The last financial crisis: Do you remember the subprime mortgage meltdown in 2008 which resulted in several big banks vanishing from the face of the Earth?
The federal government mandated the big banks to lend mortgages to people who probably weren’t able to pay. And the banks did it. And massive amounts of people weren’t able to be pay their mortgages and foreclosed, crashing the banks.
If you want to see an entertaining but brutally honest movie about this, see “The Big Short.”
I used to bank at those banks, Washington Mutual, which disappeared. (Also at World Bank, which also disappeared). Every time I went into WM to deposit a paper check back in the day, the bank teller would say to me, “Do you have a moment?”
I held my then-mortgage at WM, plus several bank accounts. So the teller could see all my information. But mostly, I was a woman holding the mortgage. Prey.
She would lead me back to a desk, where she would sit at a computer and print me out a pretty certificate—it looked like a fancy stock certificate with gold trim and everything.
I still have one certificate in my files for old time’s sake—that said You Are Pre-certified for An Equity Loan of $250,000.00! This was on top of my then-mortgage at the time.
The teller would say, “All you have to do is fax me your property insurance and the money is yours!”
I’ll admit the first time, I was thrilled. And tempted. Upon further questioning, I found out the equity loan had a low teaser interest rate that would double or triple in a few years. Afterwards, I would take the certificate, politely say “I’ll get back to you,” and leave.
I had a neighbor at the time, an African-American woman a few years older than me, who was a very smart nurse, ran an online nursing school, and was always on the hunt for financial opportunities. She gave me several of her self-help books, “How To Be A Millionaire!” and the like.
She was a great neighbor with a home similar to mine. One time, I ran out of the house to retrieve the mail, took my car keys instead of my house keys, and got locked out. Panicked, I knocked on her door, she helped me find a locksmith on the Internet. (I never made that mistake again!) Another time, when I was getting my modem hooked up to the Internet, the bungling technician disconnected my entire phone system, and once again, Evelyn let me call the phone company from her house to get me connected again.
She loved to shop and collected—hoarded—things. Her living room looked like an antiques shop. She gave us things all the time—a tilting ship’s pilot table to Tom, a set of French gold-rimmed engraved drinking glasses for me. She’d say, “Take it! Take it! I have too much stuff!”
She was smart with money, and she was stupid with money. She banked at Washington Mutual, like me, took one of those $250.000 equity loans on top of her mortgage. Then she bought a new car, had her place repainted and refloored, had her kitchen redone with expensive German stainless steel appliances.
She came to my door one day, in tears, and showed me the foreclosure notice from Washington Mutual. She’d run the loan up to $500,000. She declared bankruptcy and the bank had to sell her home during the Financial Crisis for 80% of what it was worth.
She moved away and I’ve never seen her again.
Since then, real property prices in our neighborhood have bounced back to seven or eight times to what we paid for our home. But that could change, given the New Health and Economic Crisis.
Moral of the sad story: don’t be tempted by new debt. Stay the course, pay off your mortgage (we did, some years ago), and don’t go into new debt. End of lecture.
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From the author of CHROME (five-stars) an ebook
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