The Truth About the Real Estate Housing Slump

If you don’t have thick skin and don’t want to know the truth, you will not want to read this.

As a relocation specialist I get asked questions about the housing slump daily. In fact I have been interviewed 10 times the past 2 months. It irritates me how facts can be manipulated. Again, if you don’t have thick skin and don’t want to know the truth, you will not want to read this. My research is based on countless hours of pouring through real estate sales, foreclosures and interviewing many professionals related to the real estate industry. Although most professionals will not state the obvious and prefer to give some long winded explanation that doesn’t make sense, I’m going to give you the good, bad and ugly. I’m annoyed at all of the ridiculous reasons why the country is facing a housing slump and I’m going to tell the truth. Although there are some minor reasons causing the housing slump, one of the major reasons for the housing slump is abusive lenders. I will explain abusive lender have a huge part in the down turn in the real estate market.

To start, back in the 80’s a mortgage professional most likely worked for a bank had an extensive educational back ground and had many years of mortgage experience. The laws didn’t require experience and an education; the banks required their employees to have experience and an education. When the real estate market turned around in the early 90’s, a mortgage company opened up on every other street corner. In some cases, they opened up in garages and basements. Not all of the mortgage companies were bad and in fact some offered good mortgage products with good service. The abusive lenders hired employees with no mortgage financing experience. Most of these employees were lured into the easy money of the mortgage industry from their low paying sales job. A perfect employee for an abusive lender was a salesman who could sell ice to an Eskimo. The average mortgage professional went from having 15 years of experience in the 80’s to 1.5 years in early 2001. With the number of loan programs offered going from 20 to thousands and the number of wholesale lenders going from less than 50 to hundreds in the same time period, most mortgage professionals lacked the education to offer consumers the correct loan programs or the best advice. It was nothing for a higher risk borrower to be charged 6 points (1 point is equal to 1%) on a loan. In fact one lender bragged that they jammed a borrower at closing and charged 20 points on the loan. They said that they knew they would close because they were in a pinch. Borrowers looking for the best rate would settle for the lender who quoted the lowest rate not knowing that that lender would make up the rate somewhere else in the loan or change the rate at closing.

Abusive lenders knew that they all they had to do were advertise the lowest interest rate, whether it was true or not. They ran TV ads, radio commercials and sent junk mail. Most of these abusive lenders only cared about profit and the turnover with their employees was very high in their offices. Many of them folded within a couple of years and opened up under a new name the next day. In the late 90’s, the abusive lenders had to change their lending practices when real estate brokers started educating their real estate agents about the abusive lending practices. Real estate agents representing buyers changed the abusive lenders marketing. Soon after, many of these abusive lenders left the real estate purchase market and started going after the refinance business.

The abusive lenders were growing at unbelievable rates while mortgage interest rates it the 20, 25 and 30 year lows. It was easy to do mortgages, everyone wanted one. The consumers were borrowing at money at alarming rates. The abusive lender knew that the borrower was rate sensitive. You have seen their low interest rate advertising. They piled in the money and ran targeted advertising to draw more refinance customers. When borrowers got to closing and faced a switch and bait by the abusive lenders, the borrower closed because the lender had them over the barrel. A prefect referral to an abusive lender was a borrower who didn’t do their research and didn’t shop around.

In 2004 mortgage interest rates started edging up. In order to stay in business the abusive lenders had to change their business.

First the abusive lenders used good loan programs and bent the rules to lend the borrower more than what they could afford. An example would be a stated income loan program. In some cases these loan programs were good loan options. An abusive lender would take a borrower who couldn’t qualify with other loans and get them to state an unreasonable income. I have seen cases in which a cashier made $75,000 on a loan application. The abusive lender knew that the chances the borrower would default but they didn’t care because they got paid up front.

Next the abusive lenders offered vacations or some other type of inducement in order get more business. Some states, lately, have made inducements illegal; however, there are a few that say it is fair game to trick borrowers. To me, it is hard to believe that people still fall for inducements. These lenders make up the difference by creating another fee at closing. Abusive lenders started hiding the inducements by offering kickbacks to the people who referred them the business.

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