It’s easy to be judgmental in a free market…I have been a real estate broker in Charlotte NC for over two decades now. Previously I have worked in the media: newspaper, radio and television. My years there were many and the number of women working in the media was few. That experience was my education in the real world. In those arenas, I was privileged to observe people at their best and at their worst. And I had the chance to test my own beliefs, my own principles and my own frailness. My human traits, qualities, shadows.And now real estate and it’s a similar story every day. Sometimes the issues are small and manageable, sometimes almost funny. But the big issues shake me still. Asbestos is a big issue and scary when it was first new to us…buried oil tanks are less of an issue…synthetic stucco is still with us…masonite is still with us…polybutylene pipe fittings…and on and on. Then there’s surveys, title insurance, home inspections and home inspectors, attorneys…each with their own baggage…and as brokers we carry our own baggage as well…including the label of Realtor which is a whole other story in my book…and then, of course, there is the mortgage business.Subprime lending. I suspect there are strata we will never know. How deep the well goes and whose hands are in whose pockets…we will not know the entire truth. But I wonder about the people who were excited to be getting in a home of their own after or during experiencing credit problems…and about the originators and underwriters who helped make that happen…and about some of the builders who grasped that niche and built more and more houses…and not all of them well. Because some of the new home owners did not have a clue about the importance of their sub prime loan, some did, but failed again to meet their credit responsibility. And some mortgage lenders saw that niche and crafted scenarios with 100% down loans as well…and who represented the buyers along the way? Who explained the worst case scenarios, and maybe to some even said “Wait?. And the rest of us who looked at the huge gains in home ownership and wondered how was this possible? Some of us looked at these great numbers of new homes and some of us questioned some of the shoddy construction. And the loud crash recently wasn’t really a surprise. Our neck of the woods (NC) was experiencing record foreclosures. Investors were buying property sight unseen in hot markets. I am sure there is a story for each person in distress. Perhaps in uncovering those participants who are not in distress might reveal the real culprits.And let me hasten to add, that I do not believe all the victims are without responsibility. I have seen buy-downs before and adjustable rate mortgages that were ill-fit to the new home owner…it is a mess. And now I read where conditions for obtaining a mortgage are back to normal. What does that say? And further, that there is a bulging inventory of new homes and I wonder if over building has anything to do with that report.I believe we will learn more and more about the crafting of this mess…and perhaps less and less about the real players. One thing is very apparent, the root is still money.
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