mortgage

7 choices for underwater condo owner

Stuck in home
Stuck in home

Debbie Huss finds herself in a dilemma: She can afford her home, but wants out and is stuck there.

"I recently got engaged and my boyfriend owns a house," she writes in an e-mail. "Since the house is bigger than my condo, we would like to live in the house." But she owes twice what the condo is worth, so she can't refinance and she can't afford to sell. And the condo association won't let her rent it out.

The details of Huss' quandary are her own, but her general predicament is believed to be widespread. The situation makes it difficult to move on with one's life -- to get married, move to take a better job or buy a bigger home to accommodate an expanding family.

Plenty of programs exist for people who bought over their heads and can no longer afford their mortgages. But no help is available for people who can make their house payments, but can't afford to sell. So Huss and people in similar situations have to get creative.

Huss bought a two-bedroom condo three years ago in a Minneapolis suburb. She paid $195,000 and put no money down. Of the 62 units in the building, at least 12 are in foreclosure, and they're listed at $100,000 or less. If Huss were to sell her unit at the market price, she would have to come up with around $100,000 cash to pay off the mortgage -- cash that she doesn't have.

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