Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Encore: Tales from the Spook House

Welcome to the Friday Encore where you'll get to read a past blog posting that I thought you might not want to miss. Okay, call it a repeat if you want. When necessary the post may be updated with new information or data to keep it relevant. The following was originally posted February, 2008.

Tales from the Spook House
When I was a kid growing up outside of Philadelphia there was an
amusement park
nestled alongside the Brandywine Creek that we went to often. It was originally built in the early 1900’s but it’s poor placement next to the creek caused it to flood repeatedly and eventually close. I have wonderful memories of the games, rides and duck pond but the thing that attracted me most was the spook house. It never failed to creep me out even after going through it bazillion times.

It may have just been a trailer with some hokey rubber snakes and rickety floor but looking back I had good reason to fear the spook house. Fear is a natural instinct and it’s just nature’s way of protecting us. Right? Heck right! A house is a scary thing.

When you own a house you’re constantly finding some frightening thing. Like coming home to see water running out of your garage. This happened to me a few Christmases ago when we forgot to winterize the swamp cooler. It was raining inside my house—not good. Or when a big truck shows up at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday delivering a dumpster to your neighbors house. Yeah, they didn’t plan that major excavation. Then there are the gurgles that the heater makes in the wee hours of the morning. The frog with his face smashed up against the window in the basement. I could go on and on, but the mother of all frights has got to be the MORTGAGE.

Unless you’re living blissfully in your parent’s basement with a free supply of toilet paper and a fridge full of food, you’re well aware of the mortgage crises affecting Colorado and the nation. It’s basically the tale of how too many starry-eyed people bought into the
crap that a owning your own home is great investment, ignored their small wallets and took the poison apple of questionable mortgage programs. Economists are not expecting a quick turnaround for the housing market in 2008. (well, that prediction came true.)

But don’t let all the bad press frighten you away from buying a home. People have been successfully purchasing own homes for decades—and you can too. All you have to do is trust nature and follow two basic instincts.

Instinct #1: Fear
Fear is good. Personal development gurus are always trying to help people overcome fear. But this basic instinct is often the key to your survival. If you’re in the jungle (or even in the zoo) and you come across a tiger don’t try to overcome your fear and pet the tiger. So if you’re small wallet meets a big house, don’t let the wallet get eaten by the house.

Fear #2: Logic (okay this may not be an “official” instinct but is important)
If something isn’t logical then something’s just not right. Mortgages can be overwhelming even when they are very straightforward like the standard 30-year fixed. That’s mostly because they are often described in terms that are unfamiliar. Before you dive into a mortgage educate yourself. There are tons of books and websites that explain all the terminology and workings of mortgages. If a lender offers you something outside the norm tread with caution. Creative lending is one of the leading contributors to the mound of foreclosures the economy is currently experiencing. Your best bet is to stick with secure lenders that you know you can trust—like you’re credit union. Avoid strip mall no name mortgage shops.

So now after all those years since the close of the spook house I still shiver whenever I see one at a local carnival. But it’s just a little shiver. Cause I’m much stronger now. I’m homeowner and I’ve faced mortgages and home repairs. I know how to look under those rickety floorboards and read through the fine print. I was once afraid, but now I’m fearless and I make my mortgage payment every month.

Be inspired. Save for you’re down payment. Don’t get a mortgage you can’t afford. And don’t be suckered by spooky lending. Fear not. You can own your own home.

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