For Sale

by statia on October 21, 2009

There’s a house that I pass on the way to taking the the Mini to school.  It’s a corner lot on a busy street.  I sometimes see the kids outside waiting for the bus, playing on the development sign.   It’s been for sale for a long time.   Of course, in this sort of market, this isn’t highly unusual, however, our area hasn’t suffered the way that a lot of the country has.  Houses are sitting on the market longer, yes, but not as long as this one has. Also, atypical of the area, the house is in foreclosure.

A couple of weeks ago, I went out to dinner with a friend of mine, who recently bought a brand new townhouse.  They spent the better part of a year looking at houses before they settled on building new.  She told me that they had inquired about the house, and the realtor wouldn’t even show it to them.  Why?  Because the previous owners, before they foreclosed, plugged up all of the drains, turned on all of the faucets and then left.

And really, what.the.fuck?  Why?  WHY would people do that?  Because you lost your house?   Look, I get that foreclosing on your house isn’t exactly something you planned for, nor does it make for a feel good moment in your life, but really, I don’t care how much people are blaming the government for foreclosures, a good part of this is your fault.   Sure, you were told you could afford a large mortgage, by some fly-by-night mortgage shop, but ultimately you’re responsible for the choices you make in life.  No one else has your best interest at heart, except for you.   If you made 50K a year and were told that you could afford a 600k house, wouldn’t you be suspect?  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.   I know that everyone wants to own a little slice of the american dream, and in recent years, that’s become increasingly difficult. I also know that there are other circumstances regarding the rise in foreclosures as well.   But seriously, Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford.  And don’t be that douchebag who floods your house because you bit off more than you could chew.

I needed to get that off my chest.


donna October 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm

we looked at a few foreclosures and although we didn’t see anything THAT bad, it was bad. One family stole all the cabinet doors. Carpet and flooring destroyed, spray paint on walls… it’s disgraceful.

So you can’t make your mortgage. Sucks. But doesn’t give you the right to be a dick.

All that to say, I agree!

shanna October 21, 2009 at 10:16 pm

OMG yes. Thank you.

Yo-ya Mama October 21, 2009 at 10:46 pm

We knew a family who built a home and then couldn’t afford to move in. They tore out the light fixtures and took them with them before the bank could shut up the house.

What the hell does anyone do with a bunch of light fixtures?

Schnee October 22, 2009 at 7:19 am

While I agree what these folks did was a douchebaggery thing, many of the mortgage companies that gave out sub-prime loans were not fly-by-night joints. They knowingly took the risk and started buying and selling mortgages hoping to not get caught with the hot potato.

The house next to me went into foreclosure almost two years ago. The owners were a pair of sheisters (sp?) who took off to the Caribbean to retire after cashing out their equity. Their renters were paying the rent, but the owners were not paying the mortgage and the poor renters got told to get out in a week having no idea that the owners had screwed them. Did I mention the owners had been foreclosed on their previous house? And the mortgage company gave them ANOTHER mortgage….well duh….. a case of Countryside being the lender…..

Fortunately, they didn’t trash the house….just took some appliances and left some trash on the deck that I had to look at for months. Took over a year for the them to even put the house on the market. Now I have a nice unmarried couple that have moved in and have done a lot of work to fix it up. Fortunately, it’s been by far all cosmetic stuff they’ve had to do. But I wasn’t thrilled with spending a year not knowing what shape the townhouse next to me was in….I kept fearing burst pipes or vandalism/fire that would affect me. Thankfully it is occupied now!

Another couple I know, did end up in a townhouse they could barely afford bought during the peak of the boom. The mortgage rate shot up 3% in a year, when they had been told by the bank that the rate couldn’t go up by more than 1%. Knowing that they couldn’t afford that increase, they tried to sell it, but couldn’t get a buyer. They tried refinancing to a lower rate, but were told the needed to bring $12G to the table (that they didn’t have) …tried getting help from the government….but their financial adviser told them they would lose it sooner or later and advised them to walk away. I really doubt they trashed it as they are Asian and Asians typical have a lot of pride…. Having a small child and a terminally sick parent and then losing the house….that was pretty rough on her…but somehow they’ve been slowly piecing things back together. However she insists that they were lied to….specifically about the rate….since they asked that question before they signed on the loan. If the rate hadn’t shot up, they would have been ok. Most people couldn’t have handled their interest rate going up such that their payment would go up by %50.

So while yes, they like others probably should have realized that they were buying a house they couldn’t afford, they also were lied to and made decisions based on those lies. And others experienced job loss or declining salaries. While none of that justifies trashing a house or stealing the copper pipes…it does point to the mortgage companies acting just as poorly as these people. They gave out bad loans….bought and sold equities….made lots of $$$$ and then got caught with their hand in the cookie jar…and said woe is me and forced the government to bail them out or else face the collapse of the banking industry. Sounds like blackmail and robbery to me….and has resulted in lots of trashed foreclosed homes…and non-trashed ones as well…bringing down the values of neighborhoods.

Sorry for writing a book of a comment….but I see what these banks/mortgage companies did just as distasteful and douchebaggish as these homeowners who trashed their houses on the way out…..and the executives walked away with bonus money and big salaries while the homeowners only got a days worth of revenge…

Dotty October 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

When we were house hunting we took a look at a foreclosed property. Those people took EVERYTHING, including the cabinets in the kitchen and carpet off the floors. I wouldn’t believe what bad shape it was in.

Dotty October 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

COULDN’T believe it either. Geez.

jesser October 22, 2009 at 8:10 am

I can freely admit that there were probably a few people out there who got screwed, but I think the vast majority did dumb things with their $$ and it bit them in the ass. Have you ever watched that show Maxed Out? You would not BELIEVE the shit people get themselves into. $2000/month mortgage! $800/month car note! $30000 line of credit! And they make like $50K. And forget what they’re spending on highlights and take out.

And at very least … even if you really did get screwed? Why do that? Karma, people. Karma.

Huy October 22, 2009 at 8:24 am

I believe that deserves an “amen!”

Ms. Pants October 22, 2009 at 9:52 am

I think it’s a way to try to “stick it” to the bank, but really it’s just a confirmation of their own assholioness.

I bet they drink cranberry nut crunch ale.

Merrin October 22, 2009 at 10:32 am

There were a TON of houses like that in our neighborhood in Orlando (three just on our small street). It went from being a cute little area when we moved in to a massive dump when we moved out. People suck.

todd October 22, 2009 at 10:34 am

Yeah? Come to Cleveland. The water thing it’s par-for-the-course ’round here. And so is…

Taking all copper out of the house (not by crack heads, but by the people leaving the premise!)

Putting Tuna fish in the curtain rods, so that the house smells lovely being locked up for a month or so.


Spray painting

Abandoning animals in the house (*sniff*)

Damaging the HVAC system (In and outside)

And the worst one I’ve seen as of late? Septic tank filled to the top with dirt.

Faith October 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

“However she insists that they were lied to….specifically about the rate….since they asked that question before they signed on the loan. If the rate hadn’t shot up, they would have been ok. Most people couldn’t have handled their interest rate going up such that their payment would go up by %50.”

It says it in the paperwork. It tells you in black and white exactly what can, and likely WILL, happen with your interest rates. I’m sure that chick was nice, and sweet, and didn’t deserve what happened to her, but there is no chance in hell that the rate variance wasn’t explained, at least in writing, on a paper that she signed in order to take on that mortgage.

I worked for Countrywide for 4 years. It was PAINFUL how many people just didn’t get how an adjustable rate mortgage worked. One guy called us to complain, and threatening to SUE, because he got locked into an ARM rather than a fixed rate loan he had asked for. We had the paperwork with his signature on it, though! It was on the 1st damned page of it! How he thought he was gonna win that lawsuit was beyond me. Because, guess what? If you’re getting a fixed rate, it will SAY “fixed rate” on the form. If it’s an ARM, it’ll say “ARM”!

People need to man up, realize that signing on to the responsibility for a mortgage on a house is as huge a deal as it seems to be, and accept that THEY are responsible for the papers they sign. If they can’t understand what they say, they need to take them to someone they trust who can explain them to them before they get themselves into something they can’t afford. It just isn’t rocket science, FFS.

statia October 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

@Schnee: I definitely agree with some of what you said. There were some innocent people that were out right lied to (getting the old bait and switch), however, like Faith said, everything is in writing and people need to read the fine print.

I know that there are people who ended up losing their job, it happens. And that really sucks, but maybe if they also didn’t have a mortgage that was too high for them, they would have been able to save some money for this sort of scenario. I don’t know. I think there are extenuating circumstances to every situation. But, A LOT of these mortgage companies did really shitty things and quite frankly, just trying to not get caught with the “hot potato” is still a really shitty way to do business. Our lender was extremely honest with us and would NOT give us a mortgage more than we could handle, because not only was it our name, but it was his ass on the line too. He gives us a mortgage we can’t handle, and it looks bad on him. A good mortgage broker should be the type to think “well, yes, I’m working on commission and the $ signs are rolling in my eyes, but if I give a poor person a 1.2 million dollar mortgage, that’s my name on the line, too.”

My ex-husband is a mortgage broker, so i get how things work. We rented the entire time we were married because he knew we couldn’t swing a mortgage.

ewe_are_here October 22, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Couldn’t agree more. I’m always horrified to hear about people trashing and stripping houses they’ve lost to foreclosure. Yes, maybe a mortgage company didn’t provide appropriate loans, but people know when they can/can’t truly afford something and they are generally responsible for their own financial decisions/mistakes.

Lisa October 22, 2009 at 11:13 pm

I agree 100%. I’m so tired of everyone blaming the banks for people buying, and losing, houses they couldn’t afford. If you make $9/hr, you can’t afford a $100,000 house. Then the banks get blamed for telling people they could afford the mortgage, or for raising interest rates. As someone said in an earlier comment, everything is in the disclosures. READ THEM. If you’re struggling already, with just rent, do NOT buy a house.

The foreclosure problem really highlighted how personal responsibility is disappearing in our culture. No one said “Yep, I fucked up and now I’m paying for it.” Instead, everyone blamed everyone else and here we are.

My Dad had cancer and couldn’t work, but my parents didn’t have a stupid high mortgage (we still had a very nice house in a great neighborhood,) and they had savings so we were OK. Instead of going out to eat, and having brand new cars, people need to put money away just in case something happens. Again, it comes down to personal responsibility.

For the people who bought houses on $9/hr, you reap what you sow. You knew there was no way you could afford a mortgage on that wage, but you signed on the line anyway. You lost your house and there’s no one to blame but yourself.

Schnee October 23, 2009 at 7:36 am

Some more foreclosure crisis fallout (these were linked by another blog I read that’s in my area (DC metro)):

Con Artists feast on suburban blight

Bedroom community blues: foreclosure crisis creating suburban slums

Basically the situation keeps getting worse with all these empty homes and I hear another wave of foreclosed homes is on the way.

A realtor friend talked about another realtors’ nightmare where a home that he was assisting with for a short sale for got foreclosed on before the short sale was completed and neither the owner nor the realtor were notified of the forelosure being near completion. They all got locked out one day…..

Avoiceofmyown October 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Owning is not a right it’s a privilege. I don’t care who was lied to, when you sign a contract you read the fine print. When I bought a car at 22, I read every word of the contract before I signed. I think I was pissing off the loan advisor but I don’t give a shit. I wasn’t setting myself up to screwed because in the end you’re only accountable to yourself. If you don’t understand it, you find someone who you trust to explain it to you. People got greedy, bankers, executive’s corporations etc. Things can’t go up forever. We’re a couple with a middle class income and we rent as we don’t want to be house poor and the market that we live in is retarded. We can’t even get a decent 3 bedroom townhome for $300,000. So it’s about choices and what you can afford and what you can’t.

Kevin Donahue October 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm

A to the fucking MEN

Amanda October 25, 2009 at 6:36 am

Wow, I’ve read all the comments above, and can’t believe the closed mindedness of most people. A large portion of the people in the this mess did not bite off more of a mortgage than they could afford. Low interest rates sent people flooding to re-fi mortgages and purchase homes. In turn, the surge hyper-inflated housing prices. Unless you had a crystal ball 5-7 years ago you could not have predicted that housing values would plummet 25-30% or more. We purchased a reasonable home at a reasonable price. A few years later, we chose to re-fi at a lower fixed interest rate, but the home appraised at $20,000 higher than we paid. Both my husband and I work, we could more than afford those payments. We chose to take that cash and re-invest it into the home. Now, we have a higher mortgage balance at a lower interest rate. New siding, new windows, new kitchen. All smart things to do when you want to sell later, right? We have now invested our down payment, and an additional $15,000 into our home, which only increases in value, right? Fast forward 5 years to today’s market. Our home’s value is now 40% lower than it was. 3 major industries within a 15 mile radius have closed. We can’t sell it. Other homes in our area are selling 10-15 thousand less than our bank approved “short sale” price. We did all the right things, and are still getting screwed. Did I mention that a short sale destroys your credit rating? 8 years of on time, bi-weekly payments, and I can deduct 200+ points because the housing industry’s house of cards collapsed? So, if I’m going to ruin my credit anyway, why shouldn’t we just lock the doors and walk away? Fuck yes, this is the banking industry’s fault. Fuck yes, I am taking my damn kitchen cabinets off those walls. I paid for them. We’re not going to get the money back we invested in that house, including our down payment, all while being told by the mortgage companies and realty experts that your house is an investment that only increases in value. People sit up on their ivory pedestals and tell me “don’t buy more of a house than you can afford.” Guess what, we didn’t, and most people I personally know didn’t either. It’s easy to judge people spew off about “personal responsibility” and “knowing what you sign” when you’re not the one with an upside down mortgage that you can’t get out from underneath of.

Flicka October 25, 2009 at 8:22 pm

The house next door to us was in foreclosure for a year before it was bought. The previous owners left the windows open and we couldn’t reach anyone about it so the house sat open to weather for nearly the entire year. The bank had to do a ton of work on it before it was ready to sell. I don’t get it either.

royann October 27, 2009 at 6:55 am

We are trying to find our way out of a mortgage mess right now. We did not buy more then we could afford, but we bought at the top of the market, refi’d to get a lower fixed rate, and then the bottom dropped out of the market.

Not everyone that are in this mess were idiots that signed up for bad loans. I lost my job, and my husband took a big pay cut, our income took a huge dive since we bought our house, and there was nothing we could have done about either. We racked up a ton of credit card debt trying to keep the mortgage current, and some serious medical bills.

We are currently waiting for our lender to approve a short sale so we can move into a much cheaper rental and I can stay at home with our kids. If the short sale does not go through we’ll go through foreclosure. Something I never expected to have to face.
I think there are many more families like mine then those that got into loans they should not have.

My lender is sending an appraiser to take photos periodically to make sure we have not trashed the joint. I could not imagine doing that, but some days I can understand the frustration. The stress of dealing with this process is unbelievable, and there is no one to advocate for you. We just want to get out from under this house and start over.

Faith October 27, 2009 at 10:14 am

I’m sorry, but anyone who thinks that a house is any kind of long-term investment in their future is dead wrong. And shouldn’t believe the mortgage/bank/real estate people who try to convince you otherwise. Because, um…they’re kind of in the business of selling houses. O_o

Unless you’re flipping within a year, you have a slim chance of making any money off of your home. I thought that was just common knowledge. I guess I was wrong about that!

Amanda, you’re right. It is easy for me to sit here and talk about personal responsibility and being informed by reading the docs you sign when it comes to mortgages. I’m not in an upside down sitch, and I never will be, thanks to the lessons I’ve learned while sitting in my $140,000 house that I’ve done $90,000 worth of improvements on, and still only have a $130,000 mortgage on. It didn’t take a crystal ball to see this current market coming. What goes up must come down, and it’s on US to be prepared for that eventuality.

But go ahead and keep on blaming other people for your misfortune. Because that helps.

Faith October 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

Let me just follow up to explain that I don’t try to sound overly-bitchy when it comes to this subject. I know that I had a distinct advantage having worked through the refi “boom” at a mortgage company. I learned a lot while there…I couldn’t help but do so!

It’s just that a lot of the problems that have come of the recent real estate fall seem to have been kind of common sense ones for people who are employed, educated, and able to purchase a home. So I have a hard time relating is all. And I’m sorry for sounding so harsh. I know the stress must be unbelievably difficult to deal with, and like royann said, no one is there to help, necessarily, and I get that. I get that it’s gotta be hard.

But I still just have a hard time seeing it from another perspective aside from the one I have. I don’t think that’s being “closed minded” really. I just have a very different perspective, is all. I think we all will on this kind of topic, when it comes down to it.

Amanda October 27, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Ok, so because I wasn’t employed at a mortgage company I lack common sense and can’t possibly be educated enough to be able to purchase a home. But, no of course, you aren’t trying to sound overly-bitchy. Good for you that you are able to invest $90,000 into your home. Good for you that you are able to stay employed at a salary that affords you that luxury. Not everyone else has that luxury. I understand home ownership is not a right. Having worked in the mortgage industry you should understand the domino effect of what 1 foreclosure does, and how it folds into another and another in a neighborhood. Foreclosure brings down the value of other homes in the area. Then, when those homes attempt to sell, they can’t sell at the payoff amount. Even financial experts recommend that after 7 years a house should at least maintain its value if not increase. As far as I can tell, choosing not to see a situation from another perspective is the very definition of being closed minded.

statia October 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Royann: I don’t think that everyone in this mess are idiots. I’m specifically talking about the people who didn’t read the fine print and just took the loan anyway and then had the audacity to trash the their house because they feel that it’s the banks fault, or the governments fault for giving them a loan they couldn’t afford. If you KNEW you couldn’t afford it in the first place, don’t go signing your name on the dotted line and then blame everyone else. Ultimately, you’re responsible.

Again, I realize that we’re in a recession. People lose their jobs. It’s something that I worry about, because I’m at home, so we’re a one income family. I can’t really control it if it does happen, but with having LG, we’re feeling the burn of that first year all over again, after things were starting to get easier. There are unexpected turns in life.

Faith: I don’t understand how the majority of the population didn’t see the market falling out from under itself either. It HAD to happen. I saw it a mile away. I would have loved to have waited until the bottom dropped out, but I didn’t want to move again. We’re extremely lucky in that the housing prices in our area haven’t tanked the way they have in a lot of the country. Our house has at least maintained it’s value. If it’s lost anything, it’s pretty negligible. Could that still change? I suppose so, and if that’s the case then we’ll just see about putting some money in to get the most out of our house and stay in it for the long term. If it works out that we can break even on it, we have a little leeway to move, if we wanted to. Who knows. I try not to think about it because it’s not in the works for at least 3-4 years.

Faith October 28, 2009 at 9:56 am

Yeah, same here Statia. We probly won’t ever break even on everything we’ve put into the home, even if we wait another 10 years to sell it! But when we looked at new homes to move to after we got married, it turned out it was a better idea to stay where we are, and improve on what we already had. So we did. It’s working out for us so far. Maybe we’ll rent it when we move on to a bigger, better place. Who knows?

“Ok, so because I wasn’t employed at a mortgage company I lack common sense and can’t possibly be educated enough to be able to purchase a home.” I never said anything like that. I was telling you where my perspective has grown from in this whole sordid mess, is all. Am I lucky? I suppose you could call it that. I just think I’ve had my eyes open, is all. I didn’t gain the common sense I have from the job I was fortunate to work in…I was pretty much born with it. I think we all were. It’s your choice what you do with it. What I DID say was that it seems to me that smart, educated, employed people who are able to purchase a home or refinance the mortgage they already have on a home should be able to make sense of it all, or search out the help they need to have a better understanding of their situation. That’s all.

Also? I am an admin assistant. I make about $40,000 a year. My husband makes a little more than half that as a chef. We’ve done a lot of the improvements on the home over the course of the 6 years we’ve lived there…not all at once. It’s not about having some crazy salary that affords a person the ability to fling money around…it’s about being smart with the money, and knowing where it will enrich your life the most. For us, that’s in improvements in our home. For you, it might be something totally different. Are you starting to see what I mean about different perspectives?

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