Friday, December 11, 2009
The Dream That Was
I have always wanted to own a house. I believe in real estate as a long term investment. My husband sees buying a house as an encumbrance, a ball and chain. When we came to California, from France, over two decades ago we were given a couple of opportunities by different landlords, who would have agreed to lease-option/rent to buy terms. For a $10,000 down payment we would have had our feet on the rungs of the property ladder and avoided a lot of disruptive moves that have happened when our rental homes have been sold out from under us. Not to mention truck loads of monthly rent money being flushed down the toilet.
My life/work world is with construction and remodeling. Many of my friends are designers, architects and builders. I love suggesting a practical solution to an on-site problem and seeing it worked out successfully. Add to that my passion for gardening, which had one home in which we lived photographed for a front page feature on curb-appeal, and I have no doubts that I can improve the value of just about any property.
My dream of home ownership was always on the back burner. I couldn't force my husband to do something he was so against and I had no independent means at hand. When it turned out that there was indeed something left over after my parents' demise, something I had not imagined would be the case, I thanked them mentally and started to rework the dream into a possibility.
My plan was to provide a substantial down payment so that Lovely Daughter and her husband could get a starter home. My investment was not a gift. We would calculate a percentage of ownership and re-evaluate in five years. They would pay the mortgage, which would be affordable, due to my down payment and they would get the tax deductions and be paying to own their own place, rather than rent.
My husband was against it. (No big surprise there!). This time it was not his call to make.
Lovely Daughter and her Man are young. In the early days of our plan they had a wish list of size, condition, amenities and location which put us in a price range that was beyond our reach. The intensity of the search has waxed and waned over the last year and a half; backing off after the initial enthusiasm, as the reality of their options set in. They have re-signed their lease a couple of times as they pay less that way. Each time it pushes back our timing.
The fact that home prices have dropped and that they have compromised on how far they are willing to commute to work, amongst other things, was keeping my hopes alive.
I'm not sure that there is a glimmer of hope left now, hence my recent melt down. I have been applying chunks of my inheritance to plug the gaps in our business, buy inventory, etc. The theory being that I will get it back one day. Anyone who has ever owned a small business knows how unlikely that is. The black holes in our solar system cannot swallow up what a small business can.
Up until now, the plummeting price of real estate has almost kept pace with my diminishing stockpile of funds. I have lowered my sights from being 1/3 owner to putting up 15%. It would have been achievable. The kids worked at having great credit ratings. They have the advantage of a low interest loan from Veterans' Affairs, due to son-in-law's service in The Marines.
The last week or two has been full of clients, happy with work we have completed but not planning on paying us until after the end of the year, WTF? I went to the bank to do what I must do to pay our bills and am now trying to face the fact that "What Might Have Been" may well be over, with no way to get it back.