Smart Money: Search for affordable housing takes time


DEAR BRUCE >> You often recommend renting over buying a home, saying renting is often cheaper. In my market, Houston, Texas, there are no small houses in good repair or in safe areas for under $100,000. Given these conditions, what would you tell a single older person who is currently renting, but worried that rent will continue to rise and eventually be more than she can afford?

I am wondering if I should buy and lock in my monthly payments while they're affordable, or hope housing costs don't rise so much that I can't afford either. Rents have more than doubled here in the last 10 years, and all new construction rentals are billed as "luxury" housing. Older apartments that were built in the 1970s are in poor condition.

— K.L.

DEAR K.L. >> I don't disagree with anything you stated, but what is, is. If you feel that the prices are going to continue going up, then locking in a small house in good repair is the way to go.

You say there are no small houses under $100,000. But this isn't like Hershey Bars; you're not buying a dozen. You're only going to buy one. You should focus on that and spend as much time as possible looking into what's available until you find what you're looking for.

The fact that rents have doubled and "luxury" housing is going out of sight notwithstanding, I am confident you could find an older apartment, too, if you decide to continue renting. I am sure many apartments built in the '70s are in poor condition, but I am sure there are still a few around that are well taken care of. The search is well worth the effort.

DEAR BRUCE >> I recently talked with a teacher in the San Francisco public school system. He said his teenage students have attitude problems so extreme they cannot find jobs when they graduate. He said as the students continue to college, their attitude problems become greater with the support of their professors and counselors.

When these kids graduate college, they can't find jobs due to their attitudes and employers who are out to "exploit" them and "corrupt" their values. These are the exact words of the teacher.

When I was in school, my attitude was I needed a job. What has gone wrong in our society? How can we make things right again?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> I understand your dissatisfaction and frustration. From time to time, I have the same thoughts you have expressed in your well-written letter. What has gone wrong? One of the things is that younger people are expecting more in government support of one kind or another. Just take a look at the number of people now on food stamps. It's absolutely scandalous.

Whether or not there is anything you can actually do is another question. If there are organizations in your community that share your point of view, by all means get involved. It's easy to understand where these kids get their screwball ideas when you see what's written by some of these teachers/professors. All you can do is try to reach out to these kids one at a time, explain what your point of view is and reinforce the fact that you've done well by taking the attitude that I need a job and I got one!

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