May 30, 2005

Abolish mortgage tax-deductibility!

John Berry is right: as he says in a very compelling column this week, it's time to scrap the personal income tax deduction for home mortgage-interest payments. I said as much a few months ago:

There is no prima facie reason why mortgage interest should be tax deductible while mortgage principal is not and rent is not. Really, it mainly benefits the big banks, because there's an incentive to stretch out your mortgage payments and to continually refinance, so that you're only ever paying mortgage interest and not paying down principal.

Berry has the numbers, and lots more reasons:

  • Most homeowners don't claim it.
  • Abolishing it would funnel hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years to a cash-starved federal government.
  • The government already spends billions of dollars a year in other housing subsidies, when housing is probably the last US industry which needs any kind of subsidy at all.

Besides, as Brad Setser notes, "this is a government policy that favors the haves on the coast over the haves in the interior, and haves over have-nots everywhere".

Many observers have been very critical of Alan Greenspan for not raising margin requirements in an attempt to slow down the rate of expansion of the stock-market bubble at the end of the 1990s. Abolishing the tax-deductibility of mortgage payments is something which might slow down the rate of expansion of the housing bubble we're in right now (although there's no certainty about that: see the British experience).

So – it would overwhelmingly hurt blue-staters, it would raise hundreds of billions of dollars for the fiscal accounts, and it would make it seem like the Bush Administration is addressing the housing bubble. What's not to like?

Posted by Felix at 12:36 AM GMT
Comments
#1

People make long-term decisions based on tax law. You can't just throw the mortage write-off out the window.

I could see where a ten-year phase out might work, but you'd need to codify it all the way through at the beginning. Use the same law to begin the migration to a flat-tax. 10 years, bit by bit.

Posted by: Sterling on May 31, 2005 02:44 AM
#2

If you want, you can grandfather in present deductions, and just make any mortgages from here on out non-tax-deductible. It would have a similar fiscal effect, with zero downside to people who have made long-term decisions based on the deductibility of their present mortgages.

Posted by: Felix on May 31, 2005 03:17 AM
#3

Most homeowners don't claim it!? That's crazy, everyone I know practically depends on it for their returns. I know that's anecdotal, but that's the best I've got.

Posted by: sac on May 31, 2005 04:28 PM
#4

Maybe, Sac, that's because, er, Sacramento is the new New York. In other words, this particular benefit is overwhelmingly claimed by Californians, with New Yorkers in second place.

Posted by: Felix on May 31, 2005 05:13 PM
#5

Felix, if no one is claiming this deduction (which I do because I'm not an idiot homeowner - at least in this regard) then how is it going to pipe all that money back into the system? Sorry, but I don't see it. Tax breaks for homeownership are a good thing - it indirectly stimulates savings and capital accumulation, both of which help fuel the economy. Construction has been consistently strong over the past few years, why would we want to cut out that part of our economy too? Sorry, but if people haven't figured out that renting is silly, tough.

SAC, you and I must be the only 2 in the nation claiming it.

Posted by: Sanford on May 31, 2005 05:18 PM
#6

I didn't say that no one is claiming it. But less than 30% of taxpayers claim it, despite the fact that 70% of households are owner-occupied. Why? The alternative minimum deduction. It only makes sense to claim the deduction if it's worth more than the standard deduction available to everyone, which this year is $10,000 for a couple filing jointly. So if your mortgage is relatively small, then claiming the deduction might not be worth it. Or, if you've had your mortgage for a long time and haven't refinanced, then you might be mainly paying down principal rather than interest -- and only mortgage interest, not mortgage principal, is tax-deductible.

Having a tax break on mortgage interest payments is one of the weirdest ways I can imagine of trying to encourage homeownership. It's more of an incentive to refinance than it is an incentive to buy. In fact, insofar as it drives up housing prices, it acts as a disincentive to buy.

Do explain how homeownership stimulates savings and capital accumulation -- I don't see it. In fact, as the value of the housing stock in the US has been skyrocketing, the national savings rate has only been going down.

And as Berry points out, there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that abolishing this deduction would hurt the construction industry -- just look at eg Britain.

And, not all renters are silly. Many of them simply don't have the down payments needed to buy -- and in any case, in many markets, including New York City and most of California, it's actually cheaper to rent than to buy. If housing prices don't continue to rise, it's actually silly to buy rather than rent.

Posted by: Felix on May 31, 2005 05:48 PM
#7

Sanford, count me in as #3. Almost all of my wealth has been accumulated through real estate. At age 33, I'm onto my third property.

I too thought I couldn't afford my first downpayment (I was 21 at the time) until I learned of the First Time Homebuyer Program which allows American Citizens to buy with only 3% down plus closing costs which I think can be rolled into the mortgage. Best thing I ever did because I was able to roll that equity into a bigger house (which I was able to write off $30k in interest per year) in northern Virginia which exploded in value over only 3 years. I then rented it out for another two and then sold it before capital gains taxes (owner occupied provision) would catch up with me. Cha-ching!

Felix, The reality is people these days don't buy a property to live in it forever and actually pay it off like they did in the 50's. We buy with a 5-year perspective in mind because most people will outgrow their houses (family-wise) - and perhaps turn it into a rental property - or relocate for jobs during that window of time or the house outgrows them when children leave.

Single women are the largest market for condos. They don't want to wait until they get married to take advantage of the tax breaks. They in turn bring that wealth into a marriage and spur the economy yet again when the couple combines savings to buy an even bigger home. My sister in law bought a townhouse in the Bay Area when she was single. Now that she's married and a DINK, she's in a $1.5m house in the Oakland Hills. She'll be writing off a lot of interest.

Everyone I know has refinanced their homes several times over the years to take advantage of the low interest rates. Some have even refinanced multiple times in less than a year because it still made sense. I'm in a 5-year ARM and am rolling the dice with the American economy so I'll need to refi soon too.

Posted by: michelle on June 1, 2005 03:46 PM
#8

Right on Michelle.

Felix, the reasons that being able to write off the interest is an incentive to buy are numerous. First, for some, it's a good way to be able to itemize our taxes and the standard deduction sucks, unless that's all the more you make. Second, without a MAJOR restructuring of the tax code (something DC does not have the balls or the stomach for), without such a huge write off, the tax scheme becomes skewed punishing those with enough in our pocket to swing the ball and the chain each month.

Michelle basically said it all before, so I shouldn't go on, but you are wrong Felix. The ability to write off interest is in no way an incentive to refinance (why would I refinance a higher rate to a lower one if I am losing the tax break there?) and furthermore, refinancing has S.A.N.othing to do with the price of the property. Low interest rates (cheap money) and scarce property do drive prices up, but tax breaks are not a dollar for dollar deduction off your tax bill, and have nothing to do with the silly prices being paid in NYC, SFO, LAX, etc.

As far as savings go, for most households, the home is the single greatest asset they have. Jesus, do you need to be spoon fed too? From my families experience, we have accrued approximately a 1320% rate of return net/net after 7 years and based on similar current home prices in my neighborhood. As well, as I pay my own property taxes (another write off I take too), I have about thousands sitting in a bank right now (earning less interest than I'd like, but oh well) waiting to pay my first tax bill.

I think you are just mad that you are paying your landlord's mortgage aren't you? If you are disciplined, you can do much in this life.

Posted by: Sanford on June 1, 2005 04:36 PM
#9

Felix, sorry, I just now read the article which you did not really explain well. Sure, removing the equity line interest deduction is fine with me, but it's not refinancing as you stated, it's a second mortgage.

Next, the author is foolish to believe that households are going to increase their investments in business as a result of losing a tax break I hold. Sorry, but I don't own a business, and investing in the market unless at an IPO is in no way floating capital for investment except if the business uses their increasing stock price to leverage a M&A. So, why again would people save more? I just don't see the incentive.

Cheers.

Posted by: Sanford on June 1, 2005 05:05 PM
#10

Michelle -- I'm glad you've made lots of money in real estate -- bully for you. But anybody buying in this market with 3% down and closing costs rolled into their mortgage is taking a huge risk. Those of us who lived in Britain in the early 90s well remember negative equity -- it's not a pretty sight.

In any case, none of this has anything to do with the tax break on mortgage interest. In case I'm not being clear here, I have nothing against home ownership -- in fact, I just bought an apartment myself. But I don't think that the amount of homeownership would go down if the tax deduction were to be abolished.

Sanford -- I don't know what you mean about a skewed tax code. Why do people paying mortgage interest deserve to pay less taxes than people without mortgages? It doesn't make sense to me.

Of course the tax break is an incentive to refinance. Let's say I'm on course to pay off my mortgage in two years. I'm getting very little in the way of a tax break, since I'm basically just paying down principal at this point. But say I refinance, probably for a greater amount, at 30 years -- then suddenly my mortgage interest payments skyrocket, and thereby my tax deductions do too. If interest rates have come down, my monthly repayments might well be considerably lower, and yet my tax deductions will be much higher.

As for business investments, it's a simple zero-sum hypothetical. Basically, there's a national ratio between investment in property and investment in business, and that ratio has been going up to what is now a record high. Remember, those few thousand dollars you have in the bank are basically an investment in business: you're lending them at a very low rate of interest to the bank, which is onlending them at a much higher rate of interest to local businesses. If you had more money in the bank, investment in business, from your bank, would go up.


Posted by: Felix on June 1, 2005 07:51 PM
#11

Felix: you're talking like the housing market actually fluctuates. Didn't you know, it goes up endlessly? Didn't the stock market teach you that in the 90's?

The interesting thing about this crunch is that whereas the collaspe of the stock market took away a lot of unrealized gains or depleted retirement savings, neither of which had measurable cash flow effect month to month, when people start living the immediate effects of negative equity (something like 30% of mortgages last year were interest-only), the blowback is going to be much nastier, especially since in many cases one form of debt (refis and equity) is underwriting another (consumer credit and spending).

And this is where we will get preachy folk talking about how it's stupid consumers fault for the credit card bills, but lest you forget, it was that idiocy that kept the economy expanding over the past three years.

Posted by: 99 on June 1, 2005 08:07 PM
#12

"Michelle -- I'm glad you've made lots of money in real estate -- bully for you"

He's a testy, bitter, little boy, ain't he?

"But anybody buying in this market with 3% down and closing costs rolled into their mortgage is taking a huge risk. "

In what world is putting minimal downpayment down and letting the bank take the remainder of the risk, a "huge risk"? Instead of paying off my house, I keep all my excess cash and invest it elsewhere because I aim to do better than 4.5% (my current mortgage interest rate). In fact, I have an interest only loan. Oh no! Am I taking a huge risk? Felix, do share your fantastic insight into investments with us. Then let's compare balance sheets and see who's done better over the last 10 years.

"Those of us who lived in Britain in the early 90s well remember negative equity -- it's not a pretty sight."

We ain't retards, Felix, your beloved Britain isn't the only world that experienced negative equity in the 90's. We had our own little RE crash. Lenders were giving out loans 100% LTV or in some cases, in excess of that. Those who had the income to sustain those years are sittin' pretty on their piles of gold known as Adams Morgan Brownstones.

If you don't see how being able to write off $30k in interest off my taxable income encouraged me to buy a house then you're clueless. I could've rented a place for the same amount I paid in interest and just flushed it down the toilet year after year. It was the tax incentive that pushed me to buy not the gamble on appreciation - that was just a pleasant side effect.

Posted by: michelle on June 1, 2005 08:15 PM
#13

I'm sorry, Michelle, I hadn't realised that you'd managed to overturn the most basic law of investment, that risk is proportional to return. If the returns are large, the risk is large. It's very simple. The reason you've had such large returns is that you've leveraged yourself up to the hilt: in the case of your first property, you borrowed $97 for every $3 that you actually paid. Leverage, by its very nature, is risky.

But in any case, I reiterate that I'm not averse to homeownership in the slightest. I just don't see why mortgage interest should be tax-deductible. You do see the difference, don't you? All of the arguments here seem to be of the form "I own a house, I get a benefit from the mortgage interest tax deduction, home ownership is good, therefore the deduction is good". It just doesn't follow. Maybe if the deduction wasn't there, the house you bought wouldn't have been quite as expensive, and your net financial situation would have wound up in the same place. Certainly in Britain abolishing mortgage-interest tax relief didn't put an end to the real-estate bubble.

Posted by: Felix on June 1, 2005 09:24 PM
#14

I'm sorry, I didn't answer your question.

n what world is putting minimal downpayment down and letting the bank take the remainder of the risk, a "huge risk"?

The answer is that the bank is not taking the remainder of the risk. You owe the bank the full size of the mortgage, whatever happens to the value of the home.

For instance: You put $50,000 down on a $550,000 home, and take out a $500,000 mortgage. The value of the house drops to $450,000. If you have to sell (maybe your floating-rate mortgage rose to the point where you couldn't afford it any more), you can pay off only $450,000 of the mortgage, leaving you on the hook to the bank for another $50,000. The bank isn't taking that remainder risk: it has a claim on you for that amount, and you're going to have to pay the bank that $50,000 out of your savings or your earnings.

Posted by: Felix on June 1, 2005 09:28 PM
#15

You have this leverage thing backwards.

My point is putting a 3% downpayment is no more a "huge risk" than putting down a 30% downpayment, if you have the money. Right? Because your overall net worth is the same. If you don't, then the bank is obviously the one that is taking the risk on your high leverage.

Use your own logic here "Leverage, by its very nature, is risky."; they are giving you, a person with high leverage, a loan. There is more risk in that. They get paid for that risk. If you default, they repossess the negative equity house in a foreclosure. The bank loses. Other than a poor credit rating, you've lost nothing more than your 3%.

Posted by: michelle on June 1, 2005 10:32 PM
#16

Other than a poor credit rating, you've lost nothing more than your 3%.

Not true. You've lost your 3%, plus the difference between the selling price and the mortgage amount. If the bank forecloses on your house and then sells it for less than the amount of the mortgage, you still owe the difference to the bank. The house might have gone away, but the debt hasn't.

Posted by: Felix on June 1, 2005 10:44 PM
#17

If your house is foreclosed upon, you are most certainly already looking at a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing in which you will owe the bank zippo. Again, this is the reason why the bank was paid a premium for lending to a highly-levered person.

Houses are the single thing Americans will do most anything to hold onto (while they watch their cars, boats, toys get towed) which is why mortgages are the least risky consumer debt. Pricing factors in the risk of loss in a foreclosure including the risk that it will need to be written off completely.

The real estate market is more heavily regulated now than it was in the 90's but banks seem to have an increasingly failing memory. And the OCC seems to be letting underwriting standards slip as the market pendulum has been swinging. The riskiest and biggest$ deals are done on the commercial side and almost 100% of the deals are structured within LLC ownerships with limited or no personal guarantees. The strategy of these companies, usually a sole proprietor, family biz or two to three-person partnership is to limit risk and pass most of it on to banks by investing minimal amounts of its own Cashola. LTVs are ridiculous as is the pricing of these projects in an uber-competitive market.

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 12:20 AM
#18

Since when do people owe their creditors "zippo" in the event of a Chapter 7 (or any other) bankruptcy filing? In any case, you only declare bankruptcy after you've paid the bank the other 27% of the initial value of the house which, ex hypothesi, you could have used as a downpayment but which you elected to invest instead. The reason that a 3% downpayment is riskier than a 30% downpayment is that you're essentially borrowing 27% of the value of a house and then investing that borrowed money in a market which is probably positively correlated with the housing market. In other words, if interest rates rise, both your house and your investments are likely to fall in value. So you lose on both sides of the equation, and are much worse off than if you had put that 30% down.

Posted by: Felix on June 2, 2005 02:13 AM
#19

Felix, you're talking apples and oranges here. Apparently even bolding the key words in my comment #15 doesn't help you follow. I don't expect you to be the financial guru/economist god you pretend to be but do try to at least get the basics down.

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 03:06 AM
#20

Felix, Michelle is handling things so I'm not going to interject much other than respond to your question.

Regarding the commentary on tax code, I feel there already is too much of a disincentive to make money in this country. Being able to legally shelter some of my income is a huge incentive to own property. But, if you trust the idiots in DC to run your life, then I'm sorry for you. Government is by its very nature fiscally irresponsible. I can not believe the blind trust people place in their Government.

If you examine the tax "crisis" going on in many states, it's due to irresponsible budgetary management during the boom of the 90's and nothing more. I have the ability to save for a rainy day, but I don't work for the Government either. I don't trust my Government's budgetary oversight and prefer to legally avoid giving them as much of my money as possible. If you are not doing the same, then I am sorry.

Furthermore, I still don't get the economics of how you feel a tax incentive to own is inflating the price. Give it to me in Economic terms because it's one of the degrees I have so it will make it easier for me to grasp. As short sighted as people are today, most probably don't figure their net tax benefit when buying a home, refinancing, etc. If there were no benefit, I wouldn't do it. I just bought a car for the same reason, this is the last year I can take the sales tax as a deduction, plus my truck had 137K miles on it, the tranny was going, it needed a front wheel bearing, etc.

And Felix, the cash I have sitting in my local bank doesn't keep up with my other investments, but taking a line of credit against equity, etc. is not wise I feel, and escrow is just for those unaware they can pay their own taxes (uninformed) and those unable to make the nut (20+% down). You know, it's funny how horrible you feel an interest only loan it. Did you know the average real estate goes up 4%/annum, but the stock market has done what over time? Yes, now maybe you understand that properly shielding your investments in the market, taking your net equity above the 20% required for conventional, and running is the way to get even farther ahead.

99, you are right, the market (real estate and stock) might drop. Of course, real estate does not normally fall as quickly as other investment vehicles, so keep buying Enron. I prefer the lesser known giants that have me up considerably over 5%.

Posted by: Sanford on June 2, 2005 12:35 PM
#21

OK Michelle, let's say you only have a 3% downpayment, no more money at all -- and you get the other 97% from the bank, based on their valuation of the property and your creditworthiness. If you're forced to sell the house, whether through foreclosure or otherwise, after it's dropped in value, then the proceeds won't cover the mortgage. Whatever's left is now an unsecured loan to you from the bank. Lots of people have unsecured bank loans; the vast majority don't declare Chapter 7. What's more, the bank has no interest in driving you into Chapter 7, if that means they're not going to get their money back. So they will probably work out some kind of deal with you where you repay what you owe them over time, out of your earnings -- just like any other bank loan. Individuals are generally surprisingly good credit risks, and most negative-equity housing sales do NOT end up with the seller declaring bankruptcy. (Which, in the wake of the new bankruptcy law, is going to be much more difficult in any case.) If you have a decent job and a rising salary -- basically, if everything's going right for you except the direction of the housing market -- you won't declare bankruptcy just because your mortgage is larger than the value of your house. So you're just wrong to say that the limit of your exposure is the 3% you put down, and that the bank is taking the rest of the risk.

Posted by: Felix on June 2, 2005 01:17 PM
#22

And now on to you, Sanford.

I still don't get the economics of how you feel a tax incentive to own is inflating the price.

Easy. House sellers look at headline numbers: how much, in absolute terms, can they get for their property. House buyers, on the other hand, look at the cost of ownership: they'll pay whatever they can afford on an annual, not headline, basis. If they can pay, say, $45,000 a year in total mortgage payments, then they will take whatever mortgage costs them $45,000 a year: if rates are high then it will be a smaller mortgage, while if rates are low it will be a larger mortgage. This is the reason why falling interest rates drive up property prices.

Tax deductions work the same way. Whenever you go to an open house, the broker has a little sheet of numbers he's giving out, with the asking price, the anticipated mortgage, and the annual cost of that mortgage to a 40% taxpayer. You write:

As short sighted as people are today, most probably don't figure their net tax benefit when buying a home, refinancing, etc. If there were no benefit, I wouldn't do it.

I don't quite get this: you seem to be contradicting yourself. Of course people -- just like you -- figure in their net tax benefit when they're buying, because it increases the headline amount that they can pay for a house. If I can only afford a $500,000 mortgage without the tax benefit, I might be able to afford a $600,000 mortgage with the tax benefit. And so housing prices go up another $100,000 -- because they're tied to what people can afford.

Posted by: Felix on June 2, 2005 01:26 PM
#23

mortgage, schmorgage. i've found something far more interesting for michelle and eurof: Germany is looking for a Subaru Allrad-Lady!

Eine Auto-Expertin sucht auch in diesem Jahr wieder Subaru zusammen mit dem deutschen Kraftfahrzeuggewerbes (ZDK) : und zwar die Allrad-Lady. Zu gewinnen gibt es einen Subaru Forester "Lady" im Wert von rund 36 000 Euro, ein Unikat, das der Schweizer Tuner Rinspeed veredelt hat. Das Allrad-Fahrzeug wird von einem 121 kW/165 PS starken 2,0-Liter-Benzinmotor angetrieben und verf¸gt unter anderem ¸ber eine Klimaautomatik, Panorama-Glasschiebedach und Alu-Felgen.

Zur Ermittlung der Allrad-Lady werden im September zeitgleich vier Vorentscheide in ganz Deutschland durchgef¸hrt. Dabei m¸ssen
die jeweils 20 Teilnehmerinnen einen theoretischen Teil mit Erste-Hilfe- und Pannenkurs absolvieren und bei praktischen ‹bungen beispielsweise Fehler in einem pr‰parierten Fahrzeug finden und einparken. Die drei Besten einer jeden Vorentscheidung qualifizieren sich f¸r das Finale im November. Dann werden bei einem speziellen Fahrsicherheitstraining erneut Theorie und Praxis gepr¸ft und die Siegerin ermittelt. Wer den Titel anstrebt, kann im Internet unter www.subaru-press.de das Anmeldeformular herunter
laden und sich bewerben. Teilnehmen kˆnnen alle Frauen, die einen g¸ltigen Pkw-F¸hrerschein der Klasse B besitzen.

Posted by: Marc on June 2, 2005 02:59 PM
#24

Felix, you keep switching the variables and then repeating what I've already said. Let me put my old, dusty banker hot on:

Assumptions: Original LTV 97% (3% Down), Real Estate market crashes resulting in new LTV of 125%, American economy in severe slump and borrower is having difficulty meeting payment terms

Worst Case Scenario: Borrower files Chapter 7 so there is no recourse other than collateral. Bank must sell property at a steep discount, severely below the amount lent and writes off the realized loss.

Most Likely Scenario: Borrower's wife loses her job, they're late on a few payments which trigger default, default clauses in mortgage allow for increased interest rates and penalties which make it even harder for Borrower to stay current in a bad market. Borrower and Bank renegotiate terms acceptable to both parties. The economic downturn is weathered by the skin of their teeth.

Best Case Scenario: Alles gut! Wir machen viel Geld!

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 03:27 PM
#25

Marc, Are you suggesting Eurof or I apply?

This is really funny - at least how I understand it (my German is really bad). To be a Forester Lady, can I instead of knowing how to change my flat tire do what I normally do? Which is flagging down some more poor chap and charming him into changing it for me.

Although it may seem more likely for a big, butchy Ursula to stop if I'm wearing comfy shoes and driving a Subaru.

Seriously though, it was really rare to see a Japanese car driven on the Autobahn.

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 03:42 PM
#26

You might want to check the new bankruptcy law, Michelle. I have a feeling that most people with substantial mortgages will now be forced to file Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7, which means they can't just sit back and watch the bank write off the unrealised loss, as in your worst-case scenario. In fact, the worst-case scenario is that you end up being forced into Chapter 13, losing your house, and still paying off the rest of the mortgage over the following 5 years.

Posted by: Felix on June 2, 2005 04:09 PM
#27

Both of you! Eurof as a self-confessed butch lesbian should naturally apply too. I can see him in his "Lady-Forrester" now...

Posted by: Marc on June 2, 2005 04:10 PM
#28

I'm familiar with the new bankruptcy law. Again, we were talking about a situation in which a person could only afford a 3% downpayment in the scenario I outlined in #24.

This person will likely not pass the "median income test" or "means test calculation" and will thus be eligible for Chapter 7.

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 04:37 PM
#29

Are you sure Eurof can be called Butch? In any case, I'm sure he'd beat me so I won't bother applying.

Posted by: michelle on June 2, 2005 04:41 PM
#30

Felix, so are you claiming that if I can afford a $500,000 mortgage, but with a tax benefit, now I can afford a $600,000 mortgage (*little exageration never hurts does it? 20% tax break? Sign me up!) that naturally people will go for it. First problem is the bank will only lend you what they feel you can pay which normally works out to around 28% of G.i. So, despite the tax deduction, the bank isn't going to float you the extra because they are more risk aversive than even you sound. If tax codes change, people default, banks lose dollars and the CEO loses his job.

This all gets back to the basic intelligence test. Certainly a bank will lend you up to what they think you can pay, but the only ones that go the limit to become house poor in a home they can't maintain are well, a little slow. Hopefully you didn't fall into that trap with your "Deluxe appartment, in the sky."

Posted by: Sanford on June 2, 2005 05:09 PM
#31

My attempts at derailing this fascinating thread have failed so utterly...

Posted by: Marc on June 2, 2005 05:20 PM
#32

Too bad these people didn't get Michelle's primer on risk. But thankfully the banks took in on the chin in these situations.

Posted by: 99 on June 2, 2005 10:18 PM