Treasurer Says Better Decisions Needed

If you've been thinking about house hunting but not sure if now's the right time, the U.S Treasurer says the key is getting good financial advice. Bill Stamps has more.
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It's an elegant and festive atmosphere at this open house.  Real estate agent Alexa St. Julian is showing potential homebuyer the bathroom in one latest houses to go on the market.

"Run the tub full of bubble bath and then look at TV and relax."

Even with a sour economy Alexa says the Houston housing market remains steady, but the problem she sees is many people just can't get a loan.

"It's more for me, I'm finding, a money crunch issue than it is people not wanting to buy.  They want to buy."

Most experts say this whole problem started because too many people took out mortgages they couldn't pay for. And that's one reason U.S. Treasurer Ana Cabral came to Houston. To talk about being financially smart. She says many people simply make the wrong decisions when it comes to their money.

"We do, I think, in many regards find ourselves using our credit cards too easily for daily purchases and thinking somehow that's going to be okay 'I'll catch up at the end of the month'. Eventually we have to pay the piper, and sometimes that's hard to do."

Back to that nice house…

Agent Alexa St Julian shows the buyer the second floor. The buyer likes what she sees and the price is right.  But what should she do?

Treasurer Cabral says each person has to make their own decision based on good information.

"We need to do a better job of equipping people to make good decisions. You know it really doesn't matter what your income level is. People sometimes think this is a problem of the poor. It is not. All of us, no matter what our income level need to do a better job of managing our finances."

If you think this is one of those experts or officials who can say what they want, but aren't affected — not in this case.  Once the Obama administration takes over, Treasurer Cabral will be like many people out there…looking for a new job.

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.