Two days after the real estate agent put a "For Sale" sign on our front lawn, the stomach churning panic is just starting to abate.
I was worried that we would sell our house quickly and then not have any place to move. There are very few houses on the market right now. The only homes on the market are the duds that have been around for six months or more. The duds are sitting, because there is something extremely wrong with the house — oil tank leakage, busy street, proximity to an expanding hospital.
I check Realtor.Com ten times a day looking for new inventory, and there's nothing. People aren't putting their homes on the market because they're waiting for home values to bounce up. They are putting off that retirement to Florida for one more year.
Well, the panic has abated, because nobody wants to buy our house. We're six houses away from the commuter train line. We never hear the train, because we are former New Yorkers who can sleep through a five alarm fire, but prospective buyers aren't convinced.
I also think that prospective buyers aren't buying anything right now. They are sitting and waiting for prices to drop further. This is a high stake game of chicken.
In three weeks, our school budget is going to get voted down for the second year in a row. I suspect that our home value will dip again after the votes are counted.
As someone who bought at the near peak of the market, I have been permanently scarred. We're going to lose money. We're not going to lose as much as many people, but it's enough to sting. We'll never look at a home as an investment ever again. I'll never think that I'm adding value to my house, every time I spend a weekend peeling off old wallpaper and painting a bedroom. As much as I love quirky homes and neighborhoods, other people don't, so our next home will be modest, boring, and average. It will be in a town that never votes down its school budget.
UPDATE: Megan noticed the same phenomenon in DC.