This is our house, located in Maynard, MA. When we first bought it nearly three years ago, it was in good shape structurally, but nearly everything else needed to be changed, replaced or updated. Oh, did we ever update. I won’t bore you with the details, but the house has undergone a near 100% revamping and I think we are both particularly proud of what we’ve accomplished.
So this morning I read, with mild speculation, a story about the alarming rise in foreclosures in the housing market in Massachusetts. It seems each week, the Globe runs a story about the foreclosure problem and each time I see it, I sort of shrug my shoulders, because while it is alarming, positioning it as a “crisis” is rather misleading. The reason, pure and simple, is that the amount of home sales have skyrocketed since 2000. Sell more houses, you’re going to have more foreclosures.
Finally, this morning Globe’s actually revealed what I had been looking for: the actual rate of foreclosures to mortgages/homes purchased. Surprise! The rate in Massachusetts is actually below the national average. According to the article, lenders have filed for foreclosure on 0.6% of Massachusetts mortgages, below the 1% national rate. My point: always read the whole story, not just the headlines, because there’s always more to it. Except in the Middle East – you can just read the headlines there, because it’s all the same and has been since WWII.
Luckily, Steph and I haven’t had to worry so much about foreclosures or making the monthly payment and I thank my lucky stars for it. I’m terribly conservative when it comes to money, so I just cannot see dropping the money some people are dropping on housing. It would be awesome to have a palace, but you know what? I’m not going to spend 75% of my income on it, like many are doing. I want (no, need) the option to put money away for retirement, emergencies, general savings or……improvements to the house. Hey, some people spend it, some save it. I save it.
This approach doesn’t allow me to live in neighboring towns whose tax rates and land values are often double what Maynard’s are. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll change our minds. But ithis approach allowed me to pay cash for a kitchen renovation in January of 2005 and the only debt at this point in our lives is our mortgage. An upcoming bathroom renovation will also be paid in cash. That is comforting to me. I also know that situations like this (paying cash for renovations) are not the norm and our much appreciated luck can change at the drop of a hat. But I honestly feel that carrying no debt is the reward we get for staying the course and that it’s not all luck, either, it’s careful planning as well.