2/26/2017

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The Elderly In Foreclosure
The Invisible Victims
by John M. Roberts

The invisible victims of foreclosure are the elderly who are losing their homes at an alarming rate. Although the problem is widespread, there are no accurate figures because the number of elderly who have already lost their homes, or are currently in foreclosure, are lumped into the same foreclosure related categories with everyone else.

Many elderly people are silently moving out of their homes that they've owned for most of their adult lives. They are embarrassed, frustrated, stressed out, and scared. They have no choice but to move into an apartment, with one of their grown children, into a home for the elderly, and in some cases, onto the streets and in homeless shelters.

Why are so many elderly people in this predicament? They, like many of us, were led to believe that the equity in their homes was a gold mine and was meant to be borrowed and invested in the stock market or other investment vehicles.

The experts said it was a smart way to earn more money for retirement income, so why not? Everybody else was doing it. Borrowing your equity and diversifying was the talk of the day. We all heard it from the financial experts on television, radio, the internet, and we read about it daily in newspapers, magazines, books, and other publications.

Now, many of the same experts are calling it greed. So everybody got greedy, even the elderly. But the experts weren't calling it greed when the economy seemed to be booming and a lot of money was being made. And guess what? Many of those same experts lost everything they had to foreclosure, too. Who was being greedy?

The unscrupulous greedy were lenders who went after the properties of the elderly knowing full well what they were doing, just for the profits. They knew that these people had no viable means to pay the loans back. Many of the elderly were on fixed incomes like retirement and/or social security. Their homes were their safety nets, their old age survival nets. They had worked all of their adult lives to pay off their mortgages. This was their only means of supporting themselves.

What lenders did was to go after the equity in their homes knowing that the homes would eventually go into foreclosure. They did not care if the elderly borrowers lost their homes or not. Who was being greedy?

How can you justify giving an eighty year old widow a two hundred thousand dollar loan with payments of two thousand dollars a month when she only had fifteen hundred dollars in total monthly income? And on top of that, after subtracting high lender's fees, escrow fees, broker fees, and other costs, they may not have received half of the money that was borrowed. And who knows what happened to the other half because it just disappeared when the stock market collapsed. Who was being greedy?

This is a sad commentary, but it weighs true for many elderly homeowners. You can't discriminate against a borrower because of age but lenders went beyond that. They made the loans even though they knew there was a lack of income to pay the money back. Many elderly folks have been left with nothing. They are the invisible victims of the current financial crisis and it seems that no one is paying attention.

 

 

 

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