Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

HOUSING: I was robbed for six years last week

Letter by Greg Kidwell, Puyallup on July 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm with 40 Comments »
July 2, 2012 3:39 pm

My title sounds odd, but my story illustrates its suitability. The U.S. Army assigned me here in 2006. I purchased a home and made a hefty down payment. Then the federal government’s Freddie Mac and Fannie May facilitated housing crisis began.

Because of my hefty down payment, and paying my mortgage for six years, I was able to stay above water. The value of my home was more than what I owed. Then last week I received the 2012 Pierce County Real Property Value Notice.

Bam! I was under water. Me, who has not ever missed a mortgage payment, utility bill, auto loan or insurance premium.

I wanted to stand on my sidewalk and scream, “I’ve been robbed the last six years. Call the police, round up the scoundrels and bring them to justice.” But there was no call, No one came to my aid. I had quietly lost many thousands of dollars over six years, and I couldn’t point a finger at one person.

Not to overgeneralize, but there were a ton of financially reckless people with shaky employment and bad credit living beyond their means. When they abandoned their mortgages, they caused the value of my property to plummet many tens of thousands of dollars. They have a host of tax-funded government program to help them, but there is no program for me.

Someone destroyed my home’s value, and now I am paying for their assistance programs.

Leave a comment Comments → 40
  1. You buy a house to live in it. If you consider it an “investment” and expect gains, then you must also weather the consequences of a down market, just like people who invest in other financial papers.

    We all lost because of the greedy and corrupt Wall Street system that allowed gambling without anything backing it. The housing market did not collapse because of people with shaky credit living beyond their means. It collapsed because of the removal of sensible regulations and bad decisions by lendors and finance companies.

    If you are current on your mortgage and have an interest rate of more than about 3.3%, then yest, there is a program for you to refinance and lower you payments.

  2. sumyungboi says:

    Hate to agree with tuddo, but he’s right. If you don’t sell your house, you’ve lost nothing. If you didn’t plan to stay, renting was an option. My home and property are worth less than it was several years ago. My 401k and my IRA are worth almost 1/3 less than they were worth in 2008. If you bought your home with the intention of bailing fifty thousand dollars richer after a few years, well, you weren’t robbed, you were educated.

  3. LeePHill says:

    “Then the federal government’s Freddie Mac and Fannie May facilitated housing crisis began.”

    False premise.

  4. beerBoy says:

    you bought a house at ridiculously inflated price. your fault – no one else’s.

  5. Fibonacci says:

    Gotta agree here Greg, you are only under water if you sell. Just sit on that house and eventually you will get your money.

  6. vickistired says:

    Hate to say it, but I agree with most of the posts. Besides – there is a program for you – HARP 2.0. If you’ve made your payments on time (that’s really the key) and you’re underwater, you can refinance which lowers your payment and the ultimate amount owed. It’s not insignificant – if you bought 6 years ago, I’m going to assume that unless you’ve already refinanced, your rate is much higher than the current rate.

    Besides, respectfully – your situation is not unique, by any means. Your story is darn close to mine, and my neighbors and friends and coworkers and so on and so on. It’s unfortunate, and I share your anger and frustration at the banks – but try not to get all high and might about how you don’t deserve this and you were robbed. We were all robbed.

  7. Think of it this way, you are better off than most. Not much longer and you will have Tricare health insurance for life, a pension at 40, and all kinds of other benefits like education grants.

    If you dont think that’s fair and can’t wait that long, fake PTSD and go on immediate medical retirement. I’m sure some are doing just that.

    Thank you for your service, but it’s life.

  8. Frankenchrist says:

    Greg, the Army didn’t make you buy a house; that was YOUR decision and because of the wonderful “free market” you are taking in in the rear. You had the choice to live on post in taxpayer-subsidized housing.

    Anyway, with your socialized medical benefits and your socialized dental care and your taxpayer-subsidized shopping at the PX and commissary where you spend your taxpayer-funded paycheck for your job that doesn’t actually build, create or manufacture anything or produce wealth of any kind, you are doing pretty good. You won’t get laid-off tomorrow and you can keep enjoying the four-day weekends, holidays, “family time” and all the other perks of your government job.

    Things aren’t so good in the world where people actually work at jobs that might not exist tomorrow.

  9. alindasue says:


    I have yet to meet a soldier who gets 4 day weekends. “Family time” often means weeks away from home either deployed or in training.

    The only thing in your comment that I actually agree with is that Mr. Kidwell did choose to buy a house (and all the commitments and risks that involves) rather than live on base or use his quarters allowance to rent.

  10. Property tax value, while supposedly based on ‘fair market value’ is always under the actual value of your house on the market. Unless the bank is challenging your equity, you are not ‘underwater’ on your mortgage. As others have stated, you have not lost any value until you sell, and, I believe you would find your value has held up fairly well as long as your property and its neighborhood have held up. Call a competent realtor or a property valuation specialist and get a quote on your property’s value if you are that worried about your ‘value’. Even in a down market, many houses are selling for at or near their original value because the owner’s kept the place up. Also, you can appeal your tax valuation, if you want to pay more taxes than the notice established. It’s not common, but such an appeal has happened. Remember FMV is based on an ‘average’ for your area; not a specific, property-by-property appraisal/valuation system. Count your blessings on the lowered property taxes and continue to enjoy your house. It was and still is a good value and, should you decide to sell, get an independent appraisal before contacting a realtor.

  11. Oldfaithful says:

    Not every military member has the good fortune to live on base.

  12. Almost total agreement by all – I’m shocked!

  13. Harry_Anslinger says:

    As someone who bought before the housing bubble and struggled and worked hard to stay employed through this ongoing recession in the private sector while seeing income dwindle and still hold on to my home I will say thank you for your service to your country but boo-hoo on griping about your property assessment.

    And a suggestion…learn what a ‘credit default swap’ is and what ‘mortgage backed securities’ are. The financial industry is what caused the financial meltdown. That’s very important for you to know. Please do some research on derivatives, Henry Paulson, and the Federal Reserve to get a better basic knowledge on what happened in 2008.

  14. MililaniJag says:

    agtoth got it right. “Property tax value, while supposedly based on ‘fair market value’ is always under the actual value of your house on the market.”

    Get a Comp Value for your home. Many Military spouses and retirees in real estate.

    BTW…Thanks for your and your families service to our nation!!!!!

  15. Greg, I would highly think about doing a voluntary foreclosure, from what I’ve read it doesn’t ding your credit compared to an bank or mortgage company forecloses on you. My wife had a co worker had his home foreclosed on him within a year he bought another home and receive financing.

  16. alindasue says:

    My sister-in-law tried to do a voluntary foreclosure. It’s now been 14 months and she’s still trying to get her name off that house.

  17. tree_guy says:

    Your investment may have gone down in value, but let’s step back for a moment and look at the big picture.

    If you had leased a residence 6 years ago instead of purchasing you would have paid out about $118K (I assumed 1500 per month X 72 months). Unless your “investment” has gone down by more than $118K then I’d say you’ve done OK, not great, just OK.

  18. bobbysangelwife says:

    I almost spit out my coffee at FRanenchrist’s ignorant comment about “four day weekends” and “family time”.

    What the hell is that??? Only time you actually get ‘family time’ is when there’s an impending deployment, a couple weeks out—if you’re lucky.
    Not once has mine had ‘family time’ that actually WAS family time. Even if he did get it, he still has to take time out and go check on the barracks (which I lovingly call ‘checking on the children’) once a day at least, he’s on-call for whatever may arise.

    “Family time” is a thing of the past.

    On subject though—why ANY military personnel would buy a home while on AD is beyond me. You’re there for a few years–you don’t get your money’s worth! Then you have the hassle of either selling it or becoming a landlord—not worth it!
    Property value’s rise and fall….this is life.

  19. itwasntmethistime says:

    You have to live somewhere and you’re going to have to pay for that somewhere so why don’t you just keep paying your mortgage down? Eventually you’ll own the house free and clear. The alternative is to keep moving and never have the chance to own your home outright.

    Since you have to pay to live somewhere each month anyway, if it were me I’d choose the option with the rosier long-term outlook.

    How come nobody screams about making $600 car payments for 7 years and ending up with something worth almost nothing? Why is losing money on a car just how life is but losing money on a house a big rip-off?

  20. If you do a voluntary foreclosure (or a short sale), you will be hit hard by the IRS. I think it’s basically a tax on your now-disclaimed mortgage deduction but I might be wrong about that. But I know I’m not wrong about the IRS sending you a bill.

  21. Frankenchrist says:

    I must remind Greg that he is still collecting his taxpayer-provided BHA, so while he whines about the price of the home he *chose* to purchase, the U.S. taxpayer is dutifully paying down his mortgage.

    Your should thank the U.S. taxpayer for paying down your mortgage, Greg. Most of them aren’t working for the government; they have real jobs that they could lose tomorrow and they don’t have someone else paying down their mortgage.

  22. I see that the liberals are tip-toeing around the real reason for the housing mess, Dodd-Frank and the democrat party who went overboard to get votes by pushing the banks into loaning money to anyone who could get inside the door. Democrats will stoop to any level to get a vote, legal or otherwise. It’s been proven over and over again that they are corrupt and liars.

  23. TheSlag says:

    That’s the basics of free market capitalism. What goes up also can come down. Stop your whining, grow up and show a tad bit of gratitude.

  24. normajean says:

    Greg has every right to whine about the housing market. If you all think that eventually the housing market will improve with time, than it is wishful thinking. More and more houses are being dumped in the foreclosure crisis & this will continue for years to come, therefore housing values will continue to plummet. Contact the website ”stay-in-your-home.org” to get the real picture & a clearer understanding of what is really going on. The idea of buying a house as an investment for the future is no longer the case. Renting is the way to go. Please keep in mind that while there is a program to help those underwater to refinance at a lower rate, it is only applicable to those who have not refinanced in the last few years. So if anyone refinance, for example, in 2009 they are no longer able to do so under this new program. Underwater simply means that if you purchased a home for $200,000 at 0 down & it is now worth $150,00, you are under water regardless if you are in the market to sell or not. You would not in normal times be able to refinance that mortgage or borrow against it unless the house were worth more than the $200,000 purchase price. For people to believe that it is only a paper loss unless you sell is somewhat naive. I feel for everyone who can no longer afford to keep their homes due to job loss, medical bills etc.

  25. OP Greg: I agree with Bobbysangelwife, if you’re AD why buy a home if you’re going to be transferring again within a few years? Unless you planned to flip it. Now if you plan on retiring here that’s different. But that’s the chance you took. No real sympathy here. Suck it up, improvise, adapt and overcome, as they say.


    Greg is a taxpayer as well, so he’s helping pay for his BAH.

    However i give you a hearty pat on the back and a thank you for helping me pay for my taxpayer provided TRICARE medical, dental, military pension, and (before i retired) PX & Commissary priviliges (live too far away now) and my mortgage.

    Keep up the great work!

  26. Not to overgeneralize, but…here is an overgeneralization.

  27. the liberals are tip-toeing around the real reason for the housing mess,

    Nope – Alan Greenspan propped up the bubble(s) by keeping the cost of borrowing money artificially low. These cheap loans made a sellers market, driving up prices to unsustainable levels.

    You really should look up “Strategic Defaulting”. It ain’t poor folks who are reneging on loans on their second, third and fourth homes….

  28. commoncents says:

    What’s scary is that given the number of homes in foreclosure in my neighborhhood and my credit rating I can probably strategically default on the loan wait 6-8 months and then buy that same home back at a much lower price.

  29. PumainTacoma says:

    Good comments Greg.

    We live in a society where there is no responsibility no consequences. Less than 50% of Americans pay any federal taxes and the bloated mortgages that people used for piggy banks should tell us why no one has learned a lesson. Now we got kids asking for free tuition, no work, (why work when the govt pays), more time off for leisure, hand outs and other niceties in perfect economic times. We are left with a population who will work the system any way they want. “Strategic defaults” on mortgages by your own leaders in the community well known politicians, professors and Master Builder Association folks work the system so their own rich pockets get handouts, too.

    Increase the interest rates so those that save can actual make the dollar strong again.

  30. I hope the Trib can clone this thread. What a joy to read virtually nothing but great commentary. Even TheSlag is behaving well. :)

  31. beerboy, “Alan Greenspan”? Oh! That Alan Greenspan! You mean Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC’s husband? Keep it up beerboy this gets more fun each time you post something.

  32. beerBoy says:

    frosty….the Ayn Rand disciple, extremely influential Fed chair for 19 years is reduced to being the spouse of a news personality….wow…your brain is bizarre.

  33. PumainTacoma
    “Less than 50% of Americans pay any federal taxes” Wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

    Some people have mentioned that 47% paid no NET federal INCOME taxes.

    If you could do simple math you could calculate that 53% do pay income taxes. In additon most people pay FICA taxes, and almost everyone pays excise taxes.

    Try again, next time accurately.

  34. Greg, your letter (and, I think, the comments so far) do not touch on the possibility that you saved a bundle on your Federal income tax through the mortgage interest deduction.

    The Paul Ryan budget that Romney and other Republicans have endorsed would do away with that deduction. (Obama proposed some modifications, but that was quickly withdrawn because of the Democratic opposition in Congress).

    So vote Republican and you are sure to lose the deduction.

  35. beerboy, I’m sure that you realize that Greenspan is a ultra-liberal, how else could he live under the same roof with that woman?

  36. beerBoy says:

    “Greenspan is a(sic) ultra-liberal”


  37. If you could share the same home with Sarah Palin, maybe you could convince me that any conservative man could live with a far left lib like Mitchell.

  38. Aside from your bizarre assessment of Andrea Mitchell being a “far left liberal”….

    James Carville/Mary Matalin. So you are saying Mary Matalin is a liberal….or that Carville is a conservative?

    Just because you can’t deal with an intelligent woman with a strong opinion that is not yours doesn’t mean that others can’t.

    Believe it or not – some people are different than you. Maybe you should read what Dear Abby has to say about it

  39. I just found out why frosty thinks Andrea Mitchell is a “far left liberal”. The Examiner ran a piece the other day that called her a “traitor” and a “far-left loony” for her reporting that showed Romney talked out of both sides of his mouth about Romney/Obama care.

    Fox News picked up on it and made it a feature detailing how many times Mitchell has reported gaffes by Romney, attacking the liberal media for saying Romney had flip flopped.

    Other Republican candidates warned during the primaries that the press will only have to reach into their archives to show the flip flopping Romney has done and that he has no core principles.

    Now they use tired ad hominem attacks the right specializes in because they don’t have any real policies to stand on.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0