Biff America: The myth of the divine real estate deal |

Biff America: The myth of the divine real estate deal

by Jeffrey Bergeron

Donna’s delight was contagious. She and her mate had dodged the bullet of disaster.

While I listened to her story, I couldn’t help but think that good things do happen to good people.

Donna and Pete did everything right and played by the rules. They worked hard, gave back to the community and raised two kids in a structured, loving home. When both of their children wanted to attend out-of-state colleges with higher tuitions, they decided the kids deserved it and they could afford it.

But when the economy tanked halfway through their children’s college years, they made some hard choices. They took out a second mortgage reasoning that, after both graduated, they could make up the difference over time.

Then the economy went from bad to worse and their luck changed. Donna lost her job and had to have back surgery. The $15,000 not covered by insurance, coupled with the loss of wages and second mortgage, was enough to threaten bankruptcy and their home.

The good news was both children had graduated, or were about to, and Donnas’ back was improving to the point where she could begin to look for a job; the bad news it was too little too late. Running out of options, and though the real estate market was dismal, they put their home up for sale and found a smaller one half the size and for half the price.

Despite long odds and little hope, their home sold in a week (even their Realtor was amazed). They closed on the smaller place – which was perfect for the empty nesters – and later that same week Donna got a job working for the state.

Those of us who have no kids and little debt often forget how hard it is for families in the real world to remain solvent. Though I knew of Donna’s injury and job loss, I was not aware of how close they were to ruin. I attributed the fact that they stopped coming up to ski and bike to Donna’s condition. And when Pete called to say he was looking for side jobs on the weekends, I still didn’t put it together.

It wasn’t until Donna came up for her first ski day in two years and we sat down for coffee that I heard all the unpleasant details.

With the bank threatening foreclosure, no family to ask for help and medical bills mounting, they both were literally sick with worry. They sold their newest car, and Donna stopped going to physical therapy because they couldn’t afford the co-pay.

“We always lived frugally, we always had savings,” Donna said, “I never dreamed things could go so bad so fast.”

Their financial fate rested on the sale of their home and, despite the current market, it sold and they now have enough pay most of their medical bills and to enjoy a modest holiday for the family.

As Donna was telling me all this, her joy and relief were infectious. It was a great story of good fortune for good people.

“You are so lucky” I said, “and I’m happy for you both.”

“It wasn’t luck” Donna said, “God sold our house.”

I thought she was kidding. “What was his commission?” I asked. “I heard he’s pricy.” Donna didn’t think that was funny. “It was a miracle; I’m telling you, God sold our house.”

I like Donna and Pete and am happy for them; they played by the rules and got betrayed by circumstance. But it is a divine insult to suggest The Almighty would overlook children with cancer to broker a home sale – or that He would intercede in any of the other mundane miracles attributed to divine intervention.

I think it cheapens the concept of spirituality in general to maintain that a supreme being meddles in sports, finances or fortune. If you believed God takes sides in wars, sporting events and personal success, you would have to believe God favors the powerful, richest, fittest and gifted humans. I always fantasize of watching some NFL millionaire standing in the end-zone, pointing to heaven after a touchdown, and then getting struck by lightning. I’m guessing that would put an end to future displays of athletic proselytizing.

If God got involved – during this holiday season- there would truly be peace on earth and good will to men – and we would not give each other fruitcake on his birthday.

But just to be safe I’m been praying for less wrinkles.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at

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