Anyone who’s ever bought something only to see it advertised for less elsewhere can understand the feeling some Gen-X’ers have. They purchased houses only to find them “worth less than they owe,” MPR reporter Laura Yuen’s story today says.
Even when there was a housing bubble, it never made sense to buy a house based on its potential resale value. The proper role of a house is to provide shelter, and anything beyond that is a bonus.
My generation has done a poor job of teaching our children that you buy a house because you love the way the house fits your family, you’ll stick around for awhile, the schools are good, and the neighbors seem like people worth knowing.
It’s true, people in their late twenties and thirties are more mobile, and that’s a good reason to rent, except that — again — my generation taught its children that renting was equivalent to throwing good money away.
“Thirty-somethings just happen to be unlucky enough to come of home-buying age before the market came apart,” Twin Cities mortgage banker Alex Stenback told Yuen.
But it’s more than luck; it’s the the result of a societal change in how we live. We’ve chosen not to “settle down” the way previous generations did. We’ve chosen to stay mobile to reap the rewards of that mobility.
Yes, sometimes that backfires, but in the end, it’s because we made a choice and the challenge is to understand ahead of time what the consequences — good and bad — are. In a sense, we are redefining “home-buying age.”
In April 2008, I created this piece, which talked about the bonds that are created in our hearts about the places we live. I invited people to submit essays on the subject. No one ever did. (Sorry, iPeople, it’s in Flash and you won’t see this).
I bought my home for about $100,000. It peaked in value at about $230,000 and is worth about $160,000 now. Am I $60,000 ahead of the game or $70,000 behind? Neither. I’m five years away from paying off the mortgage. I’ll end up having paid a total of about $250,000-$300,000 in interest and principal.
What did I get for my money if not a house that’s worth that much?