Wednesday, February 3, 2010

You buy a house for half a million dollars and... early evening(8 pm) you hear a doorbell. You are surprised to see someone who resembles your neighbor. He asks if the sound of music that he's hearing is coming from your house. You wonder, what sound is it? And then you remember, oh yes, it's your 4 year old who is listening to the nursery rhymes on youtube and hooked up to your 10 year old Philips stereo. You politely say yes...and promise to turn the volume down.
This is not a hypothetical example. A friend of mine who is renting a place in NW Calgary had this exact experience a few days ago. Without getting into the legalities of the situation(was it too much noise, 8 pm late enough etc) and the 'home owners' rights, the question that needs to be asked is- what the heck is going on?
We all know the story of rows of houses getting gutted in Edmonton because there was too small a distance between the homes.
A house that sells for nearly half a million and you have neighbours complaining of noise. And this isn't unruly teenagers doing a late night party, but the sound of nursery rhymes.
Also, these houses don't share any common wall, but the distance between them is no more than a couple of feet. After all, the developers, the city and everyone else needs to account for such massive scarcity of land in Calgary, right?
If this were attached houses, apartments, condos etc, such complaints would be understandable.
But if after spending close to half a million dollars, your little kids can't dance to a nursery rhyme at 8 in the evening at slightly higher volume, you are forced to wonder the entire point of buying a house.
And you recognize that something is seriously wrong with the situation. The bankers, realtors, mortgage brokers and pretty much the entire real industry complex wants to sell overpriced shoe boxes to naive young families and push them into debt subservience for most of their productive lives.
So may be this is a warning to those who are thinking of jumping into the housing market at this stage for lifestyle reasons-that their kids can have room to run around and play-Beware! What you buy might appear a bit spacious than the townhouse or condo you are currently living in, but don't expect a lot of space for yourself or your family. You'll be living in a tight and cramped subdivisions built by greedy developers, rapacious municipalities, voracious bankers and less than truthful realtors, all abetted by the economic policies and framework created by your 'government representatives.'
As for my friend, she is a 'lowly renter.' She'll be looking for a better place once her lease expires in the next few months. She does thank this blog and the commentators that she did not buy. Now imagine what would be her feeling at this stage if she had bought the same house for $483,000 with 10% down and 35 year mortgage. Worse, if most of the neighbors were in the same boat financially.
Happy renting!
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