’s more ironic, really. We recognize how lucky we are to have such great jobs, our health, and our family together. It’s just interesting that we both took steps forward career-wise but are leaping backwards financially. It’s not as if one of us lost a job and we were forced to relocate. It’s not as if one of us is struggling to find work. We’re struggling to find a good realtor.

I’m a pretty reasonable person. I realize that this is not the opportune time to be selling. And I’ve researched the inventory in our neighborhood, and there is plenty of it. We’ve dropped our asking price three times, and came dangerously close to a sale twice, but our realtor just isn’t sealing the deal. In my opinion, it’s her fault that we are in this predicament.

She also:

1. Left the front door unlocked twice after an open house

2. Turned up the furnace

3. Left the front blinds wide open, yelling, “Come on in! It’s a vacant house!” to everyone who walks by—a vacant house with half of our stuff still in it.

“So, fire her!” you’re thinking. We’ve never sold a house before. She was convinced we’d sell easy, and it all happened so fast that by the time we signed the 24 sheets of paper that was the “seller agreement” we didn’t realize we’d signed on for 6 months of real estate hell. We didn’t know we could have questioned that timeframe. So, we’re stuck with her. Unless of course we want to pay them back for the advertising costs. Which, with a rent and a mortgage, we simply cannot do.

We’ve followed the advice of many friends and buried St. Joseph next to the sign. It worked for them, it would have to work for us! Alas, he has been there for weeks. I’m wondering if we bought a defective St. Joseph? Did my husband find him on the clearance rack at the Catholic store? From the looks of all of the inventory, maybe it’s time for St. Joseph to be recalled. Or retire.

Needless to say, we will be hopefully ringing in a great 2011. Out with the old, in with the new. New year, new agent, new real estate company, new “For Sale” sign and, hopefully soon, a new home!


Kate Torok is a pissed-off, married mother of one—pissed off not because she’s married or a mother, but because she can’t sell her house. She works as a communication specialist at a small liberal arts college in upstate New York.

Categories: Economy

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6 replies »

  1. You have my sympathy. I interviewed for a dream job here in Scotland in December 2007. Yes, that’s *three* years ago. Was offered it, accepted and we dashed around getting the house in tip-top condition for a quick sale. It went on the market in February 2008 and we moved at the end of April, with it unsold.

    It’s still on the market. We did let it for most of 2009. Half way through the year our tenant stopped paying the rent. We finally got a court order to gain possession of the property in December. We had to pay out to bring the house back up to the standard it had been in when she moved in and then it took another court order to retain her deposit, which didn’t even pay for the damage.

    We accepted an offer, for 20% less than our original asking price, in July. The buyers claimed to be first time buyers, deposit in place, ready to proceed. They weren’t. They’re depending on another sale to go through. We’re hoping they can get that through, but in the meantime it’s listed for sale again.

    Anyone want a nice three bedroom house in the English Midlands?

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Diva. I have some friends who have a house right around the corner from me that they’re trying to sell and are meeting with some of the same frustrations you are. They’re trying to sell it themselves, though, so they at least don’t have a slacker agent to deal with. It’s just a tough market.

    You’ll get it sold, though. Hang tough!

  3. Megan-thanks for your comment. Let’s try to channel our positive thinking together and get both of our places SOLD!!!!! Good luck and happy holidays.

  4. OMG…I’m reading the thoughts in my head on the web!

    We listed our house in May 2008 and it’s still on the market today (2/8/11). I don’t know what the answer is, and I get frustrated more and more each day as I track the real estate inventory in our zip code…I’ve seen comparable houses list and sell quickly. And, at a price per sq ft 50-100% above our asking price.

    What gives????? More frustrating are the reasons why the home wouldn’t “work” for each person the sees the house. Everything from the ceilings are too low (they are standard ht), the house sits too close to the street (but its the same distance as every other house on my street), and the basement isn’t a walk out (in this neighborhood most houses don’t even have basements!)…and these comments are after someone insists they NEED to see the house within the hour.

    Best wishes to everyone else in the same boat!

    PS-I’m a wife, mom of a 2yo with one on the way and a small business owner. Trying to sell this house is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever had to deal with. WHEN WILL IT END???

  5. Well, I’m pleased to say that for me it did finally end – our sale completed on 11th January, almost three years from when it went on the market (and at 20% below original asking price).

    Now I have moved onto the process of selling not one, but two houses in New Zealand. My brother and I inherited them from our mother and grandmother last year. So I am still dealing with estate agents and now they are 13,000 miles away, instead of 300.

    The good news is, around half of all house sales in NZ are at auction and this typically gets a good price. So, we’re looking at the two being sold at the end of March and I go over in April to help my brother clear them out and sign the paperwork.

    And this summer, well hopefully my son and I will move into a new home which I intend to keep for a very, very long time!