Friday, February 13, 2009

Portrait: Pflugerville, Texas

We bought our house right before the housing bubble burst. I'm convinced there is no worse feeling than knowing that your house is worth 20K less than what you paid for it less than a month after you've bought it. Our home was built in a modest neighborhood and it is the smallest floor plan that our builder does (in fact, I don't think they even build this small of a house anymore). So we knew that we could afford our house, and we weren't living extravagantly, but, we also knew that we both had to have jobs to keep the mortgage above water and pay bills.

At the time, I worked 2 and a half jobs. My primary job was as a part-time assistant for a real estate agent. For my secondary job, I worked as an assistant to a salesperson for a luxury home-builder. My third job was contract work as a transcriber/copywriter. In the first year that I was working for the real-estate agent, my work hours had been cut back to nearly nothing. But, the interesting thing is, my boss's focus shifted from selling homes to specializing in foreclosure. With job #2, homes simply stopped moving. They weren't selling, and my job basically became unnecessary. But one interesting thing I noted while I was there, is that most of the homes we were selling were to people moving to Texas from California. They frequently commented on how you could buy a 4,000 square foot home with an acre or four of land in Texas for the price of a 1000 sq. ft. home out in Cali. So the only dependable income that I had was the least paying job out of all three.

On the flip side, my husband got a raise and started doing really well at his job and his company started doing really, really well. In our neighborhood alone, there are homes going up for sale left and right. Some of these houses haven't even been occupied for a year yet. My neighbors down the street were there one day, and the next, there is a foreclosure/eviction notice taped to their front door. Foreclosure specialists like my old boss are closing deals like crazy in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods like ours in the area.

The scary thing is, builders aren't slowing down anymore. They did for about four months, but now, our neighborhood is closing out. They are putting up new houses and they are just sitting there. This makes about "0" sense to me. Not only are the houses just sitting there, the bigger houses are selling now for what we paid for our small house, thus decreasing our home's value. I am not working now at all. If my husband lost his job (luckily, we still are pretty positive that this won't happen), we couldn't sell our house for what we owe. We are literally upside down, but blessed to be here.

Pflugerville, Texas