By Kevin Chiu
In what seems like the manic side of the housing mess, young couples are sometimes finding themselves as the lucky beneficiaries of the foreclosure crisis. Take Adam and Lindsey Blackmon of Newport News, Virginia for example.
The couple wasn’t even shopping for a home when they couldn’t help but notice a two-year old, 3,900 square foot, six bedroom listed for sale just two blocks from their home. The home features a hot tub in the master bathroom, a giant kitchen and bamboo floors in the main areas.
Out of curiosity, Lindsey called the real estate agent who listed the property and the couple made a “low-ball” offer of $250,000. The lender countered at $261,000. The Blackmon’s took the bank’s counter-offer and added another $41,000 to cover demolishing an old second house on the property, and enough cash to cover the finishing touches of final construction of the main home.
The Blackmons, who are in their 20’s, are renting out their 1,600 square foot starter home to move into the larger house. The couple is happy to afford their new home, but not without at least some feelings of guilt over buying a foreclosure at the pain of the former owners, who were forced from the home by the bank. “We did feel a little bit guilty about it,” said Lindsey, the mother of an 18-month old daughter.
The Blackmons are representative of a lot of other young couples who find themselves in the unlikely condition of buying a much larger home in the housing mess than what they could have ever imagined. But where there are opportunities there are also issues.
The young couple will have to pay the additional costs incurred as a result of living in a larger home such as higher winter heating bills, air-conditioning costs during warm summer months and extra maintenance costs. Bills for double the size of a home often exceed double what they were used to paying.
Many couples like Lindsey and Adam are running into problems as a result. Lindsey works as a school teacher and her husband as a shipyard worker. “A lot of couples are house struck,” said psychologist Dan Carson, a New York City area counselor. “It’s kind of like being a kid in a candy store. They dream about a larger home and when it becomes reality it’s hard for them to understand they really can’t afford it.”
In the high-priced world of New York City real estate, Carson sees a lot of couples dealing with problems associated with unrealistic financial temptations based on incomes. “Most of us want more than what we can afford. It used to be up to the bank to say no, but apparently that’s still not the case, despite the financial crisis sometimes.”