The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I used to be a huge fan of HGTV - the house and garden channel. I loved the decorating shows and the shows about unusual homes. I loved the house hunting shows, especially those about first-time home buyers. Maybe I watched too closely to these programs, but I became increasingly uncomfortable with the supposed realtor. When the property virgin person - or couple- was asked what they could afford, the couple would reply with an amount figured by his banker or loan officer. The realtor asked what the person -or couple - planned to use as a down payment on the property they were shopping for, and often there was no funding - or very low funding set aside for that. The realtor began to show houses to this person - or couple - at the very top of their price range. I've even seen a realtor add the down payment amount to the approved loan amount and then increase the price range accordingly.

Now I believe everyone should make a living. Realtors earn theirs as a percentage of the price of the properties they sell. Selling the most expensive homes, regardless of the financing required by the buyer, best serves the realtor, not the consumer. What does the realtor care if in real life the person - or couple - cannot afford to make the payments? And what payments!
The buyer has a mortgage payment and a second mortgage on the property for the down payment they didn't make! That's a heavy burden. I shudder to think how many of the home buyers shown on these programs lost their homes in the economic environment we've had lately. I stopped watching.

I used to enjoy the programs on HGTV that showed stagers preparing a house for sale. I learned a lot that is nice to know if company's coming and you want to make a good impression. But I saw perfectly good appliances being replaced with appliances with the current finish - these days it's stainless steel. Nice if you can afford to do it - but not necessary to sell a house. People who are looking at houses they really can afford won't be concerned about such things. On the programs showing buyers looking at houses, cheap flooring is disdainful, but on the staging programs, the floors are made up with peel-and-stick tiles.

I suppose it all depends on whether you are a seller or buyer. I'm just not comfortable with the ethics of the realtors who inevitably put people in homes they can't afford and those who cover up less than ideal features of a home with cheap fixes. Better to leave a bad floor exposed honestly than to put a pretty face on it that will have to be removed anyway to correct the problem.

I don't know. Perhaps I am looking too deeply into programs created to entertain, but I just can't watch anymore. And if these programs are what is going on in the real life housing world, I understand how the problem got so out of hand and foreclosures became to common. Jewel Case House and Yard (SH8)


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