MY HUSBAND AND I purchased a home near Phoenix, Arizona, in 2019. It was the second house we’d bought in less than a year, so we were only able to come up with a 10% down payment. That’s meant paying $70 a month for the past 30 months to cover the cost of private mortgage insurance (PMI).
With property values in the Phoenix area up 30% since 2020, I knew I should contact our mortgage company to see if we could get the PMI payment removed.
MY MOM HAD PLANNED to look for a new home near my wife and me in 2022. In November 2021, I searched Realtor.com to see what was available. I saw a home that looked like a good fit, but its status was listed as “pending.” On a whim, I called the selling agent. It turned out that the house was falling out of escrow. We made an offer.
We didn’t have an agent, so the selling agent offered to represent us.
I DROVE BY the condominium I sold last year. It was bought by a young lady in her early 20s. I noticed a for-sale sign hanging near the front entrance of the building.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the unit for sale online. It had the same floor plan as the condo I’d sold, but was located on the first floor in the back of the building. The condo I owned was located on the top floor facing the street—a much better location.
AS WE GROW OLDER, maintaining the family home can become a burden. Eight years after I retired, my wife and I moved to a 2,000-square-foot condo. It’s about the same size as our old house. But it has no stairs, no basement—and no attic full of stuff. There’s also no exterior maintenance or landscaping work required of us.
I’ve been asking near-retirees how both downsizing and relocating figure into their retirement plans. Although there’s much talk about it,
ZILLOW ANNOUNCED recently that it would cease its algorithm-driven home buying program. Thus ends its three-year experiment to disrupt the real-estate brokerage business with what’s known as “i-buying.”
Zillow had purchased homes without significant involvement by real-estate agents. Instead, it used its proprietary algorithm—which it calls the Zestimate—to determine a property’s value. It then offered homeowners a percentage of this value, in cash, to buy their houses.
This offer proved appealing to many home sellers.
EARLY LAST YEAR, just as the pandemic was starting, we were looking to buy a new home in an area where houses sold quickly—but we feared selling our existing home would be far slower. In addition, home prices in the new area were substantially higher.
We had no first mortgage on our existing house and no desire to take one out for the new home. Still, we wanted to strike quickly if we found the right place to buy,
MY MOM JUST SOLD her house. A few months ago, she interviewed three real estate agents. Each offered her a different opinion of how much her home was worth. All three also charged different commissions.
In the end, she selected the agent with the highest fee. I was skeptical when she told me her 1,100-square-foot home would be listed for $500,000. My mom’s house and mine are nearly identical in size, age, location and condition.
THE OTHER DAY, I did something I probably shouldn’t have done. I checked Zillow to see the current estimated value for the condo I sold last year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I knew real estate prices had gone up quite a bit since I sold in June 2020. But when I looked at Zillow’s price, I was still surprised to see my old home had risen 19% during that short period of time. It’s hard to imagine,
ONE THING THAT BILL Gates, Warren Buffett and I have in common is a keen appreciation for the book Business Adventures. Issued in 1969 by The New Yorker business writer John Brooks, this collection of articles is still as interesting, funny and relevant today as it must have been then. The author doesn’t assault the reader with paradigm shifts, rubrics or lessons learned. He simply presents engaging business stories to be enjoyed.
I’M REASONABLY certain that Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy has a long-lost section where he details the 10th Ring of Hell: being a landlord. I’ve done so twice and, despite the glorification seen on HGTV and heard on BiggerPockets podcasts, I found no joy in either experience. Selling those properties felt better than I can possibly describe.
Being a remote landlord may be the worst of all worlds. Getting an 8 p.m. phone call to fix a broken toilet is annoying.
I BOUGHT A CONDO a few months back and have spent the past two months moving in. If I’d moved in before I retired, the process would have lasted no more than a month. But as I’m now retired and my time is virtually unlimited, I am merely halfway through the move-in process and type this sitting at a portable camp table.
While the move-in has been slow, it’s lightyears faster than the process of meeting the neighbors.
WHEN MY PARENTS were alive, they would ask me what I was going to do with their home when they passed away. I knew they wanted me to live there. My sister and brother-in-law had no interest in the house. They were planning to move to Tennessee to be close to their son.
I never really gave them an answer on what my plans were. They probably never understood why I wouldn’t jump at the chance to live in a bigger house with more amenities in a safer neighborhood.
MY WIFE RAN INTO an old acquaintance at our local grocery store. I asked my wife if she was surprised to see her. “No, but she said she was surprised to see me. I asked why. She said she didn’t think I could afford to live here.”
Maybe that’s what most people would have thought, especially if they saw my wife in the neighborhood parking lot getting out of our 2007 Honda Fit.
It’s become extremely difficult for a middle-class family to own a house in California.
IN A RECENT POST, I suggested three questions that folks should consider before moving out of California. As a California native who has lived many other places, I appreciate the weather and convenience of living here, and I urged others to think carefully before moving away.
The post generated some great discussion when I shared it on my Facebook page. Based on the comments left by my friends, here are some added considerations and tips for those thinking of leaving California:
Take a test drive.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, fellow contributor Dennis Friedman discussed how he’ll remain in California for retirement, despite the lower cost of living elsewhere. Dennis’s post got me thinking about the conversations I hear at my local dog park in Newbury Park, California.
A local realtor regularly talks about the many longtime homeowners who are moving out of state. Within days of listing their home, sellers receive multiple offers above asking price. The sellers then move to places like Arizona,