The Blob

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Sign Here

If you've ever bought a home, or refinanced it, you know the drill: sign here. And here. And here. And here. Oh, and you must sign your full name, please. That's what we spent about two hours doing last night, thanks to the drop in mortgage rates in the past few years. We've watched our mortgage plummet from over 9 percent to just barely above 5 percent. Where our monthly mortgage payments were originally over $3,000 per month, they're now just a little more than half that amount.

It's little wonder then, why people have been buying homes at an amazing clip - and buying homes whose prices we can barely comprehend. But nothing lasts forever.

To give you some perspective, in 1999, we moved to Orange County, to the Pleasantville-like town of Irvine. We bought a 3-bedroom house which at the time was a dizzying $385,000, financed at a bit more than 9 percent. Today, that same house is worth over $600,000 based on sales of similar houses in our neighborhood.

Bubble, anyone?

Not that we don't revel in our paper gains. We do. But bruised like so many others by the bursting of the stock market bubble, we can only hope that the inevitable retreat from today's peak prices won't be so sobering. Instead, we can only hope that the tangible value of our home and the tiny lot that surrounds it (this is California, after all) will help hold its value. We're not in this to speculate, but to have a home we'll love for many years.

That said, we're grateful for what may be the lowest interest rates that we may see in our lifetimes. With the jump in oil prices, the tremendous expenditures by the government as we gear up for what is likely to be war in the Middle East, the outlays for Homeland Security and the like, there's a good chance that interest rates will reverse course, and soon.


So as I signed document after document last night at the offices of our mortgage lender, I realized it may have been the turning of a corner. It may be that we hang on to this mortgage for a long time. And we may look back nostalgically at this time, and realize how lucky we were.

Just sign here.