The anatomy of the current foreclosure crisis has been written about, talked about and undoubtedly will continue to be for years to come. What will perhaps be a lesser talked about issue is the psychological impact foreclosure will have on the American people for generations to come.
The conflict that arises between a homeowner who can no longer afford the dream and the loan owner who sees the dream as simple economics – affordability and profitability, will perhaps be crystallized in future “Financial Disaster Recovery” handbooks. As well, terms such as Loan Modification, Affordability, Foreclosure Prevention, Loss Mitigation, Automatic Stay, Cash for keys, Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, Short Sale, Notice of Default, Notice of Sale, Sale Date, etc. may be discussed a part of the pre-purchase dialogue rather than post-default.
Regardless of which doorstep you place the blame, the abysmal number of dreams that have been and will be foreclosed on, have had and will have a psychological impact of epic proportions. Homeowners clearly understand, or should now, that the purchase of a dream home does not come with the right of occupancy without the ability to afford the monthly mortgage obligation – until note do you part. In fact, we’ve learned that the dream is not real until the last payment is made – which makes the idea of an Adjustable Rate and certain other mortgages, for some, almost criminal.
If there was ever a thought that a lender was a partner in the purchase of the dream – an emotional partner, or was more than a passive participant in the emotional journey to home ownership, homeowners should now be convinced otherwise. Victims of foreclosure – your neighbors, friends and family members, have been plucked from their homes, ripped from their communities by a ravenous housing tsunami, which will go down in history as one of the most horrific episodes in history.
What we’ve learned about both lenders and homeowners alike amidst this current economic battle is nothing short of amazing. Hoping against hope, homeowners in financial crisis who contacted their lender/servicer for help quickly realized that their dream home, the family refuge, in the eyes of a lender, was nothing more than sticks and bricks with a loan number.
Many hoping to speak to someone, anyone, capable of compassion and endowed with the ability to understand the psychological and emotional trauma, and certain humiliation that comes along with being abruptly, ceremoniously evicted from a dream, all too often found that affordability and profitability were the only two words standing between the sheriff placing their entire life (all of what can be gathered in 15 minutes before the locks are changed) on the front lawn for the whole neighborhood to see.
Even if you side with the banks in this instance, can you imagine a young child innocently, unknowingly coming home from school, with friends in tow, and encountering the eviction spectacle? For those of us that don’t know, Sheriff Evictions are more likely to be executed at or about the time when children come home from school.
It must be said that for many homeowners, the threat or cause of foreclosure is not as simple as a Stated Income loan, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage or even a failure to plan but rather an abrupt, life altering financial event. For reasons of affordability as well as survival, these tragedies are perhaps the most gruesome to watch. The average American would agree that lenders should understand and be prepared to bail this homeowner out – in much the same way and for similar reasons that the American people bailed the lenders out.
In the end, the foreclosure crisis has brought out the worst and the best in all of us. As a Country, we have watched the dreams of hundreds of thousands of homeowners evaporate under the sweltering heat of foreclosure. We watched as our neighbors were preyed upon with unscrupulous mortgages that were known by many to be time released foreclosure capsules – while simultaneously basking in the pseudo-economic sunshine they created.
Exposure to the harsh realities of foreclosure has increased foreclosure awareness as well as forever corrected any misconceptions about the role of homeowner and the convictions of loan owner in the midst of a financial crisis. Many homes will be lost, customers will be scorned, children will see things that they should never see and hopefully, we will all be the wiser for it.