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Equity Loan Crisis Boosts Sale of Greek Revival Columns

greek columns on a modern house, some rights reserved, http://flickr.com/photos/rwillock/2486082546/ and http://flickr.com/photos/sevenbrane/2386853999/Desperate times call for desperate measures. On the brink of a contemporary Depression, homeowners are stunned to find themselves facing financial ruin or foreclosure. They are looking for a quick fix and one strange fruit borne from this economic crisis is a recent boom in the Greek Revival Column business.

With all the pressures applied to modern homeowners, the need for some quick cash is great. There are rising gas prices, energy prices, health costs, car payments, etc. An equity loan becomes an appealing option. With an equity loan, you can borrow money using your home’s worth as collateral. All you have to do is subtract the amount of money you owe from the appraised worth of your home and you’re left with the equity – an amount of money you can borrow right away. For example, a house worth $300,000 on which you only owe $100,000 leaves you with $200,000 in equity.

In the past, these kinds of loans have not been difficult to get. But with the poor state of our economy stemming from our real estate market, the perceived value of many homes is plunging. An equity loan is affected directly because the amount of money you can borrow depends on how much an appraiser thinks your house is worth. Homes are simply no longer worth as much as they were before the economic downturn.

This is where the Greek columns come into play. In a bid to increase their homes perceived value, homeowners are erecting the classy-looking support poles to the fronts of their homes, regardless of whether it fits with their style of architecture or not.

“Everyone knows that home appraisers are big suckers for the Greek column,” says Julie Swanson, who is one of 11 homeowners on her block having the columns installed to their entrance. “Personally, I’m not even much of a fan, but they aren’t that expensive compared to the boost they’ll give to our home equity, so it’s worth it.”

With columns starting as low as $135, yet yielding $10,000 in perceived value, the trend has swept the nation, ushering in an era of tacky, cheap American architecture potentially unmatched in history. Once reserved for the McMansions of wealthy suburbs, the columns are now being attached to anything, including garages and sheds.

“Even with the rising costs of operation, the volume of business we’re doing right now means that this has become the Golden Age of Greek column installation,” says Tyro Moulakis, the owner of a family-run column business. “We haven’t done this much work since Pericles strode the great halls of Athens. It’s great to see Greek culture having so much wider of an impact right now. My grandfather would have been proud. He would have said ‘Tyro, you have made me proud.’”

While experts say that efforts to similarly pump up the deck installation industry would require federal assistance, other cheap home improvement businesses have been feeling the upswing. A fine-looking birdbath purchased for $100-200 can add $5,000 to a home equity loan. A trellis with flowers growing on it brings $20,000 and a white picket fence can yield results of up to $100,000. Sales are also up for lawn ornaments, especially classy-looking faux statuary.

The results so far have been positive, with many Greek column owners seeing an increase in equity and lightening of their financial burdens. Economist Ray Blidgen is in support of the column building frenzy:

“It’s true that these columns are not necessary from a structural standpoint,” Blidgen says, “but to say they’re not supporting anything would be a falsehood. These columns are supporting the delicate financial web of the modern family, providing the much needed super-thread that will branch off according to the family’s needs and allow them perch safely on top like spiders.”

It’s a strange metaphor, but there is truth in the fact that the loans these columns support a wide range of other loans and payments a family must make, adding a healthy amount of theoretical money that can be used to support other theoretical money in all the right places.

For those able to see the funny side of the financial crisis, the boom in Greek columns holds a particularly rich sense of irony.

“I think it’s amazing,” says comedian Phil Goldman, “that America is supposedly falling like the Roman Empire and our natural reaction is to make our houses look more Roman. It’s like we don’t even care, we’re just thrilled by the theatricality of it all I guess. But don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the idea that this kind of end-times mentality could be exploited to make money: I’m thinking about opening a vomitorium for all the people out there who are sick of all this shit.”

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