Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

July 8, 2008
Sometimes, buying a house is a long, long story


Someday, archeologists will dig up this little bit of oral history and share it at conferences about California real estate at the dawn of the 21st Century. Roseville residents Ed and Petra Campos sent it recently by email, then agreed to share it online. It's the long, long story of buying a house - and their story isn't over yet. Bear in mind, this is their viewpoint. The builder - unnamed - probably sees it differently.

From Ed and Petra Campos: A timeline of the last two years of our real estate journey.


September 2006 - The landlord of our Roseville townhouse gives us informal notice that he intends to sell the unit we are renting. We discuss purchasing the unit but aren't financially ready after the birth of our son in 2004 and decide to move.

October 2006 - We find an ad on craigslist and rent a home in Roseville from an out of state owner who has his nephew show us the property and collect rent. The owner has had the property up for sale three times in the previous two years with no luck. We discuss the mutual merits of a lease option but discussions never become fruitful. The nephew collects rent for November and December and then moves out of state himself.

January 2007 - Our phone calls are no longer returned and nobody picks up the rent check. We begin receiving an enormous amount of offers to "help avoid foreclosure" and a county tax authority knocks on our door looking for the owner of the property.

February 2007 - Still no return phone calls and another month without the rent check being picked up. This month a representative from Wells Fargo knocks on our door but won't provide any details. We decide to move out to avoid any headaches. We decide we don't want to ever rent again. We spend our next few days moving and trying to forecast the real estate market.

March 2007 - We've decided to live with family members so we can save as much money as possible to take advantage of what we hope is a sizable drop in home prices. We drive by the rental house to see if anything has happened. Sure enough, foreclosure stickers are on the front door and windows.

January 2008 - Our deposit money is saved, we've chosen an FHA loan, saved most of our 3% down and begin looking at homes. We decide to focus on new homes because the price per square foot is so much cheaper and all new homes come with a warranty.

March 2008 - We put a deposit on a home in Roseville that is built by a well established home builder. We choose the builder for their solid reputation, excellent pricing, (the market had really tanked) and because they were offering contracts on homes that were scheduled to be built as late as March 2009. We chose to go under contract on a March 2009 home so we could have six months of mortgage saved, still put 5% down and it gave us a year to lock in an interest rate.

May 2008 - The builder calls to tell us that home sales have been brisk and that build dates will be moving forward. Our home will now be completed in October 2008! This is a major issue as our loan savings plan didn't exactly account for a potential loss of five months time and rates are still hovering around 7%. Moving the build date forward is a real one-sided deal. What a way to take advantage of a couple that went under contract when many sellers couldn't draw buyers with deep discounts, prizes and free hot dogs. The builder is sticking to the "estimated build date" as verbiage indicating the date is subject to change.

We're currently in a state of flux. We're waiting to hear if the home builder will make good in some way or we can breathe deep and take the new timeline in stride or we may our business elsewhere. In any case, I thought you might enjoy yet another view of this insane real estate market.

(Wasserman P.S....The Campos' sent this update today: "We are in the process of terminating our contract and purchasing a home across the street that is built by a competing company."

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