The seminar program is sponsored by a mortgage insurance company, so there's lots of propagandist testimonials about how awesome it is to own a home. There's also lots of testimonials about how anyone can do it. It takes a lot of work and dedication-- and help from mortgage insurance!-- but even people with bad credit or not much savings can realize this dream.
Much of the vocabulary associated with home buying sounds like stuff you'd read in a Dan Savage sex advice column: flipping, packing, concessions, predatory behavior, balloon payments, closing costs. Some random notes/comments about the class:
- Buying a house makes you a somebody, not a nobody.
- Seller concessions are "gimmicky." Don't fall for them.
- The guy in the video kept mentioning my "counselor" and that I should discuss home buying decisions with them. I took this to mean I have to get a therapist before I buy a house.
- The entire video only had one line about what to consider when you're house hunting. Something about proximity to churches and schools. Then they went right back to talking about...financing! I didn't learn one new thing I should ask about when I'm looking at a house.
- The lady narrating the second video was thoroughly disgusted by predatory lenders. To help us feel the danger of predatory lenders, a song very similar to the theme from Jaws played in the background. But different enough that they wouldn't have to pay royalties to Steven Spielberg.
- They never said how much I could get if I sell my kidney for a down payment. But I was dying to ask.
- All the people looking for homes in the videos were women or minorities. The only white males in the video were home inspectors or shady lenders.
I'm really happy for the people in the video who realized their dream of owning a home, but I don't know if it's for me. My heart's just not in it right now.
I looked at six open houses one day last month. This past Sunday I looked at another four. I may have the credit and income to buy a house, but I'm not sure I have the dedication and enthusiasm.
People in my family have been pressuring me to buy a home. My oldest brother would give me an hour and a half Powerpoint presentation on it if I let him. The guy's a broken record: Buy a house, buy a house, buy a house. Oh, and get a dog, too.
Hey, I get it. This is the best time in the history of everything to buy a house. I understand the financial advantages of putting money into a house rather than "throwing it away" on rent. And I have every intention of owning a home one day. I don't plan to rent forever. I have to grow up sometime.
But there are other considerations in life besides financial ones. I just got divorced in the past year. My nest egg (for a down payment) has been cut in half. Do I really want to take on all the responsibilities of home ownership by myself? And looking for a house, for me, feels like it should be a social activity. It's something you do as a family, or at least as a couple. You have to have someone to argue with about whether a fireplace is more important than a porch. And my cat just won't get into that argument with me.
I know that single people buy houses all the time, and I don't have a problem with that. I may be one of them soon. But so far, I just haven't found the right house-- one that ignites my passion the way, say, a pizza does. I'll keep looking, though. Because I like feeling good.