Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tough Neighborhood HOA

Texas likes to brag about how friendly its people are and for the most part, it's true. I remember the first time I ever came to Texas and anytime I walked into a store, I received a warm friendly greeting. That was very weird to me, and of course I ruined it by always responding, “What's it to you?” and flipping the clerk off for good measure. (I lived in Boston at the time.)

But then on occasion you run into someone who is only friendly in the sense that well, at least he didn't shoot me:

We spent last week at our vacation house in the Hill Country, which is actually just a nice way of saying we currently have two mortgages. As luck would have it, potential buyers came to look at our house. We left for about an hour, but when we came back, they were still there, so we parked on a side road to wait.

After about twenty minutes, a white pickup passed us. The driver slowly made several u-turns up and down the road before finally coming up beside us. I rolled down my window and smiled at our friendly neighbor.

Or not. The man, whom I’ll call Vince, rolled down his window as his truck came to a stop. “May I ask what you’re doing here?” he asked, eyes narrow with suspicion.

“Oh, we're just staking out our own house over there,” I said, pointing to our house. “It’s for sale, and we’re waiting for some prospective buyers to leave.”

Vince shook his head. “Jesus, what’s so wrong with that house that it goes on the market every two years?”

“What? Oh. Well, it was on the market for a while before us, but we've lived there for four years.”

“No, you haven't,” Vince said. “One and half, maybe two years max.”

I glanced at St. Pauli Girl who was biting her lip and turning her face away. I think her shoulders started to shake up and down, just a little.

“Um, no, we bought it in March of 2009. So it's pretty much exactly four years we’ve lived here.”

“No, you haven’t. You haven't been there that long.”

St. Pauli Girl leaned over to interrupt. “We moved in March 2009. Four years ago.”

He dropped that argument and moved on to his next one. “Do you mind telling me how much you're asking?” he said.

“No, not at all. It's all over the internet. Two-hundred ten thousand.”

Vince closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, and shook his head slowly as if he were getting a headache. “It’s people like you who are ruining this neighborhood.”

I misunderstood his meaning, I guess, and frowned. “We've studied the market quite a bit, and it’s comparably priced for this area.”

“No! You’re destroying our property values. You should be asking four fifty!”

“Excuse me?”

“How many square feet you got?”

“Thirty-six hundred.”

“Well, I got nineteen hundred and I'd be asking three fifty for my house if it were for sale. Don't ruin it for everyone,” Vince said slapping his left hand on the steering wheel for emphasis.

I was starting to get irritated. I said, “You know that house down the road on the corner on five acres that just sold? It sat empty for two years listed at two-sixty. They had to remodel and drop the price to sell it.”

“That house was a piece of crap. I wouldn't board my ex-wife there.”

“Your house must be very nice.”

“Flawless. But I gotta keep constant guard with those long-hairs living out back behind me. Last week the sheriff hauled one off. Sent him back to the clink because he broke his probation.”

“Yeah, there are people at the end of our street who had the sheriff pay them a visit too,” I said, talking about what we call the “meth house.”

“There's too many no-gooders around here. That's why I carry a gun.”

“Good idea,” I said. That's when I realized we hadn't seen his right hand; it was more than likely resting on a gun in the seat beside him. I flashed him a bright smile and put the car in drive. “Thanks for keeping the neighborhood safe.”

“Well, good luck with your sale,” Vince said, snorting as he drove off.

Too bad it took us four two years to meet Vince. But despite destroying the neighborhood property values, I'm glad we're no longer living between the meth house and neighborhood militia.


  1. Well, I don't know Vince but it is fair to say I hate him...really...despise him. I am a Realtor that has chosen to get out of the biz because I am tired of fighting the battle of an under valued market full of unrealistic people like Vince.

    I did find for the most part, that the 6 years I lived in Dallas that it was a pretty friendly place. I also would of found it unusual for people to tell me that they had a gun because, I thought that was a given. My next door neighbor in TX was a TX Ranger and he thought we were crazy because we didn't have a gun in the house.

    Did the people make an offer on your house? If so I hope it was a good one.

    1. Good point on everyone having a gun. St. Pauli Girl and I realized that everyone we work with has at least one, and they all love to talk about them.

      We did get an offer from another couple that looked the same day. Shocking to Vince, they didn't offer higher than our list price. We thought it would take at least a year because the house is kind of funky and it's in the country. But this will be the fastest we've ever sold if the deal closes.

      I think another issue is zillow which is probably where Vince got his numbers from. Our neighborhood is way over valued on zillow because I'm sure they collect tax assessment and sales data from all over our small area except they don't realize that some of those are million dollar houses on the lake and some are regular homes on rural acreage.