Jenny EriksonA few months ago, I overheard someone discussing selling their home and buying a new one. She was lamenting the fact that they were doing a short sale, selling the house for less than they bought it for. The woman and her friend then proceeded to moan and groan about the buyer who was "stealing" their equity money.
Wait, what? Who is actually the thief in this situation? When you buy a house, you agree to pay a certain amount of money for it. The couple doing the short sale has dishonored that commitment, thereby "stealing" money from the bank. The new couple has not yet broken any financial promises.
When thinking about the housing market in 2010, words like short sale, foreclosures, and upside down mortgages come to mind. Remember back in the early 2000s, when you could buy a house with no equity, hold on to it for a couple of months, then flip it and cash out thousands in equity?
Maybe that ease of purchase is exactly what led to the rapidly declining real estate market. What's to make someone hold on to a home when they have nothing invested in it? Easy come; easy go, as they say.
Once a few people realized they were in over their heads with their massive mortgages, they dumped them onto the market and moved into housing more within their means. With a dramatic increase in the number of houses on the market, the overall value of homes continued to decline.
Inflation continues to rise, and more people are filing for unemployment benefits than ever before. A few years ago, people could open a home equity line of credit to cover their living costs, but now they must find other ways to make ends meet. Employers aren't excited to hire anyone right now; they're trying to figure out how many people they're going to be able to keep on board with new health insurance mandates and the biggest tax increase in history right around the corner.
Many people, like the woman I overheard, are dumping their homes on the market, while the banks pick up the tab. Ever heard of the bank bailouts? Taxpayer dollars are bailing out the banks that bailed out irresponsible homebuyers.
It's a vicious cycle that can only be stopped by believing in people and encouraging them to be responsible. As we've seen, bailouts only enable those who take advantage of the system. Our economy is an intricate yet simple machine, but the cogs aren't turning right now. Let's bring back the concept of personal responsibility and restore America to the land of freedom, integrity, and opportunity once more.