Friday, February 24, 2012

Mortgage Means "Death Contract" in French

Call me Sisyphus. I am part of the never ending grind of home ownership. I am here to say to American women - having a house does not NOT have to be part of having it all!

I, like many people I suspect, was very eagar to "grow up". I hated (still do) being told what to do by people with such inferior intellegence to my own as my parents (if I only knew then what I know now...) But I knew what I wanted and by golly, I was going to have it. The whole nine yards - the husband, home, and children. Be careful what you wish for as the saying goes.

I'm grateful for the husband and the children (most of the time), but why I thought I HAD to have a house eludes me. I vaguly remember living in our 1 bedroom apartment as a twenty-something and thinking that a house would be SO much better. No noisy neighbors, my own parking spot, more space to entertain, oh and the chance to be taken seriously as an adult. Because nothing says serious like having a mortgage.

Now owning the home for 7 years, it has some of the advantages of the above list, but the disadavantages make me understand what Dinane Keaton was going for in Baby Boom when she bought 20 gallons of kerosene. Because I unintentionally bought the MONEY PIT. I loved our little cottage but it has its flaws. Just like the quirks about your mate you found amusing when you first met that now drive you bat shit crazy, likewise my house has become like an endless bad date. I now know that the phrase "It's a good investment" is a lie. Know why? Because a GOOD investment will let you get your money back out while owning a house is like buying GM stock. You can get in for a great deal but good luck unloading it.

My home had "good bones". That translates into, when it was new it was well built but 70 years and 5 tenents later, it needs to be overhauled. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't advocate buying a new built home either. Those things look like cardboard doll houses that are made with less real wood than an Ikea entertainment center. But starry eyed as we were, my husband convinced me (and himself apparently) that we could own and take care of a home. That idea went out the window about a month after we moved in and our first daugheter was born. Because also (so conveniently) at that time, the kitchen ceiling sprouted a leak every time we took a shower. And my husband had no idea what to do about it. I mean, he gave it the old college try - new grout, tightening up the head joints, whatever, he did try. But to no avail. Finally when the kitchen ceiling began to fall on the floor, we had to admit we were in over our heads. And so it goes, the leak became a bathroom redo, which necessitated calling in a plumber, which meant ripping out the kitchen ceiling, which meant a kitchen makeover and so on.

Guess what? None of these items on the agenda have ever been completed. There is still an unfinished wall in the bathroom, a hole in the kitchen ceiling, and my cabinets are still sitting in the garage while the dishes have to be piled on the counter tops. As an bonus, the uptairs toilet no longer flushes properly (we think "someone" tried to flush a Barbie toothbrush down it). But this is yet another example of why home ownership should be left to the experts. I'm not a plumber. Or a roofer, a drywall expert, a landscape artist, an electrician, or a small appliance repair person. Unless you are, (or are independently wealthy, I'd think twice). All I see about this house now is, how can I spend the least amount of money to fix it while getting the most amount of money back out of it? I'm not optimistic. Whether we stay here for the rest of our lives or are lucky enough to find a way out, I will never buy another house! I'm thinking, town-home sounds good. One with a maintenance person on call 24/7.