America, March 17, 2007
Help me, it's Home Buying Time!
There is an interesting alternate reality to your every day financial life. In this separate dimension, strange voices on telephones promise to send you a blank check. Blank but for the amount, there it says $500,000.
Five hundred thousand dollars.
Have you ever seen that much money? Have you ever held a check for it? I have not, not yet anyway, of those voices on the telephone wait for me to find something to spend it on before they will send me the check.
And not just anything, but a house, a home, a domicile to call my very own. And those voices, whispering in my ears from many sides tell me I should do it. I should take that blank check and buy a home.
Maybe buy a dream home in the Petworth neighbourhood of Washington DC. And a dream it is, perfect for a settled life of domestic bliss. What $500,000 buys in my housing market.
So should I buy no matter that the housing market is gyrating, that employment is tenuous, that money does not grow on trees? Those voices repeat my mantra, "life is short" and say "jump in, the water is fine!"
But I wonder, is the swim right for me? Is it what I want right now? To give up my sunny, spacious, rent-controlled apartment for quadruple the monthly payment, hopefully spit with a clock-stopping hottie? It's a risk, and I don't like risk.
Or I don't like financial risk. My travel career shows I can take risks. My work career shows I love risks. Yet in finances, I do not risk. And yet, this would be a massive one. Actually a half-million dollar risk.
To mitigate that risk, I ask you, my friends, family, readership, for advice. If you buy homes, if you sell houses, if you are in the real estate business, drop a line, let me know, lets talk. I want to make sure that when I jump in, I know how to swim. The water is deep, moves fast, and sharks are about.