Economists sound cautiously optimistic about the real estate market. Summer number show that sales pending on existing homes have been inching up for six consecutive months, nationwide.
Some home owners, like our Hard Times participant Angie Blackwell, may see the improved market as a chance to offload houses they can no longer afford.
April Baer caught up with Blackwell in McMinnville, toughing out an unexpected period of unemployment.
Everytime a dual-income household becomes a single-income household, there are going to be some adjustments: cooking cheaper dinners, spending date nights at home instead of on the town. But today Angie Blackwell’s making a big one. She’s meeting a realtor to talk about selling her house.
Angie Blackwell: “Hi Joyce! How are you doing?
Joyce Lundeen “Oh, I’m fine,how are you doing?”
Angie Blackwell “Thank you for coming over!”
Angie Blackwell has worked non-stop since she was fourteen years old. Her last job was on the Grand Ronde Tribal Council. But after losing her election, Blackwell found herself out of work, like so many other Oregonians.
Joyce Lundeen “Did you get a chance to look over the comps that I had sent you?”
Angie Blackwell “I did.”
Angie and her husband Darren have been getting by on his salary as a land surveyor, but barely.
Angie had some temp work, and her profit-sharing checks from the Spirit Mountain casino help, too. But over the last year and a half, they’ve been late on three mortgage payments.
The late payments weren’t back to back, but their mortgage crunch is serious enough that they’ve decided to look into selling.
Joyce Lundeen “What I’m concerned about it if you folks were to put your home on the market, if you could sell it for enough, that you would be able to do what your goal is to do. What did you say that you owe on it now?”
Angie Blackwell “One-ninety-one six.”
Joyce Lundeen “So we’d need to sell it for at least – around 250.”
Realtor Joyce Lundeen has known Angie for years – they used to be related by marriage.
Lundeen has sold homes in Yamhill County for twenty-four years. She’s talked to a lot of other people who need to sell, but not many buyers.
Even people who could afford to buy, Lundeen says, are sitting on the sidelines. But the picture’s not hopeless.
Joyce Lundeen “One thing is you have four bedrooms plus an office, which very few homes have.”
The Blackwells haven’t done a lot of upgrades, but they’ve taken good care of the house. And Lundeen suggested Angie check on special refi programs for tribe members, or federal assistance she couldn’t get when she was on time with the mortgage.
Angie says she isn’t feeling much better about their prospects, but she’s ready to sell if she has to.
Angie Blackwell “I would like to have heard we could get out of it what we need to, but it sounds more like we could give it a shot, and we’re not quite sure how it’s going to go.”
And Blackwell hasn’t given up on her career. This summer, she’s been networking with churches and colleges for her new business – consulting as a coach for step-families. She’s also collected a two-inch stack of job listings across three counties.
Angie Blackwell “OK here we go, this whole folder has jobs I’ve been applying for since last June. This is the position I applied for this week, and I basically applied for it last summer!"
Blackwell‘s had some interviews, but so far, no offers. She just keeps telling herself there’s something out there for her. But is she losing sleep over the possibility of selling her home and downsizing?
Angie Blackwell “Not really, to tell you the truth, as long as well have a roof over our heads. I guess because I grew up really poor, I don’t need a castle. It’s just having a place to live where we’re providing a home for our kids. This seems kind of minor compared to somethings I’ve been through.”