This Old Spouse

The news says that foreclosures are up again, they laid down for awhile, and now they are back on the rise.  As I understand it, the average American owns three homes and/or moves three times during his lifetime.

  1. The first house, is the love nest, the little cute cottage, just right in size for a loving couple to start a family.  The starter home, usually what you can just barely afford.
  2. As the family grows, the necessity of a bigger house, and the process of raising one’s family goes to what they refer to as the “empty nest” when they grow up and move out.
  3. Then it is house #3 what I lovingly call “The Roost” where you go to sit and cackle to yourself or complain to no one in particular and go to bed with the chickens at night.  This is the last house, the lonely old place the grand kids do not want to go, and where the kids never seem to find time to visit.
  4. I suppose there would be a fourth category, it is called Assisted Living or The Home, but most of us are reluctant to talk about that at all

We have been considering moving, this would be our third move and hopefully our last.  Our neighborhood is slowly making a transition from neighborhood to ghetto and it is time to move.

Life in the barrio is now what we had envisioned when we moved in here back in the spring of 74.  We never thought we would see spray painted ownership on the walls of the homes or the street on which we live (in a language we cannot read nor understand).  We didn’t know it was going to turn into a repository for trash, old used up automobile tires, and an apparent training ground for baby gangsters who prefer to not speak English and only aspire to pillage and terrorize instead of add to society.

So we are seriously considering a move in these bad times, we have found a house that both of us agree on, the price is right, but we cannot get the dog to move out.  This is proving to be a problem.

Home ownership has sort of been a right of passage in this country, “revered” in American culture.  When you buy a house you sort of enter into an agreement with society, you are now showing the world that you are stable, secure in your dreams and ambitions, and ready to deal with adult life.  You now have a place to store your stuff, and you have lots of stuff if you are an American, so therefore you need a house.

Face it.  You have too much stuff. If this is not acceptable, then just walk down your block on any Saturday and count the number of cars sitting on driveways because the garages are too chocked full of stuff, they cannot put them inside.

I rest my case.

So buying into the dream or the fantasy, you buy a home.  Now the state is happy, because they have a new place to charge you a tax in order for you to store your stuff, ad valoureum tax or property tax.  In reality the state is always a big winner.  You see they charge you a tax on it when you buy it, then they get a tax from you for owning the place to store it, and if you ever decide that you have too much of it (stuff) they charge you another tax in order to sell it.

The state does just fine.

They (those who are always named but never seem to be around) now can coach you into believing that because you have a house, you are all powerful and they will “allow you a tax deduction on the house to store your stuff” encouraging you to go even deeper into debt.  Too good to be true?  Quite possibly true, and there are numerous reasons why.

It appears with the current recession that seems to be demonstrating with painful clarity that this is in fact, not all that good of a deal, it is kind of a myth.  Buying a home is a financial risk, not a surefire investment for the future as you have been led to believe.  Take a look at the buying and selling process, for example.

A full 10% of the sale price of the property is paid out to realtors, various agents, taxes and other transaction costs (paperwork mainly) and then there is the upkeep issue.  Our house last year suffered a serious decline in worth (dropped $16K in value) but our taxes went UP try and figure that one out.

If you are a homeowner, there is a significantly increased chance that you will receive a lot of unexpected bills.  Most of us, who ever bought a brand new home erroneously assumed that nothing would ever wear out or deteriorate.  Actually, one can safely assume that anything that has moving parts will eventually break down and any part of the house that is composed of one or more of the known trace elements will deteriorate.

This is where you get to make the voluntarily stipend or contribution to Home Depot, Lowe’s, the plumber, the air conditioning guy, the person who sprays your lawn a false green color and insures you that the weeds are gone, for a little while anyway.

Now the reality should be setting in, “You are never a home owner, what you are is a caretaker, a janitor, a keeper of the property” and that is all.

So you work hard, you hope and scheme, you dream, and then you lay your hard earned bucks on the table for a property.  But in order to purchase an “affordable” home, you have to live way out in the suburbs, away from the urban centers of employment.  You spend hours every day locked down on some concrete parkway or thruway that is long over due for improvement, obsolete and overcrowded.

You are just another statistic, adding to the problem of urban sprawl and traffic, and of course, a pawn of the oil companies.

Time is running out, bottom of the page rolling up on me, we have to go and we didn’t even get to the category of home improvements and “meeting the General Contractor.” (Run out to the truck boy and fetch me some more zero’s for this estimate!).  Interesting topics in their own rights, we didn’t even cover the ground concerning “unexpected bills” that occur when you own a home.

You ever notice that you frequently get unexpected bills in the mail, but almost never ever receive unexpected income?

So this morning I am thinking about homes, the average American, doing his level best to get by in times so tight that most of us don’t have a pot to piss in, yet alone a window to toss it out of.  As we are forced to rethink our position on stuff, shopping at the mall, consumerism run amuck, we need to reevaluate our concepts and beliefs on home ownership too.

Oh well, that is Monday.  One thought seems to keep coming to the front burner of the stove, over and over and that is ….  renting is looking better and better each day.


Survey results on the Burger King commercial our survey:

  • Too adult 50%
  • No big deal 25%
  • Harmful to children 12%
  • Offensive 13%