This, via Kevin Drum
, is really not good news
for the nation's economy.
Home values posted the largest decline in the first quarter since late 2008, prompting many economists to push back their estimates of when the housing market will hit a bottom....
While most economists expected sales to decline after tax credits expired, the drag on the market has been greater than many anticipated. "We expected December and January to be bad" as the market reeled from the after-effects of the tax credit, said Stan Humphries, Zillow's chief economist. But monthly declines for February and March were "really staggering," he said. They indicate "a reflection of the true underlying demand, which is now apparent because most of the tax credit is out of the system, and it's being completely overwhelmed by supply."
Of course, ongoing 9% and higher unemployment makes that picture even more grim, as does the news that more than 28% of homeowners are currently underwater on their mortgages. Foreclosures are spreading, home values continue to plummet, and stories like this one are probably not encouraging new entrants into the housing market.
A few months ago, Bank of America offered Sergio Cortez of Staten Island, N.Y., the help he desperately needed to stay in his home: a break on his mortgage. Like millions of others, he was facing foreclosure. But there was a catch buried in the fine print. Cortez had to waive any possibility of ever suing the bank for anything relating to the loan.
Cortez isn't alone. While regulators have banned the practice, some banks and others who handle mortgages have still been forcing homeowners into a corner: You want a chance at saving your home? Then you'll have to waive your rights....
[ProPublica] identified eight banks and other mortgage servicers who offer help that limits homeowners' ability to sue or fight foreclosure.
So if you end up being in a position like this guy, you've already waived your right to do anything about it.
Keon Williams is on the verge of being thrown out of his house—a startling turn of events, considering that for nearly three years since refinancing in 2008, he faithfully paid his monthly mortgage and his property taxes.
"I did everything I was supposed to do, but I'm being evicted," says Williams, 38, sitting in his neat but sparsely furnished dining room on N. 44th St. "I never would have imagined something like this could happen."
Williams, an ex-Marine and single father of three teenagers, finds himself caught up in the continuing fallout from America's mortgage meltdown. His right to continue living in the home he bought, the home he has been paying for, is in jeopardy in the aftermath of the collapse of Central States Mortgage Co., the now-shuttered firm that was once the largest mortgage broker in the state.
So much for the American Dream of home ownership. Between high unemployment, stagnant wages, and rampant ongoing fraud and mortgage problems, who is going to be in the market to get a mortgage and buy a house? Someone in power might want to look at doing something about that, say before the next election.