Tag Archives: Buyer’s Remorse

The Cookie Crumbles


I am the proud owner of a new Toyota Prius V. Or rather, I’m very close to being a proud owner. Unlike horseshoes and hand grenades, being close to owning a car isn’t very satisfying. (Although, one could make an argument that having hand grenades explode isn’t desirable either. I guess it depends on whether you are on the receiving end of that exchange.) This is why I am grateful for pastries. Allow me to explain.

Last week Wednesday, I’m anticipating the joy/terror of getting a brand new car.* I am giddy after finally making up my mind (despite the pressures of family and friends to pick almost any other vehicle) to buy a Toyota Prius V. Blue. It must be blue. In a delighted state of anticipation, I walk to the nearest bakery on my lunch hour to indulge in taste-testing a champion cupcake. Chocolate. It must be chocolate. Cakabakery won awards** for being able to stand the hot lights of fame and produce magical muffins on the Food Network Cupcake Wars bake-off. I had to try these puppies. Victory never tasted so sweet. As it turns out, I celebrated a bit too prematurely.

Taste Testers Agree - Chocolate Merlot is a Winner!
Taste Testers Agree – Chocolate Merlot is a Winner!

It’s Thursday, I’ve just signed over the contents of my checking account and put a hefty balance on my Visa when the nice car guru takes me out to teach me all the confusing knobs and dials I need to learn to be able to drive my car***

Guru: “And this button here will interface with the satellite to allow you to revisit 70’s music.”

Me: “Why?”

Guru: “Why does it need to interface with a satellite?”

Me: “Why would I want to listen to 70’s music? Living through that era was bad enough.”

Do not let its location in the repair shop dissuade you from buying this baby!
Do not let its location in the repair shop dissuade you from buying this baby!

As you can see, it was going swell. Then she tried to swipe the magic screen developed by Hogwarts School of Engineering when…nothing. The screen locked up. For the next two hours, the fine folks at the Toyota dealership tried to figure out why. Time passed…slowly. I was dropped off to buy the car so I have no way of demanding my money back and stalking out, not unless I want to walk the sixty or so miles home and my phone battery is nearly dead. My blood sugar drops as my ire increases. To save the lives all around me, I walk to the nearby Rykse’s Bakery and Restaurant for lunch. After enough chicken salad to pacify a slavish horde, I purchased a cookie for my son. This bakery makes great things, one of which is iced cookies that they number with frosting (for no real reason I can see). My son loves numbers. I pick out a six—at least one of us will be happy. I’m walking back to the dealership, cookie balanced atop my leftover, when it happens. The cookie flies off and hits the ground. The cookie cracks; the number six is now just a sad suggestion of its former numeric self and I learn my brand new car will need to be fixed.

After the fall!
After the fall!

I really want to cry.

Broken pastry in hand, I finally leave the dealership with the loaner car and a strong longing to never return. Except they have my car. My blue, blue car.  Sigh…blue, blue me.

To assuage my grief, there were more cupcakes to be had. This time, I hit the Cupcakes by Design people in Grandville, MI. These confections had a ratio of at least 75% frosting to 25% cake. If you like frosting, this place is for you. I snatched a caramel, mocha chocolate and a chocolate brownie cupcake to taste test at home. (Some crises call for a double-chocolate antidote.) If I have to suffer, the upside will come glazed or slathered in frosting. That’s just the way I roll. (Emphasis on roll.) Defeat has never tasted so good.

Tuesday I went to yoga and discovered the downside to a combination of cupcakes and Netflix binging.

Evil-Good by Design's more like!
Evil-Good by Design’s more like!

Today, I have survived nearly a week of car nebulosity and will be returning to the dealer to—hopefully—pick up the newly repaired, blue beauty. And if it isn’t fixed? Well, sometimes, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*New car smell is immediately washed away by the stench of anxiety waiting for that first dent.

**Second place is still award-worthy. You try and make a thousand cupcakes in two hours and see what kind of ribbon you get. Check out the near-win on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/cupcake-wars-season-8/id615569763.

***I suspect some of the functions are more confusing than necessary—expect accidents as people try and switch between A/C and heat this winter.

Home Buying for Morons, Part III: The Good, The Bad and the So Very Ugly

Money Pit House
Step right up and place your bets. Come on people, who wants to gamble that this house isn’t a wreck? Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ddpavumba

Is there anything more disappointing than finding out the house you wanted to buy was a trap set for the unwary and uninformed buyer? Maybe discovering the day of your wedding that your dress doesn’t fit because you didn’t lose that ten pounds you expected, but other than that, a home inspection is probably one of the more shocking experiences you will have in your lifetime.*

As many of you know,** I recently made an offer on what I thought was a nice little house in a lovely neighborhood. I was half right. The first time I saw the house, I immediately put in a bid because every other house in the area disappeared before I could blink. (You’d get whiplash watching the buyer’s dropping off their earnest money.) So, I thought, this is how it’s done. You see a house, you make a bid and then you pay someone to tell you what a colossal idiot you are. (Cue the Inspector! Duh duh DUH!)

Actually, I had an excellent recommendation for a person who does home inspections. I highly recommend him. Todd Moelker in the Hudsonville, MI area. Nice guy, not afraid to climb up and brush three feet of snow off an icy roof to try and tell you whether it will cave in on you. The only bad thing about the inspection was the news he had to give.

The roof (what he could see of it) looked okay. But the rest of the house? If you have seen the movie The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and not Meg Ryan, then you have some idea of what level of decrepitude is possible.

The entire time Todd is walking me through the hoped-for home of my dreams, he is cataloguing the problems. Windows are ‘new install’ which is apparently a bad thing in an old house—especially when they are poorly installed. The floor in the kitchen with cracks radiating throughout the tile doesn’t signify a bowling enthusiast with dropsy, but rather that the installation was done improperly. The furnace is not only old, but is running hot because the temperature gauge is broken…and it is leaking through the corrosion in the pipes that he can find no cause for. The stains around the ceiling are layers of dust that collected in areas with little to no insulation. He might have mentioned something about a gas leak, a wiring issue, a massive foundation crack, the fact that said foundation may or may not be sliding into a sink hole and a toilet in danger of falling through the floor, I’m not sure, I was busy trying to get out of my contract and wasn’t paying strict attention.

Tools for House
The problem with buying a fixer upper is that I have only ever managed to use a hammer to put holes in the plaster while trying to hang things. FreeDigitalImages.Net/kookkai_nak

So what did I get for my $400.00 inspection? The peace of mind that comes from knowing this isn’t the house you are looking for, move along.*** Oh, and I have a new standard for home purchases: if there is a dead mouse in the fuse box…walk away…just… walk away.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Hyperbole alert—the above statement may be an exaggeration of facts not in evidence. In other words, I made it up.

**The two followers of this blog who are not spammers.

***Horribly misquoted Star Wars Reference. Don’t hate me.

House Hunting Blues: Part Deus Ex Machina

House Hunting for the Incredibly Inept–More of a How Not To For Those Who Learn Best by Example

Crime Scene
But it comes with a library and a really nice kitchen! Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net/ponsulak

I have been frantically searching for a house over the past month trying to find something I could afford before the snow flies. (Dangit) This week I made an offer on one and moments later had a panic attack that had me calling my therapist to talk me down from hyperventilating until I passed out. (I kid you not.) Why, you may ask, did putting an offer in cause heart palpitations and the desire to vomit food I’d eaten years ago? I’ll tell you. Because when it comes to finding, picking out and buying a house, I have come to a hard-learned conclusion that, apparently, The Idiot’s Guide to Buying a House doesn’t come with a guarantee. If you can’t follow their simple, step-by-step instructions well then, Caveat Emptor.*

Let me back up and tell you that, with regards to this house hunting expedition, I thought I was well prepared going in. (It’s a bit like getting married, you think you know what you are doing…at the time saying “I do” seemed pretty easy, right?) I attended a class for new home owners and everything. Then, I gratefully accepted the interest offered by the first mortgage broker who would even consider looking at a buyer who wanted a loan under $100,000. (Did you know the name for us in the industry is something like Time-Wasting-Applicant-Trouble-Seekers. I have been too busy to come up with an acronym for that.)

For two weeks after I got my pre-approval letter, I yapped at my poor realtor every single time a house came on the market that I could afford. I’d see something in my budget and shoot her an email. I strongly suspect by the fifth or sixth communication she wanted to shoot me back. When we met in person, she explained something I didn’t know…realtors cannot tell you that a neighborhood might not be desirable to live in. I guess I was sending her listings that apparently should have come with crime statistics. On her advice, I finally went to view the neighborhood that was offering such lovely houses at prices that seemed to be a steal. I drove past beautiful bungalows and cute cape cods until I passed a house with actual crime scene tape in front of it. I did a quick look around to see if the CSI officers were hanging about (no such luck), just in case they were as cute as Warrick on the original show by that name. (I still curse the writers who killed him off and sent Grissom away.) Where was I? Oh, right, leaving the house of my dreams in the location of my nightmares behind me as fast as the speed limit would allow.

Once I figured out where the safest neighborhoods were, the number of houses in my price range dropped dramatically. (You thought the DOW plunged alarmingly in 2011? If my house choices were stock options, I would have gone belly-up.)** Not only that, but the houses that did come up that weren’t condemned or had crawl-space basements just big enough to hide your average serial killer, the most likely homes disappeared from the market before I could get out to see them.

So, Thursday morning, when a house came on the market in an area that I would love to live in and it was reduced to a price I could almost afford. I nagged my realtor (a really nice woman who didn’t do anything to deserve a client like me) to get me into that house immediately. After probably the fastest walk-through in the history of house hunting anywhere, I jumped at the bait like a carp snapping up a juicy fly. Now I am worried that the hook sticking out of my jaw might possibly mean there is a frying pan somewhere in my future. “Don’t worry,” I tell myself, “You can always jump out of the pan!”

Right after I signed the digital dotted line (after reading the contract, I’m not a complete idiot) I start to dwell on all the negatives of the home I just told someone I could pay $94,000 for if they chipped in $2,000 for closing costs. (I felt like Wimpy in the Popeye comic strip: I’ll pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.) Negotiating a purchasing price of a home is like a really confusing shell game where you think you know where the ball is, but you’re still certain you are about to be conned. When the sellers leapt at my offer without negotiating anything, I was convinced I had made a mistake.

I honestly think I would have had an aneurism if it weren’t for my realtor pointing out the clause in my contract that says something to the effect that “If the inspections turn up anything of significant concern, the buyer has the right to repent at leisure that which she offered for in haste.”*** Or words to that effect. It’s the magic ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card’ of real estate. So, even though I have made an offer on a house I barely saw and am now chewing my nails that it will be a move I’ll regret for the next thirty years, I have the lovely prospect of an inspection to look forward to next Thursday which will either tell me that I have made a good choice or let me play my card. I may not be able to avoid the luxury tax for stupid people (i.e. loss of earnest money), but at least I can avoid jail. And, perhaps that’s the best a first-time buyer can hope for in a seller’s market.

Monopoly House
I’d like to live on Park Place, please! Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/ James Barker (And yes, I realize I could have taken a picture of a Monopoly house myself…but I’m busy being a blogger. So there!)

 Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

* Caveat Emptor in this case translates as: You just bought an empty cave!

**Fine, you write a better NASDAQ analogy—I still get NASDAQ and Nascar confused!

***Leisure lasts ten days, in case you wondered.