A27. Dreaming of a House

 A27. Dreaming of a House

I had expected to have several more sessions with DJ in order to continue our post-transition work.  However, we met on only two other occasions to discuss his career development path, and then he felt he no longer needed to return.  Thus, I felt that DJ/Larry and I had completed our current interactions.  Each of us learned what we needed from the dramatic events of the previous two months, and now it was time to move on.  Although, this time I fully expected that we will meet again in the future in some form!

 

A month later my family was planning another vacation in San Diego. We had told our financial advisor about our plan to move to San Diego someday, and he suggested that perhaps when we visit we might check out neighborhoods where we might want to live when I retire.  I thought that was an excellent idea, so I suggested we call a realtor who could show us around the city, and ultimately help us find a retirement house.

 

We were referred to a realtor by my wife’s uncle.  I called him with the request that he would show us some neighborhoods.  “What kind of house are you looking for?” he asked.  I hadn’t even considered that much.  “Uh, it should have a single level, because when we retire we do not want to have to go up and down stairs.”  I had seen both my father and father-in-law struggle with stairs in their later years.

 

“And we want three or four bedrooms, as we plan to downsize from our home where we raised four children.  Ideally, the house should be near the ocean, near the university, in case I want to teach there, with a home office where I can do some counseling when I retire, and near a synagogue.  That’s about it,” I concluded.  It felt as if my description of our ideal house just flowed without much forethought, not unlike some of the times during hypnosis when I knew what to say without thinking about it.

 

“And how much do you want to pay?” he asked.  Once again, I had hardly thought about it, as I was not thinking of buying a house for another 10 years.  That being said, we had started to save slowly for a down payment someday.   “Uh, I would like to pay between what my house is worth in Syracuse, to maybe, triple the cost.”  Since we were fortunate in that our house in Syracuse had been paid off, I figured that double the price would be equivalent to carrying our original mortgage again, and since I was well along in my career I could afford somewhat more.

 

The realtor put the information into his computer, and checked whether any home fit our requested criteria in the four coastal communities north of San Diego:  La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Encinitas.  There was nothing available.  The housing inventory was very low because prices had dropped so much during the recent years that people did not want to sell at a loss.  Further, the small number of houses that were available were expensive because there was great competition for them.  The realtor tried to convince us to look for a house in Carlsbad, but that was too far from San Diego in our estimation.

 

We waited a few months to see if a house would come up within our price range.   I figured that once an acceptable house came on the market we could fly out to California to check it out.  But no house turned up.  “It won’t work,” I told my wife.  “All of the houses are too expensive.  We can’t afford to move to Southern California.”  “It’s got to work,” she replied.  “We will make it work.  We just may need to compromise.”

 

I wasn’t sure what kind of compromise would work, but we soon learned that in Southern California if one moves away from the coast, prices drop precipitously.  For example, 30 minutes inland from the San Diego coast, house prices can drop as much as by 80%.  This was a foreign notion to me because on the east coast, if one lives an hour away from a major metropolitan area, the housing prices usually remain very high.  But, the house prices in the San Diego area reflected that the coast was the main factor rather than the city.

 

So, my wife identified University City as somewhat inland, but close to the university and where houses were in our price range.  She identified some possible houses on the internet, and we planned to visit them on our own during the first Sunday of the vacation week.  The realtor suggested that we check out some of the neighborhoods before we met with him so we would have some idea of what we were looking for.

 

We got up on Sunday morning and with three relatively patient kids in tow and started checking out houses.  We went to the El Cajon neighborhood where my wife’s grandmother used to live, but it was too far from the coast.  We checked out a house in Pacific Beach, but disliked that beer bottles that were strewn all over the lawns in that neighborhood.  Finally, we arrived at University City and it seemed perfect.  The houses were of the right size, in a price range we could afford, with a synagogue nearby.  Since there were a number of open houses being shown that day, we checked out a couple of them.  One house had been on the market for five days.   It had 33 offers, all higher than the asking price.   Next house, same story.  “What is this?” I asked myself.  This must be a hot housing market, which is very different from what we were used to in Syracuse, where houses remained on the market for months, and then often were given a low-ball offer.

 

Two days later my wife and I met with our realtor.  We planned to spend the morning with him, and told our children that we would meet them back at the hotel for lunch.  First, we sat with the realtor who told us more about the housing market.  “It’s very hot these days,” he explained.  “If you are thinking of buying a house in a few years, you should consider buying it now, because prices are going up.  And interest rates are not going to get lower, and likely will increase soon.”

 

I thought to myself, ”You’re trying to sell us a house.”  Instead, I said to him, “You’re right.  However, I do not even have enough money saved for a down payment on a house.  So, we are not buying anything right now.”  “Don’t tell anyone that,” said the realtor.  “They don’t want to waste time on window shoppers.”  I understood that, especially given that so many people were trying to buy a house at that time.  “OK, we won’t tell anyone,” I responded.

 

“The housing market is so hot, some people have found it hard to buy a house,” he continued.  “They make offers on houses that are not accepted in favor of better offers.   Also, investors are driving up the housing prices because they are so low at this point.  The way to buy a house is to get all of your money together, fly out, find a house, make an offer, and be prepared to come home empty handed.”  That sounded complicated to me, but if that’s what it took to buy a house in San Diego, we’d have to deal with it, I thought to myself.  But not now, since we were not yet in a position to buy.

 

The realtor showed us four houses including two very nice ones that already had multiple offers.  Around 11 am we saw the last house, in University City, which had been redone beautifully.  The seller’s realtor in that house was a South African gentleman who was wearing a three piece suit.  Very unusual for Southern California.  He took us on a personal tour of the house with great enthusiasm and an apparent intimate knowledge of the house, which I also felt was unusual, since seller’s realtors usually have ignored me when I have looked to purchase homes in the past.  There was surround sound in the living room, amazing paneling in the kitchen, rocks in the backyard that played music, and a large upstairs library with a patio.  It was the kind of house that I would have loved when I was younger, but did not fit our retirement house criteria of being on a single level.  So, when we were leaving, I came up to the seller’s realtor to thank him.

 

“Oh, if you liked this house, I know of another house that might interest you,” he said enthusiastically.  “It’s in pristine condition and is a pocket listing.”  “A what?” I asked.  Many people in hot housing markets know of this concept, but I had never heard of it.  “A pocket listing means that the owner wants to sell the house, but the house is not listed on the open market.”  That made no sense to me.  “Why would he want to do that?”  “The owner is a very private person and he does not want a lot of people coming through his house.”   It still sounded strange to me, but I have since learned that over a quarter of home sales in California that year were pocket listings.  Since the housing market was so hot, dozens and dozens of people would come through on a daily basis to see houses that were on the open market.  A pocket listing would allow a house’s availability to be described by word of mouth to a select group of potential buyers.

 

The seller’s realtor continued, “And once they sell the home, the owners would like to rent it back at market price, for a year or two.”  That also sounded strange. “Why is that?”  I asked. “They’re not sure exactly when they want to move, and they want to have the house sale behind them once they do make that decision.”

 

So, I thought to myself, if the house is a pocket listing then there would be less competition to buy it.  That might give us a better chance.  And if the sellers wanted to rent it back all the better.  I wasn’t ready to move yet, and we were to buy a house now we would need to rent it in order for it to be affordable.  “All right,” I said.  “We’re interested.  Where is the house?”

 

“La Jolla Scenic Drive,” he replied.  “La Jolla!”  I exclaimed.  “I didn’t think we could afford anything in La Jolla.” 

 

“Well, this house is in your price range,” he replied.

 

“We’d like to see it,” I said.  “What’s the address?”

 

“Can’t tell you.  It’s not on the market.  I have to ask for permission.”

 

“So, ask for permission.”

 

“Can’t do that.  The owner is out of town.”

 

“Well, I’m only here for 3 more days.  I would love to see the house.  I have a very good feeling about it.  Can you figure out a way to let us see it?”

 

“I’ll see what I can do.”

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A25. Guided through Life

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A24. Finding my Spiritual Self

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A23. Return of a Friend

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A22. The Role of a Leader

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A21. What happened?

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