Saturday, September 15, 2007

Who wins with more foreclosures?

Chalk up another one for hypocrisy in the print media.

Wednesday's Kenosha News carried a lengthy article about the growing number of real estate foreclosures.

Of course, a lot of overly-priced homes were sold to people who couldn't turn them around in the declining housing market nor could they continue to afford the high payments on mortgages that probably they shouldn't have been given.

Another dose of reality comes, though, in the back pages of the newspaper: two full pages of fine print foreclosure notices (most of them, ironically, from one Milwaukee law firm).

That's right. The same newspaper that laments the rising number of foreclosures is profiting from them!

Yes, I know that legal notices have to be published somewhere, but the real story comes from the sheer number of them and the fact that the newspapers and certain speciality law firms profit from this.

As for the core problem, it's another example of we have met the enemy and he is us.

A home was always thought of as a man's castle.

The American Dream was to own your own home. Look at the number of reasonably priced Cape Cod homes sold across the country to veterans after World War II.

What's wrong with this picture is that a home became considered as a marketable commodity as opposed to a family's place of residence.

As real estate speculation went unchecked, the price of housing reached unconscionable levels and even the downfall in the marketplace still leaves many, many people with affordable housing out of reach.

The current scheme of things doesn't always see people living the dream of paying off a mortgage by years of hard work but instead some people just pay the interest on a loan and hope they can sell a home at enough profit to cover the mortgage and a new home.

My own home -- built 12 years ago -- is valued at more than twice what it actually cost to build. This house was built as our castle, not as a commodity.

Of course, things like a sense of community are among the values diminishing in this nation.

We used to say that housing should consume no more than 25% of your income.

So, someone getting $7.50 per hour -- about $15,600 per year -- should be able to afford a $60,000 home. Tell me where you're going to find one of them?

Of course, McDonalds could pay more but then people wouldn't be likely to embrace $12 Big Mac's.

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