The housing market has recovered,… least in East Lansing. Normally, I would say that this is a good thing. However, the recovery has bitten me in the butt.

We planned to sell our house and buy a condo. This was our big home leave project.  While still at post a few months ago, our agent told us that selling our house would be easy, but buying a condo would be hard. We laughed and thought how silly that statement was. How hard could it be to buy a condo? we asked.

We are so delightfully naïve.

First, we spend several days getting our house ready to sell. I’m proud to say that we have kept the house up very well over the years: we replaced the roof a few years ago. And we did it right. Many people take the shortcut of putting new tiles over the old ones. That works in the short run. But it also kicks the can down the road. The next time the roof has to be replaced, the job becomes twice as hard, because the next guy has to take down two layers of old tiles, not just one, plus replace any boards that have rotted away in the years that you didn’t look at them because you were too lazy to do the job right in the first place.

Plus we have a new water heater, a new refrigerator, new front-loading washing machine, we fixed the back-yard fence, and called the roto-rooter guy every year to clean out our storm sewer pipe (I hate you, Norwegian maple in my front yard. Not only do you drop helicopters all over the place in the spring, dump approximately seven million leaves on my yard in the fall, but your roots invade my sewer pipe. If you weren’t so pretty and provide such magnificent shade, you would have been firewood years ago).

The cleanup and “staging” of the house took several days. My study never looked so good:


Even the kids’ bedrooms look great. They are usually decorated in a style that can be described as “21st century chaos.” But they cleaned up great:


The real coup was the basement. We purged 20 years of accumulated crap stuff, and turned one room into an underground living room. This was 100% my wife’s work. She is a genius.


We thought that we were ready to make the big move.

Then we started looking at condos. What a shock.

Not only are there very few properties on the market, but the one or two that we like are priced too high. We’d be facing a mortgage payment that is almost the same as the one that we now have. What a shocking disappointment. We could easily sell our house, of course, but finding a condo to move into would be a huge challenge. We see that now. Our agent was right. We ate a lot of crow as we realized what a challenge it is to find a good condo in East Lansing.

Luckily for us, we aren’t desperate to move. We have the luxury of stepping back and waiting for a year or so to make the move. So, if we don’t find the right place, we can press the “pause” button on the plan to move.

On the plus side, I have a nice clean house to live in now, and without a stressful move on the horizon, I have some extra time to relax in my house and enjoy my home leave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.