8/19/2017

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The Real Estate Market
by John M. Roberts

The underlying realities of the real estate market may be a lot deeper than most of us care to know about or understand.

We know the housing market is in serious trouble, but unless you are one of the millions of homeowners who are still teetering on the brink of foreclosure, you can't possibly know the anguish that goes along with losing your home.

You don't have to be a genius to grasp the depth of the crisis. All you have to do is look at the numbers. There are literally hundreds of thousands of homes across the country that are vacant due to foreclosure and hundreds of thousands more that are in the process of being foreclosed on. And then there are the hundreds of thousands of people who are desperately trying to have their loans modified. The numbers are staggering and they are real.

Things are so unstable in the housing market right now that any one of many possible glitches in the economy could make things get much worse than they currently are, such as more layoffs, more business closures, and a continuing slowdown in the stock market and in the overall economy.

The truth is that many people are simply unable to qualify for a loan modification because of the lack of income or their negative credit status. And many others, even if their loans are modified, still can't make the payments. In essence, it's going to be a while before the true number of foreclosures become known because many who are modifying their mortgages are simply buying time.

So what does this mean? It means that there may come a time when some of those who were approved for a loan modification may end up in foreclosure again, and some who are not in foreclosure right now may find themselves in trouble with their home loans if the economy does not improve. People are getting laid off at an alarming rate and based on economic projections, it may be a while before the job market picks up. A lot of people who are losing their jobs are going to lose their homes, too, because they will no longer be able to make the mortgage payments.

It's not just the people who bought property over the last five or six years who are struggling with their house payments. Many people who have owned their homes for decades were told, by the so-called experts, that they should refinance their homes, take the money, and invest in the stock market. That sounded good at the time, but now, we see the folly in following blindly behind those who were leading the bandwagon.

Many of those novice investors who followed the advice of the so-called experts were elderly, retired, and many are near retirement age. They were not first time buyers or real estate speculators. They were average citizens who were persuaded to borrow money and take risks with the equity in their homes. Many lost big time in the stock market and now they are losing, or have already lost, their homes.

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