Newmans Own

Cheaper by the Dozen


Hey Michael, as I was putting together our itinerary for this weekend’s open house visitations, I noticed

this house

, which practically screams, “motivated seller”! Just think, for a few thousand dollars more (just as I wrote that I thought,

Thisis what buying real estate does to you: You start to toss off phraseslike “a few thousand dollars more” as if you’re talking about pocketchange

) we could have eight more bedrooms than we’d have in the

beloved green house

.What would we do with 12 bedrooms and 4.5 baths? I smell a familyreunion … or a bed-and-breakfast. Either way, I smell a lot of pancakes!

Yes,it’s on a main street. Yes, it’s way too big for us. But it’s hard toresist the temptation to look at a house that’s going for $261,000 lessthan what the current owners paid just two years ago.

Michael: But the point isn’t how much the seller paid for it—it’s what we canafford! And we can’t afford $700,000 for a house, even if it comes with12 bedrooms and all the pancakes you can eat. Though I have to say, ifit ever comes down to a decision between two similar houses, each withpluses and minuses but one that features free pancakes, I would choosethe one with free pancakes. I would also accept free waffles.


True enough, but if they’re willing to knock off $100,000 from theiroriginal asking price, if we wait long enough, maybe they’ll knock offanother $100,000. There I go again, tossing off big numbersnonchalantly!

Michael: You’re right that there are some pretty drastic reductions out there. Inmost cases, alas, the biggest discounts are for houses that we can’t afford or aren’t really even houses .But I am not sure we have yet hit bottom. Not that I care too much—likeI said, we can afford what we can afford, and trying to time thereal-estate market strikes me as about as foolish as trying to time thestock market. But banks and lenders do care, because all this priceuncertainty can make it hard to appraise a house . Which is important, as we are learning.