Let’s face it: the chances of you deciding to buy a condo or single-family home at an auction are slim to none.

Yet, I don’t think a day goes by lately that I don’t read another story in the media about doing this.

The Globe covered it, today, for example.

Look, you’re not going to buy a home at an auction for at least two reasons.

First, most of these homes are dumps – the first thing people did when they couldn’t pay their loans was to stop doing any sort of up-keep on the interior or exterior of the homes. Yes, the majority of fixes may be minor, but is that money you want to spend?

Second, a lot of these properties are poor investment risks – there may be multiple houses up for auction on the same block of the same street, or in the same condo complex. Are you really willing to buy a home in a building that is losing value, daily? Plus, try to get a mortgage on the property.

That’s not what’s really bugging me, though.

No story in the press today would be incomplete without mixing two pieces of information, incorrectly, in order to perpetuate the myth that ethically-challenged loan officers are the cause of the subprime mortgage loan mess.

Paragraph 1:

Twenty years after buying a three-bedroom ranch, [Gloria] Lopez was forced [FORCED?] to refinance her home in 2005 to help pay for her daughter’s education, taking out an adjustable rate mortgage with a two-year fixed rate of 6.25 percent.

Weeks after closing on the new loan, Lopez lost her job, preventing her from refinancing again into a fixed-rate loan even as her interest rate escalated to 9.5 percent in March.

Paragraph 2:

Gleason said he is worried about the pressure on distressed homeowners like Lopez from foreclosure investors, and skeptical of the new enthusiasm for pre-foreclosure investing that the new websites have helped popularize …

… Gleason and others said homeowners who have already been victimized by shady lending practices are in a poor position to sort out sophisticated financing schemes and could be victimized again once they’ve fallen behind on their mortgage payments.

See how they do it?

But, if you at least take a breath in between paragraphs, you can see that one didn’t cause the other.

Ms Lopez refinanced her home, lost her job, and couldn’t continue to pay her loan.

Where does “shady” come into it?

Again, it would be great if someone actually sat down and did a study of, say, 100 or 1000 loans that went into default, to see why people ended up losing their homes. (For example, the Globe has a photo of a home on Essex Street in Waltham that is up for auction. Could a reporter knocked on the door to ask why the owners are losing their home? Is that too much to ask?)

Was it the typical “lost job, lost wages, lost home” scenario, or was it as something more sinister.

My hunch? At most, five-to-ten percent of homeowners were taken advantage of.

The remaining 95% encountered the same situations past homeowners have encountered, for years.

There’s your story.

New kids on the (auction) block – By Paul F. Roberts, The Boston Globe

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Updated:  1st Q 2018

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