“A watched pot never boils.”
Literally speaking, it of course does boil, in exactly the same amount of time it would have boiled unmonitored. It just seems to take longer if you stare at it.
Time always seems to creep by slowly when you’re waiting for something to happen. I remember how slowly the hours seemed to creep by on Christmas Eve when I was a child. (As an adult, I’ve watched the same pre-Christmas hours fly by at alarming speed.)
All the indications are that this is a buyer’s market when it comes to real estate:
- There’s a housing glut and housing prices are depressed due to foreclosures and short sales.
- No one is buying, for a myriad of reasons: economic worries, personal financial woes, and the need to sell one house before buying another one.
So that should mean we can take our sweet time and move at our own pace. Like shopping in a near-empty store – laid back, casual and calm. No crowds, no frenzy, no lines, and no reason to get in a hurry. My agent regularly emails me lists of homes that meet our criteria – if nothing suits my fancy, I should channel Scarlett O’Hara and promise to think about it tomorrow, biding my time until the next list comes out.
However, the day we put in an offer on a short sale property (back in early January), two other offers came in almost simultaneously with ours. Out of all the houses on the market, a house that had set empty and overpriced for months was suddenly the desired object of three buyers. We still haven’t heard from the bank, so we have no idea if our offer is on the top of the heap, working its way from one pile to the next, or languishing at the bottom of some asset manager’s teetering list of things to ignore until they go away.
And just four days after going on the market, the second house we fell hard for already had an offer in on it when we submitted ours. In real estate, the early bird usually gets the worm. The second mouse does not always get the cheese.
After that debacle, I found myself remaining in a state of heightened alert. I don’t wait for those periodic reports to hit my email so I can scan them at my leisure. Instead, every day, twice a day, early morning and in the evening, I run searches through both databases, looking for any new listings that have come up. Even on vacation, I’m trawling for new possibilities, and I’ve got my agent on speed dial.
And of course, almost no new homes have come on the market since I started this routine.
Because a watched pot never boils.
Going through the list of recently sold homes in the area is a lesson in and of itself: we missed some great opportunities because we weren’t paying close attention. Before we left for spring break, I toured a couple homes that are high potential, and all I can do is hope that they are still available when we get back.
So I add my own caveat to that proverb: watching the pot won’t make the water boil any faster, but neglecting a pot of boiling water isn’t advisable, either.