Foreclosures in the United States
Should I buy a home? This question has been on the minds of people across the United States for years. Young people fresh out of high school or college with jobs that seem like they can pay the bills often wonder if buying a home is better than renting an apartment, and others who have never lived in a home dream of becoming homeowners, but on the last few years, banks have capitalized on that dream, starting a sub-prime mortgage crisis that has left much of the United States in foreclosure.
Although foreclosures have affected people throughout the nation, they are primarily in certain states. In fact, only nine states have foreclosure rates that exceed the national average 11 foreclosed homes per 5,000 housing units. Four of those states contain 22% of the foreclosed upon homes in the nation. These states are Nevada, California, Arizona, and Florida. The fact that most of the foreclosures have occurred in these states, as well as nine other states with foreclosure rates above the national average, have caused some to think that the foreclosure issue is a state problem and not a national one. Nevertheless, in January, 2009, there were 274,3999 foreclosures throughout the nation (Barone). This suggests that while the problem may be concentrated in some states, it is certainly of national interest.
So what caused the national foreclosure epidemic? Today, most agree that it was the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In fact, the BBC launched an article in November of 2007 warning against the consequences of this crisis, foreclosures, which were then beginning to boom. In fact, in the first eight months of 2007, 1.7 foreclosure proceedings occurred in the United States (Schifferes). Today, the problem has gotten even worse. Sub-prime mortgages are home loans that give a party a fixed, low, rate for a few years, and then switch to an adjustable rate. When the loans switch, the loan payments are much higher, making it difficult, or impossible for families to afford them (Schifferes). What makes the crisis so controversial is the fact that most banks knew that the people to whom they were making loans could not afford them once the loans switched from a fixed to an adjustable rate. Now, many are calling for government relief to homeowners who have landed in this situation. In addition, a result of this crisis has been the change of policy for loan companies and banks. Most no longer give loans with no down payment.
In order to relieve some of this crisis, President Barack Obama has proposed spending more than $50 billion to “reduce mortgage payments and stall further home foreclosures” (Hall). Obama’s senior adviser David Axelrod called the foreclosure crisis a “major problem,” and implied that something must be done. In addition, the recently passed stimulus bill, which consists of components such as imposing “sharp new limits on pay and bonuses for corporate executives whose companies receive foreign aid” (Hall), might help to curtail some of the bank or corporate greed that sprung the crisis.
Thus, foreclosure is a problem throughout the United States, although it is concentrated in a few states. People are loosing their homes because they bought into sub-prime mortgage lending. This risky type of loan allowed these people to get comfortable paying a low rate, but made it impossible for them to make payments once their loans had hit the adjustable portion. Now, as people continue to be unable to make payments, the economy, and families, suffer. In order to solve the problem, President Obama has proposed new spending legislation. While this may help to some degree, homebuyers’ education will be what ultimately stops foreclosure skyrocketing.
Barone, Michael. “Foreclosures Are a Regional, Not a National Problem — Half are in Four States.” U.S. News and World Report. 20 Feb. 2009. 5 March 2009. http://www.usnews.com/blogs/barone/2009/02/20/foreclosures-are-a-regional-not-a-national-problem — half-are-in-four-states.html
Hall, Mimi. “Obama’s next task: Tackle the housing woes.” USA Today. 16 Feb. 2009. 5
March 2009. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2009-02-15-obama-economy-sunday_N.htm
Schiffers, Steve. “Foreclosure wave sweeps America.” BBC. 5 November 2007. 5 March 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7070935.stm
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