Sunday, October 21, 2007
Falling into the Sub-Prime Pit
It would appear that the Kews have fallen into the pit created by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the consequent slowing of the economy, and the slump in the housing market. Other than a nibble or two, very little interest has been shown in our house in Tennessee by potential buyers, and with winter coming on this is not the time of the year when people traditionally spend a lot of time and effort trying to find a new roof to put over their heads. We aren't alone, tens of thousands of sellers are in the same boat even in fast-growing counties like ours.
Meanwhile, within the next ten day we complete the purchase of a house here in England, and face the prospect of two mortgages to pay every month for a while. I don't like the idea at all, but there is little I can do about it. I had lunch with an old friend the other day who was caught in the same bind of owning two houses for several years in the recession of fifteen years or so ago -- something I hope and pray does not happen to us!
It seems only yesterday that folks were saying that there should be no reason at all why people wouldn't snap up our home in Williamson County, Tennessee, set as it is overlooking a beautiful view that will never be spoiled by building, a home that is energy smart, beautifully finished, and has been a delight and joy to ourselves. But that was before we found ourselves on the receiving end of a financial crisis that has been partly triggered by a major failure on the part of the banking system when it comes to making loans to families wanting a home of their own.
The tragedy of this whole banking crisis is that so many who aspired to the American dream of their own rather than a rented roof have now lost what they yearned for in the downward spiral that has taken place. I suspect we will be able to find our way financially through the impact of this crisis upon ourselves although will lose quite a lot as a result, but others have had their lives ruined for years to come, sometimes as a result of their own collusion with the less-than-honest practices of the mortgage companies.
I love my solar home in Tennessee, and so does Rosemary, my wife, and we built it in an effort to be environmentally responsible. We love it so much that we want to pass it on as a trust to some other family who will take care of it and use it to make the point that there are ways of living comfortably but having a minimal impact upon the world's climate.
If God had not called us to the new work which I am now doing in Cambridge, England, there is no way in the world that we would have left this house so soon. But following God's clear leading sometimes means making painful sacrifices, and that is what we are in the process of doing. The problem is that the sacrifice is now even more painful than we had anticipated.
What has happened in the USA regarding sub-prime mortgages, their packaging, and their selling on to other lenders, is now having an impact here in Britain. This crisis is truly global. Last month I saw the very first bank run of my life, when thousands lined up outside offices of the once much-respected British bank, Northern Rock, to retrieve savings which they thought they might lose. Watching the line snaking along the street in Cambridge was like seeing live the run on the family savings and loan in the Jimmy Stewart classic, "Its A Wonderful Life."
Then there was the news this week that over 65% of mortgage applications were turned down in this country last month -- which is one reason, I think, why my bank has been dragging its feet, and turning over every stone before issuing the loan that I need here. In these last couple of months I have learned a lot about the knock on effect of sin, and the disappointment of seeing something that is precious to me waiting forlornly for a new owner.