Features

Dark cloud, silver lining

"Dark cloud, silver lining" Continued...

Issue: "Effective Compassion," June 16, 2012

They also started home businesses: Adam, 31, runs a loose-leaf tea business in a bedroom closet they turned into an office. Deena has a sewing business she operates on the dining room table where they also homeschool their two young daughters. Two years later, Adam still holds his job at the law firm. With their acquired savings-combined with money they withdrew from Adam's IRA account-the couple is moving next month into a "way underpriced" three-bedroom home in an East Dallas neighborhood Deena has been eying for years.

Patience for the Minters and the Puuris proved beneficial.

For Angela Kopriva, 31, who admits that starting out and buying a house once "seemed daunting," she now says she is thankful for favorable timing and the "values of hard work and saving" that parents instilled in her husband and herself: "We feel very blessed."

-Mary Jackson is a writer living in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Rent or buy?

Sometimes it pays to own

Collin Bills planned to rent while completing five years of medical residency training at a Memphis, Tenn., orthopedic clinic. Working 80-plus hours a week, he says all he needs is a place to study, sleep "six hours if I'm lucky," and plop on the couch for a football game or reruns of The Office.

Last year, Bills' roommate moved away, and he started considering other options. Like many, he's seen the cost of renting rise-up 2.4 percent in January over the previous year-as foreclosures turn previous homeowners into renters, and some who rent are wary of taking on a mortgage in a weak economy.

But Bills realized he could save $400 a month if he bought a home. His dad, a physician in Tullahoma, Tenn., agreed to loan him the down payment to buy a small, well-kept home built in the 1960s in one of Memphis' best school districts. "I would rather not take the risk. I would rather be free of the obligation of having to sell the house in five years," Bills, 27, said-but after doing the math, "it makes sense."

By April, Bills had moved into the house, and unexpectedly is discovering joy in home ownership: "When you believe that something is partly yours, that you get to take care of it, you get enjoyment and satisfaction out of that."

Bills says without his dad's help, he never would have qualified for a home loan: "I've got a lot of debt from medical school." Since the recession, lenders have learned to be more cautious. Banks have tightened their qualifications for homebuyers, and most now hold tougher requirements for homebuyers, including high credit scores, proof of a stable income, and more cash for down payments. But a downturned homebuyers' market can work in favor of renters whose monthly payments are on the rise. -Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson
Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson is a writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and three young children.

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