Part 1: Minnesota's new ghost towns

  • Article by: CHRIS SERRES, JIM BUCHTA and GLENN HOWATT , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: April 21, 2008 - 10:07 AM

In Wright County, reckless speculation and the mortgage meltdown have turned subdivisions into virtual ghost towns.

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lhainlinApr. 19, 08 1:42 PM

I am tired of everyone blaming the lender for their "sad" situation. Whatever happened to being responsible for your own actions? People spend more time researching their new big screen TV's than they do their mortgage. No one held a gun to anyone's head and made them buy the home. They choose to do it. A mortgage company does not have to renegotiate the terms of the loan. I agree that some lenders are a bit shady, but not all. Homeowners need to be more responsible for thier own actions.

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DavegaebertApr. 19, 08 3:14 PM

is to blame: the dumbing down of America has produced a generation of people clueless to the unsustainable lifestyle promoted in this country. we have serious water supply problems in the west, peak oil and peak food and meanwhile folks were running around in giant SUV's towing gas powered toys to the cabin upnorth. man of us old timers out here in carver and wright county were laughing as the seemingly clueless people streamed out here buying plastic sided houses with chip board flooring joists for ridiculous prices. of course we were looked at like country bumpkins as we stayed in our out dated smaller homes with most of the mortgage paid off. we still have the denial going on on the energy and farm policy controlled by big companies which do not have the publics interest in mind. theres going to be some serious bleeding going on in the next decade while harsh realities come home to roost. god bless america that we can survive the next decade.

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cindylemmApr. 19, 08 3:55 PM

Not everyone is guilty of irresponsible behavior or fraud...some people just got stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. People get transferred or split up every day of the year. Someone who bought their home in 2004 at the height of the housing boom will unfortunatley have to take a big loss in order to sell their homes in a neighborhood full of foreclosures right now. Fair? Heck no! Sad? You bet! And people lose their jobs every day in an economy like this one. You can't help but feel bad for someone who bought their dream home based on a 2 income budget. Suddenly, that home owner can't afford their home. Is that irresponsible? Maybe. But it's still sad. As Realtors, we do our best to warn people about not sticking their necks out too far. But homes have not been affordable up until this last year. Young people were forced to spend more than they should have because the economy was doing so well and real estate was appreciating so much. There are no easy answers here.

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JanglesApr. 19, 08 4:05 PM

But without victims, White Knights are out of work too.

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HenkApr. 19, 08 5:10 PM

Of people who defend this kind of crap: "Buyers said they were lured by easy credit -- often from aggressive loan officers who looked past their checkered credit histories and unstable income. Many of these loan officers worked for the financing arms of local builders, which had a vested interest in getting the houses sold regardless of whether people could afford them, real estate agents said." This is only the half of it. These morgages were bundled into investment vehicles and sold to the highest bidder. The original morgage holder didn't care it they would be paid back, they sold these morgages off so it was on the investor, and now we are all suffering. I refinanced at the height of this. I got a point off my rate and settled on a shorter term. The lender thought I was nuts because I insisted on a "higher" fixed rate, rather than the "lower" adjustable rate, and I didn't take any equity out of my home. I went in there knowing what I wanted to do, but the pressure was intense. I can see how someone could have been taken in.

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swschradApr. 19, 08 5:23 PM

then they pull 'em off you. we flat out told them no funny-money games, we were in for a 30-year fixed or we were going elsewhere. we bought 2 years ago, and yeah, the slide of McMansions downhill on monopoly money has us underwater. but we have our budget, and we'll be OK. there is something to be said for looking in the mirror every morning, and saying, "if in fact everybody believes they'll do 15% better financially every year, what basic market fundamental is behind that belief?"

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ifallsronApr. 19, 08 5:32 PM

Have you ever noticed that some of the people in your neighborhood are old and have lived in their house for 30-40 years? I have no sympathy for dopes who live beyond their means.

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vogtmnApr. 19, 08 5:40 PM

There's something to be said about living in an inner-ring suburb. My commute is short, my house was well-built back in the 50s and it didn't cost me an "ARM" and a leg. The onus should be shared with the realtors/builders/finance companies by greedy homebuyers who couldn't make due like the generations before us with a more realistic-sized house and property.

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wchamberlinApr. 19, 08 5:41 PM

My mother grew up in New Prague and my grandmother still lived there when I was a kid, so we used to frequently visit her on weekends and holidays. I used to love the small town feel of it, surrounded by farm land as it was. A lot of that land is now filled with these huge, ridiculous tract houses, and this is one of the worst things about this real estate mess. Eventually, prices are going to fall back to realistic levels (and they've still got a ways to go). But even when they do, we are still going to have houses built out in areas where they have no business being. You can't live in New Prague and commute to the cities. I don't know what's going to those developments and others like them, but the sad thing is that we'll never get the undeveloped land back. They should find the developers for these projects and throw them in jail for six months to think about what idiots they are. Really sad.

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apexmarketinApr. 19, 08 5:41 PM

They have a part in this mess. They were supposed to be their client's advisors. To tell them to be careful. Buy only what they could afford. Explain the ups and downs of the market. Did they do this? Some did, but most didn't. They made a ton of money and never looked back. The more they sold the more they made. How are they hurt by this? Not much. Oh boo hoo they have to find another job. Well, they might have empathy for their ex-clients, even some sympathy, but they surely aren't going to help them. They should be embarrassed of having been a part of this fiasco too.

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