Foreclosure Crisis Spreads Across U.S. as Idaho Defaults Mount

Thursday, August 12, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Dan Levy
Bloomberg.com

Nan Holmes, a senior escrow officer at a title insurer, says her insider’s view of the local market gave her the confidence three years ago to pay $370,000 for a new home in Boise, Idaho. She got a price she liked from the builder and 100 percent bank financing.

That was before the bottom fell out of the housing market in California, Nevada and Florida as borrowers with bad credit began defaulting in record numbers, setting off a recession. Holmes, who had earned $150,000 a year when real estate was booming, saw her compensation shrink by half when business cooled, forcing her to dip into savings and sell jewelry. She stopped paying the mortgage in April and has put the house on the market for $145,000 less than she owes the bank.

“How long will it take for the market to turn so I can just break even?” Holmes, 55, said as she sat in her house in Boise’s tree-lined Collister neighborhood, four miles (6.4 kilometers) from the state capitol.

Home foreclosures are climbing in the Northwest and Midwest, areas that had earlier dodged the worst of the mortgage crisis, according to real estate data firm RealtyTrac Inc. With 14.6 million Americans out of work and consumer spending declining, further weakness in housing could push the economy back into recession, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Aug. 1.

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