This Millennial Blew All Her Money on a House. Now She Can't Sell It.

What was she thinking?

This Millennial Blew All Her Money on a House. Now She Can't Sell It.
Ben Cliff/Unsplash

There was an eviction notice on her door.

She called her landlord.

He didn't believe she'd been paying her rent for the last three months. He challenged her to bring bank statements proving it. So she took a half day off work, got the statements, and then drove them across town to his office. It took hours to get the whole thing settled. Her landlord never apologized for wasting her time. He thought the whole thing was funny.

"That's what you get for living in an apartment!" He chuckled. "Personally, I'd rather live under a bridge."

When you're a millennial, everything you do is a mistake.

Maybe every generation feels this way.

What a dumb millennial, throwing her money away on an apartment and not even keeping bank statements handy in case her landlord tried to evict her. That's the kind of irresponsibility you can expect.

Every apartment she ever lived in was a nightmare dump. She'd wake up to find cockroaches in her bed or having sex with her toothbrush. Her walls melted and bloomed mold from leaky pipes. One time, she got trapped inside her bathroom. A security guard had to kick the door apart. A few weeks later, that same security guard killed someone trying to break into the building. If you left your clothes unattended in the onsite laundromat, someone would steal them. This millennial lived near train tracks. She lived downtown, where you can hear every dude who thinks he's Vin Diesel ripping up the streets. She lived in places rich people would consider slums. She dealt with flooded elevators, burst water lines, and leaks in roofs that ruined her (air) mattress.

She lived in apartments with no heat. She lived in apartments where water froze in the sinks and toilets. But she paid a $300 heating bill anyway. That's how dumb she was. More than once, she called the city inspectors. They came out and took notes. They never did anything. Loud alcoholic neighbors. Loud pets. Traffic. Light pollution. Honkies trying to lure you out of your building to mug you. It's a lot to deal with. Finally, she and her spouse scraped together $5,000 for a down payment on a house. It was hard. Every single time they made progress, something came along and swatted them back, especially car problems.

But they did it.

There was only one house on the market they could afford. They were desperate to find a quiet place to raise a kid.

The house was just over $100,000.

Yes, these dumb millennials were going to have a baby.

The house was about 1200 square feet. It didn't have a garage. Theoretically, two people could use the kitchen at the same time, as long as you didn't mind constantly bumping into them.

It started with the driveway.

The railroad ties on one side had completely rotted out, and there was now a giant gap under the concrete. She hired someone to look at it. He said, "Well, I wouldn't park my car there." In the end, she spent almost $10,000 fixing it. Now, if she only knew how to mix concrete...

Next, it was the roof.

A bad string of thunderstorms came through. The bathroom ceiling started leaking. She hired someone to look at it. He said, "Your shingles have major damage, but it wasn't all from the storm."

"It looks like someone... pressured washed it?"

Ah, the previous owner.

So she had to get a new roof. This dumb millennial didn't know how to nail down shingles herself. She didn't want to take the time to learn. She'd foolishly moved halfway across the country. Otherwise, her dad would've... Wait, never mind. Her dad didn't know how to roof either. Sometime around then, she also decided it was time to replace the air conditioner.

It was at least 20 years old.

It sounds a little entitled to want air conditioning in the south, but she had a kid on the way. She wasn't exactly thrilled at the possibility of an old air conditioner dying on her in the middle of summer. Maybe she could've gotten a used one, or maybe she could've learned how to build one herself from spare parts. But she was too busy/lazy/entitled.

About a year later, her spouse started nagging her about the siding. They needed to replace it. The house still had its original wood paneling. It was starting to rot in places, and that's bad for... everything.

So they replaced that. The siding company strongly recommended they replace several rotting boards at the base of the deck.

It wasn't cheap.

A few months went by. She thought they'd finally taken care of everything the previous owners had let slide.

She was wrong.

The old refrigerator gave out. They explored options and were told the best play was to get a new one. Her toilet broke. Her other toilet broke. The plumbers said it was time for new ones. She could've told them no. She could've built an outhouse for her family while she went to plumbing school and learned to do it herself. Instead, she took the easy way out.

She paid for new toilets.

Then the water heater gave out. Then the water line ruptured. The home warranty didn't cover any of those things. This dumb millennial found out the hard way that you have to insure things like water lines separately.

Her neighbor's cat crawled under one of her trees to die. When she pulled it out, she noticed the tree was completely hollow. She consulted her home insurance agent. If a storm blew the tree down onto her house, then they wouldn't cover it. It was her responsibility to remove the tree before that happened. The arborist discovered another hollow tree in her yard.

Cutting down a tree is expensive.

So is cutting down two.

She probably could've learned how to cut down a tree herself to save some money, but she was just too lazy.

Anyway, a raccoon found a way into her crawlspace and broke out the rotted door. That was when she noticed a slope in the kitchen floor. While paying to have the gaps in the cinderblocks filled in, to keep out raccoons, the no-kill wildlife expert told her there was probably something wrong with her foundation. "I'm not an expert in that," he said. "But it looks like you're missing a couple of pillars."

He was right.

So she paid several thousand dollars to redo the house's foundation. The good news was that it fixed the slope in the floor.

By the end of all that, she wound up investing somewhere around $50,000 in the house, about half its original value. Fortunately, the market tipped in her favor. It looked like if she ever sold, she would break even.

So she thought.

Her original plan was to stay in that house for a few more years. She knew she would eventually have to leave. She lived in the hottest part of Tornado Alley, where you get the worst of every extreme. You get the storms. You get the polar vortexes. You get the severe droughts. You get the heat domes.

You get it all.

Her spouse had always dreamed of owning a house with solar panels. Where she lived, power outages were frequent and getting worse. Given the volatility of global politics, she suspected waiting would only cost her money. The summers were blistering. She did not look forward to the possibility of caring for an unvaccinated toddler if a storm knocked out the power in the middle of summer during a pandemic. So she got the solar panels.

Guess what happened?

A tornado ripped through her town (during a pandemic).

It knocked out the power for about a week. Several of her friends lost their homes. They squeaked by. It wasn't super easy. They had to keep a close eye on the electricity usage. At least they didn't have to stay in a poorly ventilated hotel after a tornado during a pandemic.

She was navigating the polycrisis so well.

A year later, it happened again. The second tornado wasn't nearly as bad. It didn't even make the news. But still...

There sure were a lot of tornadoes coming after her family. Every weekend, these snowflakes were hiding in their bathroom from a twister. Can you believe she actually took the warnings seriously?

Every single time?

By the fourth or fifth, it was getting really irritating to have to wake up or drop everything to hide with a small child in a bathroom, strap a bike helmet on their head, and tell them everything was going to be okay. You know how little kids made up songs about the plague? Well, her daughter made a game with her Bluey figurines called tornado shelter.

She played it every day.

It was time to leave.

I guess you could call her a climate refugee. Her family left their home because it didn't feel safe anymore. Her spouse told her he felt like he had a little post-traumatic stress from all the tornadoes, all the heat domes, all the drought. And then she realized that she lived in dust bowl country, and there's another dust bowl on the way, and this one could be permanent.

What a fearmonger...

This entitled millennial wanted to live somewhere her daughter could play outside for an afternoon without heat advisories and tornado warnings. Imagine that. So she moved. Now she's trying to sell her home with solar panels.

It's not going well.

The internet tells everyone that adding solar panels to your home almost always increases the value. It certainly can't hurt.

Here's the problem:

The internet assumes people are reasonable and think logically. That was probably her biggest mistake of all. When she approached real estate agents, they chided her for all the improvements she'd done to her house. They shook their heads and moaned when she listed off all the structural and foundational repairs over the last several years. That was also a huge mistake.

One real estate agent broke it to her gently.

She said, "You forgot the kitchen."

Oh, the kitchen...


Somewhere between replacing toilets, roofs, air conditioners, driveways, siding, water lines, flooring, foundational pillars, water heaters, and a sink, she forgot the most important thing of all.

The cosmetic repairs.

That's what home buyers want, especially the ones who have the money to buy homes these days. Ironically, these are buyers who don't fix the roofs, siding, flooring, foundations, driveways, air conditioners, water heaters, or toilets when they sell a house. This entitled millennial would know. Because when she bought her new house, she had to replace all those things again.

It gets better.

The real estate agent also broke it to her gently that, around here, nobody cares about solar panels. Nobody wants them. Everyone sees them as a hindrance, a nuisance, an eyesore.

"But when the power goes out," she started.

"They'll use a gas generator."


So, that's how dumb this millennial was. She spent all her money fixing the previous owner's problems and mistakes. She restored an entire house. She rewilded the yard. She made it a tiny green heaven. She thought someone would love to live here, but she was wrong. Nobody wants to live here, except the raccoons, unless they can get the solar panels for free.

Nobody cares that she fixed the foundation. Nobody cares that on a good day, her home was sending energy into the grid. Nobody cares that when storms knock out the power, which happens a lot, the new owners won't have to rely on a gas generator to keep themselves from boiling.

They care about the countertops.

A landlord made her a cash offer.

She refused it.

If this dumb millennial is going to sell a house with free solar panels, she's going to find someone who wants them and will take good care of them. If nothing else, they'll be in good hands.

This millennial can't help but find a metaphor somewhere in this housing market, a market full of houses with lovely kitchens that are falling apart or rotting on the inside, because nobody cares about the bones. The people with money to buy houses don't see them as places to live in and pass down through generations. They see them as assets to pump and dump, or to rent out to someone while forcing them to endure the leaky roofs and moldy walls.

This cultural and economic system forces you to play so many rigged games. And when you lose, as intended, it's your fault. They say you shouldn't have agreed to play the game you were forced to play. In this case, the game is that you have to pay someone for a place to live. Even if you build the house from scratch, you have to buy the land. Even when you buy the land, you often don't own the water or trees on it, unless they're hollow.

Then they belong to you.

Now this dumb millennial sits in her new house, where the tornadoes can't find her (for now), and thinks about all the dumb decisions she made. She wonders how much Bitcoin or Doge she could've bought. She wonders how much avocado toast she could've enjoyed.

So much avocado toast...

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