Letters: They don’t deserve another mortgage!

Marketplace Staff Jun 24, 2011

Letters: They don’t deserve another mortgage!

Marketplace Staff Jun 24, 2011

Tess Vigeland: It has been a while so let’s take a look at the inbox. And Megan Larson is with us; she’s been producing the show the past couple of weeks. Hey, Megan.

Megan Larson: Wow. This is kind of exciting to share the stage, er, studio with you. I am normally a behind-the-scenes kinda gal, whispering in your ears.

Vigeland: Now you can speak right into the microphone. What do we have this week? Righteous indignation? Comments? Compliments?

Larson: Some of all, I would say… mostly righteous indignation over your interview last week with the Sinclairs.

Vigeland: Yeah, this does not surprise me. So this was an update of a story we did three years ago. Since then this family has lost two homes to foreclosure, they declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy. And I’m guessing what struck a chord with listeners is that the Sinclairs told me that they want — and deserve — another mortgage.

Larson: Yeah. And this is what really angered listeners: The Sinclairs think they’re a good risk now because they can’t declare bankruptcy again for another seven years — and that all of this has already taken a heavy toll on the family.

Well here’s what Robert Godby of Laramie, Wyo. had to say:

Robert Godby: I can imagine it was a very stressful experience and that they’ve paid a price, but the idea that history should be cast aside… What’s the saying about history and when you’re doomed to repeat it?

Larson: Yeah, it’s a pretty lesson. And Cauleen Smith from San Diego was equally upset. She was actually surprised by how much the Sinclair’s story upset her.

Cauleen Smith: I bought a house in 2006. I got one of those awful ARM mortgages that required no down payment. I was so tired of the indignities of renting that I just wanted a home of my own.

Vigeland: Let me guess, something happened with that house>

Larson: Well, she didn’t borrow a lot to buy it, which is good. But she did get another job out of the state and she couldn’t sell the house. So she is now paying rent AND paying a mortgage on the house.

Vigeland: And losing money?

Larson: You got it. But she says:

Smith: It’s a problem that I made and am responsible for. So these people really upset me. At no point did they ever think of themselves as responsible for the money they borrowed.

Vigeland: You know, I did reach out to Dan Sinclair this week once all those letters came in. And Dan wrote back that he understands why people are angry. And he agrees that home owners like him were partially at fault for the housing crash. But he still wishes people would show a little more empathy. He also wanted to point out that he did lose his entire life savings, including retirement, in all this. So he did pay a price.

Larson: It was such a crazy time. I am so relieved now that I didn’t buy a house then, because I was tempted. But as you heard earlier in the program, rental prices in LA are now out of control. So I just can’t win! Maybe I should move…

Vigeland: Don’t do that, that’ll cost you money too.

Larson: Yeah, very true — and I couldn’t be doing this with you. So one last letter about something else entirely: Aging parents and their finances.

Vigeland: Yeah, this is a topic you covered with Steve Chiotakis a couple of weeks back and Penelope Wang over at Money Magazine.

Larson:Robbie Burnstine from Cambridge, Mass. notes that even when you are smart with your money, you may not realize that your parents have made major mistakes until a problem arises.

Robbie Burnstine: However, as a result of one very big financial mistake she made, we did get involved and we put in place the appropriate financial and medical sharing-of-power documents, which authorities we needed immediately last fall when my mother-in-law had a stroke.

Vigeland: Wow, glad they have that in place. You know, it really is important to get involved even if the folks aren’t too excited about you getting involved.

Larson: Right.

Vigeland: Let us know your thoughts. There is Twitter. I’m @radiotess. There’s our Facebook page and of course, now the old-fashioned way — comment at the Marketplace Money page. Thanks Megan.

Larson: Hey, no problem.

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