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Frustrated buyers have their say

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis April 20, 2012 06:14 AM

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Tired of being all but being called chumps on the comment board of this blog, some buyers are pushing back.

We all know the Greater Boston market is not an easy one to get a foothold in, especially if you are looking in the $250,000 to $400,000 range.

That said, there are still many solid reasons to buy instead of rent, especially if you are looking to start a family and plan to stay put for a reasonable amount of time. Conventional thinking is five years, though I'd argue at least a decade.

If you want to keep renting, go right ahead, that's great. But while it may be challenging to buy in the Boston area, don't give up on that option if that is what you want to do.

If you a $400,000-and-below buyer, and you want to stay near or within the 128 beltway, I can all but guarantee that you are not going to find your dream home. That said, there is no reason you can't find a house you can be happy with or at least has potential.

However, meliss173 argued the case much more eloquently than I am doing right now in a series of recent comments.

The post she was responding to - Buyers aren't chumps! - took on the insulting attitude toward buyers some display on the comment board of this blog.

Melissa has been house hunting in Newton for the last six months and is taken aback by the idea she is being manipulated into buying by happy talking Realtors.

I don't view my purchase of a home as an investment with an expected annual yield. I'm buying it, as Karl Case advocates, as a durable good in which I will raise my family and use local public services such as schools and parks.

Well said. Now here's more from meliss173.

True, owning a home is not a money-making investment, and not everyone should buy, I agree with that. But some of us really WANT to buy. And we want to buy in a nice area that's close to work, close to daycare, close to friends/family, and close to amenities. So what's wrong with that? It doesn't mean we've drunk the MAR Kool-Aid. It means we want stability, and unfortunately the reality in the near-Boston suburbs is that you're shelling out a lot for an over-priced, run-down home. Do I like that? Of course not. But I can't just pick up and move my whole life somewhere else. I didn't grow up around here so this market shocks me, but it is what it is. People have money, so they bid up the prices on homes in good areas. Buyers are going to collectively change that behavior until you have other public policies that affect the market: namely, funding schools nationally instead of locally, building more attractive and affordable housing options, and letting time pass so that the most egregiously bad houses get torn down.


And more ...

I think the 'regular' people like us see the market differently from those who work in real estate. I'm not looking to buy because "now is a great time to buy." I haven't bought into that hype and I'm a well-informed consumer. Thing is, it's never a great time to buy here in Boston, it never was, and I don't know how long I'd have to wait for that day to come. I can't wait any longer, that's why I'm buying now. I don't view my purchase of a home as an investment with an expected annual yield. I'm buying it, as Karl Case advocates, as a durable good in which I will raise my family and use local public services such as schools and parks. So are there agents out there touting the same "buy, buy, buy!" line they always have? Sure, and they have strong incentives to do so. However, the naysayers that comment on this blog seem to suggest that agents are distorting the market and no one should trust them. While that may have been true to some extent when things were hot, the real reason housing prices in the area continue to be inflated is mainly due to a simple supply-and-demand problem. The stock of housing here is old, and yes, undesirable in many respects. But what's the alternative? If you need to live near Boston (as my husband and I do for work), and renting is no longer working for you, you try to make a smart purchase from the options that are on the table.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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