Florida Foreclosures: Our dying neighborhoods

Florida, land of foreclosures

2009 was a bad year for Florida real estate -- no doubt about it. Home owners were ousted from their properties at a hitherto unseen rate. "But," said all the experts, "things can only get better."

They didn't. They got worse.

In 2010, Florida foreclosures ran second only to Nevada with 18% of Florida's houses in foreclosure. "We've bottomed out now," said the experts. "It can only move up."

Once again, they were wrong. 25% of all 2011 foreclosures in this country, are in Florida, or 1 in 6 homes.

Startling statistics.

But what does this mean to us, the Florida residents still holding on?

What is happening here is an unmitigated disaster, economically and socially. And forecasts are that things will get even worse -- though with 1 in 5 homes sales in this area at less than $50,000, and all of us watching as our homes devalue to an unbelievable level, it's hard to believe it can.

But, the true tragedy is in the effect on our quality of life. Our neighborhoods are dying.

A police story

A cruiser from the North Port Police Department swept slowly down the street. I stepped from my front door and waved. I had called them.

Even though I’d already explained to the 911 operator, and to the officer who had called me back why I was calling – in great detail, too – I walked to the black and white parked in my driveway and did so again.

Around two in the afternoon, I had heard a crash and the sound of breaking glass, a lot of glass. The sound seemed to have come from rear of my house, though that might have been because the lanai doors were wide open allowing me to enjoy the balmy winter air.

Shortly, after that, I told them, I’d heard squealing tires and a small-sounding car, engine screaming through the gears, accelerate rapidly and race down our narrow, normally quiet residential street. But what had concerned me even further had been the big, black Dodge Ram truck – curiosity having pulled me to the front door by then -- that had roared off in high-speed pursuit of the car.

Oh look, there it was again! The big powerful vehicle pulled into the driveway of my closest neighbor to the right, a house separated from me by a wooded vacant lot. I trailed along after the two officers who set off to speak to Mr. Black-Dodge-Ram and find out what was going on.

Have I mentioned my incurable curiosity?

“Have you investigated the crashing sound?” the 911 operator had asked me. No, being almost sixty, female and alone, with porous bones and nowhere near as strong as I once was, I had not, but not because I hadn’t wanted to. I have a healthy wariness of physical confrontations with what is sure to be some muscle-bound, brain-dead, violent felon so a frontal approach up the driveway would have been out of the question. I had visions of trying to creep through the underbrush of the vacant lot between us, through that impenetrable tangle, skulking like a TV commando, fighting off biting gnats, chopping through strangler vines, dodging the spikes on the saw palmetto, keeping an eye out for poisonous snakes and hidden doggie-do, trying to get a peek… Uh -- “No ma’am, I did not investigate.”

But now, safe in the protective shadow of these burly officers, and joined by neighbor Ralph from across the street, I was ready to do so.

A big-bellied, husky man stood beside the black truck. He looked a little familiar, but I couldn’t place the who and the where. “This is my house,” he shouted, his chest heaving with angry breathing. “And look at what that m----f---- did to it.”

After several orders from the officers to “calm down” and “just tell us what happened,” the story came out. Mr. Black-Dodge-Ram had a name; we’ll call him Bill and Bill had purchased this house as an investment about a year ago for $38,600. He’d spent another $10,000 putting lipstick on the pig, new paint, an anemic–looking recent palm tree out front and other such cosmetic stuff, and rented it out – to rotten tenants. Not only had they stopped paying rent and thereby lived free for the long months it took Bill to go through the courts and get an eviction order, they had completely trashed the place before leaving. “Wanna see?”

I did. So I followed them in, camera in hand.

Want a three bedroom, two bathroom, concrete constructed home for $38,600?

Ralph stood still on the driveway with a frozen, botoxed look on his face, one that had been there from the moment we’d heard Bill say, “bought for $38,600.” Poor fella. He hadn’t been prepared for that. I already knew; I’d done some research on the situation. Our lovely, Florida style homes on this street which sold for $225,000 to $325,000 in 2006 are now worth maybe $50,000, and then, only if in good shape and well-maintained. Unbelievable?

A few unpleasant facts about the present

Believe it. No matter which neighborhood, even those with pools, on canals and waterways, one out of every five house sales in Port Charlotte this year went for under $50,000.

Like many other homeowners in this area, I’m in an upside-down mortgage, even though I put 50% down in cash at the time I bought the house. I’m sitting at 6.75% interest at a time when interest is now 3.78%, but I can’t refinance. Who’ll take on a mortgage 35-40% higher than the value of the property? No one, that’s who.

Mortgage modification?

According to my lender (once the infamous Countrywide now defunct and purchased by the equally infamous Bank of America) I can only get a modification if I’m behind on my payments and/or can prove in accordance with federal guidelines that I’m in dire risk of losing my home, which I’m not, have never been and will never be. "Or," the bank agent added in all seriousness, apparently oblivious to the irony of the suggestion, "you can refinance." Uh huh. If you can find me a lender willing to loan the $90,000 owed on a property valued on today’s market at $50,000 (+ or -) I’d like to shake his hand. And I have three dozen friends who’d also like to meet him.

The right track? The wrong track? How about both tracks at the same time?

If I withhold payment in order to more easily qualify for modification, a lengthy process, I will also be assessed late fees and risk having my mortgage enter into the foreclosure process. That’s right; the banks make it a policy to process both mortgage modification and foreclosure at the same time – a practice called dual-tracking. The bank advises the homeowner to stop making payment to qualify for modification and begins the delinquency/foreclosure process immediately, which in Florida takes an average of 683 days. This way, the bank wastes no time; once they reject modification, they are ready to foreclose within weeks. Efficient!

This leaves the homeowner with no time or remedy. Many a homeowner in Florida has been handed an eviction order by the sheriff while laboring under the belief he is negotiating in good faith to modify his mortgage to keep his home. Dual tracking seems to be in the grey area of legal ethics, but is common practice in many states, Florida among them.

Meanwhile back at Bill’s place

Bill shook with anger as he led us through the three bedroom, two bathroom house. The barely-one-year-old carpeting was filthy and mottled with stains. The ceramic tile floor in the kitchen was cracked, filthy, and shards were missing. The appliances were missing. As were the cupboards. The walls had been smashed and were covered in black mold (highly toxic.) Doors hung at crazy angles from one bent hinge or were missing completely. The sliding glass door to the lanai was a death trap of sharp jagged edges and glass fragments lay everywhere. (Was this the breaking glass I’d heard?) The bedrooms were littered with abandoned toys, clothes, broken furniture and, according to the stench reaching my nose, a few garbage bags of used diapers. The air handler for the AC was missing.

“They smeared dog poo on the walls,” Bill said, clearly more upset over this than the rest of the vandalism -- for some reason I couldn't fathom. “Look.”

I glanced at Ralph. Neither of us had the heart to tell him we’d never seen or heard any dog at the place.

“How could people live like this?” Bill asked no one and all of us.

They hadn't. The place had been deserted for a couple of months, but Bill hadn't been aware of that, and we hadn't known who owned the place -- in fact, we no longer knew the owners of most of the houses on our street and therefore, paid them no mind, keeping ourselves to ourselves -- so unlike the neighborhood prior to this financial meltdown.

I listened while the police explained why there was nothing they can do for Bill. It was a common problem, and any redress was a civil matter, not a criminal one. They felt for him, but they warned him not to take any personal revenge or it would be Bill they arrested. They left.

Ralph and I took our leave, while poor Bill was on his cell-phone, explaining to his wife what had happened. The last words I heard from him were those wondering where they’d come up with the money to fix-up what had at one time seemed a good investment.

The way we were

This was not the first rental-gone-bad in our neighborhood, though it might be the worst. Hard to judge. You see, six years ago this was a beautiful area, not wealthy, not fancy, just honest working people and their families, living in their own homes and enjoying the fruits of their labors.

I knew all the families around me and they knew me. We kept a collective eye on the children who were free to roam the entire neighborhood, and always greeted each other whenever we met.

We were proud of the Crime-Watch sign on our block, and watched over each others property.

It was a great place to live.

And then came 2008

Bill’s house, the latest to find ruin, had once belonged to a man named John. He and his two sons had owned a pool maintenance company, and their business truck sat proudly in the driveway. A friendly man, John showed up at every barbeque in the area, went out of his way to greet anyone new who moved in and flattered all the ladies. One day I realized I hadn’t seen John in a long time. His truck was still in the drive, but he sat behind locked doors and drawn curtains. Business was slow. John was in trouble and ashamed of that fact. One night, he disappeared. A few weeks later, a “For Sale, Bank Owned” sign was on the front lawn.

It was 2008. John was the first. He’d paid $175,000 for his home in 1991. In 2006, he’d used his home equity to finance his business expansion when his younger son came on board, an idea cheered on by his “financial consultant” who was paid $2,000 by the bank for bringing in a new client, and a further $750 by John for the pleasure of being fleeced by unfavorable terms. It had seemed a good idea at the time. After all the home had been appraised at $355,000, a gain in value John “would be a fool not to cash in on.” Today, he still berates himself for his gullibility.

Four houses down, the second foreclosure took place a few weeks later. Sean, his wife, his son, his aged mother-in-law and five pug dogs were served with an order to vacate. Originally from Boston, and with an accent so thick I found myself always having to ask “What’s that?” whenever we spoke, Sean was a construction worker who had come to Florida in answer to ads pleading for workers in the mid ‘90s and never went back. He had put his wife through nursing school and paid for home care for the mother by borrowing against his home. Why not? It had more than doubled in value. His banker assured him his equity was “cash in the bank.” But by mid 2008 and the sudden and complete halt to construction, Sean hadn’t had steady work in close to a year and the house value had plummeted.

The trickle became a stream, the stream a torrent

These two families started the trickle that became a stream, and eventually a torrent. The site of a moving van in a drive became a weekly occurrence, and we averted our eyes and didn’t wave as they drove off the street for the last time.

Some enterprising idiot had built a brand-new house on spec on the vacant lot kiddie-corner behind mine. It was completed that February. The contractor went bankrupt and the bank took the house over. The bank went bankrupt and the asset was taken up by another bank. That bank was bought out by still another. That house would stand empty for two years before a tenant moved in.

I left Florida for Canada in the early spring of 2009.

By the time I came back to Florida in October, the only original home owners left were Ralph across the street, Renee next door to him (though her husband had done a runner leaving her with four children, so she wasn’t sure how long she could hang on,) Eric next door to me but he was so deep under water he wasn’t sure what would happen, Big Geroy’s Barbeque owners on the corner, the young couple from Ohio who ran a pizza place on the next block – and that was it.

Five occupied homes surrounded by forest and deserted houses in a three block radius. Can you imagine?

Life in the ghost town

I had wanted a nice, quiet neighborhood, but this was like a ghost town. Some mornings, the loudest sound to intrude upon the silence was the rustle of squirrels as they ran about the trees. Soon the signs of neglect could no longer be ignored. Lawns went unmowed; vines crawled up houses; bushes grew wild, up over windows; abandoned furniture moldered in driveways and we worried about what went on in the dark of night in all those empty houses.

More and more families lost their homes and houses stood empty. More and more neighborhoods suffered from high vacancy rates. The county sent out crews to keep as many of lawns mowed as they could, but they couldn’t keep up.

The Great Florida Housing Shuffle

Then in late 2009, the State of Florida had a brainstorm. Why not start a program to rent the empty houses to all the families who had been forced from their homes during the foreclosure frenzy? Brilliant! The banks signed on without a second thought, and sighed in relief they’d found a way to cover the carrying costs of all those moldering, dwindling assets. And so began what had to be one of the stupidest exercises in history.

I dubbed it the Great Florida Housing Shuffle and wrote about it in a hub entitled Six Stupid Things. Imagine you were floating up in the sky watching this as it happened. Family A is evicted from their home, and is offered a good rental at what had once been the home of Family B, who were also evicted due to foreclosure and they were offered a good rental at what had once been the home of Family C, who were also evicted… Did it make sense?

What was accomplished? Simple: millions of home owners were turned into renters, with no attachment or vested interest in the houses they lived in. They did not tend to the landscaping, the paint, the roof repair, nor did they worry too much about the interiors. Neighborhoods, once pretty and well-kept quickly became seedy. Property appraisals dropped even more.

People came and left our neighborhood so fast, the sight of a U-Haul being loaded in the dead of night became commonplace, and they were not people who wanted to know us or be part of our community. The once-friendly, helpful, concerned neighborhood began to act like a big-city block: I see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing.

Owned versus rented (actual houses in the area)

Bad gets worse

The glut of empty houses meant that property values dropped further, which in turn meant that owners had fewer options as to refinancing or negotiating their way out of unfavorable mortgages.

More houses emptied.

Florida Power and Light ignored pleas from local officials asking that minimal power be maintained in empty properties to keep the AC units running through the summer months, at least until the tangle of who owned what, which property had been foreclosed by which bank, and which bank had been taken over by what other bank, and had the mortgage to the property actually been held by the foreclosing party, and if now defunct, had the mortgagee actually transferred the assets during any sale or settlement and… (because, surprise, surprise -- there were illegalities discovered in many foreclosures. Not that it stopped the foreclosure mills from rubber stamping dubious orders.)

Worse gets worse

What a mess! But FPL decided an unpaid bill was an unpaid bill, and one by one, the vacant properties lost power, lost climate control in the hot, humid summer months and began growing mold like the petrie dishes they had become.

The value of the properties dropped even further.

Owned versus rented (actual houses in the area)

Owners sat in homes worth a tenth of their mortgaged value. Many tried working out something with new lenders, only to be told that no one was loaning in Florida these days -- and they are not. Just for curiosity, I phoned a few lenders who advertise all over the place on the internet.

"We aren't financing homes in Florida. It's impossible to get a reliable value on Florida property. Sorry." click.

Now, in 2011, the Great Florida House Shuffle is over, a failed experiment that only resulted in property damage, even lower real estate values and a huge glut of empty, neglected houses on the market.

Wrote one real estate agent describing her own neighborhood in Sarasota:

“Your neighborhood, as well as mine, show the devastating signs of people without jobs, foreclosed or abandoned homes, slum lords purchasing as many properties for near-pennies-a-home to move Title VIII residents in and sock it to the government for thousands of dollars in payable rent to them. It's a travesty. Banks won't negotiate with owners but will accept short sales at even less money than the owner offered. The owner loses; the lender loses, the municipality loses -- we all lose. And still, we, the tax-payers are on the hook for the trillions for the so-called bail out.”

Owned versus rented (actual houses in the area)

We’re dying down here

The devastation to community I’ve seen around me over the past three years is duplicated in almost every neighborhood – even the ritzy ones. Take a drive around any upscale gated community and count the number of "for sale - price reduced" signs. Note the number of houses with boarded/shuttered windows. See the unkempt lawns, the vines growing up the house, the neglected plantings.

Or go to any regular family neighborhood, like mine, and look for the hand-written, desperate, pleading signs: “3 bedroom, 2 baths, $31,500, cash buyer” or “take over my payments.”

Look at the blocks full of empty, abandoned houses – and look to see how many have had their AC units stolen.

25% of all foreclosures in the United States are in Florida. 66% of Florida home owners are in an upside-down mortgage, owing more than their homes are worth – sometimes 3 and 4 times as much. One in four home mortgages are delinquent.

The banks refuse to negotiate with most owners, and yet will agree to short-sales to absentee investors for far less than the owner had offered. Why is that?

And what is the state of Florida doing about it?

Good question.

Meet “Pink-Slip Rick,” our not-so-esteemed governor

Riding the Tea-Party tide of 2010, Rick Scott bought the governorship of Florida for $85 million dollars (including $73 million of his own family’s money) and vowed he’d put an end to Florida’s financial woes, using every skill learned in his experience running hospitals to do so (even though those experiences included several indictments….) A man so dedicated to his theories, he walked into office with machete in hand, ready to cut, cut, cut.

And he did. He cut everything, everywhere – except for his own office; that he increased. Police departments, fire departments, publicly funded health care for the indigent, youth shelters, programs for children, education and teachers – cut, cut, cut and gone! (Yes, that’s the way to fight high unemployment!) Which is how he earned his nickname.

He entered into a contest with Governor Goodhair (Perry) of Texas to see who could create the most jobs, and declared himself the winner even while Florida’s unemployment rose dramatically to vie with Michigan for the highest in the nation. Never mind those jobs were every bit as ephemeral here in Florida as they were in Texas…

He enjoys the lowest approval rating of any governor in the nation – perhaps in history.

This is a man who actually said that foreclosure was a benefit to those losing their homes, freeing them from the burden of a mortgage.

Yes, that’s right. He said that and two weeks later began a push to remove the judicial process from Florida foreclosure practices. You see, in early 2010, the Florida Bankers Association pushed unsuccessfully to change the state’s law so judges didn’t need to sign off on foreclosures, a process called nonjudicial foreclosure.

The bankers didn’t like having to go to court, answer to judges and give responses to inquiries from all those pesky attorneys representing citizens trying to exercise their homestead rights. For one thing, it takes too long – 683 days is the average (compared to 380 days in non-judicial foreclosure states.)

But now, old Rick is right behind the bankers’ second attempt at removing due process for home owners. Says he,

"That’s too long."

“It’s not good for anybody in the process. It costs money. Either the homeowners lose money or the lenders lose money, and the longer it takes, it slows down what actually happens in the real market. If you can move more quickly, properties can get back on the market, and it will stimulate the economy.”-- interview with the Times/Herald.

Yes, Rick, putting yet more houses on the already glutted market, more quickly will do much to stimulate the economy – to go down! My $40,000 house will soon be worth $25,000, and what will I do, looking at my $90,000 mortgage (which represented only 50% of my home’s value, once upon a time.) Will I, too, like so many others decide it just isn’t worth it and walk away to leave yet one more house empty and abandoned in this neighborhood?

Someone explain to me the governor’s thinking. How will removing the right of due process to home owners in order to oust them from their homes more quickly be of benefit to anyone? Has he no idea of what is happening in our streets?

Apparently not. Good old Rick’s administration thinks they’ve found a new answer: a massive campaign in foreign parts to educate would-be investors on the opportunities available in buying up cheap Florida houses – complete with a state plan to help manage those properties for their alien landlords.

Friends of mine in Canada have been in touch with me after attending some of these seminars – blows me away!The state has money to "manage" properties for foreign investors, but no funds to help residents with homestead rights.

Recently, a number of "deep pockets" from Brazil were treated to a junket to the state, and to my area in particular, provided with Portuguese-speaking real estate agents and chauffeured ‘round the town -- at we, the people's expense.

As to the millions...

Yep – with all that foreign money just waiting to pour into the state’s public coffers – oops, I mean the banks’ coffers -- just crank up the old foreclosure mills, do away with due process and let ‘er rip! (Speaking of foreclosure mills -- have I mentioned the rampant corruption unearthed in that milieu? Something Scott refuses to look at -- hard to see when you're stuck in the banks' pocket, I guess. Scott is quick to point out that his planned stream-lining of Florida's foreclosure process does not exclude the homesteader from applying to the courts -- but doesn't speak of the $2,000 it costs to file in this state.)

As to the millions who’ve lost their homes: well according to the banks they are nothing but greedy minions who bought homes they couldn’t afford. According to the state, their attempts to keep their property are impeding economic recovery. According to the media, they are ne’er-do-wells who should never have been allowed to buy a “McMansion” in the first place, and are probably rip-off artists and lazy to boot -- not to mention better off once they lose their homes and can go "free."

Millions of working people are caught up in a crisis not of their making. At one time, Florida begged these people to come here to build during the boom and they did. Now, the state would prefer to see them go back to wherever they came from (never mind there's no work there either,) leaving what was once their community, their home ravaged and dying.

Millions of home owners have been “liberated from the burden of a mortgage” and turned into renters paying off the mortgages of foreign landlords – who have no interest in us other than a return (quickest possible, please) on their investments.

Millions of Americans have lost their greatest asset, or if still holding on to it, have seen its value plummet to a fraction of what it once was through forces beyond their control, and of no fault of their own. Indeed, as has already been stated, those self-same citizens are on the hook for the “bail-out” bill that was intended to help them, but instead helped those who created the problem in the first place.

Land of the free? Not for our Florida neighborhoods. They are dying. We may still be the home of the brave. We have to be to hang on.

Some worthy quotes from financial journals:

“In Florida, the situation hasn’t changed much: high foreclosure inventory coupled with values that are still well below average combine for a depressed housing market. Plus, Moody’s just announced over the weekend that they expect housing prices in South Florida to hit bottom at some point next fall or even in the first quarter of 2013.” – Financial Trends

“Governor Rick Scott’s proposal to streamline the foreclosure process could help the market in this area, although it is likely that such a proposal will face stiff opposition in the state legislature. In any case, Florida promises to offer a lot of cheap homes and great bargains for homebuyers and investors throughout 2012 as prices near or hit rock bottom.” – Real Estate Weekly

Is there anyone anywhere who may be more interested in the people in the houses rather than the houses themselves?

From Florida Today

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Comments 44 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

This was shocking and sad. So sorry your once thriving neighborhood has been decimated through no fault of your own.

I'm almost at a loss for further words. The situation you described is literally beyond my imagination. I knew Florida had a high foreclosure rate and property values had dropped but didn't realize that in some areas they'd dropped as drastically as what you've written here.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 4 years ago from Florida

We who live in Florida know what a huge mistake it was to elect Pink Slip.

Kicking people out of a house and letting it sit empty is dumbness of the highest order. Getting half a mortage payment or ever 25% is better than getting nothing and having the house waste away. Tampa Bay area is not as hard hit as some areas. They foreclosed on a military family next door to us when they were transferred to Norfork, VA. The family wanted to keep the house but could not work it out with the lender. The bankers got us into this mess and we bailed them out. Now they won't even help a military family keep their home.

Of course Pink Slip Rick steals millions from the Federal government and gets elected governor of Florida. What is wrong with this picture??


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi happyboomernurse -- A shocking state of affairs, isn't it? I don't think most people know what is happening here and they should. Your state may be next... Of course, Florida was far more vulnerable in that a large number of houses here are second homes for people in other places, and when times get hard, the first thing to go is the second home. At least, that's what set things off in the beginning of this mess. Now, there's simply no excuse. Apparently, in America people are not as important as property and what is happening here is downright theft when you get to the core of the problem.

Hi GNelson -- kicking people out of their homes even when they are willing and able to negotiate, and then letting the house rot, or simply adding it to the immense inventory of house for sale, thereby lowering values even further (hence causing more people to lose their jobs and then their homes...) is beyond dumbness. It is collective suicide. What will the future hold? Will we all be tenants of foreign landlords who bought up our real estate for pennies on the dollar from banks who are unwilling to offer the same opportunity to us? As to Pink Slip -- he beggars the imagination, but only goes to show you, you can buy anything in this country, governorships included. In fact, unless you're a millionaire many times over, your chances of getting elected to any position is pretty much nil -- though you can sell your soul to the banks for the privilege. Another Pink Slip move that burns me is his refusal to take Federal funds for health care because he is morally opposed to Obama's plans, and then cutting off funding to hospitals, clinics, county health offices (they are all to be shut) and programs for children due to "lack of funds." WTF? Apparently the welfare of Florida's people aren't as important as his personal ideology. (But he does have funds to give to his corporate cronies and bankers...) Sigh! Thanks for commenting.


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

This is an excellent article and presented very well. Florida is a mess right now, stuck in the mire of foreclosures. Yes, so many illegalities have happened in these foreclosures, and the Republican Party wants to take away as many rights as homeowners have as they can. That way, only a few will own homes and the majority will be renters.

We are quickly moving in the direction of the "Russian oligarchs." Florida is just one of the many states going down this rusted highway. People are so busy just trying to "hang on" themselves that it is hard to help those in need or to protest the loss of our liberties.

By the time 2013 or 2014 comes around, the damage will have been done and we will have lost many rights and liberties and then wonder why and how it could have happened. The banks and real estate are so crooked now a days. The courts are clogged with so many foreclosures and the legal system takes so long to navigate that "due process" has become a joke.

Thank you for sharing this and taking the time to research and prepare this insightful hub. Every American needs to read this to fully understand our housiing problems here in the U.S.

Personally, I don't ever see the housing industry coming back or our houses climbing back in value to what they once were.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Suzette -- May I assume the rest of your penname is because you live in Naples, Florida? I know your city has been very hard hit, so much so that the so-called experts say Naples may never recover. The rest of the country should look very closely at what is happening here; it may be the portend of what is about to happen to them. And you are right, we are all so busy trying to survive we're letting very important rights and liberties be stripped from us -- all in the name of safety and economic recovery of course. This latest bill sitting on Obama's desk, giving the military right to detain American citizens indefinitely, without charges or due process, if they are considered a terrorist, is a prime example. (Define a terrorist -- is it someone protesting outside your place of business? Someone blogging opinions differing from the official line?) I would have thought the American people would be up in a rage over it, but it is quietly going through the political process. Amazing! What has become of that famed American spirit? Joe McCarthy would be happy. And yes, the foreclosure process has become a joke. Did you know that Scott just appointed a woman who ran a foreclosure mill to a judgeship? My first year as a full-time, legal American resident has been one WTF moment after another. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment.


crazyhorsesghost profile image

crazyhorsesghost 4 years ago from East Coast , United States

Very great Hub and very true. Florida also has a high rate of poverty and hungry people. It is sad that a former upscale state like Florida could have sunk to the place it is now at. But we elected and continue to elect the politicians that do this to us. We need to throw the good old Republicans and Democrats out of office and elect politicians that would be for America first.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks for the comment crazyhorsesghost. There's no doubt we need to find representatives who actually care about the American people, and perhaps we should look beyond the clearly unworkable "party" system. Good points.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

I've heard that quite a bit of Florida property has been bought by Canadian snowbirds and that the number of homes that lay vacant for the rest of the year is forever growing - as supposed to earlier decades where such snowbird homes were intermingled with year round residents.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Reading this...it's awful. I know a lot of us are holding on, hoping that our own jobs don't go away. The end of your article makes me want to create my own political party: Citizens Against Corporations. I have all these ideas. But then, it always seems like great ideas - revolutions, if you will - degenerate into governments. But this does make me think that our government really doesn't - or can't - care and the people need to take this in their own hands somehow and "rebirth" the US of A. *sigh* Incredible hub and writing, by the way.


resspenser profile image

resspenser 4 years ago from South Carolina

Hey, Lynda. This is another well done hub. Wish I had the answer to this problem or several hundred thousand to invest in Florida property! Hopefully things will improve, but it is a mess right now.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

Wow, and I thought Arizona had a problem with foreclosures. We are living in a dream world compared to Florida. I learned a great deal from reading this story you wrote. I honestly had no idea about the attempt to attract foreign investors to buy these properties. What a scam that is. Has anyone started a recall petition on the Pink-Slip guy? I would imagine he makes very few public appearances unless surrounded by armed guards and Sherman tanks.

One comment blamed all of this on the Republicans. It should be understood that all of these crooks have a choice of putting on the "D" hat or the "R" hat. They choose the hat that will put the most gold in their own pockets, and that is all that matters to them. They are professional crooks with a great deal of power, and none of them give a damn about the citizens of this country.

I have no idea what I would do if faced with the dilemma you are in. I would be doing everything I could think of to get rid of Rick Scott before he can do more damage to your wonderful state.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Flora -- Canadians as well as domestic snowbirds (Yankees and such) have always owned property here, mostly in the gated communities where security and lawn care is provided and that has not changed all that much. Neighborhoods such as mine are still pretty much full time residents. In fact, I think I was the only snowbird in this area. What we are seeing is more absentee owners who rent out their houses rather than seasonal residents. Personally, I'd rather have the seasonal than the casual renter. Thanks.

Thank you cclit girl and thanks for the follow, too. I don't know if this is simply a corporate versus citizen affair. It may be. Certainly the start of this mess came with the whole greed induced meltdown of 08. Seems the government is working with the corporations and against the population. Comes down to who's got the money so who's your daddy, I guess. And yes, it seems the more things change the more they stay the same. I don't know about you, but to me, this country is indistinguishable from Europe of the past with the 1% being the aristocrats and the rest of us the peasants, tradesmen and such. As John Lennon once wrote: "You think you're so superior and free, but you still look like f---ing peasants to me."

Hi Ronnie. Yes, it's a mess. Wouldn't you like a nice piece of Florida property for $35,000. Or if you want to build, there are two beautiful wooded lots on a street not far from me for sale for $2,400 each. PS They are 125 x 125 -- and serviced. Can you believe it?

Hi OldPoolman, Unfortunately, Florida does not have a recall procedure or this guy would be gone in a NY minute, I'm sure. His latest is the shutdown of a youth shelter in Soto county where several hundred at risk youth lived and got help. He is shutting down all the county health offices where the indigent go to get vaccines for their children and such; he has cut back on Medicaid and lowered the bar on that to a ridiculous level. As to public appearances, to raise our spirits he started his let's get to work campaign by working at a Dunkin Donuts for a day... Yeah. I didn't vote for Scott -- I can't vote, not being a citizen, but if I could have voted, I would have voted for good old Charlie Kris, our incumbent governor who did a very good job, I believe. About the hats -- yes, there's not a pile of difference between r and d in some respects, but in all fairness, were it not for the backlash of 2010 and the tea party, Scott would not have got in, his $85 million notwithstanding. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. Lynda


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

lmmartin - oh, yes. I agree. I feel like a serf with the 1% "lording" over me. And I really hate it when people lord over me. I think a lot of people do. Now, it's "what to do about it." :) Who knows...I think we're all digesting what's going on and it'll take some time to figure out just what we're all going to do about it.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi cclit, I'm not worried about those who falsely believe they are better than me, but being treated as a no-account number instead of a human being -- that disturbs me. That's how I think a lot of people feel, not as human beings but as numbers, unimportant, irrelevant and worst of all, disposable. Lynda


mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 4 years ago

Wow, Thank you for sharing. The foreclosure bit has been a bug that just won't go away. It really bit when the banks were bailed out using taxpayer money. It seems to me this is another problem that the government brought on the people because they could manage our affairs so much better.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi mljdgulley -- You would think they could, but maybe they can't... That thought scares me; they are perhaps doing the best they can. For a society that was once based on the worth of the individual, it now seems the individual is nothing. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Lynda


Flightkeeper profile image

Flightkeeper 4 years ago from The East Coast

It's so sad how some of these pretty homes have become so decrepit because of the economy. And people themselves are so discouraged and doing what they can to survive. I keep hoping that the turnaround will come soon but it doesn't seem to be happening.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Yes, it is sad, Flightkeeper. The transformation from pretty, well-kept streets to seedy sure didn't take long -- not in this climate. I think we all hope there will be a turnaround soon, but apparently, things are expected to get worse. Thanks for commenting. Lynda


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 4 years ago from London, UK

Hello, Lynda,and thank you for this sad and so widespread problem. I too still hanging on and hoping to keep my house. Over here is the same story. The thing this government does is beyond belief and yet they give billians to Libya to rebuilt not the country but the arsenal the NATO distroyed. Billions to the IMF which has already 140billion Euros in its collection-box. £83,000 for somebody to find out how to make the MPS' jobs easier. Would you belief that? Can anybody swallow this? A four-year old could do a better job than them.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

So, Hello, hello, it's the same old, same old everywhere... But some places harder hit than others. Can anybody swallow this, you ask. Apparently so, though it's much like swallowing your own vomit. Thanks so much for commenting.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This "unmitigated disaster" that you've described is nothing short of shocking. As a former Florida resident and former homeowner there, I'm astounded by these facts and wondering if everyone in this country is asleep or just unconscious. We need focus, we need unity, we need leadership to drive us out of this free falling economy. And we have none of the above. While our country is being bought out by foreigners we watch reality shows and eat Doritos. This is truly sad. Sad!

My heart goes out to you and all those who suffer from diminishing equity and loss of value to their homes due to slimy bank maneuvering. That is heartbreaking.

I can't imagine how camping out in tents and protesting will help this situation. We need new leaders and a clean sweep in government. We need to keep the billions of dollars spent on bombs and reconstruction of other countries from leaving this country. We need to initiate new research programs and fund highway repair. We need to put Americans to work brainstorming our way out of this mess. We need to WAKE UP!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Amen, sister! Is everyone asleep? No, but I get the sense that if these things are not happening to them, then they feel they don't need to worry about it. And those to whom it is happening, well it's their own fault, isn't it? Don't you get that feeling from the way people talk, the way they look down on those in trouble, what some write?

I'm with you; I don't see how occupying anything -- other than your own soon-to-be-foreclosed house -- is accomplishing much. Yes, new leaders are needed, but unless there is massive change of direction and attitude, it will not help.

Thanks so much for commenting, Peg. Lynda


chelseacharleston profile image

chelseacharleston 4 years ago

Super insightful, although tragic.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you, Chelsea.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

That "dual-tracking" scheme is dripping of venom ... I had never heard of anything of this sort, mindblowing ... wow.

I think the following is a great question:

"Is there anyone anywhere who may be more interested in the people in the houses rather than the houses themselves?"

The way things seem to be nowadays (in my opinion) is that everything is about profit and the more profit the better. Forget rules and regulations: profit has somehow charmed ninety-percent of the world's population. The houses could be profitable but not with people in them. So, people have to be kicked-out I guess ... for profit.

It is truly insane in my opinion.

Thank You for another great article Mrs. Lynda. Much to learn here! All the best.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hey Mr. Happy. Always nice to hear from you. I don't know about you, or anyone else, but what sticks in my mind is this: the banks are entirely non-responsive to the people sitting in houses worth 75-90% less than when they were purchased, are poised to repossess ASAP and yet those same people are the ones on the line for the bail-out funds. Can anyone explain how this makes sense?

Truly insane? To force your own citizens out of their homes and to turn around and offer those same houses to foreign investors at less that you would have received had you negotiated with those homeowners... Yep, that sound insane to me.

Thanks for commenting. Lynda


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

This whole situation is totally insane. First we changed rules so that even people who could not afford to buy a home were allowed to buy a home they could never pay for. Now we are removing people from homes they are willing to pay for if the lenders will work with them on reduced payment plans and extended mortgages.

I would love to see this scenario proposed to a college level "Logic 101" class and see if they can make sense out of this.

Perhaps we should insist on a round of mandatory sanity testing sessions for all of our elected leaders?


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

I honestly cannot understand why common sense has been lost in so many areas of our lives/society ... We should wake-up at one point though, no? Or more of us, I should say.

All the best again! : )


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

Mr. Happy, most high school age children could find the flaws in the policies they are now applying. Common sense no longer plays a role in much of what we do.


wwolfs 4 years ago

Nice hub and very informative. How sad what is happening to many homes and neighborhoods. I didn't realize how much damage is being done. It really does only make the value go down even more.

If only lenders would work with others and even extend mortgages. Many could always change their mortgages around one day when the economy is better. Common sense is definitely lacking for a solution to a serious problem.


ElderYoungMan profile image

ElderYoungMan 4 years ago from Worldwide

Let's see.... Destroy personal ownership and private investment activity in the home market..... Force individuals into rental situation and consolidate ownership of property under international banks.... International banks own the government, so in essence they are the government...who we know are running to go under the UN..... It seems to me that the new world order has an interest in making sure that there are not private home and land owners, that's why the process is so tilted against people willing to pay and redeem their "Ownership". Home owners held Sovereignty and a group of people on their own property are much harder to "Legally" deal with than someone who is renting from what will ultimately end up being the banks. This construct is planned for the whole country folks. This is why our own government has built and is actively manning FEMA camps. This has been in the works for a long time, but the trigger was pulled in 1988 when Big George declared New World Order, with a strong "United Nations".


ElderYoungMan profile image

ElderYoungMan 4 years ago from Worldwide


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

EYM - The more pieces that fall into place let's us start to see what is really going on. This is downright scary.


ElderYoungMan profile image

ElderYoungMan 4 years ago from Worldwide

@OPM-Yes it is. To even have thought this thing out and executed a plan that this opposed to just living is hard to fathom. But here we are.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

@EYM - It appears that a series of carefully planned steps are, and have been executed, that have led us to where we are today. It was done gradually so we wouldn't see it coming, but here it is. I'm old and will most likely not live long enough to see it fully implemented, but my children and grandchildren will sure see it. This is really sad and I would love to know who exactly put this plan into action.


ElderYoungMan profile image

ElderYoungMan 4 years ago from Worldwide

I have 4 children myself and I have to find my peace and give them theirs from the Holy Scriptures. It isn't the end of the world, but the end of the "Age". Mine know the Father, his word and his Messiah. The rest is in His hands.


ElderYoungMan profile image

ElderYoungMan 4 years ago from Worldwide

The "Who" is complicated (they are legion), but know that this is bigger than a president or a political party. This, for the United States, started back in 1913 with the Federal Reserve act and previously in Europe with the Rothschilds and every effort that they have made to get the "New World" right where we are now. It takes a "Biblical" hatred of life to do this and the solution will be Biblical. That's all I'll say here, but know this was bigger than a generation of people.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 4 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hello Old Poolman, always a pleasure. Although we often say (like the sheeple we are,) too many people bought homes they couldn't afford, the truth is that most people could afford the home they had; it was life that was jerked out from under their feet through no fault of their own. Suddenly, there was no work in Florida. Those who weren't here don't understand how cataclysmic and abrupt the crash was in this state. Things just came to a sudden halt and there has been little recovery. Indeed, the housing market gets worse and worse. Trouble is, everyone knows it, so cheap as housing is in Florida, a lot of people are standing back to wait for things to hit bottom. Though, when friends of mine picked up a North Port house, three bedrooms, two baths on 125 by 125 lot for $43,300, it makes you wonder how much further bottom can be. However, foreclosures are gearing up again -- at least according to the local news. Where is the help for homeowners we were promised? Why only the big banks (those that helped make the mess) and nothing for the little guys? Forgive me for saying, but the United States appears to be the most self-destructive nation I've ever visited -- and I've traveled a lot!

Hello ElderYoungMan -- an interesting theory you've laid out here. I need some time to think on it before commenting. Thanks for sharing.

Hi wwolfs: Unless you're here in Florida and have watched this unfold, you have no idea of the destruction to so many people. So you see, you're not alone in your state of not understanding what has happened. Thanks so much for commenting.

Hey again, Mr. Happy -- Common sense? Surely you jest. Common sense in government; that'll be the day.


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

Lynda - You make a great point. I suspect many have also had cars repossessed because their financial situation has deteriorated to the point they can no longer afford the payments. It is becoming more and more obvious there is no help for the little guy. Big banks and big business get bailout money, our tax dollars, and the citizens who provide this money get nothing. I'm trying like heck to find the fairness in this, but none comes to mind. It seems those who control the money win every time.


ziyena profile image

ziyena 4 years ago from Southern Colorado

This is so sad ... but it's definitely happening everywhere in the United States. Here in colorado springs with our military members too ... who by the way go off to help support an endless war and come home to find out that they are losing their homes. Good people losing their jobs everywhere and then losing their homes, gaining bad credit and then they can't get another good paying job because of their credit score. Just a never ending cylce that our own Government created. Please .. I think I need to stop here now before I depress you, the reader. Very informative hub.

Voting UP


Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 4 years ago from Rural Arizona

@ziyena - And yet there are those who still think our government is wonderful. This didn't all come to be with this administration. It has been building over many administrations and has now reached the point where we feel the pain. Many mistakes have been made, and are still being made that only make it worse. Who knows what the end result will be.


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bigpoppajoe 3 years ago

i want to say to all of you god bless and here in central florida its the same thing too our homes are worthless and i don't blame anyone who walks away just,like people who walk away from a bad investment


cfin profile image

cfin 3 years ago from The World we live in

WOW! Just wow! I had no idea that this was going on in Florida. The exact same thing happened in Ireland, except it caused all of our banks to collapse when people started walking away from their properties and the banks lost 10's of billions.

God bless those who have been stuck with this burden. But they should just treasure the other things in life. Treasure every breathe. The way I would look at it is, thank god you have your health. And with health insurance bills the way they are, i'm sure I would take a top heavy mortgage instead.

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