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The American Dream lives on
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Every rainy day has its rainbow. On a sick day, we find some solace in watching bad daytime television. Even funerals provide chances for celebration amidst the sorrow, recalling long-forgotten tales and moments we spent with the dearly departed.
And while this great recession has put millions out of work, cost thousands of jobs, and left folks hungry across the country, there are positives here too.
Just this week, three employees here at the Turlock Journal have made the leap into home ownership. All three are under the age of 26. All three are unmarried.
These three individuals had stared at spiraling home prices over the past decade, wondering not when but if they’d ever be able to afford a house. The odds of ever moving away from rental housing — or the spare room at mom and dad’s house — seemed slim at best.
Sure, real estate here in Turlock has never broached the prices seen in the Bay Area or Southern California. But the pay is less here too.
I had hoped that I, myself, would be able to afford a home perhaps by age 35, thanks to my frugal nature. Assuming prices didn’t continue to skyrocket too much, of course.
But cratering home prices have given people like me — the woefully underpaid — a chance we thought we’d never have. Now, us Gen-Y’ers have a chance to achieve the American Dream, white picket fence and all.
It’s true that all the Declaration of Independence guarantees us is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But for the millions who inhabit this country, the American Dream and happiness itself have always been intertwined with home ownership.
Heck, the Virginia Declaration of Independence — the framework for our national version — even promised the right to a pursuit of property, not happiness.
Of course, I doubt any of my coworkers would have wanted our chance to fulfill the American Dream to come about because of others’ misfortune.
When house shopping earlier this month, I felt my heart well up as my realtor guided me through otherwise nice homes up for short sales. The current owners were often milling about the houses they were trying to sell for less than they owed, just trying to get out from an oppressive mortgage.
It’s easy to blame mortgage brokers for what happened to our nation’s economy. To point the finger at banks who made risky loans to people who shouldn’t have borrowed money.
But who knew, back then? It was just the way things were, a heady world of gap loans, inverse-adjustable rates, and real estate prices that, like the Tower of Babel, would reach to the heavens before their inevitable fall.
In that way, my jobless, asset-less colleagues of the Millennial Generation were almost better off. We had nearly nothing to lose, and post collapse we at least had something.
It’s the eternal cycle, growth and decay, life and death. Where a tree falls in the forest — even if no one is around to hear it — new plants will sprout up in the spot of light that drifts through the canopy.
Just as I’m sad for the hard-working folks caught out by this economic collapse, I’m happy for the younger generation. It’s their chance to shine in the light now; a light some thought may never filter down.
I close escrow on my own home — a modest little two-bedroom townhouse — in just about two weeks. It’s not too big, not too small, just the perfect size for a 20-something bachelor to spread his wings. And it’s entirely within my price range, especially thanks to the $8,000 federal home buying tax credit.
Amazingly, I seemed to buy the only home in the county for sale by a willing owner. It wasn’t foreclosed upon. It wasn’t a short sale. It was just time for a couple — who had called the residence home for 25 years — to do their own bit of moving on.
I wish them luck in their new endeavor. Just as I wish my fellow homebuyers luck. Just as I wish well those driven from their homes by foreclosure.
I hope the economic storm clears soon, for the sake of our entire country. But I’m glad that when the clouds blow away, I — and others of my generation — will be a part of the landscape.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail, call 634-9141 ext. 2005, or bring over a JELL-O platter as a housewarming gift.