In 1997 Annette (whose real name actually is Dave) accepted a job offer with a company near Boston. Since she was living in Pennsylvania, it meant relocating. The house she had purchased for $150K in 1992 appraised for $190K, and the new company actually bought it for that less a 3% fee. In 2006 Annette was offered a new opportunity in the Chicago area. This time the company did not have a home purchase plan, but the house she bought for $250K in 1997 sold within 3 months for almost $400K.
Now Annette is a director for a plastics processor, and with a 20 year record of achievement and an MBA, is at the pinnacle of her career. Another company in the industry is looking for a new VP with the types of skills Annette has, and engages a recruiter (we'll call him Paul) to find this person. Paul knows Annette, and runs the opportunity by her. She is interested, and upon seeing her resume the company wants to interview her.
The new position was in St. Louis, a city with a much lower cost of living, and of course there would be a nice bump in compensation associated with the position. However, when Annette and I discuss her situation, it turns out the house she bought for $450K, which was worth as much as $500K a few years ago, has gone down in value and might not sell for enough to pay off the mortgage.