September 28, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Runaway Train

Housing data in today's paper provided tangible proof of a trend I have long noted anecdotally. Here in southern California, only 26 percent of households can afford median-priced homes. The purchase of a median-priced house at today's average interest rates, with a 20-percent down payment, would require an annual income of approximately $85,000. Considering the fact that such an income is out of reach for a great many people, and fewer still can afford to put 20 percent down, it's no wonder that so few people can afford to become homeowners in this overinflated state.

Admittedly, I write this with more than a touch of bitterness, since I am one of those millions who can't afford to buy a home. Not so long ago, I brought home a great salary and lived in a condo with a $2,200 rent payment. I look back on those days and kick myself for not jumping on the runaway real estate train at a time when I could have successfully made the leap. Now, I bring home less than half of what I used to make, and cannot afford to get into a market where the median home price floats around $400,000.

With so little affordable housing out there, and the economy ostensibly still doing so poorly, I wonder who are the buyers continuing to blow hot air into this ever-expanding bubble. Equity in existing homes has of course also increased, so I imagine many of these homebuyers are existing homeowners "trading up" into bigger and more expensive homes. If one got into the real estate market as recently as a year or two ago, opportunities abound, thanks to ever-increasing home values. But for those left behind at the station, this crazy train is moving too fast to get onboard.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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September Columns:

9/29: Open Season
9/28: Runaway Train
9/27: The Seven
9/25: Dreamscape
9/24: Survivor: Sacramento
9/23: What Am I Doing at Work?
9/21: San Diego Chokers
9/20: Farewell, Galileo
9/17: Anything Can Happen
9/16: Midnight Writing
9/15: Decline and Fall
9/14: Loyalty By Default
9/13: Debt Snowball
9/12: My Cup Runneth Over
9/11: Unforgettable Day
9/10: Fall Approaches
9/9: Total Recall
9/8: Legal Illegals
9/7: 116 More Days
Previous months in The Archive

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