Text is Read article and Link is www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21106123/Read article
It’s no mystery to Dale and Darby Brennan why they have not realized their vision of the middle-class dream, despite seeing their income double to $70,000 in the past four years.
“We are doing all the right things with our money and I feel like the dream of owning a home is still so out of reach for us,” says Darby. “I don’t want a handout. I just feel like our middle-class income should be enough and it’s not.”
When I first read this, and some incendiary statements recorded in the article, my head boiled over with a long diatribe, and then I remembered my readers deserve better. So read the above and know, that I live a few short miles from this family and when we bought here we were earning the same amount of money, and had a car loan, put at least 15% of our gross income into retirement plans, but didn't have children.
$1050 for house rent is EXCELLENT. I was thinking I could rent my house out for $1600. If I wanted to rent a house closer to the schools where I REALLY want my kid to go I'd be paying $1800-$2000 (two miles away).
$720 for TWO CHILDREN in daycare is EXCELLENT. I paid no less than $910 and for some months as high as $1095 for ONE CHILD for over five years.
They have TWO CARS. We have been a ONE CAR family since 2001, driving the same car since 1996. (Three vehicle family now, but still ONE CAR, plus a FlexCar membership for those winter months.)
They spend twice as much as we do for cell phones, and three times as much as we do for gasoline. Their utility bills are higher as well (and my house is going through some energy upgrades).
Median family income of $75,600 is for King County. These people do not live in either Seattle nor Bellevue. They live in Mountlake Terrace, in Snohomish County where the median family income is $65,273.
The Brennans’ street is the boundary between King County, where the median home price is $440,000, and Snohomish County, where it is $370,000. Even with a fat down payment in either county, which they don’t have, the Brennans wouldn’t qualify for a conventional mortgage on a median-priced home.
House prices have to come down. They are coming down, they're just not crashing here yet like they are elsewhere. I don't get this hotfooting and jumping up and down and wanting a house NOW NOW NOW and saying "I don't want a handout." I don't get the "we're not saving for retirement, we borrow for cars, we have children and student loans and we're doing everything right with our money" thinking.
WSU keeps a special set of statistics on housing affordability for first-time buyers. Those numbers are especially dismal, indicating that the average first-time home-buying family or individual couldn’t afford even 40 percent of the mortgage on a starter home in King County.
TRUE. Even without student loans, car payments and children, a family earning $70K could not buy a HOUSE. A two-bedroom condo out in Lynnwood or Everett, maybe right now. Heck, I can't buy a house where I live on $140K. Well, I could, but I wouldn't respect myself in the morning.
The problem for a lot of the middle class is a consumer mindset, says Dale, a devoted listener of talk radio who says he quickly transformed from a liberal Democrat to a conservative Republican after becoming a father and going to work in a small business.
Dale Brennan loves his job as the manager of a Seattle-area produce stand.
“Things are to be earned, not for instant gratification,” he explains. “It’s not what you have; it’s getting there.” That's fine with me, what I don't get is converting to a different political ideology because AFTER car loans, student loans and having babies, one decides personal responsibility is a good thing. Because "that other side" can't ever lay claim to personal responsibility. I'm probably irresponsible in spite of wanting to save up to buy a car, or pay off car loans early, and started retirement as soon as I had disposable income, and waited until I was financially 'okay' before having kids, because it's easier for Dale's brain to see people who don't agree with his political viewpoints as personally irresponsible.
I am envious that Darby Brennan can find time to bake bread and help the girls clean their room. We have not-so-hot furniture ourselves, and really modest electronics--so modest the thieves flashlight into our living room and can't see a stereo or TV or computer so they leave us alone. The $20 a month for entertainment is very ambitious too: I think we pay that per person per week. So buying thrift store clothing, making bread from scratch, and using one credit card for gas only: those are things I could certainly do for the benefit of the budget. But is that "doing everything right?"
We had assets equivalent to one year's salary when we bought. It's bad timing that the Brennans have to contend with: trying to accumulate money when rate cuts to bail out homeowners are disincentives to save.
This is like me going up to Vancouver, BC and saying 'guldarnit! Houses here go for $850K Canadian! I can't buy a house on $140K/year!' (No kidding! How about waiting for house prices to come down?)
I guess delayed gratification and being priced out of the market are not partisan issues.
: I do not earn $140K/yr. I just threw that number out because the Brennans' salary doubled over four years, and I wanted to make the point that in the Seattle area, families earning under $150K are priced out right now. If people are still buying homes, it's either because they're downsizing or they have inheritances or they earn in excess of $150K/year.