Mortgage Meltdown

Florida has had her share of real estate problems. Many problems surfaced back after the war.  Not The Big War, it was the one before – The War to End All Wars.

After that war and during the good times following in the 1920s, scallywags (probably related to the carpetbaggers of the Reconstruction Period) discovered they could turn a pretty good profit by selling Florida land to their friends and neighbors up north.  Many of the northerners were trusting souls; they purchased their new land in Florida on the word of the seller, without personally surveying the property before dosing the deal.

When they finally got around to visiting their little piece of paradise, many were surprised to discover their piece was mostly underwater and infested by water moccasins and ’gators.  It was a scandal of the highest caliber.

This embarrassment started toward the beginning of the Twentieth Century and people suffered from it as late as into the ’60s and ’70s.  Southern writer Dennis Covington wrote one of the finest books documenting the scandal.  In Redneck Rivera, Covington tells the story of the scandal and how, in the coming years, squatters took over land owned by absentee owners.

Many of the old-timers believed they would never again witness a travesty the likes of the swampland sales scandals.  Now, with the events of recent months, they are rolling their eyes, and those who have passed, are rolling in their graves.

America is moving toward a financial crisis of incredible proportions.  By the time the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2010, the common conjecture holds more than one million homeowners will lose their homes this year.  In Florida, the numbers by region are staggering.

Nationally, foreclosures increased eight percent this year; in South Florida, the increase rose to 10 percent overall with Miami-Dade leading the increase at 11.5 percent.  With foreclosures closely tied the unemployment rate, which, for Florida, remains at 11.7 percent, there seems to be no end in sight for the bad news.

The unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and short sales combined into a concoction of devastating consequence regarding the price of Florida real estate.  The reversal in the value of homes, especially for Floridians who mortgaged new homes in the earlier part of the decade, left many in the dreadful situation of becoming “upside down” in their mortgages.  Many Florida homeowners would like to sell out and downsize to accommodate their situations.

Unfortunately, the latest of the present day scallywags, their bankers, are holding them hostage.


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