No, this was not the parting sentiment from seller to buyer at a happy closing. It was wistfully painted above the front door, surrounded by an artistic vine of leaves and flowers, of a bank-owned property I showed to some first-time buyers. We didn't notice it until we were leaving, where it stopped us dead in our tracks. No one spoke for a long time as we resumed our places in the car for the ride to the next potential home.
Every day we Realtors are faced with the dregs of lives gone sadly wrong. Abandoned bedrooms gaily decorated with pink walls and frilly curtains, or perhaps sports-themed trim and a left behind poster of some kid's hero. Lines carefully marked inside a closet as a family's children grew. A forgotten toy left in the rush to vacate as the sheriff drove up the street. Wet, molding, laundry forgotten in the washing machine when the residents come home to discover the locks changed. People peering fearfully out as the REO agent comes to the door to offer cash for keys.
We (and by "we" I mean "I") spend a lot of time arguing the nuances of the "real estate crisis"...whose fault it was, who the winners and losers were, all the minutia of the hows, whys, wherefores of what happened. So much easier and less painful to deal with numbers and abstractions. But at the end of the day, it is the human story that is compelling. Yes, many of those folks likely made poor decisions. Yes, people should be responsible for their debts and promises. Yes, many who invested in those peoples' home loans (including financial institutions) have suffered at least as much; lost jobs, lost savings, huge losses in the value of the companies they work for.
But some days I just feel like coming home and crying.
Photo Credit: Left Behind by Michael | Ruiz from Flickr via Creative Commons License