Thursday, May 26, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soule Mama and leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

one act play, 5/18/11

hey jon
i cut tomatoes on the red cutting board. is it safe to eat off it? do u ever cut meat on the red one?
Sent at 11:06 AM on Wednesday

it's fine
i think
i wash it
it will be ok

too late. I already ate it
do u use meat there?

usually I use the wood one or the green one

ok, good. oxoxox ttyle


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I don't know

Seriously, I don't know. I could not tell you if we are nearing the end of the instrument that has made home-ownership attainable and affordable for countless millions of Americans. I can tell you that the house I just purchased, which was built in 1865 or so, sold for $700 around 1890 to a new owner. Adjusted for inflation, I should have just paid around $16,000.

Instead, since housing prices have risen according to a number of factors beyond inflation, it's a safe assumption that I paid a multiple of that. And since I don't have that lying around in my cup holders, I had to get a mortgage. A fixed, 30-year mortgage. Of the kind that this article says is going away.

It was hard to get. It took a long time. Lots of qualifying. Many disclosures. I had to lay out my entire life for the bank, and they got to decide whether that was good enough for them to finance our dream. And we decided that that was an OK trade for getting something that we really wanted.

It was much, much harder to get than the mortgage we took out for the house we bought in 2004. And frankly, it should have been. No one would suggest that enormous mistakes weren't made back then. It's so obvious that it's not worth rehashing further here.

I would just suggest that if you take away the instrument entirely, or make every single borrower put down a huge down payment, or create a system where cash sales become the norm, then we're back in 1890, when about 45% of Americans owned the house they lived in, including those who built it themselves with trees felled on their property. I don't think that's a desirable outcome, both because if we ever want to sell this new house it would be more difficult, and because it moves the goalposts on the American Dream further down the field.

I don't think that home ownership is right for everyone, and I don't think the 30-year mortgage is right for all homeowners. But our example has been modeled successfully all over the world, and it's a pretty valuable tool to abandon. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Credit Scores: Hot or Not?

This post asks a great question - I don't recall that Lauren and I compared credit scores before we got married, and luckily enough when we needed them, it turned out that we were credit-worthy enough to 'score' stuff - house, car, racehorse, parachute pants...

The grueling, post-bubble loan approval process we just through went really makes me wonder what life would have been like if we didn't have the 'right' scores*, or worse, if one of us ended up resenting the others' 'wrong' ones. Credit score compatibility might be up there with religion and political affiliation in terms of determining how your marriage will turn out, but since it's not one of those obvious factors, but it's just lurking there in the background, waiting to blow up on you when you decide it's time to replace your garbage disposal or lease that new family car.

*How much of life is like that? I'm glad that I went to Michigan State, but it's not like I had the SATs for Dartmouth anyway. Somewhere (I dunno, Manhattan?) there's a guy my age with a 1580 running a hedge fund. Whatever.