Angry about government bailouts to homeowners? Cry me a river!

A few years ago, my wife and I contemplated buying a duplex in a shabby-but-promising area of Roanoke, Virginia. It was located near the bustling downtown, close to an emerging arts center. Housing prices were depressed, as the neighborhood was in the beginning stages of gentrification, and many first-time homeowners were homesteading the area.

Neither my wife nor I made a lot of money, but our credit was decent, and we were able to qualify for a variable-rate mortgage. For the first five years, we would have had a very reasonable fixed rate, after which the rate would have risen sharply. Our plan was to get the house, make some improvements (I'm very, very handy), work on our credit, and refinance before our interest rate skyrocketed. While our lender couldn't promise us that we would be able to refinance at a lower rate, he led us to believe that, with our credit history, we would have a very good shot at getting a decent fixed rate.