Breaking Up Is Harder to Do After Housing Fall

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Marci Needle and her husband began to contemplate divorce in June, they thought they had enough money to go their separate ways. They owned a million-dollar home near Atlanta and another in Jacksonville, Fla., as well as investment properties.

Now the market for both houses has crashed, and the couple are left arguing about whether the homes are worth what they owe on them, and whether there are any assets left to divide, Ms. Needle said.

“We’re really trying very hard to be amicable, but it puts a strain on us,” said Ms. Needle, the friction audible in her voice. “I want him to buy me out. It’s in everybody’s interest to settle quickly. That would be my only income. It’s been incredibly stressful.”

Chalk up another victim for the crashing real estate market: the easy divorce.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Posted December 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Chris wrote:

“It’s in everybody’s interest to settle quickly. That would be my only income.”

What about working, could you get income there?  I will refrain from a snarky comment based on looking at her photo….

December 31, 3:10 pm | [comment link]
2. Byzantine wrote:

A house is a durable consumer good.  Period.  And there’s no way that land it’s sitting on is worth $1.5M unless you plan on converting it to a chicken farm.

This woman’s previous life is over and she refuses to believe it.  She will just have to sell whatever she has that won’t fit in an apartment and walk away from the whole mess.  She will probably have to declare bankruptcy as well.  Her social class got quite a ride thanks to monetary inflation and artificially cheap credit but reality bites us all.  She needs to get a job and attend an orthodox Christian church.  And if she wants to go out for dinner some time, I’m available.

December 31, 3:33 pm | [comment link]
3. Jeffersonian wrote:

I think you mooks ought to check out the sticker on that model before volunteering for a test drive.

December 31, 3:46 pm | [comment link]
4. Byzantine wrote:


Friend J., I think what is shaping up here is a buyer’s market.

December 31, 3:56 pm | [comment link]
5. fatherlee wrote:

Yay!  Death to the easy divorce.

December 31, 4:52 pm | [comment link]
6. Ralinda wrote:

It may be a buyers market but you’re looking at high maintenance costs whether you buy or lease!

December 31, 11:54 pm | [comment link]
7. libraryjim wrote:

I was looking at taking a job in a neighboring town (100 miles away). To avoid pulling my son out of a very (VERY) good school, we decided we would have to rent or buy a mobile home, while keeping this house.

Guess what? In this ‘buyers market’, rent is still over $650 a month for a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, some as high as $750.  There was one complex that advertised a studio apt for $515. The stench drove me out gagging.

Mobile homes START at $35,000 for a 2 bedroom single wide, and not an available lot to be found on any park in that area.  Set it up on land we’d buy? Not for less than $90,000.

Thinking we could buy a house instead, we found that small square footage houses still ran over $140,000.  We did find ONE foreclosed home at $90,000. The roaches wouldn’t choose to live there.

So, we decided NOT to take the job after a very sleepless couple of nights and heavy discussion days.  I have also decided to NOT look at jobs in other towns that require any type of move, and take ANYTHING that is offered here.

Yes, I can see how this could be a factor in curbing the tendency to divorce and split the house-hold.

Jim Elliott <><
(Still jobless in) Florida

January 1, 12:23 am | [comment link]
8. Gigs Girl wrote:

Comment deleted by elf.

January 1, 4:21 am | [comment link]
9. RichardKew wrote:

This could well be a great blessing because the possibility of financial distress could well make couples give third, fourth, and fifth thoughts to trying to recover their marriage rather than breaking it up.

January 1, 4:22 am | [comment link]
10. Chris wrote:

Comment referring to #8 deleted by elf.

January 1, 9:20 am | [comment link]
11. Larry Morse wrote:

Just what t19 needs. Another inane comment. Mine. I have looked at the severity of their housing situation: Two BIG house plus investment properties. These people are obviously poor and need help. I want them to know, in my inane way, that I feel their pain, that I am deeply sympathetic, that their distress is extreme, that T18.6 should help them out and counsel them with loving kindness. And a few other things, I forget what. Oh, and the GigsGirl is so really today.

  In short, the complaint in the blog entry fills me with contempt
and anger and all sorts of unChristian feelings because we are looking at the Spoiled Rotten complaining because the cost good house servants has gone up and peacocks tongues are not what they used to be.

  Library Jim is telling a much more important truth, and one that deserves more real attention by those who are giving away billions and billions. Here’s a cure, Library Jim. If we take the give-away billions and divide it by the adult population, we get a check of about $100,000 a piece. Do you think this would alter the recession faster than at present? Incidentally, I am in entire sympathy with your desire to keep your child in a REALLY good school, and I suspect every parent here is of the same mind.  Larry

January 1, 10:59 am | [comment link]
12. Jim K wrote:

As in so many situations, one asks “who gains?”  In this case, our friends in the legal profession.  “...their lawyers still cannot agree on what their remaining assets are worth. Their wealth is ticking away at $350 an hour, times two.

“It’s got to end,” Mr. Goerke said, “because at some point there’s nothing left to argue about.”...”

If you remember your Dickens, this is the “Bleak House” outcome and, perhaps the title of this novel would do quite well as a subtitle for this whole story.  (There is also a clear parallel with the current legal battles in TEo, but let us stay with the matter at hand, marital dissolution.)
I was also struck by the comments toward the end of the article to the effect that the inability to sell the house keeps the husband in the “power position” and requires the wife to be nicer to him than she otherwise would be to keep him sweet.  If that was the basis of the couple’s marriage, then it’s little wonder they are divorcing.

January 1, 11:41 am | [comment link]
13. libraryjim wrote:

a) I didn’t mention the name of the school because it’s not important.  We home-schooled a bit because the quality of public schools is so wretched, that when we found a school that is actually good we want to hold on to that for him. Is that so wrong? And it’s not a better job, it’s A job.

b) I sympathize with anyone looking for a job in this market.  But notice, this couple has a MILLION DOLLAR HOUSE, another in another city and investment properties. How much sympathy do they need?  I have ONE house, worth MUCH less than $1 mil, no investments, but, a blessing! no debt either and some savings, and I was just looking to rent and found it impossible on a offered $38,000 salary, of which I wouldn’t see a paycheck for two weeks after starting work.

c) Larry, I could use the money, 100,000 could keep us going for quite a few years, at my previous salary fo 38,000.  But, really, I’d rather work for my keep rather than accept a ‘hand-out’ from the government—local, state or federal.

d) anything that keeps the divorce rate down can’t be all bad.  If there is abuse involved, then there are agencies in place to provide emergency shelter and job training. 

e) Cigs girl, I sincerely hope that you aren’t either clergy or a social worker/counsellor. Your response is as devoid of empathy/sympathy as you accuse everyone else, and was just plain snarky and mean.

Wishing all a Peaceful New Year in His Name
Jim Elliott <><

January 1, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
14. Larry Morse wrote:

#13,it was just an example, that 100G. I don’t want a 100g handout either, but I tell you what, such a gift would fix the economy faster and more efficiently than anything the gov is handing out now. Since when has handing fortunes to the rich ever done anything except make the rich richer - maybe even owning two BIG houses and a lot of investment properties?  L

January 1, 2:07 pm | [comment link]
15. libraryjim wrote:

OK, I see what you are saying.  And I agree.

Peace to you this day!
JE <><

January 1, 2:13 pm | [comment link]
16. Laura R. wrote:

Peace to you too, libraryjim; my hopes and prayers are with you for a good resolution to your employment situation.

January 1, 3:41 pm | [comment link]
17. Byzantine wrote:

Comment responding to #8 deleted by elf.

January 2, 11:29 am | [comment link]
18. The_Elves wrote:

Thank you, Byzantine.

January 2, 7:04 pm | [comment link]
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