Friday, February 22, 2008

The trials and tribulations of becoming a homeowner...eventually

It’s rare, but every now and then I feel a little sorry for myself. Over the last month, I’ve flirted with the idea of buying a house. Ultimately, I’m 99 percent sure I’m going to hold off for a year. It’s not that I can’t afford it, I definitely can. However, I don’t think I’m prepared enough to become a homeowner.

I don’t want to live in a massive suburban town home development and I don’t want a fixer-upper. I’d like an older house in the city, preferably in a neighborhood that doesn’t know the meaning of the word “drive-by.” This goal is without a doubt achievable, but would require a lifestyle change, one I don’t think I’m ready to make. All that disposable income I enjoy in my current situation? Kiss it goodbye. Unless I compromise and join the town home dwellers in the ‘burbs, the vast majority of my funds would be going to Wells Fargo and various bills each month.

My point isn’t to wine and complain. God knows others have much more to complain about. What irritates me is reading editorials like this. Or stories like this. I feel for people that are pinched right now because of the loss of a job or another unforeseen circumstance. I even have some sympathy for people that bought too much house, or are caught in an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), and now realize they’re screwed.

As much as I’d love to help these people out, why should I? If these struggling homeowners would’ve been more responsible and thought everything through before buying a house, we probably wouldn’t have a mortgage crisis. How many struggling homeowners really took the time to determine if they could afford a house? How many saved enough to give themselves some breathing room if struck by financial hardship? How many did their homework to learn exactly how an ARM works, how much more they will be spending on monthly bills, or really asked themselves if they needed such a big house?

These are all questions I asked myself, and I realized I’m not quite ready to be a homeowner. I’m close, but not there yet. My preparation and careful consideration of the issue seems to be the exception rather than the norm. Obviously, thousands of people didn’t take the time to think everything through. Now their hands are out, and the government is more than willing to try and excuse their irresponsible decisions.

Neal St. Anthony of the Star Tribune recently wrote an excellent column about our “economic woes.” Unfortunately, financially responsible people are not rewarded for their responsibility these days. If you saved for a rainy day, ran the numbers and decided you were able to own a home, and worked to pay off your good debt and keep your bad debt down, your reward is increased taxes to bail out people that did none of that.

This country doesn’t need an economic stimulus package. It needs someone to slap it upside the head to restore responsibility. That way, we won’t have to hear John and Jane Doe in their 2,800 square-foot home with the two new SUVs in the driveway and plasma TVs in the living room and kitchen complain about how they need financial help.


Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly, or at least a version with all of the cursing omitted. When looking at owning a home, I did my homework so that: 1) my monthly house payment would approximate what I paid for rent monthly; 2) the approximated costs were part of the equation (heating, electricity, buying a lawn mower, whatever else...); 3) I wanted a fixed rate; and, most importantly, I bought a less expensive house even though I was approved for a much higher mortgage.

Admittedly this was much easier in Bemidji, MN, than it is in Minneapolis, MN. But all it takes is doing the reading and research on the subject. All the people that jumped into ARMs or got themselves into more than they could afford are going to get bailed out. The banks that should know better than to hand out money to people without a realistic look at what they can pay back, they'll benefit from this, too.

Now on to read your entry about the Twins rotation, I don't have to bail them out...

AC said...

I'd be willing to chip in a couple of extra tax dollars to buy the Twins a new No. 1 starter!

Anonymous said...

In the mean time let people loose their homes and face financial ruin? The problem is this, if everyone with an ARM and everyone who was just a knob about finances looses their home cuz it's simply not our problem...what does that do to the economy? How will that affect YOUR ability to get a reasonable loan in a year?

It's easy to see in hindsight that the housing boom of a few years ago encouraged alot of unprepared people to purchase homes but the effect will be much larger than some irresponsible adults loosing a 2800 sq ft home...many have kids, most will need to live somewhere, a huge chunk will never be able to own property again, get a loan for a car or emergency credit.

On a less pressing issue: i think Slowey will rival Baker as Ace of the staff and post an ERA around 4.10 while pitching 210 innings before being eaten by Hernendez.


AC said...

Maybe George W. should let Hernandez eat anyone that can't afford their house payment.

Anonymous said...

"compassionate conserve," to the last eh?


Garrett said...

nice blog
its gonna be daily reading