The battle to solve California's foreclosure epidemic

The Golden States' bankers and real estate brokers are at odds about how to solve California's ongoing foreclosure crisis. Who's right?

By , Guest blogger

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    Realtor Andy Krotik checks occupancy on a foreclosed home in Merced, California on January 6. Bankers and real estate brokers are at odds about how to fix the state's foreclosure problem.
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This is a bit like watching rival Mexican drug gangs fight it out for control over a border town - you hope they kill each other and it really doesn't matter if neither of them "win".

From the New York Times:

On one side are the bankers, who say borrowers should be liable for what they owe. On the other side are real estate agents, who say those who lost their houses should not be so burdened by debt that they cannot move on.

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The differences have real financial consequences: bankers want to collect on billions of dollars in outstanding loans; real estate agents want as many people as possible to return to the housing market.

For the first time, the debate is spilling into the realm of law making, with state legislators in California considering a bill that would redefine the obligations of many defaulting homeowners.

Obviously the bankers are "in the right" as far as wanting homeowners to meet their obligations. Strategic default is cute, and in some cases it is economically the smart move, although these are adults that signed their name to a piece of paper so there should be a consequence. That said, in many instances, these loans were grotesque characitures of fair contracts so it's hard to empathize with the creditors.

The realtors on other hand will make the case that the silver lining of strategic default is that at least it keeps properties turning over and the real estate market moving. They are jackals and a rapid turnover of homes with less consequence to the defaulter leads to buy and sell commissions, which is really all they're after.

California Bankers versus Realtors to me is like if the Hells Angels and the Mongols fought for territorial control over a gas station bathroom. Whatever.

Have at it, boys.

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