Scouring the headlines this morning, I was trying to decide what to write about. The environmental crisis in China? The debate about health care insurance for middle class children? My new apartment and neighborhood?
I decided to write about homeownership and sub-prime loans because the NY Time's featured Chicago in their story on the Drop Foreseen in Median Price of US Homes by David Leonherdt and Vikras Bajaj. Having moved into a new apartment, I can talk about why I rent but not buy homes.
The news has been reporting on the negative economic effect of the current housing crisis as foreclosures increase across the nation. It seems that the housing boom was predicated on providing balloon mortgages to those who could not afford them or cannot afford them now. What has been disturbing is that none of the "experts" predicted this. What is the point of being considered an expert if you cannot predict anything. There is another article about the Countrywide Financial and how they persuaded people to take loans by promising, “I want to be sure you are getting the best loan possible." They were very successful and people bought into the American dream of homeownership, and now the dream is fading.
I've never bought into the American dream of homeownership. Even in kindergarten, I never wanted to play house. There are some assumptions about life-style's that are part of that dream that I do not buy into because I believe that everything you own, owns you. I think it is strange that housing prices are such that it takes a 30-year mortgage to pay off a house. That is half a lifetime to be tied to a long-term loan. Culturally, of course, US people do not stay in one place for 30 years, at least in the middle class doesn't. I really don't imagine being in one location long enough to accrue great equity in a home, which I don't need too much of. I do not have children or plan to. I contribute the maximum on my 401Ks and retirement.
I know that not everyone share these assumptions, but it seems immoral that the dream is so high that for many it's becoming a nightmare.