The news says the housing market stinks right now, but several homes in my neighborhood have sold quickly.
I thought the one on the corner facing Ogden's busy 36th Street would take awhile. It was snapped up within a month. The $96,000 price probably had something to do with it. The place needs work, but that's how bargains are made. The new owner seems nice.
A home a block over that went up for sale in March has "sale pending" on the Realtor's sign. A third around the corner sold in two weeks flat.
Maybe it's just that I live in a cheap part of town. Ogden's south-central corner, the area around 36th Street and Quincy Avenue, isn't stylish, flashy or particularly bad.
The 1950-era homes were in the $120,000 range before the housing bubble burst. They zoomed all the way up to the $135,000 range during the frenzy. Now they've dropped back.
If you don't mind a smaller bungalow built with real nails and actual wood surrounded by 8,000-square-foot yards, mature trees and cracked sidewalks, it's not a bad deal.
Why do I bring this up?
My two previous columns looked at the recession in terms of dollars and cents and bankruptcy and business closings. A lot of this misery is because the housing bubble burst.
Our collective national attitude toward houses inflated that bubble. Somewhere along the line, we forgot that houses are, first and foremost, homes for people. For a while there, they were investments, even speculative items, which is why economists are bummed that housing prices are low.
But you know what? The guy who bought the cheap house on the corner is ecstatic. He got a bargain in more ways than one.
We don't have expensive houses in our neighborhood, but we have people who appreciate the value of a good neighborhood.
We are fortunate to have stable families for neighbors. Most of the homes are owner-occupied and have changed hands only once or twice since they were built. Even the rentals are long-term, the kind of people who mow the lawn and don't put sofas on the front porch.
I tend to be slow about lawn care. One day, I came home and the front was mowed and my neighbor across the street was sitting on her lawn with one of those sneaky grins people get when they've been clever. I got even by fixing her bicycle.
People pick up litter and watch out for their neighbors. If your car gets stuck in the snow, helpers with shovels magically appear.
The other day, my doorbell rang at 8:30 a.m. A neighborhood kid had seen a dog like mine down the street and was worried Gimli got loose.
Gimli was fine, but wasn't that kid a good neighbor?
It's not heaven, of course. There was a gang murder about three blocks away several years ago. Gang graffiti is a constant problem the city is very diligent about painting over.
But that stuff happens everywhere. The strength of the neighborhood's internal connections is not dented by it. That strength is built by people who have paid into a personal stake, not just an investment waiting to be flipped.
We were visiting neighbors a bit ago.
"We finally got our house paid for," the husband said, "and when I told my friends at work, the first thing they asked was, 'So are you going to sell and buy something bigger?'
"And I was just, 'Why would I want to?' "