I almost bought a house yesterday. That was different! A darling cottage across the street behind the buildings was up for sale and my daughter needs a house where extravagant rent money doesn’t keep pouring out. So why not buy one for her?
So I dove into the strange world of real estate head first and frantically signing things against the high noon deadline, made a bid. I know the owner. He’s a neighbor who has come to our house for Christmas caroling and went on a bike trip with my wife and friends in Germany. He made it clear at the outset that he wasn’t going to sell the house cheap to friends, so I not only went through all the formal steps, but put in a bid $140,000 above the asking price. And wrote him letter telling him how much my daughter loved it and how wonderful it would be for all of us to have her back in the neighborhood across the street and how fabulous it would be to support a dedicated teacher doing beautiful work with children and make it possible for her to live in the city of her birth. I suggested that if the bids were close together, wouldn’t he please take this into account and added a photo of our family in front of the school.
At 6:00 pm last night, after frantically signing paper after paper, I asked my real estate broker if signing all this last minute things meant we were still in the running. Her reply? “Yes you are!” That exclamation point got me excited thinking that maybe this would actually happen!
And then 30 minutes later I got the call. Someone came in with an astronomical bid and my neighbor accepted it. Beat out by mere money. The dot-com takeover of my beloved city suddenly became real. And it’s folks like my neighbor that let it happen. Fact is he has three other condos in front of the cottage for sale, so there really is no reason whatsoever to take a reasonable way over asking price bid from a neighbor with a good relationship over an anonymous buyer who has more money. And yet he did.
Well, I guess money talks louder than decent neighborly relations and I don’t like hearing what it’s saying. But hey, my daughter and I are rich in the way things count—with relationships, with worthy work, with attention to beauty. As Bob Marley says, “Man, some people are so poor all they have is money!”
Still it would have been nice to cultivate those rich relationships with a wonderful meal in that cozy cottage.