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SCOT BELLAVIA: Lament In A Seller’s Market

I don’t know whether to blame Biden, Putin, or Newsom. Maybe it was that bat in Wuhan. How directly correlated are any of them to my situation, anyway? It doesn’t matter anyhow; blaming solves nothing.

My family is now part of an unfortunate demographic: out of luck home buyers. We’re being outbid by out-of-staters who pay with cash out of hand.

Would that it was getting out of hand. That would mean there’s a vision of an end to it. For now though, houses are being sold the same day they go on the market, at tens of thousands of dollars over asking price. We’re forced to be complicit in this; there’s no other way to play the game. Yet, continuing in it is simply a way to keep hope alive as our offers get rejected.

House hunting isn’t like job hunting. There, every rejection is necessarily one step closer to the job offer because the relationship is mutually beneficial. They have to hire someone eventually and you have to earn an income, eventually. In the housing market, we can indefinitely offer bids and no one must accept any of them, not even eventually. Our only fallback is to remain in our apartment but, as we see it, our tenancy there is untenable.

Not two months ago, when we started our search, we sent our realtor a list of “must-haves” that she had to have scoffed at when she read it. We now laugh at it too. If we were to rewrite the list today, we’d move most of the “must-haves” to the “wants.” Truly, we’ll seriously consider anything with three bedrooms and four walls.

It’s all relative. I recognize the blessing it is in not having to consider living on the streets or in a car. What’s the latest number? I’m better off than 90% of the world? And better off than a lesser percentage of my own city? I’m in Knoxville, not Roanoke, and last week the front-page article was about an increase in homelessness. So, yes, I’m glad to have the apartment and if we have to renew our lease, we’d have to make it work. Still, we’re in a tough place.

I know I titled this a lament, but not in the sense of “Woe is me.” I wrote it as a record of the “lived experience” of a real family at this stage of our world’s economic history. Perhaps I should send it to an ombudsman of Biden or Newsom (I suppose the bat is long dead and I don’t guess Putin is taking calls right now) as an anecdote against the decisions they’re making. Though I still don’t know how much of what they’ve done puts us in the tight spot we feel we’re in.

Our only option is ‘trust God’—two words that I’ve recently come to better understand as a complete sentence and deserving of their own article.

Scot Bellavia

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