This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

The tragedy of increasing home values

I live in Glendale, Arizona, and as long as I can remember, people have been talking about how proud they are of an increase in the value of their home. And I guess it's interesting to note that something that you bought years ago is worth more now than it was then. But I've seen the tragedy of increasing home values, when I lived in Los Angeles. I learned about this when I was working in Woodland Hills, a beautiful western suburb in the San Fernando Valley. It went like this:

By the 1980s, when I was there, the cost of homes there had gone from about $50,000 in the 1950s and 60s, to well over a quarter of a million dollars. And if you're saying that that's a good thing, well, then you either have to be a real estate agent, or you have to be moving away, and cashing in. And by the time the young couples who had purchased their home in the 1950s and 60s had grown children in Woodland Hills in the 1980s, the cost of homes there was so high that their children, and grandchildren, couldn't afford to live in the same neighborhood. For people who wanted to stay there, and live close to their grandchildren, it was a tragedy. And it gets worse.

Mortgage payments include property taxes, which are based on the value of a home. Property taxes on $50,000 are much less than property taxes on $250,000, so by the 1980s many people were losing their homes simply because they couldn't afford the property taxes. If you remember Proposition 13 in California, which is still in effect, you know how this bit of legislation helped to reign in this madness, but not before many people were hurt.

I'm not a real estate agent. Nor do I have any intentions of selling my house and moving away. I like it here. And if you want to sit around and talk about increasing home values, please do so, but pardon me if I don't join in with enthusiasm.

Photo above: Woodland Hills, California. A nice place to live, and stay, if you can afford it.
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