1007 S. Montclair Ave. Natalie Goff

Real Estate

How to Weather a Crazy Real Estate Market

It's nutty out there. Here is how to stay sane while finding a home in this market.

Kylie used to be my neighbor. She lived at the bottom of the hill with her husband in a 2,200-square-foot house that sits in the shade of two massive old live oaks. Kylie is in her late 20s, though I’ve gotten bad at guessing people’s ages as I’ve grown older. Just the other day, I handed my car keys to a 10-year-old outside a restaurant, thinking he was the valet. Anyway, Kylie’s morning run frequently ended when my dog walk began. We got to know each other in five-minute intervals over the course of a few years. I liked Kylie. She smiled easily and was always down for some neighborhood gossip. She baked cookies.

Then something tragic happened: Kylie got pregnant and moved to Frisco.

Oh, relax. I’m just joking. Frisco’s not that bad. And babies are OK, too. But with one on the way, Kylie and her husband decided they needed more space. Their jobs would continue to let them work from home. With the sale of their East Dallas house, along with lower interest rates, they could afford a larger place with a pool and rooms for home offices. The day the sign went up in her yard, I told Kylie that I understood—and that she was now dead to me.

When my wife and I bought our first (and so far only) house, we never talked about how long we planned to stay. That was 21 years ago. We were about Kylie’s age. Our son was 1 year old. With the ink still wet on his college diploma, he’s back in the house now, working his first proper job and saving money for the first lease he’ll sign without our help. His sister, with whom he shares a Jack and Jill bathroom, is 15. He told me one of his goals over the summer is to spend more time with her, which damn near made me cry. Another symptom of advancing age: misty eyes.

For the next few months, then, quarters will be tight in our humble abode. But soon enough, too soon, the kids will leave us, and I know my wife will fill the emptiness with her evil plans and the workmen who will execute them. My tears will be of a different flavor. And she and I will eventually become the Connie and Vel of the block, the elder statespeople, keepers of the neighborhood history and phone numbers of dependable plumbers. Connie and Vel have lived in their house, next door to ours, for 48 years. They raised four children under their roof—and you could add another four from under ours. Such is the duty and pleasure that comes from staying put.

So to all the sellers and buyers in this crazy market, I say: good luck, people. I hope you find something useful or at least entertaining in these stories from our July issue, which go online today. Here is Joseph Guinto’s exploration of the most bonkers market ever. And here is a snapshot of the market in early 2021, showing you what was available—and for how much.

And to our real estate agent who helped us buy a house more than two decades ago: I’m sorry for being the worst client ever.

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