I woke up early today and turned on the TV to find “Craig’s Wife,” a 1936 Rosalind Russell/John Boles flick. The wife in question is just a tad bit fussy about her pristine home in Rye, N.Y., and her housekeeper Mrs. Harold is prescient enough to observe: “You can go crazy over a house as much as you can go crazy over anything.”
A tidy little $125,000 house I saw in May, for sale by owner for a number of years, is now online listed by one of the expat real estate firms … at $149,000. I think it’s only the homes occupied by an earlier wave of expats that are being reduced in price. Local families can wait, and are willing to raise their prices if an agent is getting a commission.
I try to be philosophical about it. They have a right to charge what they will, and who’s to say what a home is really worth? This time of year, when the weather is so beautiful in New York, and it’s rainy, buggy and hot down in Mérida, it’s easy to forget why I started searching to begin with. The harsh winter got to me. Did I also start to believe the House Hunters International model… swan in, take a cursory glance at three homes and choose one after a brief walk in the park. Cue festive music.
Real estate agents are also real estate buyers. They’re the ones on the ground ready to pounce when an actual bargain comes available. Buy a house by browsing the online listings and you’ve got an uphill battle. It’s the conventional wisdom of the gulch, and it’s true.
About HHI: This week they show followed a young Canadian couple to Puerto Escondito, an upscale beach community in Oaxaca. They seem to follow the 1, 2, 3 formula, but if you listen closely, you notice that they mention how their search took five years. After all that they went $200,000 over budget, or as their real estate agent said, “a little over budget.” They didn’t go crazy. They had the means to throw money at their dreams.