By JLP | January 21, 2008
This is the introductory paragraph to an article in the February 2008 issue of Money (sorry no link to the actual article):
Luis and Kelly Madera have done everthing they can to save their house. They refinanced most of the $550,000 they owed on a risky, adjustable-rate home loan to a conservative 30-year fixed rate mortgage. They emptied their savings accounts and pulled thousands out of their 401(k)s. But the coule, who have a 15-month-old daughter, may still lose their three-bedroom Northvale, N.J. home to foreclosure. With gross monthly pay of about $10,000 ($6,000 after taxes)—he owns a trucking business, she’s an MRI technician—they can no longer keep up with the $4,100 house payments. And Kelly, 31, now wonders why she and Luis, 34, were able to get a mortgage they couldn’t afford in the first place. “I expected that if we were approved for a loan, we would be able to pay it,” she says.
Okay, he OWNS a company and she’s a professional and yet they weren’t smart enough to figure out that they couldn’t afford their house? Are they really that stupid or are they just looking for someone to blame?
The article then goes on to give several reasons why all these people should be rescued:
Before you join this tough-love brigade, however, consider how you might find your own fortunes tossed about in the rising tides of foreclosure. And make no mistake: A deluge is on its way. Without any intervention, an estimated 3.5 million homeowners could default on their mortgages in the next 2 1/2 years, says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, a West Chester, PA economic research firm…
For starters, a sharp spike in foreclosures will increase the number of houses up for sale; additional inventory in an already glutted market will further depress prices. Second, houses in foreclosure generally fall into disrepair. Clumps of empty, boarded-up dwellings surrounded by weeds lower prices not only neighborhoods. And for every 1% increase in the foreclosure rate, a neighborhood’s violent-crime rate rises 2.3%, according to a study by Dan Immergluck of the Georgia Institute of Technnology and Geoff Smith of the Woodstock Institute.
The author also states that if a bailout isn’t offered, mortgage interest rates will go up and that foreclosures and falling house prices could hurt the economy.
I just don’t understand how we can really help these people. Take the couple in the example. They’re in a $550,000 house. The article doesn’t mention whether or not their $4,100 house payment includes taxes and insurance. My guess is that they don’t . What exactly can be done to make their house payment more affordable? My guess is not much.
Let capitalism work this out.