Buy a house, they said.
It will be fun, the said.
It’s an investment that brings a great return, they said.
They were wrong.
Three years ago, my husband and I set out to purchase our first home. A beautiful four-bedroom, two-story house in a great subdivision in Bryan, Ohio.
Bryan is home to lots of things — Spangler Candy, which makes Dum Dum suckers, and the Ohio Art Company, which once made the Etch-a-Sketch. What Bryan isn’t home to right now, is a thriving housing market.
Don’t get me wrong, when we first placed our house on the market in September, the market was thriving. Our realtor even told us to start looking for a new home because she believed we would be sorting through multiple offers by the end of the week.
She was wrong.
By week’s end the market had taken an unexpected turn and the once thriving housing market in the area was unreasonably silent. Few showings and no offers.
By December, when it was time to move to Indiana for my job with KPC Media, the weather took an unseasonable cold turn, and our once warm and cozy home began to sit empty.
For the next several months we would have only a few scheduled viewings of our home, and no offers. Still we would write a check for our mortgage and utility payments. Month after month, money drained from our bank accounts and the hope of selling our first home was becoming less and less promising.
By February, we would receive an offer, it was low, but with the cost of carrying two home draining our reserves, we had to move forward. A few weeks later the sale fell through when an appraiser valued our home well below market value and too low for the FHA loan the buyer was seeking. The thought of walking to the table and handing over a check for more than $5,000 for what was supposed to be an “investment” wasn’t something we could stomach.
A week later we would receive another offer, this one less than the previous. We countered and decided on a figure that left us walking away empty handed. At least we weren’t bringing a check to the table.
Over the next few months we learned a lot about selling a home, mostly that we never want to do it again.
There is much heartache and break in watching other pick at your home – they don’t like the paint colors, your landscape, the way you designed your kitchen. The thought of someone else nickel-and-diming you all the way to the closing table just so they can take what was once yours and turn it into theirs is disheartening.
Maybe, if we were walking away from this sale with a remotely sizable sum of money I might feel differently, but for now, it stinks.
We have written multiple articles about how the housing market in the four-county area is hurting. We need more “nice” homes for hard-working families. I can tell you for a fact this is true. Our family has much to contribute to Noble County. Two professional working adults, three great kids to participate and grow in the school system, but because of the lack of affordable and desirable rentals in the area, we had to relocate to the north side of Allen County, for now.
There are homes to be purchased in the area, yes, but not all meet the requirements for sizeable families on a moderate income. And honestly, I’m not sure, given what we have experienced, that I’m ready to slide a chair right up to the closing table just yet.
If we want to focus on the housing need within our area, I suggest we look at creating not just single-family homes for buyers, but affordable, executive-type homes for renters. Without such housing, Noble County and beyond could be missing out on the contributions of hard-working families within the community because they, like us, will be forced to look elsewhere.
And that is an investment I think many would be disappointed to miss out on.