Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dear Homeowner

by Rita Bradley
Reprinted by Permission of Realty Times

Dear Homeowner,

I was very sorry to hear about the possible foreclosure of your home. I'm sure this is a very unpleasant time for you.

I'm sure none of it is your fault. Your friends and neighbors were on their way to becoming millionaires, on paper at least, from owning real estate. You'd have to have been crazy not to take advantage of such an easy money making scheme. The friendly loan officer (that called you one night while you were eating dinner) said that real estate would NEVER go down in value! And banks really wanted to lend you the money. They visited the mortgage broker offices every week offering fabulous programs for their clients. And the fact that your job pays just a bit more than minimum wage was a simple obstacle to overcome. You just got a “stated” loan and stated that you had enough income to afford the house of your dreams. I understand, really I do.

Did you have to get that second cash-out refinance though? You'd already bought a new car, a motorcycle and furniture for the house. You'd already taken the family on an amazing vacation in Hawaii. Well okay, it was YOUR house and you had equity right? Or did you?

Do you remember when I came to appraise your home? Do you remember telling me that you wouldn't pay for the appraisal unless my appraisal made your loan work? Did you know it's illegal to pressure an appraiser like that? Do you recall telephoning my office and threatening to report me to the state appraisal board because my appraised value was “short”? That's okay, your loan officer found a new, “good” appraiser, a new appraisal was done and you got your money. By the way, not that you'd care, but your loan officer never called me again because my appraisal almost killed his deal and I lost another source of work. This happened a lot during the real estate boom. My family's cars are old, our furniture threadbare and there hasn't been a vacation in a long time because I didn't inflate appraisal values.

I'm not a whiner. I would have just faded into the woodwork on this topic but lately I've been hearing about how appraisers caused this mess and how homeowners should be helped to stay in their homes even if they can't afford them. I'm hearing that my tax dollars and those of my children and grandchildren are going to be used to help people like you who lived way above their means and are now crying fowl. It hurts to think that after all the fun you had with the bank's money and with no prospect of making good on the legal contract you signed to pay it back, that you can't just take your lumps and rent for awhile. It would be the honorable thing to do.

I was just trying to protect you that day we met, from borrowing more money than your home was worth. I hope you can appreciate that now. For the future, may I make a couple of suggestions? You might want to take a look at your household income and figure out how much you can afford a month for housing. Most financial experts recommend putting no more than 1/3 of your income into housing costs (including utilities). This leaves money for other expenses and even savings. Savings are another important component of smart money management. Having an emergency fund decreases reliance on credit cards when the car needs new tires or other unexpected things come up. This is not a good time to run up your credit cards. I would also recommend reading over any document you sign. Just because some of the print is small doesn't mean it doesn't apply to you. And finally, with all due respect, could you stop blaming appraisers for your poor decisions? You'll continue to have the same disastrous outcomes in your life until you come to terms with your past mistakes and learn from them.

Your Former Appraiser

Rita Bradley is a freelance writer, online appraisal marketer and former real estate appraiser.
Published: March 26, 2009
Use of this article without permission is a violation of federal
copyright laws.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for publishing my letter. Rita B.