Ever been house poor?


Randy Butler Contributing columnist

Randy Butler Contributing columnist


Last week I, along with 15 members of my family, were at Ocean Isle Beach for the week. We had a fantastic time. All the kids and grandkids were there to make up a total of 16 staying in one house overlooking the beach. How much better could my life be? Why am I so blessed? Not only to have such a wonderful family, but to wonder how two dumb kids started all this way back in 1978.

Was it because I have made such wise financial decisions all my adult life or could it be merely that I am getting older and things happen much easier than in times past? Looking back, I have made some money choices that would make Jethro Bodine scratch his head in dismay (some readers may have to look up who that was). A lot of it is simply an age thing, for me at least.

Back when all three kids were at home, like most young families, we went through some very lean times. It was a well-kept secret between the two of us. How we made it through is a mystery, but we did.

As the saying goes, we all must live somewhere. And to further that saying, we all pay a mortgage. Some of us just don’t pay our own. A good rental is about as hard to find as a home to purchase. At the present time, there’s not many of them either.

Lenders today will mandate any buyer to go through quite a process to qualify for a loan. The documentation and proof of anything you have done, good or bad, is almost endless. In the end, if you pass the tests, jump through the hoops, and prove victorious, you will receive the loan.

There can, however, be setbacks. There are things that life throws at us all that can prove hard to overcome. There can be a layoff at the plant, the overtime suddenly stops, roof needs replaced, a furnace stops working in January, the engine blows in the work car, and the list can go on. I read a few years ago that many Americans are only two missed paychecks away from losing everything they have. Now that’s a scary statistic.

Our first home was rented from a family member in 1980. I had thought it was a fair deal at the time — only $75 per month. I had no idea that I would pay $150 per week about eight to nine months out of the year to Landmark for fuel oil. Three months after the furnace was shut down, we were still paying the bill.

I make my living by helping folks make one of the largest and most important investments of their lives. It’s not my call if they should or shouldn’t. That is up to them. Do they struggle, is it too much for them, is it more than they need? Those questions and others often pop into my mind.

“House Poor” defined: Having the majority of one’s income going towards the high cost of one’s home, such as mortgage or rent, property taxes, utilities, etc.… leaving very little money for other expenditures. We may not want to admit the truth, but for many of us, me included, we can relate to this definition.

Lenders have many guidelines they must abide by, along with the policies of each individual bank, and all do very well or they wouldn’t be in business. But here’s a final thought that was told to me many years ago by a wealthy man: “Just because the loan officer says you can, that doesn’t always mean you should.”

Very strong advice.

Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.

Randy Butler Contributing columnist
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2019/07/web1_Butler-Randy-new-mug-1.jpgRandy Butler Contributing columnist