Home Front

A blog about the economy and the Sacramento-area real estate market.

March 12, 2008
When worried homeowners gather for help

Sounds of the city: It is 6 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, and time for the weekly worried homeowner session at NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center of Sacramento. In a conference room on Alhambra Boulevard there are sweets in a jar from Citibank and an old Billy Joel song coming from the ceiling speakers: I Love You Just the Way You Are.
I am sitting in for a story about nonprofit counselors trying to help people avoid foreclosure. There are about 20 worried homeowners here, all with some kind of problem mortgages. They sit on folding chairs and listen as Marysville banker Robert Wenger Jr. tries to explain all the possible alternatives to losing their houses.

It is obvious that many of the people are having trouble following him. It is easy to get into a mortgage. You just sign where some someone tells you to sign. Dealing with it afterward requires sitting here and listening to words like deed in lieu of foreclosure and amortization. It can make your head spin. It feels like being in school or a hard economics class after you have been at work all day.

There is a lot of complaining in the room about not being treated well when they call their banks. The banks always tell them to call if they are having trouble and when they do call they get put on hold or dropped or their paperwork gets lost. A woman gripes about always getting some 20-year-old in customer service who will not transfer her to the person with 20 years experience that she needs to find.
Good luck, they tell each other, if you are still current with payments, but headed for the cliff in four or five months. If you are current it is hard to get the bank to pay attention to you at all, they say.

Near the end of their 90 minutes in the seats, a man asks the banker: How long do we think this storm is going to last? The answer has quite a few twists and turns because, of course, it is all just guessing.
An older woman asks the banker in all sincerity: What happened to the American dream with two kids and a little dog?
Answers a woman sitting nearby: The fence blew down and the dog died.
It is a small remark as traffic goes by on Alhambra Boulevard, but a big look at real life inside the U.S. housing crisis.


About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



Jim Wasserman on Twitter

Follow "jimwasserman" on Twitter

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31