Originally published on the Federal Observer, April 21, 2009. Maybe it’s coming ’round again. ~ J.B.
April 21, 2009 – You spend your entire adult life living life the right way. You buy a car on ‘time’, you pay your debt. You get retail store credit cards, such as JC Penney, Sears, Best Buy, etc you pay your bills on time or before they are due.
You purchase your first home in 1972, another in the Spring of ’76, sell it and buy another in the Fall of the same year. In ’79 your daughter is born, you pay the bill to the hospital because you have no insurance and you buy another house, and then another in ’80 and ’85, move to the Valley of the Scum in ’90 and buy another house, and another in 2003, sell it in 21 months and make a killing, and buy another in 2005.
In all of these years, you are never late on a payment. No repos, no bankruptcies. The FICO Score (Suze Orman’s favorite number) continues to climb, and climb, and climb. BANG! 864 points. The banks love us, because we borrow, borrow, borrow and always pay our usury in a timely fashion. In fact, they hate it because we never run the loans to term. But our numbers are so high, that Seymour is always there with more money to lend. Our family is the family that keeps America going. And because of it – we’re screwed – with a capital ‘S’.
In late ’04, the business was going down the commode pretty rapidly. Clark Gable said it best in Run Silent, Run Deep, “Going Down!” – or was that Monica Lewinsky to President Bubba? I get confused. We’ve had this house for but over a year, and the value is escalating so fast, that it’s making my head spin. From April of ’03 until November of 2004, the value of the house had gone from $220,000 to $350,000. We refinance – trying to buy some time. By February, we make the decision, that the business isn’t going to rebound, and my wife will be out of work for the summer in a few more months. No money will be coming in. We decide to sell. BANG! It appraises for $450,000 – just four months after the previous appraisal. We sell the first weekend for $425,000. By the time we are finished with all of the associated costs, we net $198,000 more than we had paid just 21 months earlier. We’re sittin’ on top of the world – for now.
I am on the net late at night, searching for homes closer to my granddaughter – I can’t stand being that far away from my best girl. BANG! Find one – five minutes away from her, in a neighborhood, which my wife and I had seen a couple of months before. Called my realtor, had them make arrangement to see it the next morning. Long story short, I bought it – it was $40,000 undervalued for the market at that time. Moved into the house in mid June, 2005. Three days later – we realized that we had been sold a bit of a turkey. Could have sued for deceit, but would have had to move out for at least four months, waiting for engineering reports, core samples, et al. Screw that – we’ll do the repairs, do some upgrades, and sell it in the fall.
I was off-line until mid-August, and upon connecting to the net – had to clean out over 6,000 emails. It took me several hours, as most of them were so dated, that it didn’t matter. One email was from a former associate, who was offering me a proposition for my services as a precious metals specialist – but there was a hook – it was with a former partner of mine, and he and I had not parted on the best of terms. My associate asked if I would at least be willing to talk. I agreed to do so.
After nearly two weeks, my former partner and I buried the hatchet, and agreed to work together. He needed my abilities and knowledge, and I needed a way to once again provide for my family. I began on September 28, 2005 and resigned in May of 2007 – 21 months of making damned good money – well – 17 months actually. The first month sucked, as did the last 3 months. The reason? It doesn’t matter – it’s not germane to the story.
While I was paying attention to business, I was not paying attention to my personal business. The real estate market was beginning to slide like a well-oiled trombone (Lewinsky again).
In July of ’07, we were finally ready to take the plunge and sign a listing with our (then) good friend, Crazy Cheri, but were leaving for Idaho for a bit of ‘looking around.’ We took the contracts with us, prepared to sign them, and would fax them back to her, while on the trip. From the peak of the market, in the Fall of 2005, when all market indicators said, that our house should have listed for $410,000, to the time of our Idaho vacation, the value was down to $315,000 – not only less than we had paid for the house ($320,000), but considerably less than we ‘had in it’ by that time, due to the repairs and upgrades – yet still far more than what we owed on the place – about $180,000. We decided to wait to sign the papers until we returned home. One month later the value was down to $260,000, and it was all-downhill from there.
By the Spring of 2008, it was down to about $215,000 – but we knew that help would be on the way, and sure enough, Bush the Lesser, had done such a rotten job as (P)resident, that the Boy Wonder from Chicaga became his suck-ssesor in January of ’09. Yeah Baby! De brutha gwine bail mah axe out! Except that he just dug a bigger hole for us all.
One of the first things that AKA did, was to offer assistance to troubled home-owners, when it came to their mortgage problems. He wanted to make sure that he could help stop the insanity in the foreclosure markets for homes. I could hear it now, the William Tell Overture, as the Masked Man from the South Side came riding in with his trusty wife, Tonto – er – the Black Widow (I can wish, can’t I?)! The promises of financial aid and new or modified mortgages at lower rates was on the horizon. They’re writing songs of lower mortgages – but not for me.
As I stated near the beginning of this rant, I have done things the right way. I could afford a $200, $300, $400,000 home, which as it turned out, was needed because my daughter and the grand-kids needed to move in with us. Three car garage, four-bedrooms (although one is my office and studio), two full bathrooms, a smallish back yard, but a nice swimming pool (ain’t livin’ in 115? weather without a damned pool). It’s a quiet neighborhood, with nice neighbors – folks we have since traveled with to Alaska and the Coast of the California’s (wouldn’t get off in Mexico – too many of them here), as well as three Opera Seasons in Phoenix. I have paid the mortgage payment, purchased three new or newer cars since living here – all of which were paid off long before the contracts expired. I even pay somewhere between $50 and$150 more per month on the mortgage, than is due. – BUT I don”t qualify for de brutha’s Stimulus Package.
Why? Because according to Stimuli SpittinYourEye – I don’t need it – even though the value of the home had (as of December 2008) declined to about what I owed on it – 178,000 worthless, Federal Reserve Notes. Hell! There ain’t no damned reserve – it’s all gone – and then some. If I wanted to refinance this home, I would have to put another 25% down – bringing it to 75% of it’s current appraised value. We have already put about $180,000 into this place – and you expect me to throw more bad money after bad??? As of this writing, there are two homes around the corner from me, which are being offered at under $130,000 – and we’re losing value to the tune of about 7% per month. Pretty soon, the Banksters might have to pay me to live here – as a caretaker for their property.
Now I am told, that once the value of your home declines below the amount you owe on it, by at least 5% – you MIGHT qualify fo’ de Brutha’s package. Well – I seem to have arrived – but do I want his offer? The former head of GM took an offer he couldn’t refuse – now he’s out of a job. The heads of many of the 19 major banks in the United States were force-fed Obama-Bucks (heh-heh-heh!), and before that Bush-Bucks – and look where they are now – on the brink of Nationalization.
So who really is benefiting from Obamanomics? The same goddamned sonsabitches that caused the problems to begin with – the greedy banksters, the crooked mortgage brokers, the hungry realtors and all those associated with the industry. Oh, and let’s not forget the people, who never should have been allowed to move into these houses to begin with, little brown-skinned people, who might not have even been legally in this country – but they had the proper credentials. I live in Arizona. How many illegal Russians or Chinese do you think live here? If they do, they are awfully low key about it, because you don’t hear of problems with any of them – only the Illegal Aliens from South of the Border, Down Mexico Way – demanding their ‘Rights!’ Sound racist to you? So what!
Good Credit! Bad Credit! No Credit at All!
It has oft been said in the car sales business that, “there is an ass for every seat“. During the early to mid 2000’s – the saying must have applied to every low life, marginally employed burger-flipper, who walked into a real estate sales office.
“No money down, low money down? It doesn’t matter boy – everyone in America deserves a brand new home for their family, whether they can afford it or not. It’s your right! C’mon, the values of these houses are growing so fast, that we’ll borrow against the equity, which you will have before you ever move in and use it as the down payment. 5 year ARM? Sure son, this will guarantee your family an affordable mortgage payment – until the interest rates go sky high – then we’ll run your ass out of the house. Oh, it won’t be us – we’re the good guys (but we’ll have made ours). Can’tcha tell? Why, we’re only tryin’ ta help ya boy. This market is going to go on forever. It’s the ‘merican dream.”
“An looky over heah boy, we’ve built a fine new school for your kids to go to, and just down the street, is another brand new Wal-Mart – 3rd one in six – SIX mind ya – square miles. You’re gonna have it all. Looka heah boy – jes sign right-cheer!”
THESE are the same people, who are getting the help from Obama-Bucks. The same people, who couldn’t afford the payment on a loan for at $5,000 used up piece of junk from some “pay by the week” used car joint. Well, that’s not totally true, there are also the people, who have lost their jobs due to the economic collapse of America – oh – that’s right – they can’t qualify for the stimulus either.
Who the hell is getting this money anyway? I’m out 68¢ on the dollar and I’m ready to stick this house up the Banksters ol’ Wazoo.
Let B.O. bail out the Banks some more.
We’ll do fine on our own – we’ve done it before – after all – it’s the ‘merican way!
Or used to be.
As we reach the end of this road, I’ll see you at Sundown.
Are you angry enough yet?
Without Apology I am,
Postscript: As of September 2018 – we are still living in the home. The market for this neighborhood has never recovered. We are in the throws of completing a complete remodel, including a major overhaul of our 26 year old tile roof. Buckwhat’s deals didn’t help us at all – but it sure has helped the Invaders from South of the Border. ~ J.B.
~ the Author ~
A veteran of Viet Nam, student of history (both American and film), Jeffrey Bennett has broadcast for over 24 years years as host of various programs and has been considered the voice of reason on the alternative media – providing a unique and distinctive broadcast style, including topics such as health and wellness, news, financial well-being, political satire (with a twist), education and editorial commentary on current events through the teaching of history. In addition, he is the CEO of Kettle Moraine, Ltd.