A Lot More
Observations on housing's wreckage and recovery
The Wall Street Journal does its take on the loan mod industry’s move to profit from the Obama homeowner bailout, as first seen in Salon. California’s list of authorized loan modification companies is now 300 deep.
I just wrote a story for Salon about California’s booming loan modification industry — a cadre of mortgage brokers, many of whom sold toxic mortgages during the boom, now reinventing themselves as mortgage bailout heroes, helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. The new Obama administration loan modification program helps guarantee them a steady stream of business, since there’s nothing in Treasury’s new “Homeowner Affordability and Sustainability Plan” to preclude borrowers from turning to one of these companies to help process the deal.
And who the heck came up with “Homeowner Affordability and Sustainability Plan”? It’s not even grammatically correct. Is Treasury promising to make homeowners affordable and sustainable? If I write a check for $10,000 will a homeowner (current? former?) show up on my doorstep?
New from me, in The Big Money: Why Obama’s plan to ease troubled mortgages will be harder than it sounds. Here’s a tease:
You might think that straightening out a $400,000 mortgage would be massively simpler than righting sinking financial institutions nominally worth billions. Yet rescuing homeowners could turn out to be among the toughest bailout challenges of all.
As you might be able to tell, I’ve been piecing this website together myself (thank you, WordPress!). While I work to put together an archive of my articles, here’s something I wrote recently for Columbia Journalism Review’s The Audit in appreciation of the late Doris Dungey, aka “Tanta,” the brilliant mortgage industry blogger who made up half of the indispensable website Calculated Risk.
I wrote this in the spring of 2002. Add my voice to that of the econobloggers out there (like Krugman and Ritholtz) who say that yesterday’s big Times story on the Bush administration’s role in stoking the mortgage crisis made too much of too little. But as this editorial I wrote for City Limits magazine notes, the Bush crew did add some unique spins of its own to agenda already established by Clinton — namely, it pushed the quest for increased homeownership to even more tenuous extremes, like with that new program that encouraged families that paid the rent with Section 8 vouchers to use the government aid to buy a home instead. Just loony.