Builders Now Getting Screwed By Banks; Obama Must Deal With Plight Of Home Owners and Builders At Same Time


We are officially in the age of Obama now

home-constructionThe market was clearly waiting to hear more from the President on how he intends to fix the credit/housing crisis. And, since he really didn’t address it with any detail in his inauguration speech, investors drove the market way down yesterday.

While many wait to see whether Obama will be a strong supporter, now that he is President, of bankruptcy reform to allow for the refinancing of existing mortgages in or near foreclosure, the New York Times today published a story chilling in its ramifications.

“After riding high on one of the greatest housing booms in American history, the nation’s home builders today face a devastating reversal of fortune,” says the paper.

But it is the headline and subheadline to the article that sums it all up: “Banks Foreclose on Builders; Even Perfect Payments Are No Protection For Home Developers.”

That’s right. More and more banks are apparently calling in loans to builders–not because they have been late with payments (many have not been) but because their income has dropped, spooking the lenders.

The Times highlights an Arizona builder by the name of Dave Brown. He made his payments on time, but that didn’t stop his bank from calling in the chips.

“They treated me like a deadbeat who missed his car payment. They wanted their money now,” the paper quotes the 76 year old Brown as saying.

Speaking about small home builders (who along with medium sized one reportedly comprise 70 percent of new homes built in America), the paper writes, “…a wide swath of the industry could be forced out of business in the next few years.”

Obama begins his term, therefore, having to deal with both home homers who are losing their homes, and home builders who are losing their businesses. A potent mix for any American president to have to deal with.

Photo Credit: pdz_house

About Author

Charles is currently reporting for KNX Radio in Los Angeles, is the co-author of the book No Time To Think, and can be found commenting about the news on his blog, The Feldman Blog, as well as on The Huffington Post.


  1. I have a friend who had this happen in his film and production company. He didn’t keep his income over the required amount and the bank called in the loan and put his building (which is where he also has his home) into foreclosure.

    Thankfully, everything worked out in his case. But it is quite amazing that you can still be current on your mortgage but have your bank throw you into foreclosure and refuse to accept your payments. I guess that’s another excuse to ask for a bailout…

  2. I think at this point nothing that the banks do should be shocking to anyone. Don’t forget, these are the same banks whose underwriters assumed houses were going to appreciate forever and gave out 100%+ ltv loans like it was nothing. These are the same banks who are now taking 5 months to approve great short sale offers when they should be unloading assets at the first opportunity. I could go on and on, but we all know that most people there operate either out of ignorance or pure fear.

  3. Honestly, I think it’s a bit far-fetched to expect our new Commander-in-Chief to have addressed everything in his inaugural address. He DID address the state of our times, stating how patterns of excess and irresponsibility have led us to where we are today.

    Were home builders not just as irresponsible for the current state of affairs as the buyers who purchased beyond their means (and using inappropriate lending vehicles to do so)?

    If as a nation, we’re waiting to make a prudent business move until the white dove sings (or doesn’t), we’re in a much worse situation collectively than builders getting notes called.

    Perfect payments or no, the story in the Times does little to explain the terms under which these builders borrowed or the lending banks’ ability to review the borrower’s assets. Perhaps it would be prudent of the Times to reveal THAT information so the reading public has a credible data set on which to make a decision…as opposed to a ten-minute speech by President Obama?

    Erika Napoletano
    Director of Communications & Content

  4. The builders are victims of their own stupidity and greed, as are all in the corporate world that promoted bubbles to make millions, with no thought to the consequences. CEO’s at the top take their millions and get out before the music stops; that’s what these bailouts are doing, helping a few CEO’s who stayed in it too long, get their money and get out. Eventually all bubbles pop completely, no matter what congress does to help their CEO buddies who come bearing gifts by way of lobbyists. Add to that, this industry at times engaged in criminal activity to keep this bubble going. The FBI warned years ago that mortgage fraud in the industry was rampant and endangered the entire economy. The FBI asked for more agents to tackle it and the Bush administration said no. But this isn’t about parties or presidents, it’s about a rotten fact of our govt no matter what party–corporate America donates billions of dollars to our elected officials, and though the official statement is it’s illegal to bribe them, everyone knows they get something back for their donation. We’ve made it legal to do this, and boy do they do it. Until it is no longer legal, no longer possible, for corporate special interests to run our govt, this country is on a downward slide to becoming just like corrupt third world countries. NONE of these rescue plans are for the people…they are for the CEO’s.

  5. It’s worth mentioning too, that a consumer who has a loan on say a car or house, can have their loan called in even though current on payments, if the lender believes you have destroyed, sold, or otherwise diminished in value that asset/property. Even if it’s not your fault…think tornado! That’s the thing the loan is secured with, and if it’s worth little or nothing, the bank has the right to call in the loan. That is a term of the loan the builders knew when they signed. Why isn’t anyone telling the builders, ‘Too ba–read what you sign?’

    Also, if you have a home warranty policy or insurance policy that pays a large amount to you for severe damage, the lender can take that money. In fact it can be paid jointly to you and your lender, to be doled out under the lender’s supervision for repairs. They protect their bottom line.

    A regular person may not always understand these things but they’re not afforded the luxury of ignorance. So why are builders–who know this and deal with these agreements daily–now allowed to say ‘it’s not fair, change the terms, bail us out,’ etc? They should’ve saved for a rainy day when they had the chance, and read their contracts before they signed them.

  6. I like it… Now both the builders and the Banks need to find a way to screw the Realtors and everyone who created this mess will be as screwed as the people who were told that real estate never decreases in value….

    But people, wise up, homes are expenses and not good investments… never have been, never will be… I do not care how many people tell you different… times is the great equalizer.

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