Thursday, April 03, 2008

What's it worth?

The NYT has a story about how being unable to sell their house is keeping couples apart. When one spouse gets a job in another city, the left-behind spouse is stuck selling the house...or trying to.

Dr. Michele Morgan migrated last fall from Detroit to Phoenix, taking a job as a psychiatrist. She expected her husband, Sam Kirkland, to soon join her, since he was accepting an early retirement package from his employer, General Motors. But he cannot move, he says, because he has not been able to sell the four-bedroom family home.

I wonder what's keeping him from selling the house? Is there an armed guard preventing people from signing a contract? An order from a judge prohibiting potential buyers from even looking at it? Or could the problem inflated sense of the house's value?

“As things now stand,” said Mr. Kirkland, who is 51 and intends to seek work in Phoenix, if he ever gets there, “my wife might decide to give up her job in Phoenix and come back to Detroit for a while, until we can sell the house.”

Let's just mentally add "for a price we are willing to accept" to the end of that last sentence, shall we? Surely there's somebody willing to buy any of these houses for one dollar cash. Probably even more than one person! But the owners are not willing to sell at that price, even if it means giving up the new job and new life in a new town, because they'll have to keep the mortgage debt.

So a past decision (to buy or mortgage a house for a whole lot of money) is constraining the current choice field; no sympathy, buddy. And no rescue, not on my dime anyway.

1 comment:

Mark Jones said...

Well, you hope it won't be on your dime. But there's a lot of folks out there who very much want to be rescued on your dime. Question is, will the politicians listen to them?