For decades the housing market has been taking advantage of people with little means. Until very recently, (say the last six months), almost anyone could get a loan on a house whether your credit score indicated you should or not. Loan companies along with banks have almost ignored the scoring system that is in place to not only help keep them out of trouble but to keep the consumer out of a debt they could not afford. The effects have been devastating, and all across the country the foreclosure rates are staggering:
In Baltimore, Maryland, last year there were 947 people that lost their homes. This year an astounding 7001 were kicked out on the street. That is up 8,785 percent!
In Phoenix and Tuscon, Arizona, 777 people lost their homes. Unfortunately, 2,414 people were foreclosed on this year. An increase of 311 percent.
There is a great many reasons for this to occur, but part is due to shady lending practices from subprime lenders that didn’t truly care if you could afford the loan or not. It is these people that are getting hurt in the worst ways. They try to refinance their loans and because their credit scores aren’t up to what is being touted as, “tightened lending standards”, they fail to refinance and are forced to foreclose. But then they see what pickle they are truly in as they slowly realize after submitting several applications that the lending market has tightened up like Fort Knox: they aren’t letting anyone in. Forced to go back to renting, they are then shocked to learn that they still owe the money on the house! Prices are falling and lending practices have tightened, as this family has realized, but while houses are coming down in price, the banks are not lending to as many people, and because of that their home is not being sold. They are still on the hook for the loan until it is sold. Sadly, if there is a difference in what the house is sold for and the price of the loan, the family will still owe that difference.
There is help for those millions of people who were loaned money they never should have been. The U.S. House is putting forth legislation that might “allow those who can show they were approved for a loan they could not afford to sue their lender for refinancing or a new loan.”
The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007, introduced by Representative Barney Frank D-Mass., introduces a new concept called assignee liability where it “[…] would ensure that investment banks and other securitizers monitor the quality and underwriting standards of the loans they fund.” I for one certainly hope that it passes, as the predatory practices of these money lenders have already hurt far too many people.
Personal accountability can only go so far if your lender is telling you that you can afford this loan when in reality you can’t.
As soon as the House of Representatives website (clicky) allows me to download the text of the bill, I will post it here for everyone to see.