Everyone knows the kind of Train Wreck foreclosures have put the real estate industry in nationally. I'm not here to debate why, how, or who's fault. I'd like to discuss something the media and everyone else seem to leave out - the children being affected by the housing market fallout.
It affects all ages.
Many, if not most, families that took out subprime, Alt-A, and Option ARM loans over the last few years have children. Young, old, or tweeners - it doesn't matter. The fact is that many more children are having to deal and cope with the financial and emotional stress that foreclosures and short sales put on a family today than any time in history.
Kids are smart.
They're smarter than we give them credit for. Just look back at the things you knew were going on in your family that they thought they were hiding from you. Kids are super sensitive to the emotions of their parents and siblings. They know when something is wrong in the household. They can hear tension in their parent's voices. Why try hiding something that the kids are going to find out about any way? It will be a big clue when you have to move.
Talk with them, not to them.
Don't just tell your kids the way it is. Well, we're behind on house payments, pack up your stuff, say by to the neighborhood friends, we're moving to [insert town or new neighborhood here]. Of course, it depends on their age, but kids can understand what's going on if you talk about it in a logical, rational way. Tell them that times are tough. Tell them that every-thing's going to be alright as long as you stick together. Since you've got to bear through it anyway, make a life lesson out of it. Help you kids to avoid pitfalls down the road.
Communication keeps you close.
Talk to your kids. Let them talk to you. Meet with your pastor, preacher, rabbi, or mentor to help you through this difficult time in your family's lives. Hardship can create resentment so keep talking to your kids and help them deal. They'll thank you for it down the road.
There are lots of resources now for families facing foreclosure. Don't wait and hope everything works out. Make plans and know your options. Keep communication with your bank or lender - they don't want you to default on the loan anymore than you do. See if they can work with you to lower payments or refinance.
If you are in one of these families, take it upon yourself to get some help from an advisor. Start with a good agent and tell them your situation. Realtors are bound by law and a code of ethics to keep anything you tell them in the strictest confidence. Leave a message here or contact me to take the first step in getting out of a tough situation.
Sorry for the non P.C. holiday post. I just feel this is a subject that needs some attention from our community. Maybe we can make a few more happy holidays before Santa squeezes down the chimney.
What are some of the ways we as professionals can ease this suffering for families across the U.S?