Here’s a fact: There are no 2 bathroom homes in Seattle for under a million dollars.
For real. That’s a fact.
And just to clarify, when I say “bathroom” I don’t even mean a “full bathroom.” A stand up shower would be divine. A powder room would be lovely. A little built-in hut for the guest Honeybucket I plan to stash in the backyard would be… well, more realistic.
This is the sad state of real estate affairs in Seattle. Sad if you’re a buyer, that is. And here I thought selling my condo would be tough. A one bedroom, one bath, just a touch north of the really good part of Greenwood. In this market?
“Are you crazy?” they questioned.
“Condos aren’t selling,” they warned.
“There’s an overabundance of inventory,” they said.
“What about the assessment?” they asked.
Oh yeah, there was that.
“No worries,” I told Eva, our real estate agent. “I’ll just pay the assessment in full when we close.”
But Eva was worried that even if we found a buyer willing to overlook the two-three months of construction their lender wouldn’t be so forgiving. And because she’s German and can’t help but be pragmatic and worried.
“Details!” I pashawed. “It’s a good condo! Even a stingy, old bank will see that!”
The assessment, I should mention was to repair the building envelope. Turns out stucco and water hate each other so it’s not the ideal choice for building material in the northwest and yet so many buildings are made with it. (If Eva were in charge, she never would have choosen stucco.)
So, sure, there might be some obstacles with selling my condo, but I’m about as pragmatic as I am German which is to say 0%. I believe what I believe and insist on being so stupidly optimistic about it that the Universe has no choice but to give it to me. I had this condo for fourteen years. Fourteen years! While I wouldn’t be wallpapering the walls of my new abode with hundred dollar bills, I should be able to sell it for such an enticingly good deal, pay that assessment and still have money to buy Bart a nice dinner at Whole Foods, right?
Eva analyzed the best timing for putting Betty (that’s my condo. Probably more on her later.) on the market insisting we needed to know exactly what the repairs would be, who would be doing it and how much I was to cough up at closing. See? Eva and those pesky details! What I originally credited to my ass-dragging homeowners association’s inability to make a decision was really the Universe lining up the perfect buyer. You see, the buyer (who is awesome, even if she hates my beloved chandelier) had to be ready too. And when we finally put the condo on the market I’m sure Eva was sustaining herself on Pepto Bismo and Jagermeister the whole time. We’ve become good friends in the past fourteen years. It’s hard to tell your stupidly optimistic friend that she’s bat-shit crazy.
“Seventeen days,” I told her. “That’s all it will take to sell Betty.”
And then I got to work. I wrote affirmations of WE SOLD BETTY! everywhere—on my desk, on my computer screen, on the refrigerator. I stuck WE SOLD BETTY! notes in Bart’s gym bag. I texted WE SOLD BETTY! to myself. I told my co-workers WE SOLD BETTY! and called Judy several (more) times a day to tell her as well. I said it to myself. Anywhere. Everywhere. Alone. I didn’t care who heard me. And I didn’t care how many times I had to explain that we didn’t really sell Betty. I was just giving the Universe the fuel it needed to get the job done.
But alas, little naïve, optimistic me was wrong.
It didn’t take seventeen days. It took seven days.
WE SOLD BETTY!
For real this time.
But there was no time to celebrate. There was that whole matter of where we would live now that we sold Betty and hadn’t bought a house yet. (Again! Details!)We had about 26 days to figure it out.
“Were going to be on the street with an arthritic dog and a mean cat and a shopping cart full of electronics we can’t plug in anywhere,” I wailed. “Good thing the Kindle has a long battery life.”
“I’m sure we can charge our Kindles and iPhones and iPods and iPads at work,” Bart said. Clearly he had been spending too much time with Eva. “We could even shower there if we really had to.”
But thanks to my unyielding optimism, (and okay, Facebook) my good friend Vera saw our plea for help and took that opportunity to announce she was moving to Canada to join her husband who has been working there for the past five years.
“You can rent our townhouse,” she said.
Hallelujah! A month-to-month, pet-friendly, two-bedroom TWO BATHROOM townhouse in Seattle? We’ll take it! See? It all works out.
What my stupid, unyielding optimism wasn’t prepared for was the fact that in those 26 days of packing up Betty, the Seattle housing market would get itself all into a frenzy. It’s like a bunch of twelve-year-old girls stumbling across an unconscious, red-lipped-from-macking-on-Justin-Bieber-all-day Selena Gomez* frenzy. The savages! That whole “It’s a buyer’s market!” hooey was a thing of the past. It’s a seller’s market in these here parts. Sellers are dangling their 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, unfinished, flood-prone basements in the faces of desperate buyers who are snatching them up at upwards of $25,000 over asking price. For every one mediocre house there were six pre-qualified, 20% down-yielding, outstanding buyers willing to forgo inspections and pay their own closing costs.
“When did this happen?” I asked Bart.
“About sixteen seconds after we closed on Betty.”
The market never crashed as hard in Seattle as it did in other places and it’s certainly rebounding in ways no one I know outside of here is seeing. When I recant the difficulties of house hunting in Seattle to my East Coast friends they think I’m talking about something unfathomable like a talented Kardashian or a friendly cat. You see, back where the rest of the world comes from, houses sit on the market for months. Even years in some cases! People, you do not pay nearly half a million dollars for a one-bathroom, two closet house with busted up foundation. You deserve more than that! We’re prone to earthquakes here!
So for the time being, Bart and I are enjoying our two-bathroom rental (knowing our toothbrushes will be hobnobbing sink-side again soon), sleeping on a taco shell shaped mattress on the floor (that’s the first to go when we get a new house) and eating dinner off a Lowes moving box (with remarkably strong packing tape). We can be patient. Sort of. We just hope our fantasy house shows up soon because all our fall clothes are in a storage vault.
*I just watched an interview with a 12-year-old girl outside of a Justin Bieber concert who claimed that she has plotted the grisly death of Selena Gomez many times, so my analogy is pretty much spot on. Kids these days and their death plots.