What every home buyer doesn’t really need to know

What Your Real Estate Agent Won’t Tell You

Your spec sheet will tell you all about lot size, mortgage rates, and air conditioning, yet there are many minor details that, for one reason or another, nobody mentions unless you ask. So after you’ve inspected the piers and beams and given the windows a good shake, you might want to check:

1. Floors always appear more levelwhen they’re covered with furniture thanwhen they’re bare. Before the Bekins manarrives, get down on your hands andknees to see how plumb things really are.If you discover that the sofa is resting onstacks of National Geographics you’vegot a problem.

2. Don’t be taken in by promises ofgenerous storage space. Step inside one ofthe closets and see if you can turn aroundwithout bruising your elbows. You mightalso see how many dresses and sportscoats are being stored “temporarily” inthe garage.

3. Ditto for assurances that you’removing to “a rapidly developing area.”That may mean chic neighbors and a newshopping center down the street, or it maymean that the street improvements are going to eliminate your front yard.

4. Ask what that gently flowing creek inthe back of the lot is like in April. It maystill be a gently flowing creek or, as afriend of ours discovered, you may havebought a splendid view of a flood plain.

5. Remember that points have nothingto do with football pools. The term is abanker’s euphemism for additional charges and contingency fees. In the real-estategame, the more points you score, the farther behind you get.

Why Bother?

So you’ve found it, your dream house, for $150,000. Are you sure you want to do it?

If you buy the house and take out a standard 80-percent loan, 30-year mortgage at 93/4 percent annually, you will end up paying a total of $370,308.50. A lot of money for mere shelter. Consider for a moment other ways you might shelter yourself with that same amount of money (and without the hassles of ownership).

● You could rent the penthouse suiteat the Fairmont Hotel. At $700 a day youcould live in the height of luxury for oneyear, five months, and fourteen day

● Or you could get a room at the Anchor Motel on Harry Hines at $77 a weekand live there for 921/2 years.

● You could live on a Holland-American Line cruise ship. In a nice single outside cabin at $255 a day, you could cruise for three years, 11 months and 23 days.

● Or you could stay on land and rent a 25-foot Winnebago at $300 a week. If youreally kept moving, say 300 miles a day(15¢ a mile plus gas), you could cruise thecountryside for nine years and eight days.

● You could rent a brand new Mercury station wagon and sleep in the back.If you drove less than 150 miles per day,you wouldn’t pay mileage charges andyou could live in your wagon for 27 years,2 months, and 28 days.

● Or you could rent a used 1973 Fordstation wagon. If you drove only 50 milesa day (the agency says locally only) youcould live in it for 101 years. If you didn’tdrive it at all (no gas cost), your sheltermoney would keep you in your Ford for145 year

● Or you could impose on yourfriends for 30 years and keep $370,308.50in your pocket.

A Dog’s Life

The real-estate market isn’t really going to the dogs. In 1968, Sears’ basic dog house sold for $13.49. This year, the same model – unpainted hard-board, with no floor and just an opening instead of a hinged door – sells for $19.99, an increase of 48 percent.

If your dog is fussy, he may want something a bit classier. And there the market has changed somewhat. In 1968, the best your dog could get was something described in the Sears catalogue as “the most people-pleasing, pet-pampering dog house we’ve ever offered.” Painted hardboard, with a swinging door, it offered a “people-like” picture window and sold for $39.99. Top of the line in 1978 is a dog house that sells for $89.99. It’s molded plastic in “natural colors that won’t chip or fade,” has a pre-hung door and a raised floor. But no picture window. That’s passe in the canine world, too.


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