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Can’t Sell Truck. Can’t Sell House. Have to Enjoy What We Have.

First, I found out how far truck and SUV values have really fallen.

Next, I found out how how far our home values have dropped. After talking with a neighbor, I found out she recently got her home appraised as she was trying to sell it after getting divorced. I was shocked by the number. First, to put things in perspective, we paid $390,000 for our house in late 2004. Our homes aren’t completely comparable (see below), but her house only appraised for $325,000.

Our house has at least the following extras:

  • 800 more square feet (a large living room, a dining room and a mudroom). We both have an added bathroom, but her second one is upstairs while both of ours are downstairs
  • NewER roof, siding, windows
  • One more bedroom since they tore down a wall to create a dining room in one of theirs
  • Completely remodeled kitchen with cherry cabinets, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and an island
  • An in-ground pool
  • A second shed
  • Cleaner landscaping and overall better curb appeal

However, they have a slightly larger parcel of land (500 sq ft more).

So, if they got appraised at 325k, what would our house pull in? $390? Would we actually lose money if we tried to sell now? At one point, our house appraised for $470,000, but going by the 18% estimated drop in values in our area, we’re right around our original purchase price.

Appreciating What We Have, When Nothing Else is Appreciating

So my grand ideas of selling the house and just renting, or becoming a full-time blogger, or moving closer to our current jobs in Virginia, or basically anything involving selling our house are out of the question.

Man, the economy sucks.

Yes, I could technically still sell the truck, but I’d rather keep it. And yes, we could sell the house, but we don’t need to just now. And we don’t want to take a loss either.

So instead, we’ll continue to enjoy the truck by using it to enjoy our home with more home renovations. And we’ll enjoy the truck buy using it to haul our possessions out of the house when the bank forecloses on us.

Well, let’s hope that never happens, eh?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Does this mean that you owe more on the house than it’s worth? Or just that it’s so close it’s not worth the hassle of selling it?

    If it’s any consolation my house that I bought a year ago would probably take more than 6 months to sell, and go for about 5% less than I paid for it. This doesn’t push me in to negative equity, but by the time fees and that are taken out, it’d be pretty close and I’d almost certainly lose nearly every penny I’ve put into it.

    Good job we don’t need to move, is all I’ll say.

  • @Plonkee, Since I can only guess what our house would sell for, and I’m basing it off a non-comparable house (although it’s next door to us), I would say at best we might break even after realtor and closing costs. So it’s the latter, that it’s not worth it to sell right now.

  • We bought our house for $109,000 6 years ago and it’s probably worth about $130,000 now. We do live in a gated lake community with new & older homes. A lot of people want to buy vacation homes here so the property values seem to remain stable and increase slightly each year. We even have an unfinished upstairs that when we finish it will add 2 bedrooms and a bath making our home a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath home with a 3 car garage on a nice flat lot. It will be worth tons more then. That’s the good thing about living in an area where the markets weren’t overblown in the first place.

    I feel for people like you that have to live in areas where the market was so crazy for a while. But I guess you just have to wait it out, I’m sure your home will eventually increase in value. We plan on staying in our home until we die, so we don’t really care what happens to the market.

  • Is a pool considered an asset this far north? I had heard something on HGTV about would-be buyers shying away from the responsibility maintaining a pool…

  • We certainly feel your pain and are in a very similar situation with our house. In reference to a previous commenter, we do owe more now than our house is worth! We bought just over 1 year ago and values plummeted. We’re about $30-$40k in the hole is we tried to sell.
    Gotta make the best of it all!

  • Ok, the economy sucks. You live in a nearly $400,000 dollar house, own three cars, and are working no a Master’s Degree. Poor you. I don’t honestly think you know what a poor economy is like. Quit whining!

  • @ Realist, it’s all relative. I’m paying for half of my degree out of pocket. I’m getting a degree to improve my position in this economy, or at least keep up with competition. Would I be allowed to complain if I was sitting at home each night watching ESPN with no college degree and pissed off at those new college grads that are really close to taking my job? I decided to do something with my evenings and as of tonight, I’m halfway done with that degree.

    And the point isn’t owning the most stuff. It’s being liquid when needed, and with the economy, we’re not nearly as liquid as I’d like. Our money is locked up in an expensive debt and expensive car loan.

    And lastly, the article was written with a smirk on my face, hence “I guess we need to enjoy what we already have”.

  • I agree that it’s all relative, but it is still not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. So the housing prices have dropped, the market had to correct itself at some time. The stock market has been improving as of late. If you are concerned about being liquid, get out from under the expensive debt as quickly as possible. The quickest way would be getting rid of the vehicle debt. The truck will continue to depreciate no matter what the economy does as all vehicles are depreciating assets. Whether this was all written in jest is irrelevant. I think time makes you more appreciative of what you have and age brings wisdom and contentment.

    Good for you for taking the initiative to pursue higher education. That is honestly the best investment that you can make in your personal future. Just my $.02.

  • Make sure the pickup is paid for. If you lose the house, you can live in the pickup. Put a topper on the pickup box and the whole family can live in the pickup. Move from WalMart parking lot to Walmart parking lot frequently. This will keep the debt collectors from finding you.

  • haha….i like you frugal, not too shabby! i’m in the same boat as you are there Mr. Clever Dude – i’m not sure what our townhouse would appraise for, but the fact that our heloc was “frozen” because “house values are rapidly declining” in our area (pretty close to your area) i’m guessing we’re screwed too.

    Also, my 05 Toyota Highlander has been on the market for 3 weeks now, and i just got a bit today… sad is that? 1 person interested in 3 weeks…who knows if he’ll even want it, but it’s def. not fun.

    In a perfect world, we’d move to NoVa to be closer to friends and family too….. maybe next year 😉

  • Like you said, I think the values of the house/truck only matter if you are wanting to be liquid. If one has NO intention of selling, then it doesn’t much matter what the values are, if you can either 1) make the payments ok, or 2) they are already paid for.

    My 8 year old Forester is paid for, and I have no plans on selling it for anothe 100,000 miles 🙂 My 34 year old datsun pickup is paid for, and as I need it to go to the dump and for firewood, and as no one in their right mind would think of buying a truck that old, I’ll just keep it. The money value of them does not matter – only the usage value… meaning I’m using them as long as possible.

    In my case, my house and remodeling/addition are all paid for. Last year I was told the house was worth $225,000. This year the house is worth about $160,000. Does the drop in value bother me? Not, not in the least. I have about $100,000 in it plus a LOT of elbow grease, and I plan to live in it til I die – so the value of it is NOT important as I don’t want to liquidify it. I just want to live in it and enjoy it! Actually, it’s better for me that the property values are down, as the property taxes won’t be so high 🙂 (It was appraised this year after the remodeling) Always a bright side to things!

  • You have to love the D.C. market a co-worker of mine just moved up there and is renting not because he can’t afford to buy especially because of the falling market, but because almost all of the houses in the area he is looking are short sales. As it takes forever to buy a short sale, as the bank is always trying to get a deal closer to the loan value, he and his wife decided it was not worth it mentally to try to get something in the 4 months they were given to transfer.

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