New Year, New Mortgage?

Before I get into the topic for the day, I want to take a moment to thank all those who sent me messages over the holidays wishing me a Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Happy New Year, etc. As we slide into the new year, I have great hopes for the future. Not because it is a new year and therefore a fresh start. Unless they are re-setting my bills and paying off all my debts, I am not getting a “fresh start.” I have great hope because I realize that after two years of writing this blog, there is hope out there that common sense will rule the day, that dogs and cats (or “D”s and “R”s) will live together in harmony. Watching the civilized dialogue at SUFA is something I can be proud of, and what I had hoped to do. I will endeavor for the next year to make SUFA an even better place to visit for all. As I sit here in pain (in bad need of surgery, coming soon!), I have great aspirations for SUFA improvement. There will be more of that same frank analysis of the world as I see it along with (hopefully) more guest writing and topic contribution that helps us all understand the world of politics in a better way and thus helps us speed towards getting it closer to “right”.

I consider myself to be very fortunate. While I complain about the hours of working two jobs, the fact remains that I had two jobs. Many in this country do not. We all know folks close to us who are struggling to find work, or to find more suitable work. Even those who are working are often not making what they need to make in order to make ends meet effectively. I have had some discussions with close friends recently specifically around mortgages and the housing market. One discussion the other night ended with a friend proclaiming, “I just want the government to force banks to help us out some.” That one comment was the catalyst for this particular article. I sat thinking that night about the prospect of government intervention into something such as this, which brought me to a wisp of a plan, still in its infancy. I wanted to throw it out for all of you this evening to see what everyone here has to say about the idea.

The premise behind this topic is simple. The housing market saw a great surge over the past decade. Home values saw what I term as counterfeit equity value increases. Home values were increasing. Many who purchased homes watched as the value of their home increased year after year. A home became a money making investment. Buy now for $200k. Sell in 5 years for $300k. Buy new home for $350k. Sell in 5 years for $450k. It seemed like a good idea. Over time your bank account simply got bigger or you ended up in a home that was far nicer than you could afford ten years ago. The problem was that many folks did not plan for any other ways for their net worth to increase. They weren’t furthering education or careers at a proper pace to keep up with the lifestyle improvements that the housing market was funding for them.

Then all the trouble started. Cite whatever reasons you like. Call it too many people buying homes they couldn’t afford. Call it poor planning. Call it Wall Street’s fault. Doesn’t matter what the reason was really. The fact was that housing prices began dropping dramatically. Supply began to outpace demand and the problem worsened. For many Americans, the primary means of increasing their net worth suddenly came crashing down, leaving them cash poor. With their dwindling home values, they were left with no fallback plan when the employment market started to falter as well. Suddenly, they went from having a large amount of equity in their homes to being a good ways underwater in their homes. Selling became an option that wasn’t really possible. They couldn’t sell for nearly what they had paid, meaning that in order to sell their home, they were going to have to still pony up a large chunk of cash in order to break even. In many cases this was in excess of $30k or even sometimes over $100k in lost value.

According to most estimations, housing prices are already down somewhere between 18% and 24% from their peak. And there are guesses that predict that they will continue to decline, possibly as far down as 40% from their peak before this is all said and done. To put that into perspective, housing price decline during the Great Depression was roughly 30%. And many top economists claim that the loss of wealth from the housing market has far more impact than loss of wealth from the stock market. To say that this is a crisis situation for our economic future would be somewhat of an understatement. So what to do?

Let’s go back to what that friend of mine said:ย “I just want the government to force banks to help us out some.”

As you all can guess, I am certainly no fan of government doing much of anything any more. They simply don’t seem capable of doing anything that is effective or efficient. And government “forcing” anything is certainly not a situation that I am comfortable supporting. But I want to hear what you all think about having something happen in order to get the economy to rebound a little.

The idea is basically that we have government set up some sort of program that allows homeowners who are underwater in their mortgage to seek some sort of relief from the banks that hold that mortgage. More important, it would force the banks to work with people in order to get things into a better situation, without having the taxpayers foot the bill for the problem. Can it be done? I am not sure, but here is what is floating around in my head after some discussions.

I would like to see homeowners who are underwater in their homes by a good margin afforded a “do-over” for their mortgage. I think we have to start by setting some sort of threshold for what the amount underwater must be in order to qualify for the program. Perhaps we say that you must be at least $10,000 underwater, NOT including interest paid. In other words, the value of your home now must be at least $10k lower than it was when you purchased the home. I am just throwing that number out there. Perhaps it should be higher or lower. Maybe you had to have a 10% decrease in the value of the home.

In order to ascertain that amount, the homeowner must pay for an appraisal done by an independent appraisal company. One that doesn’t answer to government in terms of taxes (many government appraisals are done by people who are reluctant to lower the home value because it will lower the tax paid by the homeowner). What we are looking for is someone who can give an unbiased appraisal. I am certainly open to ideas about how to do this. Perhaps the market provides such a thing or would if the need was there.

If the appraisal is done and the homeowner is found to be qualified, then the paperwork is submitted to the mortgage company and the mortgage company is obligated to re-negotiate the terms of the mortgage loan based on the current value of the home in question at whatever the going interest rate is at the time.

A caveat or two here: When the renegotiation occurs, there is ZERO negotiation over past transactions. The homeowner does not get to re-coup any money from past payments that were higher or anything like that. They are eating the money they paid above the new rate for however long they paid it. As a result of this re-negotiation they are being enabled to keep their home or sell it without having to come up with the difference in values. The banks do not get to charge some outrageous fee to re-close the contract. The amount of money lost because of the change in contracts is NOT paid to them at all. Not from the homeowner, not from the taxpayers, not from anyone. They simply lose that money as a cost of doing business. Assets depreciate in value, and theirs just did. As a result of this re-negotiation, they are eliminating the need to foreclose on homes that they otherwise would have to. Foreclosure is not a good thing for the bank. They don’t want the property, they want the money.

This resolution would accomplish several things. Homeowners would be free again financially from some very large burdens that they were unable to free themselves from. It would allow them to downsize their world if need be. As a result they would be more able to participate in all the other aspects of the economy that they currently cannot participate in. Until they have their mortgage situation figured out, there are a lot of folks simply unwilling to part with any money. It is a mindset as much as anything. When I am worried about money in one area it will affect my spending in all areas.

So I will turn it over to all of you to begin tearing apart my thoughts or adding to them to come up with a somewhat workable plan that could get something accomplished. The bottom line is that the economy will not recover until people start spending money again. And they are not going to do that until they feel that they are not so far in the hole with their mortgage. I would obviously be open to a better idea, especially if it doesn’t involve government dictating to anyone. But I don’t see banks doing something like this of their own free will. So would my “idea” here, which I admit isn’t exactly breaking any new ground, something that would help or hurt?


  1. Having sold my home in SoCal at the peak of the market rise -(it had just started the decline when we found a buyer)- it worked out to the better since we lost almost half of our life savings investments during the stock market crash after 9/11 -(if we hadn’t bailed out of the portfolio’s when we did we would have lost over 90% of our investments)- and that sale allowed us to make the move to AZ and pay off all our bills in the process. Quick thinking and fast action saved our butts. Otherwise we both would still be working – most likely as Wally-World greeters.

    What caused the housing market balloon? Government intervention in the financial market, I think. Government forcing lending institutions to make loans to folks who could in no way afford to meet that kind of a financial burden. How do I know this? I don’t, other than the wife and I used to go to new housing tracts just to go through the model homes so she could get some decorating ideas. When the sales people would approach us, I would ask them rather bluntly about how all those young folks could afford to make those payments on half million dollar homes – their answer was always the same . . . They were paying the interest payment only for a period of about five years, after which they would either sell the home or refinance.

    In the end, my friends who still live in SoCal tell me that most of those places were simply walked away from. And that is exactly what the folks who bought our house did after one year.

    It is my not so humble opinion that anytime government sticks its mitts into private business for any reason, they do nothing but muck it up!

  2. USWeapon,
    Do you realize this is very similar to Obama’s plan that was passed some time ago?

    USWeapon and Obama agree on something? OMG – that MUST be the 7th sign of the apocalypse! I’m gonna have to build another igloo! ๐Ÿ™‚

    What you describe is really the best solution to the housing market, and it really shouldn’t even require any government intervention. Like you said, foreclosure is not in the banks best interest, especially when there already is a glut of empty houses (that are failing apart due to neglect and vandalism) in many cities. It’s in the banks best interest to keep the homeowner in the house, even if that means the homeowner is making lower payments. Because if the bank forecloses on the house, they’ll be lucky to sell it at the lower price. Why go thru that hassle if they can renegotiate with the current owner…

    More closures just adds to the housing glut, drives prices lower, and causes the banks to lose more money…

    Why they haven’t figured that out yet is beyond me…one of those “known unknowns”…

    • Not quite Todd…but see below and will try to explain it better…..from my perspective,anyway.

    • Todd,

      It was my understanding that the Obama plan was specifically for people who are in foreclosure as opposed to for those who have worked so hard to make ends meet so far by staving off foreclosure. Perhaps that should be the test, you must be in foreclosure.

      As for my agreeing with Obama, there are plenty of things that I can agree with that he does. I just don’t tend to get fired up enough to write about them!

      I guess my question to you is how do you feel about what BF and others said about the idea that government intervention will ultimately make things worse. That would be my fear with any plan implemented by government.


  3. Any attempt to prevent the correction of malinvestments in housing will make the correction harder, longer and worse.

    The answer to the housing crisis is simple:

    – those that cannot pay their mortgage lose their houses. They will need to rent houses from those who managed their own capital and purchases and survived the housing crash.

    – the banks et al, holding on to millions of houses need a “fire sale”; sell them at whatever discount is necessary to clear the inventory.

    Those who errored – the home owner and the banks – must suffer the losses.

    Any attempt to delay this – moves costs onto people who do not deserve it. People by their nature will avoid costs that they do not deserve and thus they will distort the market place in their attempt to avoid this.

    How does this distortion manifest? Hard to say – but it does, and will make everything a whole lot worse.

    Follow this as outlined plan and the housing market will be back on its feet in 2 to 3 years at most.

    • Truthseeker says:

      I am wholly with BF on this one. Nobody is entitled to owning a home. Chalk this up to a lesson learned. People were getting greedy during the bubble and asking rediculous prices for homes. Once people noticed that greedy people were making a lot of money, they got greedy and decided to join the speculation market. Guess what? They are paying for it now.

      It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure what a house is REALLY worth. It is only worth as much as somone is willing to pay for it. If the seller is asking to much, people will not buy it and eventually, the price will drop significantly. If you really want that house now, then you are most certainly going to pay for it.

      Now if you lost your job and that caused you to not be able to afford you house anymore, that is a bit different. Still, I would not be in favor of any government interferance. Belive it or not, the banks don’t care about your property or if you default because they have insurance that is betting against you. I do think IMO that it is wrong for a system to support that but if the government does interfere, they need to make it fair to everybody meaning if you get a new better loan deal, then those that are current with their payments get equal access to the same deals.

    • OMG! I agree with BF on something?!?

      I sure hope that the world hasn’t come to an end . . . . . . ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • 90% agreement

      I agree that if you cannot pay, you should lose your home. You made a contract, you failed to pay under the contract, the contract specifies that you lose your house if this happens. Therefore you lose your house. Don’t come crying to me. Manage your money better, buy something more affordable, or rent.

      I agree that if a bank made a bad loan, they should eat the loss. I’m sorry, but the banks get the whole upside if the loan is good, why shouldn’t they have the whole downside if it’s bad? How does that make sense? Heads, I win. Tails, I lose, but someone else will pay. Bah.

      I disagree that the banks should initiate a fire-sale to liquidate the homes.

      What the banks should do is repossess all houses which are in default, but instead of kicking the home-owners out and selling to a third party, they should rent the houses back to the people living there at a lower rate (obviously lower since they’re no longer paying for equity). This way they can liquidate their inventory of houses over time and avoid realizing such deep losses as they would in a fire-sale. Further, the former owners (now renters) wouldn’t be forced to move immediately and they could even be offered right of first refusal to buy back the house if they should become financially able to do so again. Everyone wins.

      Now, before you go crazy, I suggest this as a business alternative, not a government enforced policy. The banks, once they foreclose, should be free to do whatever they like with their property including immediate liquidation or renting or setting it ablaze (with the appropriate precautions, of course). But I think this makes the most sense for everyone involved. Your thoughts?

      • Wow Matt, I am right there with you. I think your idea for the banks would be ideal, and they would be fools not to do it on their own, but it should not be forced. If I had a lot of capital, I would be doing something along that line myself. Buying homes in foreclosure with an agreement with the residents to rent back to them. It would be a good business move if, in fact, the banks were selling their foreclosures off cheaply enough. I could even see setting up a non-profit doing something like that, so that the margins need not be as high, and in order to help lots of people in financial trouble.

        • Wait a minute guys……do you know what you are saying????? You used the term “good business move” and banks in the same sentence. Of course, it would be a great business move….but a government regulated bank making a good business decision???? Are you daft, man?

          (ps…attempt at sarcastic humor….did it work?)

          • Yes, your sarcasm came through the text this time. ๐Ÿ˜›

          • ::sips first Red Bull of the new year::

            Ah, sarcasm. What would life be like without it? Did you know that sarcasm comes from the Greek meaning “rending of flesh”? Yes, they had a great problem with raptors rending the flesh of Greek humorists.

            How you’re having a good day, a good week, and a good year!

            • Hey BF!

              A very enjoyful read; unlike some others, I didn’t detect a hint of sarcasm; therefore, it wa much easier for me to feel your message. Cheers!


    • I am with BF on this. The homeowners/banks need to take their losses and then the market will readjust.

  4. I have to line up with BF also. The bottom line is that the homeowner signed the papers and took the risk. Can’t pay? Your problem. I’m still smarting from the fact that I paid my six digits in full but because of the whole problem I’ll be lucky to get close to the same six when I go to sell. I lose no matter what. Can’t even consider making a profit.

    The banks made their bed. Let them lie in it. But I would be willing to compromise with the now homeless homeowner. You still have to go. Find a house that you can afford this time and let the banks be forgiving of the bad credit from the first mistake.

    It’s a teachable moment. How else to learn PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ! Banks and homeowners alike.

  5. TexasChem says:

    What about the underlying cause of the rise in costs of new homes in the past several decades? Even automobiles for that matter. Well the cost of living in general if you really want to get down to it. What is the underlying root cause cause? It sure as hell isn’t supply vs demand.

    In 1960 a new house cost $12,700.00

    In 1960 the average income per year was $5,315.00

    In 1960 a gallon of gas was 25 cents.
    In 1960 the average cost of new car was $2,600.00

    A few more prices from the 60’s and how much things cost
    Volkswagen beetle $1,769

    Ford Mustang 2 door hardtop $2368

    Misses Swinging Shifts Skirts $5.00

    Oxford men’s Shoes $12.95

    Automatic Can Opener $8.88

    Automatic Electric Blanket $9.94

    Oranges 89 cents for 2 dozen

    Oven ready Turkeys 39 cents

    Modern Walnut Bookcase $29.97
    Coal $14.95 ton

    first class stamp .04 cents

    gallon of milk .49 cents

    • TC,

      What is it that you think is the underlying cause of the rise in costs of goods versus annual income. It would appear that some things you listed are much higher as a percentage of annual income. For example a home was roughly two years worth of income then but is higher than that now. A car was a little over 20% of you annual income while it is now closer to half a year’s salary.

      On the other hand, milk is a lower percentage of your annual income now. The electric can opener is a much lower percentage of income.

      I think you bring up a great point, but I am curious as to what you attribute the changes to.


      • TexasChem says:

        Wall Street, Corporations and the Fed being in bed together throughout the years.

        • TexasChem says:

          I believe housing booms were a gigantic tulip-bulb mania event brought about by the baby-boomers and encouraged by Wall Street, material Producers and the Fed.When they jumped in the car extreme greed purposely produced a bubble that the elite made billions off of by betting against hedge funds even though initially they lost on the mortgages. Just the way I see it though ๐Ÿ™‚ This has been cyclic happening throughout the years and the loss of wealth gets passed on to…the working enslaved citizen.

          • TexasChem says:

            edit: This has been cyclic throughout the years and the COST of the loss of wealth gets passed on to the working enslaved citizen as inflation and taxes.
            It’s like a giant vacuum cleaner syphoning off the wealth of the nation into the elites coffers.

        • Fiat Currency. And Keynesian economics.

      • SK Trynosky Sr says:

        One can learn from aging.

        Back on 22 November, on my new job, I found myself sitting in a pizzeria in my old neighborhood. It suddenly struck me as I read my paper that this was the 47th anniversary of the day Kennedy was shot. 47 years ago, to the hour, I was sitting in the exact same place when I heard that the President was dead. This of course got me thinking about all the changes that a man with a $ 12.00 rifle and a six cent bullet can cause but I digress. While the pizzeria is under new management, the signs are all still hanging where they used to. Well, back in ’63 there was one that said 2 slices and a small soda, $ .50. Today that sign offers the same but for $ 5.00. I started doing the math in my head and more or less concluded that prices in those 47 years are up by 1,000%. there are exceptions. Housing , starting in the ’80’s has had a series of bubbles. I got caught in the 1990 one. My new place went, in less than a year, from the $ 250,000 I paid to $ 200,000. Did not matter much to me since I am still there. Three years ago it was at roughly $ 650,000 and now hovers around $ 450,000.

        Autos I think are an example of what government meddling can do, Dad, the WW 2 mechanic used to say that the government should establish what they want and give the manufacturers ten years to come up with it. He believed adding bells and whistles (as proved in the ’70’s) brought you an inferior Chevy at a higher price. Change, he thought, should be revolutionary not evolutionary. Give them the time and the final standard and they could produce it. Telling them every year to add on something had an opposite effect to what was intended. Electronics were and are the opposite. With little government control, manufacturers can devise products the public wants, mass produce them and bring the prices down. Case in point was out first Color portable TV as a married couple in 1973. The 19″ Zenith cost $ 413.00. Today that devalued $ 413.00 gets me a whole lot more. Hell, even if it was manufactured in the USA it would still be less than inflation would indicate. Same for my 1984-5 Fisher 2 head, wired remote VCR. Cost $ 649.00 new. Today I get the whole home theater experience for less.

        If electronics were like autos, they too would have jumped because the government would have mandated: lap belts, shoulder belts, air-bags, side air bags, Head restraints, fuel used, hours of viewing per gallon, oops mean KWH, energy economy, anti-lock brakes, anti-theft devices, catalytic converters, PCV valves and a host of other add ons that drive the price of a car up. As I once told my son, don’t let the government know about any of this, they will start messing with it and the CPSC will mandate air bags on DVD players. .

  6. It is tough for me to agree with BF but there have been some areas that we have been and this is one of them. This housing crises was not caused by mistakes and errors…it was caused more by greed and stupidity….with greed having the greatest weight. First, wanting the good old American dream…a house, two cars, the white picket fence, the dog barking in the yard. the BBQ grill in the backyard, and the 2.5 kids….was a great pipe dream that was invented by Norman Rockwell and the Saturday Evening Post…among other things. The explosion of the middle class and the technological advances that happened during the fifties and early sixties made the American Dream an ever present reality………… that time but not now.

    I cannot blame the media, the banks, nor the government for the bad decisions that people made in search of their dream. NO ONE made them sign a bad loan. All of the slick advertising, gimmicks, incomplete appraisals, bad apparaisals….is not the culprit. The culprit is the one that did not complete due diligence upon signing and papers. It does not matter if Barney Frank and Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac were pressed to make loans to people that could not afford them…those people still signed the papers. No one put a gun to their head or a knife to their throat to make them sign. It is paramount to allowing oneself to fall victim to a fast talking, slick tongued used car salesman. To jump back and say, “I was duped” or “I did not understand” or ” it is not my fault”, is a cop out. Sorry, but that is all it is. Now, having said that….

    Sit down BF,,,,I agree with you on this one. The fallout must be allowed to happen and the correction allowed to adjust. The banks need to eat their bad loans and the people that took out these loans need to lose their homes. The government was WRONG…dead WRONG to bail out the banks. The failure of the Obama administration and the first TARP under Bush was that no one was held accountable and there was no oversight and no rules. If you read the TARP closely, there is no provision in their to force the banks to loan out any money….under the stimulus program and the bank takeovers, there was no litmus test to provide the funds and to monitor where they went. It was a political handout to supporters of the administration. THey simply did what I would do…without constraint, I would take the money and pump the balance sheet and keep the money. I reduce my debt to equity ratio to qualify for a set of standards proposed by the government to keep me out of receivership, or better yet, to keep my stock price floating on an inflated basis.

    The banks need to fail. The bad loans need to fail. The market needs to do its own reconstruction and people need to get a life and read and understand and make wuality decisions without blaming the government or the world. You are responsible for yourself and no one…no government, no corporation, no boss, no world leader owes a living or home to anyone.

    USW, made the following atatement: ” Until they have their mortgage situation figured out, there are a lot of folks simply unwilling to part with any money.” My self and plenty of people like me that have no mortgage problems are still sitting on their money and probably will for the next two years. We, the family interests, do not plan on any more hiring, spending, or major investments for awhile. We simply do not trust the administration and even the new Congress. We will wait to see what happens. Either way, money is going to be sat on, I think.

    So, I am in the camp of BF on this one. I know, USW, even retired old Army Colonels who know nothing, have strange bedfellows at times.

  7. Common Man says:

    If we have learned anything over the course of the past few years it is that:


    So if we ask the government to inforce some kind of settlement program for underwater motgages then we are assured of another financial mess, and catalyst to further erode liberty, freedom and our personal earnings.

    Instead of encouraging the government to help, we should be encouraging / demanding the government to back-off.

    The government has way to much influnence and authority and has become tyrannical. They are like the rich father who continues to enable his spoiled son. The son does not learn the error of his ways, because the father continues to bail him out of trouble. It is an endless cycle that will eventually lead to the son’s demise and the father going broke.

    Cut the cord and let the cards fall as they may.


  8. USW: Feel better. Surgery sucks, but it’s usually better than the alternative. I hope ObamaCare covers it for you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • And something to make you smile:

    • Indeed sir, feel better and recover quickly. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Thanks Jon… Recovery should be quick if I get the procedure I want. There are 3 ways to fix it. One is easily the best, so I am crossing my fingers that this specialist can do it.

    • Thanks Matt…. The alternative would be worse. I see a surgeon Thursday so I am hoping he will be able to get me in fairly quickly. I am like an invalid now. Not used to being in a place where there are things I cannot do. I am a “physical” man by nature. I simply “do” things. This has seriously impeded me in that regard. But the pain is manageable and the surgery should be fairly simple if I can get them to do the procedure that I prefer.

      • Well then I think right now is the time to challenge you to a sparring match…

        • I am getting older Matt…. perhaps any time is a good time for a young man like yourself. I passed 40 last year!

          But then again how does that song go? I am not as great as I once was but I am as great once as I ever was. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Yea, better make sure he takes on a couple guys right before you, Matt….

          • That’s a great song.. Toby Keith – As Good As I Once Was.

            I may not be in your league, but I’m no pushover. At 155 lbs, 27 years and with only a red belt to my name, I think maybe this is something to take on with caution.. But, then again, what’s life without a little adventure? Bring it on, Wep!

  9. USW,
    I get the sentiment to desire to speed up the recovery, and I see the reasoning behind your idea. The only problem is, it is still a bad idea.

    1) As Common Man said, government intervention will invite disaster. They are not competent with handling something like that.

    2) It will be taken advantage of. A lot of people who are underwater now are under it, not because they ran out and bought new houses they could not afford, but because they cashed in on their equity. They took the money and ran. That created a lot of economic activity outside of the housing market. If you do this plan, people who put themselves underwater with aggressive equity lines and refinancing that bet on future values will get a bailout. Not sure how that fixes anything.

    3) If you try to avoid abuse, you will have people crying foul about fairness. Hell, you will have that anyway.

    4) As BF said, this will simply delay the natural market correction. The Government was a part of this problem, they extended the market correction horribly by bailing out this banks. Saddling the banks with this in an attempt to bail out the individuals will be just as bad, only it will affect different players.

    5) This plan would be full of political hay, but it will not actually accomplish its goal, as with almost any government intervention.

    6) This plan would cause a seriously bad precedent, not only of government running business decisions, but of government overriding contractual agreements without consequences. Bankruptcy has negative impact, your plan would not, meaning government just stepped into the private market and started dictating contractual terms. You think money is being held back now, just wait till businesses see their contracts are not worth the paper they are on. Not good. It could affect employment contracts, loans, purchases, continuing contracts like cell phones or insurance policies. If people have money trouble they can just get the government to renegotiate their contracts. That is SERIOUSLY bad news for business.

    7) As D13 said, people are holding their money for a lot more reasons than just mortgage concerns. If the primary goal of the plan is to get purse strings loosened, it will fail dismally. Dropping taxes on a permanent basis, removing and reducing legislation and regulation, and balancing the federal budget so that the value of the dollar stabilizes are the best means to getting investment going again.

    This whole thing smack of keynesian economics. Spending is only part of the economic model. Getting a bunch of people to spend a little is not nearly as effective as getting business investment started again. Fixing the income issue will be a better path than fixing the purchasing issues. Honestly, a natural recovery will do more the stabilize us than anything, and that, hopefully, will include a dramatic increase in the savings rate. If money started flowing again gradually, naturally, then a lot of the money being held will continue to be held. That is not all bad, as the next crisis that hits will not be so bad if more people have a rainy day fund.

    A lot of lessons need to be learned in this country. Let them be learned.

    • Where is JOn and what have you done with him….

      • ???

        Was this out of character for me?

        • LOL….no…you actually agreed with me on something.

          • AH, perhaps it is YOU who is the imposter! ๐Ÿ™‚

            Seriously, I actually agree with a lot you say, tho most of it ends up having caveats and stuff. I think I am philosophically somewhere between you and BF most of the time…

            • coloneld13 says:

              I know you do….it is time for some levity BEFORE this COngress convenes….

              How are things in your world? Things are hopping on the border here. Cartels wanting a truce, I hear. We have them stopped cold in Texas and the Mexican Army is actually doing something other than siding with the Cartels.

              • Wonder where that coloneld13 came from…interesting.

              • “Your levity is good, it relieves tension and the fear of death.” ๐Ÿ™‚

                Nice to hear you are doing well enough on the border that the Mexican Army is realizing they were backing a losing team. I hope a truce comes, just so you guys have a little rest down there. And, more importantly, to give rest to the property owners near the border.

                Things are good here, both mine and my girl’s businesses are hopping, our biggest issues right now are organization and electrical power. The old RV we are in needs a new generator, the old one is dead and they dont make the parts for it anymore. Runs great tho, still loving having no real address. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. At USW….it does not need to be said….I have your back…just let me know.

  11. While BF, D13 and others are correct, the situation needs to be left alone and the normal market forces left to run their natural courses. Unfortunately, that is not happening. When a bank is failing, the FDIC forces a merger with a stronger bank. Part of the “deal” is that the new owner is given an insurance policy from the FDIC on the bad debts of the old bank. Hence the banks cannot lose money on a foreclosure. In fact they make money. Thus they have little incentive to renegotiate loans.
    In a normal world, it would be just as beneficial to the bank to renegotiate the loans as it is for the home owner. An empty house makes money for no one. Meanwhile taxes, maintenance, vandalism, and decay pile up. Banks also drag their feet because an admission of a loan failure lowers their balance sheet.
    There are several things that could be done, all within the natural course of business practices. 1) Forgiveness of a part of a loan by a bank should not be treated as income to the home owner. 2) Banks could assume a equity position in the home in exchange for a write down of the mortgage. The homeowner could buy back this equity at a later date at market rates. 3) The home can be short sold to a third party who sells it back to the former owner at a small markup. A new loan is floated at the current interest rates. 4) Current notes could be renegotiated at the same principle balance with a new 30 yr terms and current interest rates which are extremely low.
    You get the idea, novel solutions are out there if the market is not distorted by government, FED, FDIC, FM & GM, etc. in favor of either party.

    • That is very true T-ray, there is a good chance that much of what Matt and USW have suggested would already be happening if it were not for government intervention. Government does not have to force the market to do anything. Unless, of course, they are distorting the market such that what used to be the right business move no longer is…

    • T-Ray,

      I love that you offered some alternative solutions to the problem here. THAT is what we, as a group, need to do more often. We generally all agree that the government does it wrong, but too few are the times when we offer better alternatives.

      Although I will say that the group here at SUFA is far more alternative solution based than any other that I have been a part of in a political forum. I am quite fortunate to have that here.

      To everyone else, what do you think of the alternative solutions that T-Ray offered here?

      • USW

        If the Govt “protection” of the banks is removed from the equation then the solution is quite simple.

        The banks SELL the mortgage back to the homeowner at a discount roughly equal to the market devaluation.

        The homeowner borrows the money, if needed, from whom ever they like to make the purchase.

        But the problem is that many banks can’t identify the “mortgage”. You can’t sell something you don’t actually own. They already sold it to somebody else and are now simply getting paid to collect the debt on another entity’s assets.

      • The alternative solutions sound great in theory. T-Ray’s ideas would sure help many mortgage holders, but at what expense? Banks are in business for profits, not to help people. If these ideas were used, what would the price of bank stocks do? Would it have a negative effect on the stock market as a whole? If the banks help a relative small number of people at the expense of overall stock prices, is it not a bigger negative overall?

        Now, let’s assume that “the govt needs to help”. This would likley make the problem even bigger. IMHO, the biggest problem is the “govt, please help” mentallity. The only way they can help is : higher taxes and/or less liberty. It sure seems more like a goal than a fix!

      • All of those suggestions would work but you are still talking sound business decisions here. The tax code would need to be changed to allow these types of scenarios to work. We, the family business, has thought long and hard on using liquidity that we have to purchase short and sell or lease back with buy back options but have ruled it out for now because the tax code is too burdensome. The new rules in non profits has also changed to the point that new non profits are really discouraged from starting. There are plenty of businesses out there that have substantial liquidity and plenty of cash but there is so much uncertainty with this administration and the lack of trust of this progressive movement and the potential of the future taxes…it is more worth it to continue to sit on our money. But, to answer your question, the starting point would be incentive and that incentive is changing the business tax code.

  12. Dread Pirate Mathius says:


    Black Flag, a question on pirate logic.

    Let us assume that Party A assumes a mortgage from a bank, Party B, against which a property is used as collateral. Upon failure to pay, the bank demands the property and evicts Party A.

    Now, two things happen simultaneously:

    Party A claims that the bank is S.O.L. and that, while it does suck for the bank to lose their money, they have no power to collect by force. They sit in the house, refusing to move and declare that any attempt to repossess the house will be met with force. Their argument is that, while they’re no doubt morally wrong to follow through on their agreement, it is non-the-less their choice to refuse to do so. (This is along the lines of your argument that if you promise me money, what has really happened is that you I gave you money in exchange for your signature in the hopes that your reputation was worth something).

    Party B claims that the agreement clearly transfers ownership to the bank and justifies the use of force against Party A for stealing land which the bank owns. This is akin to physically throwing a trespasser off your property.

    Who wins this in Pirate Land?

    • excellent question DPM!

    • My two shillings says that the bank, according to the typical loan contract, is the owner of the property, therefore they have rights to use force to remove a trespasser. When you get a mortgage, the bank actually buys the property from the seller, and contractually allows you to live there while you are paying them back in exchange for an agreed upon interest rate. If you violate contract, you cease to be allowed there and are thus trespassing, just as someone who is renting and fails to pay their rent.

      • That makes sense Jon. But I am interested in hearing BF’s take on this since it would appear to violate his violence against non-violent people rule. Using force against a trespasser would be an interesting challenge for his rule.

        • USWep,

          Make sure your questions are not mixed.

          Are asking on how a free society would deal with this


          are you asking how this society best deals with this?

          • I guess I am asking how you would deem it proper to deal with this situation. I know that there is no violence being perpetrated by the homeowner in squatting on a home in which they failed to honor the contract in. As such, there is no justification for violence from the property owner. So I am wondering how you would rectify the situation. I think I have a good idea of how a free society would deal with it. How could this society deal with it. Good point about making sure the questions are correctly worded.

          • Ok, I will bite. How will BF’s free society deal with this?

      • Then, by that logic, since the bank owns the land, they can collect all the money you owe and then boot you. Surely they are immoral in doing so, but as the owners, they would be within their rights to refuse to honor their contract (since all they really gave you was their signature). The question, in its altered state, stands.

        • Indeed it does. My own personal take is that contract violation is tantamount to theft, but I know BF disagrees. I too will await his response.

          BF, we invoke thee!

      • TexasChem says:

        The government owns the home since you pay taxes on it forever…

    • DPM

      Party A is now both in violation of the contractual agreement and guilty of physical trespass.

      Trespass is theft of another persons property when such trespass prevents the owner from the unrestricted use of that property. Party A is causing “harm” to Party B. Party B has the right to use force to evict Party A, because B has a “Right” to defend B’s property. Morally, however, Party B does not have the right to cause physical harm to Party A as some form of “retribution”. If Party A refuses to leave, then shoot, shovel and shut up.

      There is NO moral dilemma here. Your leftist side is trying to get out. Fight the urge my young pirate friend.

      • In pirate logic (as I understand it from BF), the home owner has to honor his side of the contract by choice. That is, the bank cannot take the land that they are owed – they can demand it under threat of ruining the homeowner’s credit and reputations – but the homeowner is the only one who can decide to give it to the bank. Since the homeowner has decided not to honor the contract, he is morally at fault, but he does not have to give up the land.

        In previous discussions, Flag established that a promissory note is promissory only, not enforceable. So his promise to pay is just that, a promise and nothing more. His further promise to turn over the land in the event of default is just that, a promise and nothing more. Since Party A has opted not to comply with his promise, he retains ownership of the land. Thus, the bank cannot force him off it since he is not trespassing.

        I don’t agree with this particular logic, but I want to sound it out a little more.

        • Mathius

          That is why an Escrow Company holds the actual DEED/TITLE to the property.

          Party A does not own the property outright and a violation of an agreement does not change the terms of the agreement. In other words, my decision to not pay does not make me the clear owner. My decision to not pay allows the other party to exercise the applicable provisions of the same agreement, since they did not elect to ignore the agreement.

          If you decide to ignore your promissory note it does not make the note non-existent.

          You decide not to pay. The Escrow Company transfers the Title to the Bank. You are SOL.

          • Right, I agree. Jon made the same point above. The inverse of the question holds, however. If the bank takes all your payments and refuses to transfer the title (yes, I know there’s still the escrow company – assume they’re in cahoots).

            Or, if you prefer, the escrow company holds the title to the land, therefore the escrow company owns the land. If they decide they’re just going to keep it, what happens?

  13. Common Man says:

    Here is a “standard” to utilize going forward to determine sane feasibility: The word “government” in any proposal, proposition, study, expansion, sanction, evaluation, market, science, education, amendment, change, bank, hope, prosperity, profit, etc, etc, ensures failure.

    Bottom Line: If the government is involved it will fail.

    Heard on the news the Dems are looking to incrrease the debt ceiling again and at the same time assuring us complete disaster should we fail to do so.

    NO, leave it where it is and let’s see what happens.


    • I agree on the debt ceiling. I was thinking about making that subject into an article after I saw the White House point man on the Sunday morning shows predicting doom and gloom if we “play chicken with the debt ceiling.”

      • Common Man says:


        I only caught a blip this morning of a White House advisor/appointie spewing that the idea of not raising the debt ceiling was a sure fire way of ensuring the US default. So?


  14. USW

    If you insist on using some form of Govt power to carry out a “solution” then here are MY criteria.

    1. Only those who have been making all payments timely get help.

    2. Only those that have been paying their taxes get help.

    3. Only those who have NOT borrowed against their home equity above current market value get help.

    I think you get the idea. Only those people who have acted in a rational and responsible manner, but who have been harmed by the irresponsible action of others, get help.

    And to help fund this bail out I would impose a Surtax of 10% on the gross income of all “Investment Banks”, “Mortgage Companies” and other companies involved in the Mortgage fiasco. The same would apply to all employees personal income within these firms whose gross income exceeds $300,000 per year. The Surtax would be applied to the Gross Income over $300,000.

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha !!!!!!!!!

  15. A few points . . . .

    First, there are constitutional issues surrounding whether the government can “require” you (or a bank) to change the terms of your lawful contract with another entity. All of us are just assuming those issues don’t apply. Indeed, because I think the general framework here works fine, I’d hope that we can get around any problems.

    Second, I find it curious that the banks are not willing to just initiate this process on their own. Maybe they simply need a “shove”? Those in bank leadership positions are accountable to shareholders, and may not be willing to admit that their loans need to be renegotiated and devalued. In any event, the foreclosure alternative (on a massive scale) would appear to be just as bad for the banks as the borrowers, so some sort of renegotiation ought to be on the table.

    Third, I quibble with USW on one point, though perhaps it just wasn’t written the way USW intended: “Perhaps we say that you must be at least $10,000 underwater, NOT including interest paid. In other words, the value of your home now must be at least $10k lower than it was when you purchased the home.”

    That’s not what it means to be “underwater.” You are “underwater” when the value of your home is less than the balance of your mortgage. For example, if my home was worth $300k at the height of the bubble and has since declined to $220k, but my mortgage is only $100k, I am still NOT underwater. To be underwater, my mortgage would have to be over $220k.

    Any mandated renegotiation program ought to require you to be truly underwater by a significant percentage of the current home value. Using the numbers above for example, I could see allowing a buyer access to a renegotiation program in the event the mortgage was $240k. In other words, once the home is worth 20% or so less than the current mortgage, the buyer should be able to trigger a renegotiation. It shouldn’t be an absolute number–such as $10k–simply because being $10k underwater means more when the home is only woth $70k than when it’s worth $1.5 million.

    Finally, I’d also think some sweetners for the banks would be helpful, given that the buyer is getting a really big break here. For example, when an underwater buyer exercises his (new) rights to a renegotiation, banks should be able to require the buyer to make certain concessions that would aid the bank in the foreclosure process in the event the buyer defaults shortly after the renegotiation. Presently, crafty lawyering can keep a buyer in his home for years after he stops making payments. If part of a renegotiation was to preclude a buyer who just renegotiated from doing that, the bank will have a real upside for conducting a renegotition with somebody who is an obvious credit risk.

  16. I’m with PappaDawg & Flag, to name a few. Add to that, if the banks knew any way they could keep most buyers in their houses, they would. After foreclosure, a large number of them will be sold for a loss to the bank. I know of a $280K house that sold for $130K. Pretty sure the bank did not fare well on that venture.

    By Hibah Yousuf, staff reporter August 31, 2010: 1:42 PM ET

    NEW YORK (CNN Money) — The government’s list of troubled banks hit its highest level since 1993 during the second quarter, although the pace of growth continued to slow, according to a government report released Tuesday.

    The number of banks at risk of failing rose by 53 to 829, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said in its quarterly survey of the nation’s banking system. That increase marks the smallest rise since the first quarter of 2009.

    However, it’s still nearly double the 416 banks that were on the FDIC’s watch list a year ago and is up from 775 in the first quarter of this year.

    Banks that end up on the problem list are considered the most likely to fail. But few of the lenders on the list actually reach the point of failure. On average, just 13% of banks on the FDIC’s problem list have been seized and shuttered by regulators.

    So far this year, 118 banks have failed, with 45 closings during the last quarter.

    While FDIC chief Sheila Bair said she expects 2010 bank failures to exceed last year’s tally of 140, the total amount of assets from this year’s failures will likely be lower since banks have been cleaning up their balance sheets.

    More money in the kitty. The FDIC reported a second consecutive increase in its deposit insurance fund, which covers customer deposits when a bank fails. The fund, which had been dwindling for two years, grew by $5.5 billion, but it still operates in the red, with a deficit of $15.2 billion.

    “As we expected, demand on cash have increased this year,” said Bair. “But our projections indicate that our current resources are more than enough to resolve anticipated failures.”

    Meanwhile, banks and other institutions insured by the FDIC collectively earned approximately $21.6 billion during the quarter. That’s the highest in nearly three years and reversing last year’s $4.4 billion loss.

    Two out of three banks reported higher profits compared to a year ago, as they set aside fewer funds to cover bad loans for the first time since 2006. Banks reduced their quarterly loan-loss provisions to $40.3 billion, according to the FDIC. That’s down more than 40% from a year ago.

    Although bank earnings are still low by historical standards and the number of problem banks and bank failures remain high, Bair remained optimistic.

    “As long as economic conditions remain supportive, most institutions should maintain profitability and increase their capacity to lend.” she said.


      December 28, 2010
      Some bailed out banks in trouble again
      Rick Moran
      Some of the banks that received federal TARP funds show signs of going under, despite the government promising tax payers that the cash would only be directed towards healthy institutions.

      Wall Street Journal:

      Nearly 100 U.S. banks that got bailout funds from the federal government show signs they are in jeopardy of failing.

      The total, based on an analysis of third-quarter financial results by The Wall Street Journal, is up from 86 in the second quarter, reflecting eroding capital levels, a pileup of bad loans and warnings from regulators. The 98 banks in shaky condition got more than $4.2 billion in infusions from the Treasury Department under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

      When TARP was created in the heat of the financial crisis, government officials said it would help only healthy banks. The depth of today’s problems for some of the institutions, however, suggests that a number of them were in parlous shape from the beginning.

      Seven TARP recipients have already failed, resulting in more than $2.7 billion in lost TARP funds. Most of the troubled TARP recipients are small, plagued by wayward lending programs from which they might not recover. The median size of the 98 banks was $439 million in assets as of Sept. 30. The median TARP infusion for each was $10 million, federal filings show.

      The FDIC insures all of the money in the accounts of these depositors so it is a mystery why the government doesn’t just allow nature to take its course. The TARP money at stake is not a large amount, but if we’re not going to allow even these small institutions to assume responsibility for their own failures, where do we draw the line when it comes to banks that are “too big to fail?”

  17. Mathius

    In pirate logic (as I understand it from BF), the home owner has to honor his side of the contract by choice. That is, the bank cannot take the land that they are owed โ€“ they can demand it under threat of ruining the homeownerโ€™s credit and reputations โ€“ but the homeowner is the only one who can decide to give it to the bank.

    It depends on what you signed.

    A mortgage deed actually gives the title to the mortgage holder. The “owner” is really the bank. The measure of ownerships is what you actually can do with the property – in this case the “real estate”. The “owner” cannot sell it, nor dispose of it, nor damage it, nor anything that would detract from the value – thus, he cannot be the “owner”

    The “owner” really only has the right of occupancy.

    In previous discussions, Flag established that a promissory note is promissory only, not enforceable.

    It is enforceable, just not with violence.

    But a mortgage is NOT a promissory note – it is a mortgage.

    • So, if we turn our eyes to the argument made by Jon and JAC, since you made the same point: If the bank owns the land and allows you to live there, with the promise to give it to you once you’ve paid a specified amount, what happens if the bank decides to keep the property and evicts you after you’ve paid? What I’m trying to get at here is this: what rights do you have a the moral and de facto owner of a property vs as the official owner.

      In the first example, the bank is the moral owner, but the resident is the official owner.

      In the second example, the resident is the moral owner (having paid for the home), but the bank is the official owner who refuses to turn it over.

      What are your thoughts, in general, on this subject?

      Further to the point, you have argued that a promise is insubstantial, only actions matter. Thus a promise to turn over something once you have paid cannot be enforced (by violence). So far so good? But is it not justified to use violence to stop someone from stealing from you? If I paid for something, it is mine – if you refuse to give it to me, that’s theft, if you are stealing from me, I can use force to stop it, so how is this resolved?

  18. Mathius,

    I disagree that the banks should initiate a fire-sale to liquidate the homes.

    What the banks do or do not, matters not.

    It is their property and they can dispose of it as they see fit in any manner they see fit.

    I would suggest a firesale – the houses are a huge liability and cost to the bank – without occupancy, the houses will degrade.

    Banks are not landlords -that is a huge cost too and banks simply are not organized to handle property management.

    What the banks should do is repossess all houses which are in default, but instead of kicking the home-owners out and selling to a third party, they should rent the houses back to the people living there at a lower rate (obviously lower since theyโ€™re no longer paying for equity).

    You assume the previous owner will be a good tenant – though you have direct proof they are not very wise with money. You want “no pay” tenants? I sure wouldn’t….

    Further, you would make the situation far worse – people making their payments while still upside down in their house value would stop making payments – and actually cause more defaults.

    This way they can liquidate their inventory of houses over time and avoid realizing such deep losses as they would in a fire-sale.

    You have not calculated holding costs.

    Further, the former owners (now renters) wouldnโ€™t be forced to move immediately and they could even be offered right of first refusal to buy back the house if they should become financially able to do so again. Everyone wins.

    You did not calculate completely. It is impossible for ‘everyone’ to win in this particular matter – someone is losing.

    • The bankruptcy lawyers are the losers in this scenario.

    • BF,

      Excellent point about the costs of property management and the fact that banks are not set up for that sort of thing. I hadn’t thought about that aspect when reading Mathius’ post.

      • It was a good point.. still, I think renting can be a better alternative to a fire-sell.

        That said, I think Flag and I are in agreement that the banks should be free to foreclose all defaulting homes and do whatever they want with them. You made a deal, you didn’t uphold your end, the deal said what happens in that case, so why should you get to change the terms?

        That’s like buying placing a bet and then demanding that you get your money back after you lose.

    • BF

      Bank are and have been, and will continue to be “landlords”.

      Some of the larger banks have entire sections devoted to managing their “rental properties”.

      Now with that said, they would rarely carry the extent of “inventory” that would result from a large foreclosure expansion. So they would most certainly flip some of the properties as quickly as possible.

      The real point is that without the Govt interfering in the market place, this would have already been happening. Just like it did in the 1980’s.

      • To me this boils down to-the government should not be able to make contract’s void-based solely on the purchaser defaulting-this one point seems to override any plus’s of this plan.

        But it does Feel so Right to say that the governments manipulations caused this crap and they should have to bail out the little guy if they are going to bail out the big guy. Unfortunately, reality doesn’t care one wit for fairness.

      • JAC,

        While that may be true (banks having a ‘rental’ division) that is like Microsoft wanting to sell banana’s – they can do it, but not very well.

  19. Mathius

    It was a good point.. still, I think renting can be a better alternative to a fire-sell.

    First step one needs to do before advising banks:

    -learn about banking and how banks operate.

    Banks lend money.

    They can only lend money in a fractional reserves system based on reserves plus certain types of capital assets, such as paid up capital (selling shares) and cash deposits in reserve at the FED, etc.

    Property-in-hand has a divisor applied to it as an asset -that is, the property “value” is significantly reduced in its quality as an asset – they do not treat it equal to cash money or a mortgage on that land.

    Holding onto property lowers the asset base of a bank.

    A $100,000 fair market value home is an asset worth only $50,000 to the capital base of a bank if they hold it as an asset (in lieu of the default mortgage). But if they sell it they get $100,000 cash money to their capital base

    I posted this on my blog “Dueling with PhD'”

    Capital requirements = Core Capital / Assets

    Core Capital is weighted due to risk โ€“ with cash at 0%, no risk and government bonds at say 5%, mortgage loans, at say, 50%, and other loans and assets, such as credit card loans, perhaps at 100%.

    The Asset divisor is Total capital minus deposits โ€“ as deposits are a banking liability.

    As Federal Reserve-placed funds represents cash as far as calculating the Core Capital โ€“ an increase is the excess reserves significantly improves the capital ratio of said bank.

    Thus, a loss of capital due to defaulted loans (loss of asset) can be offset by an increase in โ€œcash on handโ€ (increase of asset) โ€“ held as excess reserves with the FED. If a bank does not lend its cash, it improves its Capital requirement ratio.

    As I pointed out, holding the property instead of cash lowers the base capital of a bank which in turn risks falling before minimum Fed requirements of capitalization.

    Thus, holding property instead of cash money will eventually bankrupt the bank

    Thus, they must fire sale – or as they did with TARP, sell the property to the FED in return for cash.

    Thus, if another TARP is not available, the banks must fire sale their foreclosed properties

  20. Standford……………woo hoo!

  21. Hey SUFA…off topic for a min…has anyone on here who is receiving medicaid or medicare received anything from the government concerning rate increases and tax increases? The reason I ask, is that my parents (90 and 92) just received a 19 and 21% increase respectively in supplemental coverage premiums as a result of the limits now placed on medicare and medicaid. I have not fully investigated yet but was wondering. They have also received a brochure explaining what end of life counseling is and how it affects medicare coverages. Anyone else receive these?

    • texaschem says:

      My insurance premiums and out of pocket expense through my employer went up by 160.00 a month.$1920.00 a year.Aetna is my provider.

      • I wish-my monthly cost for insurance is 879.00 per month-it has gone up every year for awhile and that’s with a 5000.00 deductible-Had to get that a couple years ago to reduce the payment. Am waiting to see what they increase it this year. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        • That is insane. I can not imagine spending 10k a year “just in case” something happens. I will remain one of the many voluntarily uninsured.

          • It may be insane but I have found that things do just happen. Especially as you get older ๐Ÿ™‚ And it only takes one to cost you everything you own. Plus I have children-they will be covered.

  22. Ray Hawkins says:

    Happy New Year to all……

    Agree with most of what has been said here – the answers are not pretty and will be painful.

    On a thinly related note…..

    Am looking at some short sale houses as the next property to move in to…..

    Two questions that touch different crowds here maybe…..

    (1) How much space would one devote in a home to homeschooling – say 2-3 kids? I’m talking identifying space that is reserved for schooling/learning and nothing else…

    (2) How much space would one devote to making,……ahem….., some adult beverages – am thinking beer, brandy, etc (maybe this is a G-Man only question)?

    Will only add that a few short sales we’ve looked at are disappointing – literally looks like the houses were abandoned – can tell that maintenance was allowed to slide in a big way. Figuring the true cost must include the obvious and not-so-obvious renovations.

    Cheers to all,


    • Happy New Year to you as well Ray.

      As a product of homeschooling, I would say that you can get away with 1.5 rooms. It is beneficial to have enough space for all of the children to be in the same room, there is a lot of advantages to cross training, the younger ones learning bits and pieces from the older kids and the older ones getting reinforcement of stuff they learned before. You need a room for test taking or other isolation needs, but that is it. Also, the room where the kids are studying should be the same room that the parent or tutor sits and works, for ready assistance and to help keep the kids from goofing off. You need a place for storing curriculum and learning tools, but it need not be large.

      That is all based on my experience, your needs may be very different depending on your kids and their needs/personalities, and depending on the learning aids and curriculum you use. But a full time school room and a part time room for isolation is likely sufficient. If you wanted to have 3 small rooms instead you can, but I still recommend a singular room for at least some of the time so that the children can learn from each other’s studying.

      I am not a brewer, but I have a close friend who is basically brewing the legal limit in Virginia in a 20×20 room. You will need privacy and temperature control and equipment, but not a huge amount of space. A large walk-in closet might do well, I think sunlight is a negative for most things you are brewing. Brandy I don’t know about, we are not legally allowed to make that here. Wine you need more space and gear. A lot more. But mead is pretty simple.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Thanks Jon!

        I wasn’t aware you were homeschooled – you seem to have turned out fairly well eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I used to think that our next home (larger than current) would need to have the typical man-cave – I am less enamored with that now because I’d rather spend time with my son (and baby #2 when it gets here). Having space devoted to learning and space devoted to play seems to make more sense. Will have to see what the budget can hold….

        • Yea, I like to think I came out reasonably well. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Truthfully, I am a huge fan of homeschooling. I get that some families cannot do it for financial or time reasons, but when it is possible, it is a great thing. I ended up a little sheltered and socially awkward for my first couple of years after graduation, but adjusting was not hard, in large part due to the fact that what social interaction I did have was with all ages, not just my peers. It made a difference getting started in life having friends my parents’ age as well as my own age. Also, I know homeschooling families that did a better job of not sheltering their kids and they did not have the awkwardness I did right at first. For me, most of that, I think, was more religious sheltering than a result of the homeschooling itself. From an academic and health standpoint, I feel my situation and result is vastly superior to all of my public school friends, and most of my private school ones. I am athletic, but have no injuries, I am very smart (not because of high IQ, just good training on how to think), and my socialization skills are perfectly fine.

          I think you could do fine with an attached garage that was either not for the car or had ample additional space to handle a little brewing and other man-cave activities. As your children get older, it might be a space they can interact with you in special ways as well, and it might be a good area for teaching certain things. Space for learning and play are big tho. If it were me, space for play should include, if not predominantly be, outdoor space, meaning maybe look more at lot size than house size. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ray, my friend…..asked a compatriot of mine that has home schooled three children. He said about 400 sq feet was ample for him with a video screen.

      Have another acquaintance that brews in a 20×30 barn like structure. He says the touchy part is maintaining temperatures on a constant level and sunlight is generally not good. He does beer, wine, Kahlua.

      Happy New Year to you and your’s, sir.

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Thanks D13 – all is well here sir – still waiting for your reality-series to start up – “A Day in the Life Of…..”

        Stay safe sir….

      • You need less than you think. Put the kids to work brewing the *ahem* adult beverages. Call it an apprenticeship.

        Two birds, one stone.

        I have a small army of, err, apprentices brewing Red Bull in my garage.

    • A Puritan Descendant says:

      I suppose it depends on how much brew you are going to make. And over what time period. You need to ask yourself how many bottles you will need at one time. Bottles can be reduced if you use a keg system and make your brew over a period of time or leave the brew in a glass carboy for an extended period. Not sure how long beer can be left in a carboy but wine or cider can be left in glass carboy for a long time, ‘years’? maybe, or at least a year for cider. There are to many variables for anyone to give you an exact answer. You need to figure out exactly how much and how often you will brew. You probably can’t answer that until you have already brewed for awhile. I brew about 150 gallons of cider over a period of months as the apples are free here with a good sized Orchard. Some is bottled shortly after fermenting out to dryness (cider does not need a lot of ageing like wine) and consumed quickly, while some is aged in bottles for a year or more. Some is left in carboys until needed. (glass is best for extended ageing as plastic supposively breathes a bit). A keg system can save a lot of space and work by avoiding bottles and having to wash them AAHHHH! A keg system can pay for itself just in the price of corks/caps you won’t need. Also a broken carboy can destroy your house so maybe best to brew in an unfinished cellar (or your bathtub Hah). I am going on 7 years and still have not had a bad batch. Keep things clean clean clean…..

      Good Luck Ray and Enjoy, you are going to have a lot of fun.

    • Happy New Year Ray!

      My recipe for brandy is real simple, all natural, tastes great and provides a nice sleep aide. It can also get you quite looped. The brewing part takes up very little space, we make 2-3 batches at a time, in 6 gal plastic containers with lids, stack them in the corner of the bedroom and let them go. It’s the bottles that take up some space, we converted two double closets in guest bedrooms into fully shelved closets for canned goods and brandy. We keep about 50 to 75 bottles of brandy on hand, it takes up one large shelf. The other four shelves have canned goods on them.

      I’ve posted the recipe in the past, if you’d like me to repost, I can gladly do that.



    • Ray:

      Space for Homeschooling –

      … the whole house.

      You will never be able to contain the “homeschooling” pieces into a space within the home.

      It’s called home schooling, not room schooling ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • BF,

        I know you’ve done this before but could you please post some links to get me started in the homeschool theatre. I’m big time in the market for info right now. I’ve been researching on my own but I’m in uncharted waters and somewhat scared to make the leap. Thanks

        • Anita, don’t be afraid of homeschooling, it works, and it is a superior option. And it will do more to help your kids get clear of the system and indoctrination than anything else you can do.

          Here is some info on curriculum, there are other resources on this site that will be useful, even tho this is a virginia based organization:

          Also here is a site on the legal stuff you may run into:
          They also have a list of various homeschool organizations, possibly there are a few in your area:

          And here is a place with some good stats in case you need ammunition for your arguments:

          Make the leap, it is worth it.

        • Anita I sent you some links, but forgot the link limit, so it is in moderation at the moment. ๐Ÿ™‚

        • I’m sorry, but Black Flag does it differently than the rest of us. Being computers, he merely loads the desired educational programming directly (via wifi) into his daughter’s brain. It’s far more efficient.

          Hey, Flag, how’s that RAM upgrade going?

        • Anita, for you. I know you aren’t right in Detroit, but close enough to feel the pain.

        • Anita,

          As with anything new, it always appears daunting in the beginning.

          However, here are a few thing to keep in mind:

          * Learning is natural so don’t “push it” – it will happen all by itself as a natural human need.

          * You do not need to know everything to guide your children.

          You learn with them – and in the end teach them the most important lesson of their lives, that is, how to self-educate. You show them how you do it and they will learn to do it themselves by your example.

          * Follow their interests, and don’t be annoyed that their interests are whimsical and fleeting – younger ones are in explorer mode – when they get older they will naturally want to become skillful in a few things, but not necessarily when they are quite young.

          However, when they are interested, they learn quickly. If they want to play a computer game for example, but haven’t focused on “reading” – tell them they sure can play the game as soon as the read the instruction manual on how to install the game and play the game. (Help them understand what they read, of course, but don’t “do the work” for them, either).

          * We “unschool” – that is do not follow any particular path or curriculum – and sort of design our own as we go along.

          As Jon posted, I’d suggest seeking out a local homeschool support group. They will be overjoyed to help you get started and answer your questions.

          But don’t worry – learning is as natural as growing up and – no more than you can “speed up” or “slow down” your children’s growing, you can’t really make any mistakes in guiding their learning either.

          Just let their learning happen the same way – trust me, if you guide them gently, it all works just fine

          • Thanks to both of you gents. I’ve spent the better part of today on this subject. Had another good talk with my son about the possibilities. Have spoken with son’s friend’s parents who home school, they’re also members of HSLDA. Just hung up with vice principle, heard his sales pitch about the benefits of staying in school ๐Ÿ™„ , have meeting scheduled with school counselor tomorrow. I’m open for the conversation but i’m just about ready to leap. Just have to ‘unschool’ myself now.. Wish me luck!

            • Anita,


              Perfectly serious and honestly ….

              … do what is right by you and your son.

              For many the choice is clear – public school – whether by economics or personal decision, then that is the right choice.

              Home school is a huge commitment – you will give up a lot; money, career, opportunity; and -wow- do you really want to be with your kids 24/7???

              But if money is not your “ends” – and career – “been there, done that” – and “I really love being with my kids” – then, home school is the right answer.

              Just do what is right by you and your son, and you cannot be wrong.

              • Thank ya, thank ya

              • Luck from me as well. And Flag is dead on. My parents gave up a lot to homeschool me and my 3 sisters. I think it was worth it and I thank them for what they did, but it is a major commitment, and a costly decision.

                Still, if you can do it, do it. And hats off to you for doing so, and all the luck in the world. And advice if you need it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ray Hawkins says:

        Well done Black Flag – gave me a good laugh!

  23. A Puritan Descendant says:

    Hope USW gets well soon!

    I agree with most that the chips should fall where they will, without any more intervention.

    What ever happened to building your own house?

    Why mortgage your life to live in some over blown mansion?

    My wife and I never had much money but we managed to save enough to buy some cheap acreage in the boonies.

    Then we saved enough to build a small home and years later it is still not finished inside but we are not in debt. Building a home is not that hard. Just buy a good step by step do it yourself book like I did and ‘Presto’ one new home. It only took me 3 months to get it built and livable.

    People should learn to think outside the box establishment has programed our brains with. Live your own life and not the life you are told you should live.

    • People should learn to think outside the box establishment has programed our brains with. Live your own life and not the life you are told you should live.

      Hear, Hear, APD! I’ve been taking on that attitude more and more these last couple years. I’m debt free which makes my decisions a little easier. Once you’re free and clear and have everything you NEED (material things) then what is left to need? Food, transportation/gas, property taxes, utilities, new wardrobe for growing preteens twice a year..Not much more than that. Buy food when its on sale not as you need it, same with clothes. Keep it simple. Get rid of stuff you haven’t used in over a year. Clutter just clutters the mind and things seem overwhelming. Life is not as hard as people make it. I’m ready for a fight with the school district as I’m also ready to start home schooling! Have already thrown up trial balloons with the middle school… they are digging their heels in too because they’ll lose money. Cry me a river. It could be a fatal error on my part but sure seems less stressful than what I’m up against right now. Things ARE SIMPLE..with a plan and patience!

      I’m almost scared to post this comment..but here goes! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • A Puritan Descendant says:

        You are a very wise Lady, Anita!

        • HELP! I’ve fallen and can’t get up!

          I’ve been called many names in my day..wise was never on the list..more like ‘cheap ass’, tightwad, I could go on..but I’m a happy cheap ass tight wad!

          Thanks APD. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Boy, could I have fun with “cheap ass”…….

            Damn that New Year’s resolution to be nicer…

            • Sticks and stones can break my bones but…What?Forget that. Whatchoo say bout me?..Well let’s go! You wanna talk smack..bring it!

              Bahahahahha :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
              Heeheehee ooooo lololol

    • A Puritan Descendant says:

      Nice article!

      But is this statement really true? > “however โ€œrichโ€ a bank may be, most of its money actually belongs to vast numbers of depositors, most of whom are not rich.

      Or does the bank’s ‘money’ come from all the interest received from loans the bank made using money practically given to the banks by the government/Federal Reserve. And I am not talking about only recent bailouts, I am talking about in modern normal economic times.

      I am not a Banker but maybe we would not be in such a mess if banks paid a market driven interest rate to depositers and use depositor cash to make loans at a profit, instead of being given funny money at low interest rates by the Federal Reserve/U.S.Tr.or whatever path is being used today. If banks actually needed depositer money then savers would be getting a better interest rate.

      I would Love to be given money by the government at low interest rates so I could loan it out at a higher rate and get rich by doing paperwork.

      Maybe someone with a better understanding of all this could explain how/why they do things the way they do now…………

  24. Unfair Law Stops Troubled Borrowers from Hiring Attorneys

    SB 94 does not protect mortgage borrowers from unscrupulous attorneys so much as it protects banks from borrowers represented by attorneys.

    Proponents of Senate Bill 94 (SB 94) claimed that the law would stop unscrupulous attorneys from charging borrowers for services that they then did not provide. Although that was and continues to be a problem, it is one that was already forbidden by the law before SB 94. Attorneys could already be prosecuted for criminal fraud, disciplined and disbarred for defrauding clients. The problem that existed before SB 94 was not the law, but law enforcement.

    SB 94 was most likely the result of opportunistic bank lobbyists seeing a real problem and trying to use it as a tool to camoflauge their desired result: eliminate attorney representation for borrowers

    The New York Times recently wrote about this problem on December 20, 2010. In that article, David Streitfeld writes that the law was “intended” to protect borrowers from fraud,

    But foreclosure specialists say there has been an unintended consequence: the honest lawyers can no longer afford to assist Ms. Bell and all the others who feel helpless before lenders that they see as elusive, unyielding and skilled at losing paperwork.

    California State Senator Ron Calderon (D Montebello) introduced SB 94 on January 22, 2009. Perhaps coincidentally, Senator Calderon is a long time member of the Mortgage Bankers Association. SB 94 sought to impose civil and criminal liability on any person performing a loan modification or related activity who collects an “advance fee” including real estate agents, but not lawyers.

    In July 2009, after extensive lobbying by various groups, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger demanded that the California Legislature add a provision barring attorneys from collecting “advance fees” for representing mortgage borrowers in any matter relating to a loan modification or forbearance. It is unclear whether the attorney provision was a strategic objective of the initial bill, but one that was put off until later in the legislative process.

    Governor Schwarzenegger signed SB 94 into law on October 11, 2009 and it became effective the same day. It amended California Civil Code Section 2944.7(a) to make it unlawful for any person to:

    [Negotiate, arrange or offer to perform] a mortgage loan modification or other form of mortgage loan forbearance [for any fee or compensation received] until after the person has fully performed each and every service the person contracted to perform or represented that he or she would perform.

    The maximum penalty for violating the statute is a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

    The statute is disguised as a consumer protection law, but it is in fact designed to bar mortgage borrowers from consulting with attorneys about their mortgages and their legal rights. The present topography of the mortgage debacle is unsettled. State and federal lawmakers, banks and the media continue to strive for an acceptable narrative that minimizes the perception of the damage banks and other parties have inflicted on our country, our economy, and increasingly our civil liberties.

    In such an unsettled place, borrowers often can benefit from representation.
    Why We Are Suing the State of California

    A mortgage borrower approached our firm and asked if we could review his loan documents, the current state of his mortgage obligations, who serviced his loan, who currently owned the loan, how those parties acquired their rights, whether a modification or forbearance could help his situation, his rights under state and federal law, whether it would be best to proceed in state court, federal court, or neither and other questions.

    We were aware that SB 94 had created criminal and administrative penalties for attorneys who represented borrowers for a fee and we weren’t entirely clear what conduct was illegal. Although Olender Pham is an avid provider and organizer of pro bono legal services, we did not qualify this case for pro bono representation. We were either going to represent this client for a fee, or not at all.

    At no charge to the client, we researched what matters we could advise the client about for a fee without violating the law. To our amazement, we learned that the statute SB 94 amended vaguely described the conduct that was illegal (CCC 2944.7), while the statute that described the term “advance fee” (CBC 10026) was very specific in describing fees that weren’t advance fees at all.

    Although CBC 10026 generally applies to real estate agents, SB 94 modified CBC 10026 to define the term “advance fee” and the State Bar of California used the term “advance fee” (one specifically used in the text of SB 94) in its “FAQs” describing the penalties it would mete out to attorneys who violated the State Bar’s interpretation of the law. (Read the California State Bar’s FAQs here). Could the State Bar and the State of California backtrack and assert that they most likely wouldn’t discipline or jail an attorney for charging a borrower for services already performed? Sure, but we decided that we weren’t going to risk a year in jail to find out.

    We concluded that we could not represent the borrower without violating the law and we decided to refuse representation. But then during a discussion with the client about this problem, we all began to think about whether it was constitutionally permissible that the client, in the midst of a dispute with his bank, could not legally hire an attorney even though the bank could.

    Olender Pham’s suit against the State of California seeking to overturn SB 94 resulted from that discussion. But the law is so vague, we believe it is possible that if we charge the client a fee to bring a suit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes SB 94 amended, this representation could be deemed illegal and subject our attorneys involved to a year in jail because the purpose of the suit is ultimately to be able to assist the borrower in a loan modification dispute. So, for safety’s sake, we decided to represent the client at no fee, but to seek attorney’s fees and costs of suit from the State of California if we prevail. We are confident, but not absolutely certain that this is not a crime in the State of California.

    For more details, see the links at top right. For a detailed analysis of the constitutionality of SB 94 and the political issues driving the current debate, read Sean Olender’s July 2010 article in Verdict Magazine. To learn more about our lawsuit against the State of California, read a copy of the complaint. To learn how generously the bailout treated banks and investors compared to ordinary US citizens, read Sean Olender’s article The Trickle Down System Bottoms Out in the July 2009 issue of Verdict Magazine.

    • Hey V.H.

      Happy New Year!

      The first thing about this article that really stuck out was the use of “SB” before 94. All Senate Bills are only referred to with an “S”. All previous use of “SB” has been proven to be a hoax.

  25. Blogger debate: Arkansas vs. Ohio State
    January, 3, 2011
    Jan 3

    By Chris Low and Adam Rittenberg
    Arkansas has one of the most balanced offenses in the nation and is riding a six-game winning streak.

    Ohio State is ranked near the top of the nation in just about all of the defensive categories, but is plenty potent offensively, too. Ohio State has won five in a row, averaging 39.2 points during that stretch.

    They meet up on Tuesday night in New Orleans in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, a Big Ten-SEC matchup thatโ€™s sure to reverberate throughout both conferences.

    SEC blogger Chris Low and Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg take a closer look at this battle of the Hogs and the Buckeyes.

    Arkansas running back Knile Davis has rushed for 889 yards in his last six games.

    Chris Low: Adam, Iโ€™ll start with a concession. The Eastern Division this season in the SEC was brutal. Unless Kentucky can defeat Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl, four of the six teams will finish with losing records. The division champion, South Carolina, finished with five losses. So donโ€™t judge Arkansas based on the way the bowl season started for the SEC with Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina all going down in flames. The Hogs were the second-best team in the league when the regular season ended. They can score with anybody in the country. They run it as well as they pass it, and theyโ€™re much improved defensively. The SEC came back strong on New Yearโ€™s Day. How did the Big Ten do? Better yet, how have the Buckeyes fared lately in bowl games against the SEC?

    Adam Rittenberg: Chris, you know how much I’d love to make a witty comeback, a Cam Newton money reference or talk about the academic standards in the SEC, but I’ve got nothing. The Big Ten was embarrassed Saturday, especially in two of the three losses to the SEC. Michigan State’s performance was the most shocking, while Michigan didn’t show up again and Penn State let a mediocre Florida team hang around. I caught up with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Sunday, and he pretty much conceded defeat to the SEC, saying, “They have the strongest football-playing conference. We’ve had some competitive success, but they have the edge. Until we beat them, they deserve the edge.” That pretty much sums up my thoughts. We all know Ohio State is 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games, a shocking stat. But Arkansas is a newcomer to a BCS bowl, while Ohio State has been there in each of the previous five seasons. How do you think the Hogs will handle the spotlight?

    CL: Granted, Arkansas is new to the BCS, but the Hogs arenโ€™t new to the spotlight.

    • LOI

      I’m a bit of a Buckeye fan, but really like a good game overall. Good luck to your Hogs!

      Any word on your bird issue? Sounds like a bird religious cult gone bad, LOL!

    • The Hogs were my preseason pick to win the SEC and play for the National Championship.

      I didn’t know about Auburn’s acquisition at the time.

      Go Hogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • While I really hate to cheer for Pryor and Company, the Big Ten needs something good to happen to save face….

      Go Buckeyes!

  26. I would say that the housing market is a complete mess. While the fault can be assigned in many areas, fault does not matter, it is what it is. The same could be said about manufacturing, which is hauling ass out of the country everyday. Blame need not be assigned here either. So often we want to point the finger at “whoever” is to blame, we fail to address what the repercussions are going to really be, and IF, we the people can fix it. USW likes new ideas, like T-Ray’s earlier in the discussion. Great ideas, too little, too late.

    Why are the good Americans of SUFA allowing this to continue? Talk is cheap, actions, well planned and thought out, are the only answer to the issues. Clearly, the elected elite don’t listen, the banks aren’t listening and the vast majority of the people aren’t paying attention. Violence is stupid and won’t work. Organizing a peacefull type of revolt will get crushed. The fence is around us and the gate is closed. The worst is yet to come.

    Yes, I’m, as some would say, crazy. It can’t happen the the USA. WE can’t become a police state. WE cannot fight back against the system that is slowly destroying us. Even talking about fighting back will get you either arrested or on some “bad boy” list with the FEDS! The “Men In Black” are not out to control the aliens from outerspace, we are the aliens. Fear is not the biggest enemy, ignoring what is really happening around you, will be.

    I feel better, I ranted ๐Ÿ™‚ After hearing this, maybe you’ll look harder!

    • G Man! G! YO! Yain’t goin there! At least not on my watch! What is that JAC says: America is an idea! There are definately some realities that we have to deal with but that doesn’t mean the realities have to shackle us 24/7. Just when the taxman cometh,and the Spooky Dude, and Big Sis, and….As long as they don’t boxcar me off to the FEMA camp I’ve decided it’s time to get to livin or get to dying! Now who’s side are you on?

      10 Anita points for the answer to the movie trivia reference ๐Ÿ™‚

      • AH, My friend Anita! The Shawshank Redemption was a classic, but just a movie. The realities have you shackled 24/7, you just don’t see it, because it has been a slow process. What can you do without paying the govt or getting their permission in life today?

        • Oh, I see it clearly and I’m not liking it. But I’m about tapped out on stressin about it. So as long as I am not in fear of my life,which I’m not yet, I’m just going to chalk it up as a cost of doing business and get busy living!

          Shawshank is correct! Watched it at least 38 times! Probably more.

          • I’ve noticed that I feel so free when out in the woods hunting. No people, no stress!!!! We had a warm up which melted all the snow over the weekend, but, it is now white again, be in the woods in the AM with crossbow in hand! In the teens and a little windy when I go out, but, peacefull!!!

      • Anita

        My dear, remember the FEMA camps are no big deal. I still have the keys.

        Live free, live large. Great sign that hung on the fence of a baseball park near my old home.

        “Life is a game that must be played.”

        ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

    • GMan

      The swamp always look worst when the alligators are circling. Nothing to fear or despair about.

      The gators will retreat and the waters will recede.

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