Monthly Archives: October 2022

gymnastics and L

The coach took a video of L doing her dance at class yesterday, and I thought it was kind of fun.  It’s theoretically an individual sport, but I still thought the lack of synchronization with the other girls was interesting.  In the dance routines she’s done in past, she’s been much more in synch with the other girls.  Perhaps there is more emphasis on that in dance?

Isla is in the front on the left in the photo below.

Life is so busy these days – gymnastics, soccer, touring and applying to private schools for L (in case the house doesn’t work out), traveling every month for work, planning to trips to SF (to see my sister’s baby), northern Cal at Christmas (to see Jonathan’s family), Utah in February, and France in spring, looking at houses every weekend, S’s birthday this weekend, church on Sundays and church school for an hour afterwards plus a “saint’s parade” this weekend for which they have to dress up as their favorite saint (isn’t one dress-up at Halloween enough??), Halloween itself, birthday parties, and all the things I should be doing more of, like cleaning the house and working.  It just never stops.  I know one day the kids will move out, and I’ll be like my parents with way too much time on my hands.  Until then, we press on.

Also, if you think US democracy and government is dysfunctional (it is), there’s always a worse road than the one you’re traveling on.  NI makes the US look like a panacea of goodwill and cooperation.

housing slump

This is just the type of headline I like to see:

Hidden in the article is the fact that prices are STILL 10% higher than they were a year ago.  And that last October, prices had already gone through an obscene run-up.

Nevertheless, the very worst of the price spike is over.  I would like to see a house that is current worth 1.3 come down to 1.1 or 1.15 before we buy, but we’ll see.  We had been hoping to be under contract by December for reasons relating to school registration timing, but the financial benefits of waiting are just too great.  So we hold.

We’ve reduced our budget by about $300,000 due to various factors.  In the meantime, despite that budget decrease I’ve seen two houses in the last few weeks come on the market that we’d be willing / happy to live in, one in Somerset and one in W. Bellevue.  In the previous four months of looking I didn’t see a single house in those areas on the market in our price range that met our square foot requirements and was “livable.”  We are unlikely to move to either Somerset or W Bellevue due to high prices and the fact there are other cheaper places we like that have excellent schools.   However, it just indicates that pricing is becoming more reasonable and we can get more for our investment, even accounting for interest rates.  I’m actually more concerned about decreases in the stock market.  We’re also sitting on a significant amount of cash from selling my first house a year ago, which is rather nerve-wracking.  However, if I’d invested that money a year ago after we sold the house, it’d be down 10% right now.  That’s more money than I’m likely to save in a year of work after taxes and childcare.

I am also so glad I sold my old house a year ago.  That house would be unsellable in today’s market due to my drug-consuming and car-stealing neighbors.  (Around the time I was selling the house I drove by and saw my neighbor passed out, half in and half out of a car which I will generously describe as dilapidated, but so hard to describe how awful it was, with trash everywhere, right in front of their house, immediately next to mine.)  I didn’t quite hit the peak in the housing market, but it was close enough.  And now I never have to worry about it again.

In my adult life, I’ve been incredibly fortunate not to have to spend a lot of time worrying about money.  But the prospect of spending 7 figures on a house has been keeping me awake at night.  It’s not fun.  I really want to be done with it.  Still, it definitely makes sense to continue to wait.  My sense is that February or March will be the right time to buy in terms of balancing housing prices with our desire to be done with this, but we’ll see.

home prices around here

In June, I wrote an entry complaining about the high cost of houses in our area.  High housing costs are highly problematic even if you are already bought in because:

  1. High property taxes.  (Our property taxes have more than doubled since we bought our house in 2014.)
  2. High transaction costs to move.  If you move from house A to house B, and they cost the same amount, you’ll be taxes on any “profits” exceeding 500K from House A even if you turn around and put that money straight into House B.  You also pay 7% transaction costs (more tax plus realtor.)
    1. If House A and B cost $650 K, like when we moved in, transaction cost would be $87,500.
    2. If House A and B cost $2,000,0000, like in June, transaction cost would be $518,000
      1. Just writing that down is enough to make me cry.

However, wonderful things have happened since then.  Housing prices have come down, dramatically!

Basically, our house was sitting around 900K for a few years and then nearly double in value.  Now, it’s back to 1.3M.  Still too high, but better.  Houses around the area have trended similarly.  My hope and prayer is that interest rates continue to go up and housing prices continue to go down.  Obviously, this makes mortgages more expensive, but we frankly can’t afford a mortgage anywhere near the cost of a house, so we’ll be using equity to purchase and will take out a mortgage that’s significantly under 50% the price of the house.

If our home value went down to about 1.1, I’d feel better.  However, this past month, house prices did not drop AT.ALL in our local area.  So I guess we will see.  But all I can say is that something is broken when it costs over 1M to get a modest house in a good school district.

We are not necessarily going to buy a “modest” house – houses we like are closer to 2M.  But even an unambiguously modest house runs seven figures right now.  Note that our current house is not in a good school district and is therefore more “affordable.”  It’s very nice but worth “only” 1.3M.  An identical house a few miles away in Bellevue would run around to 2.3M.