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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Washington Post on Michigan Foreclosures

by Tanta on 3/31/2007 10:53:00 AM

From "Housing Crisis Knocks Loudly in Michigan":

For most of the past year, Michigan has ranked among the three states with the highest percentage of late mortgage payments and foreclosures, surveys by the Mortgage Bankers Association show. In the fourth quarter, it came in third, behind Ohio and Indiana, with 2.39 percent of its loans in foreclosure.

Many economists say, and union officers agree, that those hardest hit are not auto workers who lost jobs. Many received buyouts that should keep them afloat for a while. And because they tend to be older, some have paid off their mortgages.

Those feeling the worst squeeze, rather, are workers at the auto supply companies, such as Max, 44, an engineer who spoke on condition that his last name not be used because he is embarrassed by his situation.

Max bought a condominium in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth using a traditional fixed-rate mortgage more than five years ago. But three years later, his firm took away company cars from its workers, hiked insurance premiums and cut raises and bonuses -- raising Max's monthly living expenses and reducing his pay.

Max responded by refinancing his condo twice. Though he did not realize it then, the second loan was adjustable. Over time, his monthly payments rose from $1,500 to $1,800 to $1,950.

"I wasn't even reading the paperwork," said Max, who makes $106,000 a year.

Weeks ago, Max turned in his keys to his lender. The bank paid him $500 and took possession of the condo earlier than it otherwise could under Michigan law.