I am coming up on a year of being unemployed, it is very hard to believe! The first 6+ months were really very enjoyable as I traveled and learned Italian, etc., but the last 5 months or so have been very trying as I have buckled down to look for a job.
I have said it many times before in my blog but it bears continuous repeating, it is boring, boring, boring work to look for a job! The on-line applications, the phone interviews, being “on” all the time, etc. Plus, I have tried not to spend very much money over the last year so now that I am housebound it feels more austere than ever!
You may not believe it, but Italian lessons and rent on a studio in Italy are really pretty affordable, and the wine is really inexpensive!!! Then, my trip to South America was all paid for well over a year ago as this was a postponed trip from 2010. Visiting my mother in Ireland was free room and board, so it was all very manageable.
But now….no fun! I was joking with a friend earlier that I feel like it somehow all balanced out in the end. I had to ‘pay’ for the fun with all the drudgery of the job search! I wouldn’t have given it up for the world, though, as I love to travel and checked off some bucket list items and unplugged and cleared my head. I feel like I totally got my mojo back, I just need to hang on to it!
Now that I have a job offer I have a whole new set of issues to deal with though. First and foremost is the house. I had a realtor come by yesterday and he gave me some advice on things to fix up and he sent me his pricing recommendation late today.
The market is obviously down, and very soft (at least where I am) so the comparable sales used in pricing are not great and are very, very, sparse, too. Of course, his goal is to move the house as quickly and easily as possible and, as such, I wasn’t very pleased with his recommendation. Naturally a home owner thinks more of their house than the realtor, but another factor in play in my case is that the agent fee is covered in my relo package so he is probably thinking that I am more flexible on the price as I do not have to absorb this cost.
My thought is that as there are so few houses on the market I want to go toward the higher end as the choices for any purchaser are few and far between. Once I fix a few things (as he recommended) my house will be in great condition except that the kitchen could do with a bit of a face-lift. But, as I say, with so few choices out there…. If it doesn’t sell, I can rent it. My mortgage is super low so I know I can get it covered. It would not be my first choice to rent, but we’ll see.
The other thing about these agents is that when you calculate the change in fee from high end to low end it is not very significant, so I think this also motivates them toward the lower end so they get the cash in their hand fast, know that the tightened banking policies will allow for similar valuations of the properties, etc. It’s all about turnover.
I have had personal discussions with several financial advisors I know and have met on my travels and most of them have told me that, in general, owning a home is a losing proposition. People move too frequently and the cost of closing, selling, interest (the bit not offset in taxes) and all the other money one spends on their house ends up netting a greater loss than renting. People see rent as being more expensive, ‘money out the window’, as it is more obvious than how money disappears in owning a home. They will say, that if you’re buying your “forever” home it is worth it to buy then (i.e. when you are ready to retire and know you won’t move again).
Back to today and reality! I had a painter over here to discuss some things that need to be done. The garage is the biggest issue, it is sorely in need of a paint job! Yikes! I had this same painter work up a price for the work a couple of years ago and he said he would honor that price. There are a few other things I would like him to do, so you know that if the garage is now underpriced in today’s costs that he will just spread that to the other things, but what can one do!
I am happy to have the job offer, but as with most things in life it does not come without many other choices / difficulties / considerations / unknowns. Some days I am happy about how things are going, other days not so much. Even within the day things can run hot/cold, up/down. Blah, blah…
Too many things to think about all at once and with the pressure of having to make these decisions before potentially moving as far across the country as one can possibly go from here. Plus all the unknowns that are waiting for me at the other end!
Why is life so hard??