A house should never have been an open wallet. A house should never have been an ATM or a no-limit credit card. A house should never have been a retirement account. A house should never have been a lottery ticket. A house should not have been a replacement for a job.
A house should have been, and should always be, a home.
Everyone thought they were rich (or getting rich) these past few years. They ignored what was happening to America (manufacturing? who needs manufacturing? habeus corpus? ah, that's silly!) because the price of their home was going up and they could suck out the 'equity' and go blow it however they saw fit.
Now, people are behind on their payments on that mortgage they can't really afford. Millions have lost their jobs. The housing ATM is out of order. And money really doesn't grow on trees.
Have yourself a subprime little Christmas
Jackie Castleberry won't be playing Santa Claus this year.
She usually buys her grandchildren, nieces and nephews lots of gifts around the holidays -- bicycles, educational games, clothes -- but this year she is just struggling to keep her North Las Vegas, Nevada, house.
The interest rate on her four-bedroom home loan shot up in October and she is $6,000 behind on her payments. She now owes $168,000 on her home, which once was worth $220,000 but is now worth about $150,000.
In the past, when times were tough, she would borrow against her home's equity -- that's no longer possible.
"I was always seen as the person that's giving, but it's kind of affected this year," said Castleberry, a former casino buffet supervisor who now makes $11 an hour, 30 hours a week, supervising children before and after school. "This year, I can't see anything right now as far as gifts."
Castleberry is just one of thousands of homeowners nationwide who can no longer finance their spending by tapping into their once inflated, now depreciating home equity. Others can no longer afford their higher monthly payments due to a reset in their adjustable rate mortgages and have been foreclosed.