Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How I avoided being caught up in the foreclosure crisis.

Once upon a time I was still happily married (at least, I thought I was), and hating the place we lived--where I still live--we wanted to buy a home.

On a whim one day we stopped by a Casa Linda development. We were leery going in, being that their other local development is up behind the subdivision Rob grew up in. Skanky part of town, and the particular area they're building in floods like New Orleans every time there's a hard rain. (Much like New Orleans, it's built in a natural bowl.) Moreover, 90% of their advertising is in Spanish, and 'round here that tends to mean they're trying to take advantage of folks who don't know any better.

But I like to tour model homes, and at the time we were looking into gaining custody of some cousins (I wish the best of them, hopefully they've been adopted far, far out of this family) , which meant that our two bedroom trailer would not work for eight people. So we were kinda on the desperate side, and bored, and so we stopped by to tour a model home.

First red flag: they didn't have any model homes. But we could tour one that was almost finished. It was only a 3-bedroom, but there was a space on the second floor they could finish into a fourth bedroom for us. Um, okay. Walking up the sidewalk, we looked down into the ditch they'd laid sewer line in. Rob was just in training then, but he made a funny noise and whispered to me that they'd screwed it up, having lain it much deeper, much more abruptly than they should have.

Second--well, third--red flag: it was cold inside. Granted, it was late November, and cold outside. But it should not have been colder inside than out. The saleslady tried telling us that it was because of the amazing power of their R-10 insulation. Yeah, R-10. Standard R-value for insulation in our area--for walls, at least--is either R-13 or R-18. (I thought at the time it was R-15, so I wasn't far off.) One of the double sinks in the master bathroom upstairs was dripping. Remember, please, that this house wasn't even finished.

Back to the sales house we went. I waited in the car, somewhat annoyed that Rob hadn't simply told her off. He came out, we drove away, and he told me she'd "prequalified" him for a $132,000 mortgage--coincidentally, just what the house she'd shown us cost.

At the time, Rob was pulling in $13/hour. A little over $2K a month, before anything was taken out. An $800+ house payment...Forty percent of gross income...Nope, don't think so. We laughed, and drove away.

A while later, I went on Lending Tree and applied for a $90,000 mortgage, about what we'd figured we could afford. We got one offer, for a fixed rate of 8% (not great credit), for a $900/month payment.

We simply couldn't afford it.

So we turned it down.

I wonder, as I listen to Dave Ramsey and the ongoing news stories about the credit crunch/foreclosure crisis, how people can be so stupid. I hear people call into his show with house payments that are 40% or 45% of their income, who owe more on their house than it was ever worth. I've even heard two different folks on the radio say they have an 11% interest rate.

I understand wanting a house. Damn it, I live in a singlewide that's old and falling apart and has only one closet. If we had moved out of this trailer park, we'd probably still be married.

But I'm glad we didn't go there.

1 comment:

knitalot3 said...

We were pre-approved on a home loan (13 yrs ago) for an $1800/month payment.

Um... No! I don't think so. We opted for living within our means and a $535 payment.

We are able to make the mortgage payment *and* buy groceries.