Thursday, March 12, 2009

Home Hunters: Foreclosure Crisis Edition

A major portion of the stimulus package consists of the previously mentioned Neighborhood Stability Program (NSP), that provides down payment assistance as well as rehabilitation funding in areas hardest hit with foreclosures. For my Australian readers, Florida led the nation in 2007 with the highest percentage, 16.5%, of High-Risk Negative Amortization Loans. Lee County, where we live, has a foreclosure rate of over 11%. 

I really want to get out of here, but I have to balance what I want against the best interests of our family. We, well, mostly MiniMe & I, are looking at houses. I really wanted to be in downtown Fort Myers as there is a public arts magnet elementary school there. The girl just held yet another concert in our living room tonight where she sang her original work on jellyfish, which poetically emphasized that jellyfish indeed do not have hearts. She's 3, for crying out loud. She plays guitar & piano. No joke. No, I don't force her to sit & practice nor does she take lessons. But I digress. The point is that it seems like an arts magnet elementary + she = positive feelings about school.

The area we are now looking at houses in is the city of Cape Coral. It's killing me, my peeps. I mean, I'm a fricken Urban Planner. ("Um, we know that, crazee ladee. You ramble on about it in every fricken post!") I'm from the bellweather of failing Urban Policy. But, Cape Coral? There is a book about it entitled, "The Lie That Came True". It honestly was a real estate scam that so many people bought into it actually got built. If you look at it on google earth it's freaky. It's a bunch of crazy manmade canals to nowhere. The streets are all number names to the extreme ie. NE 12th Place, NE 12th Street, NE 12th Court, NE 12th Avenue. & it's in several of my textbooks as the perfect example of sucky suburbia. There's a fairly popular heavy rock band from there who entitled one of their albums "Cape Coma" as a reference to the city. I feel like I am one giant sellout. 

I can't ignore the incredible deals on homes in the City of Cape Coral, however. For the same amount of money, or less, we could buy a home that is twice the size of the one we are renting. I spent one Saturday afternoon driving round with MiniMe and Grammie & came upon an unsettling revelation, however.

The first home we went to look at is owned by Fannie Mae. It is  4 bedroom, 3 bathroom two-story house that was built in 1999. It is on a canal, has a 2-car garage & a pool. It's listed for $214k. Sounds nice, right? Well, it's not. 

When we walked into the house I was immediately struck by the prominence of the colors, or lack of them. The home is decorated in entirely black, white & grey. When the agent started discussing things that could make the house better, I suggested perhaps a centrally located globe with some neon lettering around it. He was all, "I think I've seen that somewhere before!" Um, uh-huh. 

Take a lookie at this gem of a bathroom. It's hard to tell from the photo, but the bathtub is pretty much in the middle of the room. Faux black marble? How about badly airbrushed fiberglass? Combined with the etched glass mermaid (which MiniMe seriously swooned over), complete with exposed nipples, I would feel obligated bathing there as if I were expected to put on some kind of show. 

But hey, if I did there was the built in radio/intercom system! When I asked the realtor if he knew what it was for, he lodged into some explanation to the effect of, "See, back in the 80's it was considered classy to have built in radio systems..." I cut him off. "No! This is for Issac Hayes!"

I was waiting for Tony Montana to show up, but I guess he's moved on.


tiff said...

We once looked at a house that had a 'greek' goddess deep bath right in the middle of the bathroom. It was almost like a swimming pool and was cobolt blue. The real estate agent was toting it as the masterpiece of the house. It truly was gross. Immy and Maddy were just toddlers at the time. THey were the only ones who thought it was neat.

Thoughtful Mothering said...

Love it hoppy toddle, great description of the cape.