Thursday, November 29, 2007

Spreading the misery

International Herald Tribune

The foreclosure crisis in the United States is metastasizing, and communities are in harm's way as property values and tax bases decline and crime increases.

In the third quarter, there were 635,000 foreclosure filings, a 30 percent increase from the previous quarter and nearly double from a year ago, according to RealtyTrac, a national real estate information service. Michigan and Ohio, which were hit early and hard by a combination of economic weakness and reckless lending, continue to reel. Foreclosures rose last year in Colorado, Georgia and Texas and are now surging in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. In those states unsustainable mortgages are at the root of the problem.

The Bush administration has been far too slow to respond, with some officials apparently worried that helping today's troubled borrowers might encourage future borrowers to take on too much debt. That misses a critical point: Much of this crisis can be traced to lenders' failure to vet borrowers and the government's failure to regulate the industry. And it misses an even bigger point: Unless something is done quickly, whole communities, not just people who lose their homes, will suffer.

More after the click ...

Check out the number of foreclosures in YOUR neighborhood with RealtyTrac.

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