By Rudy Torres
The Great Recession of 2008 eliminated 8.8 million jobs, decimated home values, slashed retirement plans and ripped communities apart. The lingering effects still haunt us today – even as our banking and lending institutions try to close the books on tens of thousands of foreclosures and get them back on the market.
As the recession picked up steam, millions of families were left paying for homes worth half their value. In a short period of time, there was a stockpile of abandoned and foreclosed homes throughout California.
Many families were able to work with their lenders to modify their loans and obtain forbearance to stall foreclosure proceedings as they sought state and federal assistance. While some got to stay in their homes, others who lost jobs or income, were faced with the harsh reality that they could not afford to live in their homes any more.
As a licensed California realtor, who worked through this economic downturn, I have seen it all: Abandoned and foreclosed homes with all the plumbing stripped away, missing cabinets, walls covered in graffiti, transients, drug users and local gangs who took up residence. I have also met many good people who were hit by the recession and have been living in a housing limbo for the past five to eight years waiting for the bank to finally sell their home.
Getting these homes refurbished and back on the market is important for our communities, economy and the impacted families.
For those homes where there is a viable renter or previous homeowner, the foreclosure process, home sale and finally leaving the home is stressful and should be done with the utmost care.
I have also seen some amazing approaches from companies like Wedgewood and other real estate investment companies have exhibited tremendous compassion, patience and flexibility in trying to accommodate people who must leave their homes. In most cases these companies offer financial assistance to help tenants in foreclosed homes find and pay for transitioning to a new place to live.
These investment and community revitalization companies, buys dozens of foreclosed homes a month at auctions. Some work with various philanthropic organizations and agencies, where they donate any abandoned furniture, appliances and other household items to people who need them.
After the property has been cleaned, a team is brought in to assess, repair and offer an opportunity for a family to own a home – often times their first.
By getting these homes quickly back on the market, the neighborhood prospers, the negative debt held by our community banks lessens and blighted magnets for crime disappears.
The process and transition from homeownership to foreclosure and back to homeownership is different for everyone, but one thing is certain – the longer these banks hold on to these homes, the longer it will take for our economy to strengthen and the longer many of our families will continue to live in an economic and housing purgatory.
These investment companies need to continue acting responsibly, respectfully and professionally to help put the fallout from the Great Recession behind us, and in the process, leaving our communities and economy stronger.
Rudy Torres is a licensed real estate agent with Point Home Realty in Downey.