February 26, 2009

Thought for Thursday - My Take on How We Got in This Foreclosure Mess

Over at Lynt's blog she wrote a blog post called "Random" and among other things asked the following questions and answered them:

There are three foreclosure properties in my neighborhood. Am I pissed that folks got in over their head, sucked in by ridiculous loan availability when I played by the rules and now have declining property values? Yes. Do I think the government is to blame? No. I think bankers are to blame. And people who weren’t raised to buy what they could afford. An interest-only loan? On what planet does that even sound like it makes sense?

Here's how I responded:

Well...enjoy that wine while I natter on about the loan foreclosure debacle. 1st - actually I do blame the government because going back to at least the Nixon administration (and in both democrat and republican administrations) various laws had been changed that eventually led to the situation where greed was able to take over unchecked (we call part of it "DE-Regulation").

2nd - let's talk more about that greed. I'm not sure which came first the lender's greed or the realtor's greed. But I tend to think it was the lenders because they had to develop and make more available the products that the sellers of real estate start "recommending" in order to convince buyers to buy too much house. I have a financial client who did NOT come to me first when they decided to start house hunting. Had they come to me I would have told them the most they could afford on their income was about $150,000 at prevailing rates and that was on the high end. But no, they went to a real estate agent who was GREEDY and probably had her income based on selling a certain number of homes at a minimum value of $250,000. Since there were mortgage loans available that could be "tailored" to fit the client's income (read "interest only" loan) of course she ONLY took them to see $250,000 homes. They fell in love with a house that her recommended lender could finance and THEN they called me. Yeah, I burst their bubble and we didn't chat much for 3 years (of course, that's because they bought the house). Even the wife's banker brother told them not to do it, but by then they were in on the greed game. Of course, somewhere in this scenario are appraisers who propped up the market values somewhat, because the lenders with the "creative" loans threw business to them...hence more greed.

Have another glass of wine now...

3rd - You might wonder how these buyer's got the idea to finance 100% of the homes and do so without even having money for closing costs. Greed again. I believe this started on a large scale with builders. They began offering money towards closing called "seller's concessions". The actual idea stems from HUD/FHA rules that allow sellers (or supposedly non-profit companies) to provide the buyer with up to 3% of the selling price toward closing costs and, depending on some other factors, an additional 3% for a down payment so that the financing isn't 100% of the price (although they add on a Mortgage Insurance Premium up front, so it's nearly 100% financing anyway...don't get me started on that stuff...heh). Anyway, realtor's that were trying to resell existing homes had a hard time competing with all the new homes what with the new homes being NEW and having access to this creative financing, so they started borrowing the same ideas. THEN the lenders figured out that they could package up all the loans and sell them as investments, so they started offering these creative loans to existing homeowners so they could refinance all their debt. More greed. Then the homeowners saw their homes as debit cards...OMG! You should have seen the really weird loans that came out of that idea...THOSE really haven't gotten the press the interest only ones got...again, don't get me started!

So that's my somewhat educated take on the problem. Now I think I'll get myself a glass of wine...heh.

BTW, my clients decided to move and fortunately sold their home between the two major waves of foreclosures here in Colorado. They only had to bring $2000 to the table to get out. It was rather expensive rental property (they never really owned anything, if you ask me, and it was almost 50% more per month than their previous rent was in a similar size house)...but they did learn their lesson and we're back on speaking terms again.

February 25, 2009

Wednesday's Whine - One of Those Weeks Already

So I have this job now...you may have read about it in earlier blogs. It rules my life at the moment (yet one more reason I prefer to be self-employed). Anyway, I've had a few bottles of wine in the last couple of weeks, but no energy to search the net for label pics and general information about them. Then I made a bad attempt at using an example and humor to illustrate a point during a meeting that turned out to be neither funny nor a very helpful illustration...sigh. A coworker was offended and another coworker tattle on me to the boss. I get that it was bad form, but the offended coworker should have come to me and not stewed over it. The other coworker really had no right to go to the boss either but could have come to me about it. I dislike tattletales. I assume that people make mistakes and if they make enough to bug me, then I talk to them directly. Occasionally, I'll seek counsel from a knowledgeable coworker on how to handle a situation or to vent. Just like others come to me to vent. But I'm bad about assuming that obvious venting is considered confidential. Guess that's a bad assumption because I now suspect my venting (as well as some others') is not being held in confidence. This whole thing gave me a 3 day headache. Fortunately, I'm not the one that is apparently going to be in big trouble for sending an email about something confidential in our department to someone in another department. Still, it makes people paranoid to chat with former coworkers in other departments when someone is going to get in trouble over what they've shared. It kind of feels like folks are potentially being set up to not be retained for the next year...sigh. I could be looking for a new gig...or someone I work with will be...or maybe several of us...

February 12, 2009

Thought for Thursday - Blogging Burnout part 2

I know y'all miss me a tiny bit. I just figured you might need a break. You know, one less blog page to read for a short while. Rest assured, I am reading everyone else's blogs. I'm even commenting on ocassion! I've also been drinking some wine. I just haven't been sharing it with you...heh. I know, I know. You depend on me for your weekend wine selections. A girl's gotta budget more these days, and finding a bottle of wine that tastes like it was at least $20.00 but getting it for under $10.00 is the ultimate. And here we are facing Valentine's Day with NO wine suggestion. Sigh. Can't count on TheWeyrd1 anymore.

Well...I felt your vibes... So for Valentine's Day, I'm going to suggest a wine I just had twice in 3 months. And no, it wasn't a RED wine. GASP! I bought Insatiable White Wine again just because it was on sale and the sign indicated a really high wine score. I don't remember which publication rated it or what the number was, but it was very high. Especially for a blend. I think it was better the second time through. Another reason to buy it for Valentine's Day: a RED label! With a name like Insatiable on a red label how can you go wrong??? AND, I think it will go well with chocolaty desserts too. ENJOY!