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Monday, July 30, 2012

One house illustrated how our economy got to be such a mess


In the summer of 2008, Nicola and I were looking at houses. We had been renting a house in Kuna for the better part of two years, and we were ready to buy our own house.
The economy was in the throes of recession, and home prices had already begun to fall. Had we only known just how far home prices would fall, we would have waited to buy a house. Regardless, we were ready to buy and did not pretend to know when the market might hit bottom.
One house, in particular, that we looked at told the whole story of the poor economy.
It was a relatively nice house in a relatively decent neighborhood. It was perhaps a little small, but it was a short sale and a good bargain. The owners owed something like $220,000, but they were listing it at $160,000.
As we toured the house, we noticed the rather large flat-screen TV in the living room. Then we noticed another in the master bedroom. Then another in one of the girl’s bedrooms, and another in the bonus room upstairs. (Our family had not even yet bought a flat-screen TV; we still somehow managed to survive on one television set, and that was our bulky set that was in Nicola’s first apartment in Carlsbad in 1994.) Outside, we noticed the dish for satellite TV. In the garage, the story became even clearer: two ATV’s, a couple of personal watercraft, three more cars, including two SUVs and a sports car.
It was thoroughly depressing. Here was this family almost assuredly about to lose their home to foreclosure, but they had satellite TV, multiple television sets, all sorts of grown-up toys. It was no mystery to me why our country was in the shape it was in with a scene like this.
The house was so depressing, we passed on it.

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