My Dream Home May be in Another City

by David Brooks - Date: 2008-08-04 - Word Count: 730 Share This!

I am sure you are all aware of the drop in home prices that has come with all the sub-prime mortgage mess and economic recession.  In San Diego, where I have lived most of my life, homes prices have fallen approximately 25%.  In my opinion they are simply coming in line with what they are actually worth.  I live in an area called Bay Park, near the coast.  Most of the homes are very modest and unremarkable but because of their proximity to the ocean they are very, very expensive.  At the height of the market, the home that I am currently renting, which is only about 1,200 square feet was worth about $800,000.  Give me a break.  Another example of this insanity is a custom home that was recently completed down the street from me and now it is for sale.  The asking price is $1.25 million.  Yikes!  It's nice and all but in no way is it worth that much money.

But, now many of the homes that are on the market in my neighborhood have come down to under $600k (still a lot).  There was even a home that went for under $400k just two doors down from me, it was a bank repossession.  It went so fast that they never even put a sign on the lawn.  

Anyways, the bottom line is that the time is upon right to start getting serious about home buying. Or, at least that is the pressure I feel I am under.  I guess I have never considered myself ready to buy.  This may be more of a mental barrier than an economic one.  I have done some inquiring.  I have a friend who is a mortgage broker and he has given me some good information about loans and the market in general.  It's pretty daunting.

Prices aside, I do know basically what I want, a 2000 square foot 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with a master suite.  My wife and I have three kids and in our relatively small home, space and privacy are a problem.  I would like a separate dining room with a large table that can seat 10-12 people.  I like entertaining. I would love custom blinds and wood floors throughout and some nice area rugs for warmth and color.  I would also love a view of the ocean, which is something I have now, albeit from afar.  I would like a decent sized lot so that my kids have a backyard to play in.  Last but not least, I want a two car garage. 

Sounds pretty much like the typical American family home.  Here in San Diego - no scratch that - here in Southern California - no scratch that too; anywhere near the coast in California, the price for that home is in the $3/4 million range and up, probably way up.  So, maybe the reality is that my dream home exists in another state.  The barriers to home buying have become so high over the last two decades, it is no wonder so many people got into so much trouble.  Desperation (buyers) coupled with greed (mortgage brokers and banks) is a dangerous mix.  I can also understand why people are leaving California, so they can find an affordable piece of the American dream of home ownership.  My Father lives in Tennessee and he owns a home that is bigger than my dream home on a full acre of land in a nice community.  He bought it for around $130k 10 or 12 years ago and it's now worth approximately $200k.  His mortgage is less than one thousand dollars. 

To leave California, or even San Diego for that matter means that I would be leaving most of my extended family.  This too is a high price to pay.  The irony is that we all seem to stay put for each other even though we would all rather live somewhere else.  San Diego just doesn't fulfill our needs for community, access to nature and affordability. 

I know what I want but I don't know that I can afford it, maybe ever.  And, I am not willing to leave San Diego for family reasons and because my oldest daughter starts High School in the Fall.  So for now, I guess I need to make the most of my affordable rental house even though I hate the thought of investing money in a home I don't own. 

Related Tags: relocating, window treatments, buying a home, home prices, sub-prime mortgage, san diego housing market

Rather than do nothing, I think I'll do what I can afford and add some of my dream home attributes to the rental, like maybe some new window treatments, such as window curtains and wood blinds and maybe a big dining room table for my tiny living room/dining room. - David Brooks

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