Monday, April 03, 2006

Lehigh Valley Affordability

The Express Times provides us with our second piece today. Continuing with the affordability theme, here is:

Getting in on housing boom would bust me

I'm convinced that by the age of 30, I'll be living in a dilapidated mobile home somewhere in the country on a small lot of land with brown grass, a gravel driveway and neighbors who feud over who won the last NASCAR race.

Not that there's anything wrong with that lifestyle, but I had hoped for something a little different come the time I entered the next decade of my life.

At 27, the idea of a modest condominium or townhouse in one of the region's downtowns seems ideal.

I'm not looking for a huge loft with a kitchen that would make Emeril Lagasse jealous, a bathroom with a showerhead made out of precious metals that blasts out water with the force of a fire hose or hardwood floors culled from rare lumbers shipped in from South America.

One would think this would be relatively easy to acquire for someone who's worked steadily in a profession for about six years, is situated 70 miles from New York City and doesn't have the kind of debt that requires face-to-face encounters with credit lenders armed with Mace and baseball bats.

But almost three months after starting my first foray into house hunting, I've realized it's nearly impossible. The kind of condos and townhouses developers are pitching for Bethlehem, Phillipsburg and Easton aren't meant for the young professional who chooses to work in the region. These suckers are for commuters drawing big paychecks elsewhere or investors looking for huge monthly rent checks.
...
I've been smart with my money, but all of these are so far out of my price range that they might as well be mansions in Beverly Hills.

I guess my choices are limited. Continue renting, get a higher-paying job in New York City or settle for something small and far away from the little bit of action this region has to offer.

There's a nice mobile home in Lower Mount Bethel Township opening up for $35,000. It has green grass and a paved driveway.

It even has central air.

17 Comments:

Blogger r patrick said...

This is how I feel, and I will be 27 in a couple of months.

4/03/2006 07:19:00 AM  
Anonymous jonathan radande said...

Hey Grim,
I currently live in NYC and i'm moving to the Lehigh Valley this summer. I wrote about my reasons here: Moving To The Lehigh Valley.

Home prices are slightly high in the valley, but definitely lower than homes in NYC.

4/03/2006 07:20:00 AM  
Blogger skep-tic said...

I felt similarly to the guy in the article last summer, but the market has undegone a big shift since then, and the change is accelerating.

I now think that patience will pay off and I may be able to buy a place at 50% of today's prices in 5 yrs or so. I'm 28 so I have no problem waiting that long. I understand that some people feel they can't wait so long, but I think that waiting even 2 yrs will make a huge difference in terms of your long term financial freedom

4/03/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"waiting even 2 yrs will make a huge difference in terms of your long term financial freedom"


You're dead-on there. It's a bummer, but it's also a no-brainer. People who are buying now are selling out their financial future.

4/03/2006 10:37:00 AM  
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4/03/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger NJREFUGEE said...

This guy is greatly exagerating the situation in the Lehigh Valley. Certainly prices have increased a lot, however, there's more real estate available other than new development. A lot of the new development is for the commuters, however, the existing housing stock can be gotten for a lot cheaper. Granted, you can't get anything much below 300K in newly constructed housing, but there are still plenty of situations where one can get a house for less than 200K in Bethlehem, Easton and Allentown.

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