Old Town/New Town: The House Sale

Jerry Schuster  |   Wednesday Feb. 1st, 2017

Quick flashback, since it has been awhile. My wife Theresa and I moved from Wolf Point to Bozeman in 2013 for retirement or something like that; just don’t recall now. It didn’t take long for us to start to notice some very substantial differences between ”Old Town,” being Wolf Point, and ”New Town,” being Bozeman.

One of the most striking differences is the real estate market in each community.  Since you have been rather indolent in your own investigation into this important matter, I will provide an adroit tutorial herein. Just imagine listening in on a discussion between a Realtor and Joe, who is married to Sally. They are the sellers of a nice, three bedroom, three bath house in a good neighborhood, close to schools in Old Town…

Joe: Yea, we’re ready to sell now, sure been a good home, but we are heading to the land with the big bumps on it to enjoy during our retirement years. Maybe learn some new things at the University and do some hiking and skiing.

Realtor: Those Bridgers are awesome for sure. Heard the traffic is bad though. Too many old duffers like you moving in Joe; the locals don’t like it. Joe, we will miss you at Thursday night bowling, but I hear Tom wants on our team when you drop. School Board will sure miss Sally, she really could give um’ hell.

Joe:  So, we are asking $85,000, does that sound a little high?

Realtor: A bit, let’s go with $65,000. No need to stage; just tidy it up a bit.

Sally:  Sounds good. We’ll start there. We can always throw in the washer and dryer, big freezer loaded with deer meat and that nice bunch of walleye we caught at Fort Peck this year, dining room set, lawn and garden tractor and shop tools to seal the deal.

Realtor: Had a call from a teacher and her family moving here from the North Dakota oil patch. Slow down in the Bakken, you know. I’ll give her a call…(minutes later, Realtor has finished making call...) They’ll take it; Joe, clean those gutters, looks like about ten years worth in there.

Joe: Have never cleaned them in 40 years and won’t start now. We should have the buyers over for brunch on Saturday; Sally’s famous biscuits and gravy. Scratch, you know.

Realtor:  Nice doing business with you and Sally. I’ll send over the sale papers, no need to read all three pages, it’s pretty boring. Bottom line is you will get $65,000 cash at closing, less the usual closing costs. (They shake hands to indicate their agreement on the deal.)

Some months later in Bozeman, discussion between Joe and Sally as buyers and Realtor representing sellers in a booming real estate market:

Realtor: Okay, folks, we have a great selection of houses available here, and I have carefully reviewed the 86 page profile we asked you to fill out to indicate what you would like to have in a Bozeman area house. Now, (looking at computer screen), here is a nice little house for you. Two bedroom and one and a half baths, located near Durston Road, so you won’t be far from those big box stores where folks like you usually shop. Super deal, listed at just $567,000.

Joe : Say what %&#@??? We’ve moved from Wolf Point in eastern Montana. With our house sale proceeds and life savings, we have about $250,000 to spend on housing. Thought we could get into something real nice for that money.

Realtor (looking dumbfounded): That price point? Wow! Where are you folks from? Let’s take another look (Realtor clicks on computer for 45 minutes). Here’s a one bedroom, one bath, needs some work, located 15 miles north of Three Forks. Asking $350,000; has a half acre yard which you folks could convert to a garden.

Joe: Anything a little closer in? We don’t want to spend our retirement years on the highways.

Realtor: At your price point? Ha ha ha, Sir, you are very funny!

Bozeman, some three months later…Joe and Sally and Sellers and their Realtor, lawyers, personal life coaches, financial and spiritual advisors, therapists and accountants are looking at a modest house on Willson; a fixer upper, two bedroom, 2 bath, listed at $525,000. The rumor is circulating that sellers are “motivated” since they have to move quickly, and they might take $524,900.

Joe: Exterior looks nice. Is that fresh paint?

Realtor: Yes, completed last week. You’ll notice the new sod, rolled out when the place was listed for sale. The professional window and house cleaners are just now finishing up, so we will give them 10 minutes to leave.
(They wait about three hours outside before finally entering the house). Sally: Oh, my goodness, smells like freshly baked bread in here. How nice.

Realtor: Have a piece with some of this fresh local butter. Everything is non-GMO, organic, non rbST and gluten free.

: Wow, fresh flowers in every room. Amazing!

Realtor: Locally sourced. All of this furniture was brought in for this showing. Business cards on each piece. Please don’t touch the furniture unless you intend to buy; we need to stage it for the next showing.

Joe: I see…this chair here is only $4,467.00. I won’t be sitting on it. That’s about what we would spend on a good used car, loaded.

Three weeks later, in Bozeman…

Realtor, speaking with Sally and Joe:  We’ve all agreed that you folks can afford this small but clean two bedroom, two bath at $450,000. Needs some work, but you have nothing else to do since you are retired. Now read this contract of purchase carefully, as our lawyers drafted it for this transaction. Sign and initial each page. We‘ll need four character references, but you can get those in by 5 o’clock today. Don’t be late. There are sixteen other couples looking at this place, and if you’re a minute late, we will have other buyers. Some of them are parked out front right now, waiting to see if you can’t make it.

Joe: Wow, we’re due at the bank at 3PM sharp to sign the loan papers for the $300,000 we need to borrow. Guess we’ll be eating a lot of soup in retirement; hope some of the meat shops here save their soup bones.

Six months later…Joe and Sally in Bozeman house…

Joe: Look, dear, it’s our Bozeman real estate tax notice…first half is…(falls off chair) $3,468.00!!! Sally, put that round steak back in the freezer to save for company. I’ll go find a good ham bone to throw in with those beans we bought on sale last year. Let’s get them soaking…   

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