I was browsing some news on the US housing market, when I came across this bit about mortgage debt and ARM loans in Newsweek titled Escape from the Money pit. The title was an attention grabber, but it was the subheading that really surprised me though, in bold letters across the top of the column it says:
Home buyers thought they could put their house under their pillow and let the tooth fairy raise its value while they slept. Too bad.
..Which struck me as surprisingly callous for a column in a major publication. While I certainly agree that people are responsible for what they do with their money, I think we could show a little sympathy for people who got in over their heads and are upside-down on their mortgage. Lets be honest: the average person doesn’t have the time or inclination to completely educate themselves on some of the finer points of personal finance. Its not that they aren’t ‘smart’ enough, it’s that life is full of things that demand our attentions but only a finite amount of time to focus on them.
People buy houses for all sorts of reasons and sometimes the timing is off, but how can you blame them for buying at the top when nobody knows what the ‘top’ of a market is except in hindsite? The fact that house prices can go down isn’t a secret, but lets face it: It’s not really the attribute that marketers are going to trumpet and going deeply into debt is the American way.