For the past seven years, I’ve called a townhouse in the Orchards neighborhood of Vancouver, WA home.
The first time my realtor drove me through the complex in the summer of 2006, I was not crazy about the place. It had a very “apartmenty” feel to it, with lots of buildings, all two or three stories tall, grouped closely together. There was a sales office. People were loitering outside. For the past ten years I had lived in a modest two-story house in a cozy little neighborhood with a decent sized backyard and a stunningly beautiful maple tree that erupted in a blaze of color every autumn. How could I possibly be content with anything less than that, I wondered, as we meandered through the complex. But my wife and I were in the process of divorcing, and we had agreed to sell the house and split the sizable profit. As a result, we were each able to qualify for individual loans and afford to buy new homes. Not actual houses, but condominiums, which were the next best thing.
In theory, anyway.
And when I set foot in my home-to-be for the first time, I fell in love. It may have had a shared wall and a small kitchen, but I was hardly slumming. Two stories, three bedrooms, 2.5 baths, central air, fireplace, two-car garage, covered patio. Best of all, no monster of an ex sharing the space with me. It was mine, all mine, and I envisioned great things happening there. Great things did happen there. Every other week my kids were there, and they had their own bedrooms. The other half of the time I got to play bachelor, single for the first time in my life, and that definitely had its perks. Just eating pizza on the couch while watching Rocky was a novelty. Before long, I considered the place as much of a “home” as my previous house had been. There have been a lot of great memories there over the years.
The good thing was, we sold our house when the real estate market was at its peak. The bad news is, I bought my townhouse when the real estate market was at its peak. Within a few months everything came crashing down, and housing values plummeted. As a result, I have been upside-down in my mortgage for years, with no sign of relief. On top of that, I qualified for an unconventional loan that is no longer available because it puts too much of a long-term burden on the borrower. Add to that HOA fees and a special assessment for maintenance and repairs, and I can barely keep my head above water. The time has come to do something about it.
Tara, who works in the real estate industry and knows a thing or two about all of this, suggested a short sale.
I knew virtually nothing about the process, let alone what it even was, but after much research, I think she’s right. It’s the best long-term solution to get me out of a situation that often feels hopeless. It’s not an ideal option, of course. My credit will take a hit, but it’ll be a temporary one. Two years, vs. seven for a foreclosure. In the meantime, Tara and I can rent a place and save up for a house of our own. I won’t have the burden of making big HOA and assessment payments every month. HOAs suck! Never again, if I can help it. I think of it as short-term pain for long-term gain. We might be stuck in an apartment for a while, but there are some nice ones out there. Better yet, maybe we can find a house to rent. Who knows? Our living situation might actually improve. I know our financial situation will, and right now, that’s paramount.
It’s not easy to do this. I’m scared to just stop making mortgage payments, and there’s always the possibility that the bank won’t agree to a short sale. But I’m pretty sure I can prove a hardship, and we’re savvy enough to know what to expect each step of the way. We’ll need a realtor first, one who is experienced with short sales. This could actually turn into a positive experience for all of us. That’s the optimist in me speaking. There’s also the fact that I’ll miss my townhouse. It’s cozy and comfortable, and not a bad place at all to live. It’s me.
But is it home? Not really. If nothing else, I’ve learned that home is where the house is. And the house can be anywhere. As long as Tara and I are together, that’s all that really matters.
- Demystifying the Short Sale Process (orlandorealtyconsultants.com)
- Short Sale Real Estate Agents Make Selling And Buying Simpler (shortsalehomesblog.wordpress.com)
- Top 5 Mistakes in Choosing a Short Sale Realtor (orlandorealtyconsultants.com)
- A Guide To Short Sale Real Estate And How To Make It Work (shortsalehomesblog.wordpress.com)