Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

In Pursuit of Your Happiness

I chose the motto "in pursuit of your happiness" because of that lovely and whimsical phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence. Adam Smith preferred the "pursuit of property," but I rather like Jefferson's choice of words because the American dream isn't merely about chasing after material things, it's about self-determination. The ability to pursue one's own happiness, whether or not one ever succeeds, is something that very few people throughout the world have ever had.

So when I make the promise to work with a client to help them seek their own happiness, I know that we may not find it in the act of buying or selling a house. Sometimes, it means not buying or selling a house.

A couple called me a few months ago to discuss putting their home on the market. They'd been dreaming for years of retiring, selling their house, and buying a large RV to tour the country together. I looked at comps for their area, and we realized that the reason why a similar house in their tract hadn't sold for months was because it was priced over 50k more than the highest sale for its square footage. There was no reason for it to be priced so high as it would never have appraised, and no buyer would have gotten a loan on it. Then I asked my clients to find out just how much they would need to net to buy the RV they wanted. That's when we ran into problems. They had taken out a second mortgage to make some very nice improvements on their home, but consequently, they weren't going to net enough to buy the RV. I crunched the numbers for them with various scenarios, warning them about needing to help buyers with closing costs, etc., the effect that the HOA fees would have on 100% financed buyers, etc. Finally, they told me that they would need to list their house about 40k over what we all knew made sense.

I was cringing as I drove to their house with all the contracts ready for them to sign. While their house would be priced lower than the others around them, I knew it was just going to sit as no one with a lot of cash and very little brains wasn't likely to save the day.

They greeted me at the door with apologetic smiles and told me that just 5 minutes before I got there, the wife had looked at her husband and said, "Why are we looking all over for happiness when maybe it's right here in front of us?" And then they knew they weren't going to sell.

I was incredibly relieved and happy for them. While I want (and need) to make a living, I'd rather help people buy and sell a home when it's right for them. They need to know as much as possible, so that they can figure out if it really would be better for them to make that move ... or not. And it saves me the horrible situation of sellers in escrow who discover that they're not going to make enough money after all or who have to live with the stress of keeping a house clean for 6 months while no one makes an offer. Thus with self-determination comes the pursuit of one's own happiness and the possibility of actually achieving it.

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