Last night, millions of Americans got to watch 60-minutes‘ latest installment on the real estate market.
The segment centered on Stockton, California – ground zero for the foreclosure epidemic, where 4,200 homes either sit in default or foreclosure. That number was accentuated by ForeclosureRadar.com CEO Sean O’Toole, who illustrated the foreclosure landscape though a city map littered with red and blue dots. According to O’Toole, "The red dots indicate which homes are bank owned, the dark blue dots indicate which homes are being auctioned and the light blue indicate which homes are now in default". He expects many more red and blue dots to appear on his map over the coming months [Disclosure, ForeclosureRadar is a 1000watt client].
Homes are now being auctioned like cattle as homeowners, unable or unwilling to deal with the problem, are abandoning their homes as if they were bad marriages.
It’s hard to watch this unfold and not find yourself feeling weary trying to figure out if this could have been averted. Homeowners, at least the few that were interviewed, just seemed downright ignorant and irresponsible. They appeared unaware, perhaps willfully, of what an ARM is and unaware of how buying a half-million dollar home with no money down on middle class wages could ever pencil — unless, of course, home prices just continued to soar at 22% a year … forever.
The good news for Realtors is there were no fingers pointed towards real estate agents, nor did the segment attempt to cast them as party to the debacle. But it did manage to cast an eye on one local agent who leads a twice daily Merry Prankster-like bus tour of foreclosed properties. I admire his creativity, but he came off looking like a vulture picking at the scraps of the housing carcass. More subtle and professional methods to handle this are in order.
If this segment did anything, it highlighted the critical, desperate, dire need for honorable, trustworthy, professionals to step up and really start representing.