Max Welling sipped from the “Denny’s” emblazoned ceramic mug, gritting his teeth against the watered-down confection masquerading as coffee within, the inviting aroma nothing more than a ruse. A useful diversion as he mentally composed his argument, the swill was nonetheless an affront to his connoisseur’s sensibilities.
“Good, huh,” his smug companion inquired, seeking less an opinion than an acknowledgement of the self-evident truth.
“You were right,” Max agreed, nodding at the moon-faced young man as he set the mug down on the Ms. Pacman coaster on the metal table between them. “Definitely not the usual.”
Greyson “Graze” Mays smirked as he swiveled away from Max on his chrome bar stool, only to jolt back a moment later, arresting his indulgent spin with a pair of green Converse One Stars. He steepled his fingers under his chin as he redirected the conversation back to the matter at hand.
“So in light of recent developments,” Graze began, indicating not the half-inch thick ream of subdivision data that the Realtor had spent the previous hour belaboring, but newspaper clippings from various periodicals that were haphazardly spread about the table. “This is clearly a seller’s market, and buyers will pay a premium for a unique home such as this one.”
Max looked about the three bedroom ranch, thinking the shade of formica on the kitchen counter tops might have been slightly different in the home of the same model that sold down the street in January for eighty five thousand less than his erstwhile companion had in mind.
“It’s true that the market has turned,” Max allowed. “However, there has to be some basis for-“
“I showed you the new crown molding in the master bedroom, right,” Graze interrupted.
“You did,” Max affirmed. “It’s lovely.”
“And the chandelier I added in the dining room?”
“Beautiful choice,” Max replied, craning his neck to take in the garish atrocity that was the self-styled hipster’s attempt at retro ironic.
“Look,” Max began, changing the arc. “You have a great house, and it will likely sell above recent comps due to the work you’ve done and the lack of competition in the market, but within reason. We can’t jump comps by the better part of a hundred grand and realistically expect to find a buyer.”
“There’s no way my house is worth less than I paid for it,” Graze objected, adjusting his black, horn-rimmed glasses. “All these articles say prices are up twenty percent!”
“Three things,” Max said, holding up three well-tanned, corresponding fingers. “First, you have to remember that you bought the home in oh eight. Unfortunately, the market experienced three straight years of heavy losses before this recent resurgence.”
“Second,” Max interrupted, returning the favor. “You can’t directly apply general market trends and percentages to any one specific property. Yes, the median sales price for the Valley is up approximately twenty percent in the last twelve months, but we can’t throw out the most recent neighborhood-specific sales in favor of such broad generalities to determine current market value.”
“The people down the street-“
“Are smoking crack,” Max finished over Graze again. “Just because they are asking an egregiously stupid price for their home, doesn’t mean we have to hop in the idiot bus to clambake with them. People can ask whatever they want for something. It’s irrelevant to value until they get it.”
“Third,” Graze challenged.
“Third is the inconvenient matter of the appraisal,” Max obliged. “Even if we luck into a buyer who just fell off the turnip truck, it means nothing if the home doesn’t appraise. And you can bet your bippy that an appraiser will review the very same sales I’m looking at when I tell you that the house is justifiably worth no more than two ten, max.”
“Great Scott,” Graze moaned, removing his spectacles and face-palming himself. A prematurely receding hairline did nothing to mitigate the fact that he looked all of thirteen years old without his glasses.
“The good news is that prices are finally heading in the right direction,” Max volunteered. “Another year or two at this rate and we’ll be able to break you out of here.”
“But by then I won’t be able to afford the new house I want to buy,” Graze lamented.
“That’s the rub,” Max ceded. “But there’s more than one way to skin a Kardashian.”
“I’m listening,” Blaze allowed, smiling despite himself at his elder counterpart’s clumsy attempt to bridge the generational divide through pop culture.
“You might consider renting the house out for the next year or two,” Max obliged. “As long as you qualify to carry both loans, you can lock in a new place at today’s prices while someone else pays the rent on this place until it gets to a point where we can sell it.”
“Not real keen on being a landlord,” Graze worried, taking a sip of his own iced coffee through a purple twisty straw. “Can’t bear to think of a tenant on the new shag carpet. You sure you can’t sell it for two ninety?”
“I’m good, but I’m not that good,” Max assured him. He stood and gathered his things. “I’ll run some rental figures this evening and let you know how they look. In the meantime, why don’t you call this guy.”
Max placed a business card on the table.
“My go-to lender. He should be able to tell you whether or not it’s feasible to buy without having to sell just yet.”
Graze looked at the card, but made no move to retrieve it.
“No offense, but I think I’m going to get a second opinion,” he informed the agent. “There’s a Realtor that specializes in this neighborhood. I get her flyers and mailings all the time.”
“By all means,” Max welcomed. “If she really knows the neighborhood, she’ll give it to you straight.”
“Well, thank you so much for the good news and enthusiasm,” Graze muttered, straightening his Napoleon Dynamite t-shirt as he walked Max to the door. “Want to kick my dog on the way out?”
“Nah, I like dogs,” Max grinned, reaching down to pet the yipping, over-sized rodent that joined them in the foyer. “But your coffee tastes like shit.”
Taken aback by the affront, a slight gurgle emanated from the younger man’s fleshy gullet.
Judas, his watery brown eyes hissed.
Max shrugged, hardened into the role of executioner by the last half decade.
“Call me when your listing with the neighborhood expert expires.”