Happily losing $13,000

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 again.

Well, happily may be too strong a word, but I lost $13,000 on Friday, June 7 and I don’t care one bit. OK, again probably lying just a touch. It hurts to have lost that much money. But I did it without a second thought, because I wanted out.

Our old house.  Everything we thought we wanted in a home...

Our old house.
Everything we thought we wanted in a home…


Longtime readers of this blog will remember we moved to Colorado in April, 2012. We thought we were buying into a nice community, but it turns out community is the farthest thing from our neighbor’s minds. This bunch of self-centered, self-absorbed consumeristic morons only get together to drink copious amounts of alcohol (often riding their tricked out Harley’s to the bar to do so). I am pretty sure they also get together to compare their latest purchases, and plan on how to catch up to or surpass the Joneses.

We closed on our house on April 16, 2012 and two weeks later were contemplating moving back to Wisconsin. We hated it that much. Immediately. It probably didn’t help that we were 1 hour from 3 different forest fires.

So in July, 2012 we put the house on the market, without listing any reason, such as a job transfer. People assumed there was something wrong with it. Nope, except it is in the worst neighborhood on the planet. We received one very lowball offer from a couple who said they didn’t like the kitchen (they didn’t approve of the granite), somehow justifying their offer of $30,000 less than we paid for it. Um, no. I am not happily losing $50,000 (taking into account the realtor fees, which the seller always pays.)

We took it off the market during the slow months of winter and made a few improvements (like removing the carpeting from the bathroom and replacing it with tile) then relisted mid-February. We had over 40 showings and again received a lowball offer from the same people. They came up $15,000, which is a lot, but they were still $34,000 lower than our asking price, and $15,000 less than what we paid. Our goal was to get at least what we paid for it. It turned out that they had not seen the house since the previous year, and just made another offer because they had to be out of their house by the end of May. They came back to see it again, and raised their offer $5,000. Still $10,000 less than what we wanted, so we said no. They chose not to offer anymore.

But we got a decent offer in late April, 2013. They found piddly little nothing things wrong with it during inspection, and we closed in early June. 3 days of torturous packing, loading the truck and moving an hour away. Goodbye Douglas County, hello Northern Colorado. The town we are moving to is very quaint, with a definite sense of community. I am already planning my bakery, and scouting possible locations every time I am in the downtown area.

So here are the numbers. We purchased for $399,000 and sold for $405,000 with $6,000 in buyer’s closing costs according to the contract. Even-steven on price when you factor that in.

We received $96,000 at closing, but put down $100,000 when we bought it, which makes it seem as though we only lost $4,000. However we paid a highway-robbery commission of $11,000 to the buyer’s agent and an upfront $2,000 to our agent. (We went looking for the cheapest deal we could find to minimize costs.) So I am not sure if we lost $13,000 or $4,000. I am going with $13,000, because if we had not had to pay that, we would have received more than we put down, making us almost even. Either way, we are out of the house and that is the best part of the day.

It is very difficult to be a frugal person in America today. It is exponentially more difficult to raise frugal children, who do not understand why they don’t have as many toys as the neighborhood kids. My 6-year-old even asked why the girls down the street have more toys that she does (which is saying a lot because she has WAAAAAY too many toys.) I soooo wanted to answer “Because their parents don’t love them as much as your parents love you.” Too much snark, plus I can see her actually repeating that to them, because she has no filter. She is 6.

Living in that neighborhood cast a pall on our lives that we should not have let happen, but we never felt like we fit in. We drove the cheapest cars, wore the cheapest clothes, and had the fewest toys for our children. Most of the teenagers in the neighborhood had zero respect for their parents. (Actually heard one kid say ‘F*** you!’ to his mom.) When we went to the park, every parent there was glued to their iPhones, rather than playing with their children or even watching while having a conversation.

We went looking for the perfect home, but didn’t do our research into the town itself. I am not sure how much we could have found out (“Douglas County residents boast the highest level of consumerism in America,” would probably not have been in the brochure.) Still, it is painful to have made such a large mistake. I moved around a LOT as a kid, even going to 3 different schools in 2nd grade. While it cured me of my shyness, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, and I didn’t want to put my girls through that.

In our new town, whenever we go to the park, the parents play with their kids or watch their kids play. I saw one mom on the phone, and from the snippets of her conversation, I could tell she was trying to get off the phone so she could play with her child.

Of course no place is perfect, but this new one seems a lot more like “us”. If losing $13,000 helps us find “home,” it will all have been worth it. We were ready to move from Wisconsin. While it is a really wonderful place filled with amazing people, their weather just stinks. 7 months of winter? No thanks.

Next week, I will show you what our new house looks like. We found a tiny fixer-upper with good bones but ugly as sin. Prepare to be unimpressed.

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36 Responses to Happily losing $13,000

  1. Just landed on your blog. Interesting!

    Two things stood out for me in this post.

    1) I completely agree with you on making the choice to lose $13k. Sometimes what you receive in return (in your case peace of mind and freedom) is worth the price.

    2) We have done the exact thing you have as far as make bad choice on a property purchase. Since we build houses, it’s always been on the lot itself, not a house.. but I know what you mean.

    We get all excited because the property is beautiful.. and then realize after the purchase that maybe the neighborhood wasn’t what we thought.

    ~ darlene
    p.s. Good luck with your new adventure. 🙂
    Darlene with BlogBoldly recently posted…Build Your Online Business One Step at a TimeMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      I have read several comments from people who also made a bad housing decision. It makes me feel better to know that others have also made mistakes. Yes, I know everyone does, but this was a really large mistake. After having lived in many really great neighborhoods, or in neighborhoods where there was that one family, it was pretty shocking to find an entire neighborhood filled with people who were not like us.

  2. Well it sounds to me like you’re happy so what’s $13,000 over the next few years to keep you and your family happy. I consider that priceless. I think you made an excellent decision that your family will grow from. Also, if it helps just say your new house was 13k more so you spent that money instead of losing it. no one likes to lose 😉 good luck with the move and I can’t wait to see that new house!

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      You say you can’t wait to see the new house. Tuesday it will be revealed. Be prepared to be underwhelmed. Good bones, though. It will be nice when we are done with it, and we will post pictures of the updating as we go.

  3. Congratulations on getting out of that neighborhood! Good “bones” are so much more important than the superficial looks of a place. Yeah, it takes work (and money) to fix things up, but if it’s a place you plan on staying in for a while, you don’t feel bad about spending the extra money to get the high quality supplies and doing it the way *you* want it.
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted…“Lifetime” of a car is 100,000 miles….My Profile

  4. Ha, I love this story so much! Very well done. By buying a better neighborhood, you’re buying into a place that will appreciate much more quickly than the hellhole you’re leaving behind. I bet you appreciate beyond your “loss” in six months or less. I can tell just by looking at the picture of that house that I would want to blow my own brains out if I lived there so congratulations on the escape! We live in a wonderful neighborhood with neighbors that get along and hang out together. Unfortunately we’ve decided we bought a little too much house (which you may have seen if you’ve stopped by my site lately). We’re not sure if we’ll sell and move, however. It’s a tough decision!
    Pretired Nick recently posted…Pretirement fun from last weekMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Nick, if your job doesn’t require the move, I would stay put. It can be such a crapshoot to find a new house. See my previous posts about how horrible my neighbors are. Of course, if you can buy in the same neighborhood… We are downsizing considerably, because we bought too much house. Totally understand that. Good luck with your decision. (I haven’t been able to check out any of my favorite blogs lately, what with packing and cleaning and trying to find a house. Looking forward to reading about your decision.)

  5. Congrats on selling! I love Harley’s BLASTING their pipes all hours of the day.

    Curious, but why not move to Hawaii or somewhere kinda glorious? I promise you Hawaii or SF is amazing!
    Financial Samurai recently posted…Welcome To The Financial Samurai Forum (FSF)!My Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Northern Colorado is slightly less expensive than Hawaii or SF. I actually used to live just east of SF. Hawaii would be beautiful, but they have fairly poor snowboarding…

  6. Michelle says:

    Ugh that stinks! But it sounds like the move was needed. Looking forward to seeing pictures of the new place.
    Michelle recently posted…My Wedding Budget and Plans: Part 1 – Dress and PhotosMy Profile

  7. E.M. says:

    Glad you guys are happy! Selling a home is not an easy process at all. My parents listed their house last Sept. and they simply cannot afford it here anymore, so time was of the essence. Unfortunately promising leads came and went, and they got lowballed plenty as well. We live on a main road, which was a harder sell – for some reason people never bothered to look up the location and one couple actually refused to get out of the car once they arrived at the house for a viewing. Then others would get disappointed that it didn’t have a basement, which was never advertised…boggled my mind. Thankfully the contracts are signed now and cleaning up every day in anticipation for buyers is done.

    So happy that the hassle is over with for you guys, and can’t wait to see the pictures and what you plan on doing with it!
    E.M. recently posted…Two Sides: Furnishing the ApartmentMy Profile

  8. Congrats on getting out of that place! Most people I know would have settled in and let the people around them influence how they live. Bravo! Your kids will thank you for it in the future!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Links Lisa Likes – 6/7/13My Profile

  9. Ree Klein says:

    I didn’t buy a home until I was in my mid 30’s. Having moved every one or two years before that gave me insight into the different types of environments you can end up in. So, when I started looking for a home to purchase, here’s what I did:
    – asked the realtor for a list of homes meeting my criteria.
    – before riding along with her, I drove to the ones that seemed interesting. I could immediately cross off all or most on the list. Junked up properties, screaming neighbors, the freeway were all big turn offs.
    – the realtor showed me the ones I liked from the outside.
    – before making an offer, I drove back to the neighborhood several times. In the morning, mid day and at night. That gave me an idea of the people, traffic, noise, etc.
    – I looked for people on the street and talked to them. “How long have you lived in the neighborhood?” “What changes have you seen?” “What’s it like here?” you get the idea.
    I finally bought my little old house and I’m still here 20 years later. It would probably be difficult to use my strategy if you’re moving to a different state like you did. I’m glad you’ve found a new “home.”
    Ree Klein recently posted…Magnet Contest: We Have a Winner!My Profile

  10. Sorry about the loss, but you’re right on in that finding somewhere you can call home and comfortable with is worth it. I can relate to the toys aspect you touched on with your 6 year old. We face a problem with some of our parents who want to shower our kids with toys. We’ve had a few, uncomfortable conversations with them about it and they just do not understand that we have different priorities for our kids.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted…Rant Alert: What Riles You Up?!My Profile

  11. Savvy Financial Latina says:

    Dang…that sucks. I understand where you are coming from though. We live in suburban North Dallas, and the Jones are everywhere. Moms in their decked out Mercedes SUVs.
    I did live in a smaller town, and do not miss it. At least in the city, there’s so many people, you can ignore the Jones.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted…Happy Hour MusingsMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      A larger city might have helped us get lost in the background. Such a small neighborhood just made our much different choices more apparent. My parents used to live in northern Dallas suburbs, too. I totally get what you are saying.

  12. Congratulations! Seems like an OK loss, considering that you’re psychologically free of that worry. All the best for the future.

  13. cj says:

    Mr. 1500, what a swell post and congrats on the fine choice you made! The value of living in a cool community, unlike the one you described, cannot be overstated. The $13,000 seems like a small price to pay for a desirable neighborhood. If I had to give up on $13,000 to live in downtown Austin or a similar place, $13,000 would be nothing for such a luxury. On the other hand, my wife and I are enjoying the challenge of making the best of the situation here in H-Town. Have a self-centered, self-absorbed consumeristic moron free day!!!
    cj recently posted…Addicted to Candy CrushMy Profile

    • Diana says:

      Hey neighbor!

      We live just north of Austin, in Cedar Park. Couldn’t afford the good neighborhoods of Austin, and coming from NY, we wanted to stay away from traffic. We got lucky, we have a really good group of neighbors, and it makes all the difference in the world. Love it here, but amazed at how crazy hot the real estate market has been here lately. Hubby n I were talking about it the other day, at some point we may cash out and pick a whole new state to try out, so we can maximize what we get from the sale of this home.

      We do travel to H-town to see family. Hate the humidity, love the selection of restaurants that do good food for cheap! Austin’s not quite that diverse when it comes to food…

      • cj says:

        Hey Diana!!! Austin is our fave city of all time. We love romping up and down 4th, 5th and 6th streets!! We moved for Upstate, NY to Houston in 1998, but now wish we had known about Austin. The eats are really something here, but nothing compared to Austin’s vibe and verve. There is almost no where to hang here, but we are having our fun and making the best of it and when we have a wild hare, we sneak away to Austin or San Antonio!!!

        Thanks for your note;)
        cj recently posted…Addicted to Candy CrushMy Profile

  14. Congrats on the sale! Must feel good to have that nightmare behind you.

    I’ve never purchased a home. I really enjoy the flexibility that renting comes with. Plus, it is actually cheaper and far easier to rent the apartment I’m in that’s close to work than to buy a house somewhere in the suburbs and drive through a hellish commute every day. Taking the bus rocks!

    Good luck on the next house! Hopefully it works out for the best. 🙂

    Best wishes.
    Dividend Mantra recently posted…Recent BuyMy Profile

  15. Well that’s great news that you sold your house, not so good that you lost some money but at least you can just move on. Sometimes that’s what we have to do, move on and learn from our experiences. I look forward to your new place and hearing about all the renos you will be doing!
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted…The Grocery Game Challenge June 10-16,2013 #2: Grocery Store Self CheckoutsMy Profile

  16. Well it least you are looking at it on the bright side and being happy that you found a new place. This place you moved from got 7 months of winter? Is it better in CO? People are spending enough time with their kids these days one of the reasons I am happy to be working from home.
    Thomas | Your Daily Finance recently posted…The Best 12 Money Saving Tips To FollowMy Profile

  17. SZQ says:

    Life is too short to stay in a neighborhood that you really hate. Everyone hopefully will be happier in the new place – and the potential for a bakery for you is exciting! Just tell yourself you’ll be able to make up the $13K with bakery sales! 😉 Glad you guys are moving on – sounds like the best plan for your family!

    I applaud you being younger people and really not getting into the “keeping up with the Joneses.” Too many of the young couples these days do – and it’s getting them nowhere but further into the deep, dark debt hole. Can’t wait to see/hear about the fixer-upper!

  18. Michelle says:

    I think I know where you were living-hehe. I’m glad that you took a stand for your family and moved the heck out of there. Can’t wait to meet you guys in person. A huge congratulations on the new home!!

  19. Chris says:

    Did you live in Highlands Ranch or Castle Pines? I live in Highlands Ranch and the keeping up with the Jones thing is really bad. Fortunately my sub-division is pretty decent and very moderate when it comes to over-spoiling the kids. My 11-year old vehicle still fits into the neighborhood. But I know that my sub-division is not that typical for HR. I hope you have more luck with your next house and neighborhood.

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  21. Mrs. 1500 says:

    What a great quote. “It’s not always purely about finances.” If we had not had the large savings, we might not have been able to leave this place. Just another example of why saving money is so beneficial. You can choose to lose money if necessary to your mental health.

  22. Mrs. 1500 says:

    It makes me feel better to know that I am not the only one making bad decisions, but I am sorry you also made a bad housing choice. I wish I could say this was my first house purchase, but in fact was more like our 10th house purchase. We have just always been lucky before. Good luck removing your house-noose.

  23. Evan says:

    You’ll recoup that $13K quickly in terms of never feeling the pressure to upgrade or buy something.

    Recently having moved I am not sure I would have made the same decision. My kid is younger but I may have forced The Wife to stick it out for a couple years to minimize the loss.
    Evan recently posted…Are People’s Priorities Distorted? Do I Judge too Quickly?My Profile

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  26. Brent says:

    The peace of mind knowing you don’t have to deal with the neighborhood anymore is probably worth the $13k. I hope you have found a new home in a neighborhood you love!
    Brent recently posted…7 Common Characteristics of Debt-Free PeopleMy Profile

  27. Robin says:

    We recently lost 50,000 on a pro house choice- in an effort to get a great lot still in our kids school area we bought a house that was awful on a great lot! The house had woods, a stream, 1.5 acres…but was a hideous poorly constructed 1970 split level. After 5 months of strange stinks from a ruptured seeping septic pipe under the concrete family room floor, drafty windows, laundry in the garage, etc we realized it would cost over 100,000 to fix it up and we still would be stuck shoveling a 100 yard driveway (that needed to be replaced) and mowing almost 2 acres that my kids used very little of. In addition there were no other kids around just older couples who all “flew south” for the winter! Cut our loses and bought a brand new home on 1/3 acre manageable lot! After owning all that land we realized that the upkeep wasn’t worth it and we wanted to spend my free time enjoying my family not fixing up a house for years! Don’t need to own the nature to enjoy it- give me a park anytime!

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