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Old 11-12-2011, 10:14 AM   #41
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I bounce back and forth on this issue, as walkinwood said there is a price to pay for defaulting. However, the people (many in Vegas area have done this) who buy a second house across the street for 1/2 the price of their identical home they live in, then strategically default on the original, seems very unfair. Not only do they get out of the burden of the depreciated assest, they stand to achieve an immediate capital gain on any uptick in the market. It appears to me these people get to have their cake and eat it too, compared to the ones who sit tight and pay.
I know of people who could afford to have bought a house before the bubble burst. But they didn't feel comfortable buying a house with the prices not being very stable. What if the house prices tanked after they bought their house? So, they kept renting an apartment instead. I think of them when I see examples such as the one above. How unfair to people who used caution!
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:14 PM   #42
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W2R,

My sentiments exactly!
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:31 PM   #43
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A contract is a legal obligation, not a moral one. When one party is unable or unwilling to fulfill its obligation the contract specifies the remedy.
While I don't think there is a specific ring in Hades for those who did strategic defaults, I know I would never knowingly do business with them. Maybe that is a moral decision (don't do business with a thief/cheat/idiot), or maybe it is a sound business decision (don't do business with someone with a record of making bad business/financial decisions, or who might be a thief/cheat/idiot), but either way they're not getting their hands on any of my money.

I don't claim to be the world's best investor, but I saw the tech bubble coming a mile off, and I saw the housing bubble as well. As did many other people. My bad for totally misunderstanding/underestimating how both of those would affect the broader markets, the economy, and my personal wealth. It's the whole, "buy your ticket and take your chances" thing. But there have been moments in which I really would have enjoyed taking a baseball bat and teaching some direct lessons about the moral hazards of being a thief/cheat/idiot when it costs me money. My past visits to various correctional institutions inspires sanity and restores me to peacefulness, but a man can dream.
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Old 11-12-2011, 05:49 PM   #44
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While I don't think there is a specific ring in Hades for those who did strategic defaults, I know I would never knowingly do business with them. Maybe that is a moral decision (don't do business with a thief/cheat/idiot), or maybe it is a sound business decision (don't do business with someone with a record of making bad business/financial decisions, or who might be a thief/cheat/idiot), but either way they're not getting their hands on any of my money.

.
I certainly understand this sentiment. But while I hesitate to lecture a former cop about the purposes of laws in society, I think you are being a bit naive to expect folks to value their moral obligation to pay a debt bank over their moral obligation to provide for their families or even indulge in a few luxuries.

There is a small group of people who obey law and honor contracts because it is the legal and moral thing to do. Another group who believe that laws don't apply to them and it is only fear of being caught and being punish them dictate their behavior. In the middle group is those of who are basically lawful, but adherence to laws is situational. I am much less likely to speed in town than on open highway in the middle of nowhere.

I think the fundamental problem is the both laws and the attitudes of the banks and government officials have changed to encourage strategic default. In general I believe that when people stop paying their mortgage, they should either be forced into bankruptcy, or have so little assets and so little future income that are basically bankrupt. Instead Congress passed and then extended the law that changes the long standing rule that treats forgiven debt as income. Simply getting rid of that rule would discourage people from strategic default since they'd probably owe Uncle Sam 1/3 of the money. The old rule was that if you declare bankruptcy at the same time as you get your debt forgiven, Uncle Sam will also forgive the taxes due. In the case of our "financial pro" this would mean that he would be bankrupt, most of his remaining assets would go to the bank, and if the book was a big hit some of the proceeds would also go to paying back the bank and other creditors.

The second thing that needs to happens is the public and especially politicians need to allow banks to get tougher in enforcing their legal contractual rights regarding collecting mortgage. The many folks in Vegas who bought houses while in the process of defaulting on their underwater house, should be receive notices from the banks telling them they will be seeking judicial judgement and if one house get foreclose means they lose both houses.

Right now the financially sound thing to do for most people is to default and I don't thing morale lectures are working well. I don't see away out of this mess until we make our laws and actions align with encouraging people to pay their mortgage.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:34 PM   #45
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A bunch of good thoughts.
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:39 PM   #46
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I certainly understand this sentiment. But while I hesitate to lecture a former cop about the purposes of laws in society, I think you are being a bit naive to expect folks to value their moral obligation to pay a debt bank over their moral obligation to provide for their families or even indulge in a few luxuries.
Either I did a miserable job in writing what I was trying to say, or you misread me.

The gist of what I was saying is - disregarding how one feels about laws or morals for just a moment - I care about people who cost me money.

People who have proven by their actions that they make irresponsible money decisions don't get a shot at redeeming themselves with my money.

The only judgement I'm making has to do with their ability to handle money.

Edit to include: Oh, and the part about the baseball bat was just me venting my frustration with a faceless crowd who got together and made stupid and/or greedy decisions that screwed the economy. It wouldn't solve anything (more stupidly greedy people are born every minute); prison ain't worth it, and there's millions of them and one of me and my arms would get tired before I made much of a dent.
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Old 11-13-2011, 02:47 AM   #47
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One other thing about the financial pro's default is that he would also have to notify, in writing, every one of his clients about his financial situation because it is a material change. This alone would stop many financial folks from these strategic defaults.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:21 AM   #48
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I agree with MichaelB. A contract creates a legal obligation between parties, and it has nothing to do with morality.
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A contract is a legal obligation, not a moral one.
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Old 11-13-2011, 06:49 AM   #49
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I certainly understand this sentiment. But while I hesitate to lecture a former cop about the purposes of laws in society, I think you are being a bit naive to expect folks to value their moral obligation to pay a debt bank over their moral obligation to provide for their families or even indulge in a few luxuries.

There is a small group of people who obey law and honor contracts because it is the legal and moral thing to do. Another group who believe that laws don't apply to them and it is only fear of being caught and being punish them dictate their behavior. In the middle group is those of who are basically lawful, but adherence to laws is situational. I am much less likely to speed in town than on open highway in the middle of nowhere.

I think the fundamental problem is the both laws and the attitudes of the banks and government officials have changed to encourage strategic default. In general I believe that when people stop paying their mortgage, they should either be forced into bankruptcy, or have so little assets and so little future income that are basically bankrupt. Instead Congress passed and then extended the law that changes the long standing rule that treats forgiven debt as income. Simply getting rid of that rule would discourage people from strategic default since they'd probably owe Uncle Sam 1/3 of the money. The old rule was that if you declare bankruptcy at the same time as you get your debt forgiven, Uncle Sam will also forgive the taxes due. In the case of our "financial pro" this would mean that he would be bankrupt, most of his remaining assets would go to the bank, and if the book was a big hit some of the proceeds would also go to paying back the bank and other creditors.

The second thing that needs to happens is the public and especially politicians need to allow banks to get tougher in enforcing their legal contractual rights regarding collecting mortgage. The many folks in Vegas who bought houses while in the process of defaulting on their underwater house, should be receive notices from the banks telling them they will be seeking judicial judgement and if one house get foreclose means they lose both houses.

Right now the financially sound thing to do for most people is to default and I don't thing morale lectures are working well. I don't see away out of this mess until we make our laws and actions align with encouraging people to pay their mortgage.
What laws have changed to encourage default? If anything, the laws are tougher compared with two decades ago. Nevada is a recourse state, and lenders are free to pursue full damages if a borrower defaults. The laws are fine. Most people (that can) are paying their mortgages, and the financially sound thing to do is to continue paying and not default.
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Old 11-13-2011, 01:23 PM   #50
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One other thing about the financial pro's default is that he would also have to notify, in writing, every one of his clients about his financial situation because it is a material change. This alone would stop many financial folks from these strategic defaults.
He can just send them each a copy of his book: Amazon.com: The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money (9781591844648): Carl Richards: Books

which apparently is about how he learned from his clients' bad decisions what not to do!

I'm thinking his blog report of his loss of his house was a preemptive strike for this book coming out--he laid his own troubles on the table before reviewers could do it for him.
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Old 11-13-2011, 03:25 PM   #51
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I would like to feel sorry for this guy, but just cannot. Since he is a Financial Adviser of sorts, I feel sorry for his clients mainly. It is because of many stories like this that we have a financial crisis.

This is what is called housing greed, thinking that a 100 percent mortgage is OK, plus a HELOC. Someone who is a financial professional should realize the basics of how bad it is to think of your house as a bank.

I have seen this in the past with my neighbors, when people leverage to the hilt blissfully assuming all will continue to rise. Next comes the indignation when it does not. I am sure that most of the ER people would not take a risk like this with something that is so important to ones family.

By the way, I would not buy the book, and if I was his client paying for advice, he would be fired.
Don't mean to be harsh, but I would not use a mechanic who drives a broken down car...this is not just bad luck.

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Old 11-13-2011, 08:21 PM   #52
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The author says here:

"It starts with me getting into the financial services industry more or less by accident. I answered an ad in 1995 that I thought was for a job related to “security” (as in security guard) but was in fact related to “securities.” That’s how little I knew about the stock market. A few months later I found myself working a phone at a Fidelity Investments call center".

When I read this he lost all of his credibility. I don't believe this for a minute. This guy is playing all of us for suckers. I have hired people for jobs before and they all had a "resume". How can a security guard get a job answering the phones for any investment company using his resume to apply for the job? Don't you think his resume would be tossed aside because of his work background?
I believe this guy's philosophy is "there's a sucker born every minute" so now he wants us all to buy into his self-promotion and go out and buy his book. No thank you. I'll pass.
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Old 11-13-2011, 08:46 PM   #53
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The author says here:

"It starts with me getting into the financial services industry more or less by accident. I answered an ad in 1995 that I thought was for a job related to “security” (as in security guard) but was in fact related to “securities.” That’s how little I knew about the stock market. A few months later I found myself working a phone at a Fidelity Investments call center".

When I read this he lost all of his credibility. I don't believe this for a minute. This guy is playing all of us for suckers. I have hired people for jobs before and they all had a "resume". How can a security guard get a job answering the phones for any investment company using his resume to apply for the job? Don't you think his resume would be tossed aside because of his work background?
I believe this guy's philosophy is "there's a sucker born every minute" so now he wants us all to buy into his self-promotion and go out and buy his book. No thank you. I'll pass.
This is getting humorous, folks on here get mad if they hear Fidelity hires inexperienced folks? What do you think a Fido call center guy makes, $50K a year??
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:00 AM   #54
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This is getting humorous, folks on here get mad if they hear Fidelity hires inexperienced folks? What do you think a Fido call center guy makes, $50K a year??
Who cares about the reason, we just like to get mad!

IMO, if you phone up a Discount Broker's call center and you can understand the person's accent you have won. After all, it is a call service center job; they do not tell you what to do.

Ha
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Old 11-14-2011, 10:18 AM   #55
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Here's an interesting "gee-I-wish-I'd-thought-of-that" perspective from The Finance Buff: http://thefinancebuff.com/the-best-w...your-home.html

Quote:
Financial planners are humans. Humans make mistakes. It’s important to learn from our own and others’ mistakes.
In addition, this planner actually handled the bubble very well. He didn’t know it was a bubble. Even if he knew, he didn’t know when it was going to burst. Just like today we don’t know whether bonds or gold are a bubble.
[...]
Shorting on suspicion of a bubble would be a mistake. The market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. Not participating in a suspected bubble would also be a mistake.
[...]
The best way to profit from a bubble would be exactly as this planner did: maximize leverage for the upside and protect yourself from the downside. I’m not saying this planner planned this way but I don’t think he’s as foolish as people think. Given the options put in front of him, he made very good choices.
When a bank offers 100% financing on a house you think will go up in value but you are never sure, putting 20% down would be foolish no matter which way the market goes. If the price goes up, you make more money with 100% financing because you have more leverage. If the price crashes, you lose your down payment if you put 20% down. Of course you should do 100% financing.
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The end result was almost exactly as planned, whether the financial planner planned it or not. The planner sold the home in a short-sale and ended up with a thriving business, partly thanks to the $200k seed capital from the banks. Now the planner is writing for New York Times and going on public radio. His book will come out in January.
[...]
Short of timing the market top, I can’t think of any better way to "lose" your home. Think how many financial planners are in this country. How many of them get $200,000 free capital from the banks? How many of them get publicity in New York Times? How many of them appear regularly on public radio? How many of them will have a book published by a major publisher, which will help bring in more business?
[...]
Our financial planner is smarter than you think. 100% financing, cash-out refi, and negative amortization loan aren’t really mistakes. They are exactly the right moves in a bubble. A drop in the credit score as the consequence, you say? The capital, the publicity, the book deal, and the business make it so worth it. The credit score will come back up over time. Who cares about credit score anyway when your business brings in $800k a year?
The flaw in this logic is that I don't think the guy signed up for the "acute vomiting" part of the business plan. He took the only actions he could when he was forced to act, but he had to have regretted their initial decisions that set them on this path. In retrospect he wouldn't have shorted the market, either, but he could've done just fine with avoiding the entire bubble by continuing to rent.

I guess it's easy to avoid investing in a tech stock bubble if you're not in the tech industry. It's probably harder to avoid "investing" in a real estate bubble when you have to live in a home, especially if you feel that you're losing out by not building equity... for five or ten years!
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:15 AM   #56
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Yep, I also can't help thinking that FP boy wasn't exactly a master of his universe and handling this well when his experience included:
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Then, the sickness set in. The pain would start in my stomach, and then I’d spend six hours vomiting. It happened once, then three months later it happened again, then one month later it happened yet again. Eventually, it was happening every couple of weeks. The doctors couldn’t find a physical cause.
Plus, he got to live in his in-laws' basement. Bet that was a special hell blast!
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He took the only actions he could when he was forced to act, but he had to have regretted their initial decisions that set them on this path. In retrospect he wouldn't have shorted the market, either, but he could've done just fine with avoiding the entire bubble by continuing to rent.

I guess it's easy to avoid investing in a tech stock bubble if you're not in the tech industry. It's probably harder to avoid "investing" in a real estate bubble when you have to live in a home, especially if you feel that you're losing out by not building equity... for five or ten years!
Except for the differences in liquidity and one's wife and kiddies don't live inside those Enron shares.

Sure, dude came out of it better than most, and better than to be expected. At least he didn't go for the 3 million dollar house! But he drove past all those neon signs proclaiming a housing bubble, leveraged himself to nearly the max, and then stuck his whole future and the family inside that asset.

During a driver training course once I recovered from what was very close to a real bad moment (like flipping the car a few times bad). It looked hairy, the recovery was cool, and when I got out of the car after my run I got some "nice moves" comments from the other students. Then one of the instructors pulled me aside and told me the truth:
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You reacted well to a dangerous situation. But dumbass decisions put you in that dangerous spot. You carried too much speed into the turn, didn't brake enough, and all that made you late on the apex. Avoiding all of that it in the first place would make you a good driver. Recovering from a bad place that your mistakes put you in just means you're lucky.
Kudos to Carl Richards for some cool moves in recovering from his financial blunders.
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:47 PM   #57
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Kudos to Carl Richards for some cool moves in recovering from his financial blunders.
I like the point about the dumbass moves that caused the situation in the first place.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:26 AM   #58
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That IS a scary story. How to break into the financial business-just show up.
It wasn't even Ameriprise..it was Fidelity. I bet it is harder to get a pizza delivery job-you have to have a clean driving record and be able to make change.
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:43 AM   #59
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What laws have changed to encourage default? If anything, the laws are tougher compared with two decades ago. Nevada is a recourse state, and lenders are free to pursue full damages if a borrower defaults. The laws are fine. Most people (that can) are paying their mortgages, and the financially sound thing to do is to continue paying and not default.

Don't you think that changing the law so debt forgiveness (only on mortgages I will add) is no longer consider taxable income is huge change?

If the financial planner had short sell of a more than $200K back in 2007, that would be treated as income putting him in 33% bracket and he would owe Uncle Sam ~$65,000 in taxes. It is extremely hard to get rid of tax debt and unlike mortgage the IRS is not big on 30 year repayment plans. I suspect his monthly payments would worse to the IRS than making his mortgage payments.

There are plenty of people who can make their mortgage payments but because they are underwater for $100,000+ they are considering strategic defaults. If Congress hadn't changed the law I suspect very few people would be considering it.
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:22 AM   #60
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Most strategic defaults make my blood boil. I have a friend who stopped paying the mortgage on her condo on her attorney's advice. She could afford it, but the value declined. She wasn't happy living there since the neighborhood had "gone downhill" (code for Latinos moving in), so she walked away without batting an eye. She felt no moral obligation to pay the mortgage.

I was even more aggravated when Occupy Atlanta chose a local family to be their poster child about the housing/mortgage crisis. A police officer and his family were about to be evicted from their home, so OA came in to occupy it.

"This family is the perfect example of the fraud going on in the mortgage and banking industries," said Latron Price, one of Occupy Atlanta's organizers. "We plan to shed light on the foreclosure issue and we look to make a stand here."

But then I read in the newspaper:

Gwinnett | Occupy Atlanta protestors set up shop in foreclosed Snellville home

So this is a perfect example of fraud in the mortgage and banking industries? The family deliberately stopped paying their mortgage because a con artist convinced them to do so to get a loan restructure. They haven't paid for a year! They had the money to keep paying, but stopped. I don't understand if the con artist worked for a legitimate mortgage company or bank---if s/he did, then of course that IS fraud. But if it was some random person working on their own, I don't see how that is the fault of the mortgage and banking industry.

And don't even get me started on how scary it is that a police officer could fall for a con artist.....

Wouldn't it have been better for OccupyAtlanta to showcase a family who couldn't pay because of job loss and health care bills? Or better yet, a truly fraudulent case where the mortgage holder did something unethical? Does OccupyAtlanta really think that no one should be foreclosed on when they stop paying their mortgage?
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