Economic Lookout: Housing frustration in Rochester

MinnEcon note: Teri Gibbons is a Rochester nurse and a MinnEcon economic lookout, sharing stories about the economy around her. A few weeks ago, she gave us a thumbnail look at Rochester.

Today, she shares a story of being sideswiped by the real estate crisis.

Interested in being an Economic Lookout? Drop us a line.

Economic Lookout Gibbons | Rochester

Last summer I needed to find a new place to live. Considering the number of homes being foreclosed on I could find three homes on almost every street for sale in the areas I was looking at.

It was obvious many houses were being sold for far less than they were worth but even more were being sold for much more than they were worth so the owners could try to catch up financially.

I asked if I could rent with option to buy since I’ve lived in an unexpected money pit or two over the years. The answer was that it was a final sale or nothing.

To my way of thinking, if a person was due to be foreclosed on, any income that could go to a mortgage payment was better than none whether it was by renting out the property or selling it.

The reason I had to move was because the landlord had failed to make payments and the house had been foreclosed on.

I called the Realtor that was handling the property and the mortgage company that held the lien to the house.

Both agreed to me continuing to live there and keep the property up (improve it, actually!) but the bank said I would have to completely move out for two months and then they would sell it to me.

Sorry, but once I move my furniture it’s staying there for a while.

Most of the houses that owners refused to rent out remain vacant almost a year later.

The house I had been renting has fallen into such disrepair it will need to be condemned

or the bank that owns it will have to put thousands of dollars into repair before it will meet any code and be available for sale.

The legal notices in the paper have gone from a few pages of foreclosures and delinquent taxes ( I personally find it painfully humiliating to those that have struggled in good faith but fell on hard times, a further insult) to full sections of the newspaper.

“Experts” may say the market is rebounding but I have to wonder.

Teri Gibbons is a registered nurse in Rochester. She says she’s always looking at what’s going on around her, trying to be impartial.

Bonus Info: In 2007, nearly one in four homeowners and four of ten renters spent 30 percent or more on housing in Rochester’s Olmsted County, according to the Minnesota Housing Partnership.



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