Discussing Housing Options with Family in Denial
I’ve watched the complete Crash Course three times now and I have been thoroughly convinced that we will soon be seeing the effects of prolonged over-consumption, greed, and unsustainable resource depletion. I am having trouble, however, having discussions with my family about the impact that the changing times will have on their day-to-day lives; especially when discussing real estate and housing. Many of the ideas that are brought up for discussion are seemingly counterintuitive, and are usually met with either disbelief or denial. I am looking for some solid facts to discuss with my family to help them understand why renting a house is an option that they should seriously consider. To better explain my situation, I need to briefly describe my family first.
I am 25, a college graduate (in business), a salaried employee in an accounting/finance role, and living in California. My mother is 55, a high school graduate, working full-time as a dental assistant, and living in Tennessee. I also have a sister who is 35, a college graduate (in biology), living in Tennessee (to be close to our mother), and is a very successful real estate agent (top 10 in gross sales) in her metropolitan area. My grandmother who recently passed away left my mother with her investments which ends up being worth about half the value of my mother’s home.
My mother lives in a very nice townhome in a relatively new sub-development. She has a mortgage, and is fortunately still in the black and making every payment on time and in full. Last year she put her house on the market with the intention of downsizing slightly and moving into a “regular” house with a little bit of land (1 to 2 acres). I suggested that she consider renting/leasing instead of buying new property to protect herself and her wealth from any further declines in the housing markets. At the time she thought it was a good idea to consider, so I directed her to the Crash Course and asked her to take some time and watch it. She started watching, but stopped after chapter 10, just when the “bad news” (i.e. the “depressing part”/reality) came up.
Meanwhile, my sister (who is also the real estate agent selling my mother’s house) told my mother that I have become a left-wing loon, out there in California, and the warning signs that I have been discussing with my mother were all conspiracy theories and fear mongering. She explained that real estate was one of the best stores of value and that the housing bubble did not occur in Tennessee like it did in California. Therefore, when my mother was unable to get an attractive offer for her house (the best she got was 10% below the asking price), she told her that her best option was to take the house off the market and wait out the storm. Needless to say, my mother was convinced by this blissfully ignorant expectation for the future, and did just that.
I was very upset to hear this because I thought that she understood the situation well enough to see the flaws in my sister’s argument. My mother doesn’t like to argue or debate, and tends to leave major decisions, especially financial decisions, up to the people she trusts most. Being the youngest child and geographically separated by hundreds of miles, she has never taken my advice. She has fallen into several “get rich quick” scams, selling new fancy health foods and other nonsense, and always ends up at a loss, stuck with useless inventories that she paid way too much for.
For Thanksgiving I will be traveling to Tennessee to spend time with the family. My mother told me that she would follow any advice I gave her if I could convince my sister; however I have serious doubts that I can convince her. She lives a fast-paced lifestyle and takes frequent trips to Las Vegas and Miami. She worked EXTREEMLY hard to get to where she’s at, and sees her success as a one-way trip – an achievement that will last until retirement. She gets angry at the thought that her success may only be temporary, and that she will eventually have to revert back to a simpler, slower way of life – 100% denial.
How can I convince her? I need facts that are undeniably true – facts that she can’t write off as conspiracy theories and fear mongering. I can’t go through every chapter of the Crash Course because I know she will immediately be on the defensive when subjects like government statistics and resource depletion come up. But I don’t know how to explain to her why this time it’s not business as usual without having to explain the numerous inter-relationships between the many drivers of the current crisis.
Has anyone else successfully dealt with a similar situation, or have any suggestions for how to deal with this situation? I have only this one chance to save our family’s hard earned wealth, and I can’t screw it up.
I thank you in advance for any advice.
Hey SC —
First off, welcome to the community. Secondly, many people here are familiar with your story, or at least some version of it.
I’ve been working on my family for a year and a half, with not much progress. Last week my mother finally said she was going to watch the CC so she can understand me better. Evidently, she’s noticed a change in me since Feb ’09 when I first started figured out the deep yogurt our society was in. [wry grin]
So I’d counsel patience. Most folks cannot even begin to admit the possibility of the huge changes underway — much less really wrap their minds around them. It’ll take time. Keep after them — *gently* and at their own pace — and be ready to answer questions when they come. Check out Dr. Chris’ essay on the stages of CC state of mind (if you haven’t already):
— it’ll help you judge where your family members are on the continuum and how to deal with/approach (or *not* deal with/approach) them.
Again — welcome.
Viva — Sager
Ask your sister to explain this chart. I’m certain you can get local stats to plug into it. I did when I went to meet my tax appraiser – by the time I was done with that sob he wet himself.
CM says that bubbles over correct in the CC. You can draw the dotted line lower. IMO that is where waiting will get people.
Also, in one of my writes on FSN I did a blurb, I think the numbers were: In 2006 33% of originators were subprime. That added 7-10 million buyers to a market that had 70 million single family residences. Those subrime buyers are gone. The collateral damage from that was 1.5 trillion in primes. Now Alt-A’s and Option Arms are coming due. None of these buyers are coming back anytime soon.
Even if Tennessee is a strong economic area, many buyers come from other locals, they need to sell first.
“Meanwhile, my sister (who is also the real estate agent selling my mother’s house) told my mother that I have become a left-wing loon, out there in California, and the warning signs that I have been discussing with my mother were all conspiracy theories and fear mongering.”
You made me laugh ’cause our family thinks we are right-wing loons, hiding in the Michigan woods, filled with doomsday thoughts and preaching conspiracy.
Left wing – Right wing, we are all nuts I guess..
I suggest you search “red pill” in the search bar…that was a great thread on your problem.
Welcome to CM!
She gets angry at the thought that her success may only be temporary, and that she will eventually have to revert back to a simpler, slower way of life – 100% denial.
Yep. This is THE number one response I come across to. Peope want to kill the messenger. I think there really is a very deep seated belief by many people that if you just stay positive things will work out and if you are ‘negative’ then you can cause damage.
It also calls their belief systems into question which they percieve as a critique against them.
IMO the people who smell a rat have already begun their journey to find the truth out. Those that haven’t, haven’t because they just want things to work out. The idea of any other outcome just overwhelms them.
Thanks everybody for the info. I’ll do a little more reading and keep at it!
It’s hard enough to make the right changes for oneself, let alone somebody else. I face a similar situation with my mom and she’s verry worried about my “doom and gloom” reasoning. We mean the best, especially for our loved ones. Just go easy and respect their decisions.
I think that if you will discuss with all of your family members together, you find solurtiuon. Now a days everyone do strugle in your life and face a lot of problems everyday. I feel at that time you have a big trouble. I hope All is well soon.