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An apparent sale, the hoorays, the dismays

August 23, 2010

I’m very grateful for the apparent sale of our house. God has showered us with the most perfectly timed blessings of every detail since our decision to move to Clarkston that we could possibly ask or even imagine.

We accepted an offer on Saturday, just under three weeks from the day we listed. Significant paperwork details and the usual inspection contingencies lie ahead, but all involved seem confident things will proceed toward a peaceable closing on the same date as our Clarkston closing. Since we don’t have to be physically present at either closing, it seems like a dream come true. This should all certainly warrant a resounding hooray.

My dismay is with the FHA’s smoke-and-mirrors shenanigans that no one but my husband and I and a few fellow Boomers find appalling, if not amoral. The logistics of the offer gave me a grand scheme view from a magical mystery metaphysical railroad tour of reallocated numbers and language. I tried to hang on as the train careened around tortuous curves of logic, and I nearly reached for the EJECT button when I saw the sign, OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY AHEAD: EJECT OR ENTER REALITY.

Sometimes it’s best just to hang on, take a shower, and burn your clothes.

I should admit to a liability: I am a Boomer. In my day, a starter home meant something a little bit different from what a starter home is assumed to be today. Furthermore, it used to take 10 or 20% down to buy a starter home. And, incredibly, we had to come up with the down payment our own very selves. But the Xers want their kids, the Millennials, to have it a little better. And the Xers do enjoy significant holdings, including title to the White House. And the Xers are very smart. They have figured out a way to make the Millennials think that we Boomers loused everything up for them. But we did not invent the ethos of the Roosevelt Legacy. But that doesn’t matter, because we are the beneficiaries of that legacy, and the Millennials are pretty sure that they are not going to cash in on it, and I agree with them. We might not either. Anyway, whatever the history, the system is rigged to make it payback time for Boomers. And it’s all fairly painless, unless you happen to have a sense of propriety about language meaning something.

The scheme is called Market Reality. The way it works is, they make an offer higher than your listed asking price, but you get to pay their closing costs. The buyer’s closing costs amount to much more than the difference between the listed price and the offered price. So the seller is basically receiving his original asking price, less closing costs, which are now close to 12%, given commissions, excise taxes, title insurance, all the usual paper puffery of escrow services, and the buyer subsidy.

I bridle at picking up someone else’s tab in the form of buyer’s closing costs. I can see that the numbers are almost the same, but it’s a matter of principle, and I am stung that no one wants to regard the principle.

The end product is, that the buyer gets to buy your house, you get to sell your house, and FHA kind of winks at the fact that the buyer doesn’t actually have enough money for his down payment and closing costs. And of course the buyer is entitled to buy your house under the circumstances, even though you could never have bought your present home when you were his age.

I’m a little amazed that today’s starter home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms, some nice features, and a nice yard in a pleasant neighborhood. But then I think, what else can the buyer do? Under the current economic situation, he may never be able to move up. He has to start out in a competent family home because he may never be able to leave. I understand that, but I resist the idea that it’s my fault and that I should subsidize him. I tried to rely on the numbers to tell me that I’m not really subsidizing him; but the reality against which I am revolting, but cannot change, is that I am really participating in a grand farce and I hate it. And hence the dismay.

Hooray again. God is sovereign, and his Word and his works on my behalf console. And in the midst of this transaction, which, it seems, will ultimately be a happy one for everyone involved, the Lord has freed us to put this behind us and rejoice in what lies ahead.

  1. Laura permalink
    August 23, 2010 3:44 pm

    Oh Lauren. That middle part is quite sobering and infuriating…it’s certainly a temptation to look with envy at what other people have “been able” to “buy” in the way of housing, while we will doubtless be renting for a few more years. Then again, we’re not to the point where it’s at all tempting to manipulate our finances in morally dubious ways for the sake of greed or vanity. At any rate, CONGRATULATIONS on this apparent answer to prayer!!! I will be praying for smooth sailing in this part of your journey too…

  2. August 23, 2010 4:47 pm

    Dearest Laura, my heart rejoices that you and Mike are wise Millennials that I consider peers. If I could suggest anything that I know you already know, it would be not to enter homeownership with zero equity; to save long enough to have a reserve after you buy; and to buy less than you can afford. That is what we have always done, and we have never regretted it. We were never driven to live according to other peoples’ external notion of our station in life. It is the full-capacity consumption on loaned money that precipitated the mortgage crisis that kicked off the present, and likely future, world financial crisis.

    But we who know that God is sovereign know that circumstances can change outside of our will! Other people line up like lemmings for their turn at the diving board, to jump into the quicksand pool.

  3. Heidi permalink
    August 25, 2010 5:03 am

    Lauren I am *so thrilled* to read of the sale of your house; God is so good. I am also happy to read in the post about your friend’s funeral of how your soul is prospering in this transition time. Love always.

  4. August 25, 2010 1:55 pm

    Heidi, thank you. Yes, God is so very good indeed. He stores up goodness for us to bless us when he knows our need is great. I’m happy to see you in a spurt of revival; may God continue to restore and uphold you. Much love to you.

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