Several weeks ago, one of the longtime choir members passed away. A widower, he lived in the neighborhood, in a very nice 1950s home just one lot away from the park. He probably was the original owner.
At least three adult children were at the memorial service. The house has not gone up for sale. Sometimes you see lights in the place at night. So it’s possible that one of the kids is living in it. Or it’s possible that the heirs are still trying to straighten out the estate and so aren’t selling the place until they reach some agreement on the distribution of the proceeds.
If I had several children and were affluent enough to live in that area, I’d probably will the house to the one who most needed a nice place to live and then distribute the rest of the estate fairly to the rest of them.
Just now I know of at least four houses in the neighborhood where people have died or gone off to the nursing home and family have moved in. One couple with a baby had moved into her parents’ home and assumed the mortgage some time before the crash. In the ensuing deprecession, they both lost their jobs. She started baking incredibly rich cookies and peddling them through farmer’s markets and gourmet grocery stores; although the enterprise took off and has now gone national through the Internet, it still doesn’t match what they earned when they both had full-time jobs. She said they managed to get by because the mortgage payments were very low, compared to what they would have been paying had they bought a newer place.
Another couple moved into her mother’s house with their two kids. That house was paid off, a true windfall for the young family. And a friend of La Maya and La Bethulia’s, now withering away in Hospice, had “sold” her long paid-off home to her daughter; to keep it legal, she was making “rent” payments to the daughter. The daughter and her husband, who live in Alaska, plan to keep the house to use as a winter home.
In all three cases, owners had bought the houses so long ago that even at today’s depressed prices the places would have sold at a considerable profit. All three houses are in neighborhoods where prices are not especially depressed, anyway. If any amount remained on the mortgage, the payments were ludicrously low compared to what you’d pay to buy the house.
I suspect this is going to develop into a pattern. Real estate, despite the drop in prices, is out of sight and unaffordable for many young people. Policy-makers are beginning to talk about encouraging people to rent rather than to try to buy property, and after the late, great housing crash, many people in their 20s and 20s see little sense in throwing money into residential property. Still, most Americans would still rather own a house than rent an apartment, and talk notwithstanding, some see evidence that over time, owning works better financially.
It makes sense, then, that if a parent’s home is in a livable neighborhood—reasonably safe with access to an adequate public or even private school—the heirs would want to keep the house in the family. If it’s paid off, with the savings you could put your child in a private or parochial school, rendering the quality the local public schools moot.
So, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more and more younger families moving into deceased parents’ homes. As the baby boomers start to pass, this could become a trend.