The other day someone shared a real estate Reddit post written by a perplexed homebuyer wondering what to do now that their soon-to-be completed home was worth less than they had agreed to pay for it.
“Will the developer have to adjust the price or will the bank adjust the mortgage?” they asked.
I quite literally had to take a beat and read it a second time, my mouth completely agape.
How on earth could there be someone, now on the hook for many hundreds of thousands of dollars, who evidently knows so little yet somehow, at some point, felt emboldened enough to dive into a real estate purchase that they clearly had no business being anywhere near.
I know, I know. I can already hear it: blame the realtor.
And there could be some truth to that since any agent who would let their client sign on the dotted line without ensuring even the most basic understanding of the obligations of an agreement of purchase and sale deserves a smack.
But it’s more than that.
This is what happens when the near-religious belief that real estate only ever goes up crashes into our particularly western form of entitlement. When we win we’re the hero, when we lose we’re the victim and someone needs to bail us out.
And now it’s a lot easier to lose.
LACKIE: Why are the outer markets faring so badly in this market crash?
LACKIE: Retirees wanting to downsize among those feeling real estate pain
LACKIE: Buyers in driver’s seats as sellers ride out rough seas real estate
How about the G Wagon-driving client of my husband contractor who decided he shouldn’t have to settle the final balance of his six-figure reno because the real estate market has shifted? Apparently the realization that this downturn will affect him too, leaving him unable to get his money out if he decided to sell tomorrow is now a burden to be shared.
In spite of a third party setting the scope, stated satisfaction with the completed work, and an invoice that was not in dispute, my husband was asked to apply for “significant discounts” if he was to expect any further payments.
While the whole situation is infuriating, what’s baffling to me is the guy’s confidence that he’s being completely reasonable.
It’s the same confidence demonstrated by the BC “homeowners” (read: speculators) who were protesting the Bank of Canada’s battle against inflation back in October. They too demonstrated a deep conviction in their cause, just as those now protesting the Paradise Developments project in Brampton very clearly believe they have a leg to stand on.
Instead, what they really have is the consequences of their own decision-making and what they show is a complete lack of recognition that, since the beginning of time, speculation is almost only ever profitable in direct proportion to the risks.
And if market forces were in reverse and values were still rising and margins were wild, would these same people now demanding bailouts be willing to share the spoils of their brilliance?
Of course not.
These people will now blame their realtors, their mortgage brokers, their contractors. Their Uncle Frank who told them they couldn’t lose.
And while I’m not saying there aren’t some bad actors in all of those categories, the majority of people were not ripped off or preyed upon — they saw the frenzy transpiring around them and wanted in on the action. It’s only now that things are going south that the narrative has been reset and they have repositioned themselves as victims.
These people are adults. Someone should remind them that one of the most incredible and sometimes frustrating parts of adulthood is the inescapable reality that we are free to make our own choices. And those choices come with consequences, both good and bad.
My child is four years old and often a complete tyrant. And he is completely adorable, even when irrationally screeching at me. He knows nothing yet, so while I can tell him until I am blue in the face that he needs to wear his mittens or his hands will freeze, ultimately it’s still my responsibility to keep him from getting frostbite.
He is a child so he is entitled to a pass. These adults act like entitled babies, not so much.