The Washington, D.C. area is built around two-income families. The second income might be part-time or full-time, but it has to be there or else you'll fall behind, because the price of everything is calibrated to households with two parents working.
We're looking for a new house, and confirming the above statement. Desirable real estate is a finite commodity, and people are willing to pour increasing amounts of money into acquiring it. Ergo, prices are rising fast. Ergo, more mothers are pressured to go to work to pay the bills; a lot of the money they earn is then devoted to real estate; and the prices rise even higher.
Today we bid on a house, and lost. That's okay -- it was the first contract we wrote, and it can take several before you get one accepted. What's crazy is not that we bid $10,000 more than the asking price, and the winning bid was $10,000 more. That is merely discouraging. The terrible thing is that of the four bids they were considering, ours was the only one that required an inspection.
"Why the italics, Eric? What is the big deal?" You wouldn't buy a car without a test drive. And you would want a trusted mechanic to look the car over, right?
These folks are willing to take their chances with something 20 times as expencive. If the house has a bad roof, cracked foundation, or extensive water damage, you aren't going to see that during an open house when the real estate agent is serving cider and cookies.
You could easily be stuck with $25,000 of damage, with no legal recourse. There are apparently a lot of kooky people out there who don't see that as a problem. Their kookiness becomes our problem, because all else being equal, if they offer the same price as we're offering, the sellers will choose the nutty no-inspection contract over ours.
This rant is not a cry for sympathy. I have confidence that God will help us find a place to live. Financially, we're doing pretty well, mainly because we made a tidy profit on our previous house. My point -- you were hoping I had one, if you've even read this far -- is that people's selfish choices make a big difference. If you choose to pursue your upscale lifestyles, it ratchets up the price for everyone else. (How the hell can a working-class family buy a house around here?) Next time you hear someone say, "What I do doesn't affect anybody else," you have my permission to smack them with a rolled-up real estate section.