Sunday, January 27, 2008

Home Foreclosures all around us

The Plain Dealer published a series of articles on the home foreclosure debacle in Cleveland this past week, and today the ABJ follows with two stories of local foreclosures.

In a short summary of the crisis, Foreign, National Banks Top Summit Foreclosures, ABJ writer Rick Armon names Deutsche Bank as the top filer of foreclosures in Summit county. That name figures prominently in the region due north of us, as Callahan's Cleveland Diary points out every week in his listing of Cleveland area foreclosures. (Bill Callahan has been on top of this story for months now, and his blog is the best place to keep up with the ongoing crisis.)

In Summit County, we've seen over 19,000 foreclosures in the past five years. Last year alone, according the ABJ report, Deutsche Bank filed 559 foreclosures. The banks involved are generally out of state or out of country banks. Local banks actually care about keeping people in their homes, while the giant behemoth banks only care about selling as many mortgages as possible so they can turn around and sell them off at a profit.

Someone said that we have become a nation that bases its economy on selling our homes to each other. No more manufacturing jobs, no more tech jobs -- let's just buy homes in order to flip them. But the homes up for foreclosure sales in NE Ohio are not going to go for higher prices. Hell, the people who signed up for variable rate mortgages couldn't afford them to begin with. So who can? These sad homes fall into disrepair, are broken into, and stay boarded up as urban neighborhoods fall into rapid decline.

In Armon's main story today, Losing Our Homes, the reader follows along the journey of a family who moved out of public housing and into a modest North Hill home by signing a variable interest mortgage. They thought they were signing a fixed interest loan, but didn't read the fine print. First time buyers who were taken for the long ride that ends in foreclosure.

Nine years ago, I bought my little working class home in Akron. A first time buyer, I knew nothing about mortgages or the differences between variable and fixed rates. Fortunately, I ended up with a real estate agent who gave me good advice and steered me toward an honest broker. 19,000 families in the past five years were not so lucky.

What I'd really like to see is another feature story, one that follows a day in the life of the mortgage broker who gets people to sign one of these predatory loans. I'd like the article to also give us the day in the life of the out of state or country bank managers who process and profit off of the loans. It could be called "Lifestyles of the Rich and Ruthless."


viola black said...

This deserves a lot of comments. It's the story of ruthless, heartless brokers (who would be instantly recognized as villains in a Dickens novel) taking advantage of a very poor and unsophisticated couple who were out of their depth when it came to purchasing their first house. Their combined earnings amounted to $1600 a month (his from a disability check for a rheumatoid arthritis condition). They were tricked into purchasing a tiny house in a poor neighborhood for $900 a month variable. Soon their payments went way up, she lost her supermarket job, and they have ended up homeless, in debt, and no way out. Our society regards them as detritus, disposable throwaways. If I read the article correctly, the very lending institution that loaned them the money bought the house back from them at a fat profit. It's horrible.

Vancouver ReMax said...

This shouldn`t be as tragic as it looks like. Before you take a serious mortgage you should take every tiny details in consideration. It`s a crime to blame just the brokers and it may sound that my profession is the same. No, I`m just a Vancouver realtor but I`ve met a lot of similar cases. The couples are usually too enthusiastic and light headed so they don`t do enough researches before choosing the mortgage plan. The brokers are usually doing their ¨infernal¨ job and are not too eager to explain you every catches.

Village Green said...

Thanks for stopping by, Vancouver. True, everyone should know to read the fine print before signing anything. However, the number of people who fell for the sub-prime loans is huge and we've seen nothing like it before the last few years. It looks like somebody or some entities decided to push this on to a certain segment of society -- those least likely to obtain home loans, which are also those who probably never went through the home loan process before.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting to me and unfortunately, has confirmed my fears. The Kenmore housing is falling part. The community needs help. The days of innovation and creativity wih regard to business development would greatly be of benefit. Currently, we do not have that. We will though.....soon. More on that later. Kenmore really needs to look out for itself. That may sound funny, but if you think about the kind of problems that we have, it is reasonable. That includes mortgage help. From pre-approval to help with the foreclosure process. I know of no concrete program that now exists. Kenmore has always been a very proud community. Folks in Kenmore have always been hesitant to ask for help. They are good, hardworking Americans. They deserve better than predatory lending practices. It seems to me that no one is looking out for them. Being their advocate. For all who read this, all I can ask is that you think of your family and what is right for them. Sometimes letting go of your home is the only way to survive. To those who can hold on to what they have I pray for you and tell you that sometime in the very near future we will begin to rebuild and regain what has been lost from our families in Kenmore. Thank you.