Pondering Faith

Being Sensitive to Housing Slump Stress

price_reduced_sized The housing slump is taking its toll on our families and communities. I have begun to notice the effects that it is having and realize that it is important for me, as a pastor, to be especially sensitive to challenges that are associated with trying to sell a home.

Our housing market in America has been so reliable for so long, that we have grown comfortable with the idea that our house will sell. For example, it is common for a person to accept a great job offer in another city, put their current home on the market, and rent a home in their new city until their old home sells. The market has been so reliable that we had faith that we would only be paying both the old mortgage and the new rent for a few months. In today’s market, however, the old house isn’t selling. Families are being forced to make a difficult to decision about what to do with their old house.

Cindy and I were in this position several years ago. Fortunately, we sold before the official downturn. We knew the housing market was going bad, though. It took us a year to sell our house and when we finally sold it, it was well under our purchase price. I know one family that left the new job and moved back to the old house. I know a couple who are waiting to get married until one of their houses are sold. I know several families that are trying to pay for both the old and the new in hopes that the old will sell and they can move on with their lives.

We all should be aware of the struggles that people go through during this transition.  This is not an exhaustive list, but here are some of the things trying to pay for two places at once can cause:

  • A crisis of faith. If someone has talked to God about their decision to move, and feel like they are following God’s will, they may feel like God has let them down.
  • A feeling of guilt. One may feel guilty for not being able to provide sufficiently, or that their career move is causing such a strain.
  • A feeling of anger. Unfortunately, it is hard to know how to direct that anger, and often, a spouse is an easy target.
  • Standoffishness.  New people in the community may resist establishing new relationships. It is hard to try to make friends in a new place, when you might have to either move back, or go into foreclosure and bankruptcy.
  • Money problems. This kind of living can quickly devastate savings and then cause suffocating debt.
  • Embarrassment. Foreclosure and bankruptcy carry social stigmas. Even changing lifestyles to be more frugal can cause a sense of embarrassment.
  • A strain on marriages. We know that money is the leading cause for strained marriages.
    • Also, families sometimes split up to manage both places. One spouse will move and begin the new job, while the other will stay behind to manage and show the old house. The fact that houses are taking longer to sell means that families are separated for longer periods of time.

This type of situation is extremely difficult, because it deals with money, moving, and starting a new job. Any one of these are major stress factors by themselves. We should recognize that this is an extremely stressful situation and be as supportive as possible to anyone who is going through this.

If you are currently trying to sell your home, know that you are in my prayers and in my heart.

Dan

Welcome to Pondering Faith! My name is Dan. I am a husband, father, and pastor. I serve as the Director of Church Development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. This is the place where I ponder all things related to faith, including church leadership, and life in general.

3 comments

  • Great post, Dan. Unfortunately, this hits very close to home. With all of our previous moves, Doc has moved ahead while I stayed behind to sell the house. This time, I moved with him – we just left Ryan behind to manage the house! If we ever do get that house sold, I can’t say that I won’t be gun-shy about buying again for a while. We’ve even discussed moving back to the house, getting a small apartment in Tampa, and having Doc commute on weekends – 130 miles each way!

  • Vicki, I hope your house sells. We are definitely gun-shy about buying after our last experience. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I know it is a stressful time. Doc should be enjoying his new job rather than worrying about selling a house!