Homeowner’s remorse

January 28, 2010Jon Brooks Comments Off

From the blog Love Your Layoff, some thoughts on buying a home at the wrong time at the wrong interest rate, in perhaps the wrong town…

As much as I’m proud of the work we’ve done on our house, there are some weeks I’d kill to be a renter again. The biggest reason lately is mobility. Last week I was in San Francisco for a conference and feeling the creative vibrancy of the place made me yearn to pack our bags for good… except for the ball and chain that is our mortgage.

It’s been hard lately to watch friends who purchased real estate around the same time we did sell their homes and move on to new cities, new neighborhoods. I’m happy for them, just insanely jealous. If we sold our home today at the high end of what units are going for in our neighborhood ($150,000), we would still owe the bank around $80,000. (That’s about twice what I have left in student loans.)

While in San Francisco, I actually found myself considering the prospect of “strategic default,” a recent trend of homeowners to have banks foreclose on their homes. Tempting but not wise. Not for us anyway. We made a commitment, we should stick to it (at least as long as we’re viably capable of doing so.)

I feel grateful that we have a home we can afford. But, okay, I’m also envious of the people who recently purchased homes in our neighborhood. (They are such nice people, I feel bad writing this.) Sometimes I daydream of what we could do with all the extra money if we had a $150,000 loan instead of a $235,000 loan, and if it was at 4.85% instead of 6%. We could install a dishwasher, replace the mismatched linoleum on the kitchen floor, plan a real vacation, or most of all… put more money away for our daughter’s college education.

At times like this, I try to summon the darker periods of my life — times when things seemed dire and the prospects of change dim. In each instance, it was not an eternity before things changed (though it may have felt like it at the time.) The worst days are often followed by the best. So, life is teaching me a lesson right now. For whatever reason, we’re meant to live in our over-priced condo, on this strange little cul de sac. For some reason, this is precisely what we need to do right now. Or so I keep reminding myself, even if daydreaming about San Francisco.

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