Friday, February 8, 2013

Weekend Reading: The Human Side of the Housing Crash

We’ve all read endlessly about the effects of the real estate bubble on the banking system, GDP, monetary policy, and all the rest. If you have had enough financial analysis, if you are ready to read something about the human side of the housing crash, try reading Tana French’s latest novel, Broken Harbor.

The story, like all the author’s mysteries, is set in Ireland, but it could just as well have been Las Vegas, Spain, or the UK. Things start out well for Jenny and Pat, the central characters. A high-school romance, a storybook wedding, good jobs, kids, an SUV—what more do they need? Obviously, to “get on the housing ladder.” Buy that first affordable place, maybe not their dream home, but flip it in a year or two for a big gain and look for something that is really ideal. Uh-oh.

Looking for a place that will fit the budget of a couple of twenty-somethings on the way up, Jenny and Pat sign up for a three-bedroom home in a new subdivision. Brianstown is under construction on the site of a bulldozed fishing village called Broken Harbor, a too-long commute north of Dublin. To get the best price, they put their money down on a yet-to-be built. The brochure is full of promises, not just about the house, but about the shopping center, day care, community center, exercise facility and other amenities. Uh-oh, again. >>>Read more

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