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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 00:13 GMT
US mortgage crisis: Readers' stories
Sales sign in Novato, California (Getty), dollar bills (BBC), foreclosure sign in Antioch, California (Getty), repossession sign in San Clemente, California (AP), home in North Aurora, Illinois (AFP)

The US housing market has continued to suffer a slump in the wake of the sub-prime lending crisis.

Here BBC News website readers from across the US describe how they have been affected by the ongoing problems in the country's once-booming property market.

RETA SANDEN, TURLOCK, CALIFORNIA

Reta Sanden
I am a realtor in the Central Valley of California, one of the hardest hit areas in the recent housing crunch.

I too own a home, and my husband and I are struggling not just because I am not making any commissions lately, but because everything is going up - food, gas, taxes, you name it.

We refinanced our home in November 2005 to do some much needed improvements.

Now our adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is due to adjust in November. We are not sure what it will adjust to which is very worrying as my income has been greatly affected recently.

I have wished all affected families I have met good luck. I know how they feel. I am one of them too
This makes it very hard to get back on track anytime soon. Banks used to be happy to talk to us and lend us money. Now we really need help and they don't want to know us.

All of this has made our situation impossible. We want to keep our home, and make the payments but if banks are going to turn their backs on us, then they deserve the losses they incur.

I have met families who have lost their credit, their home, their dignity and even their jobs. After that, what's left?

Unless people are relieved of their prior credit damages, and are given a reasonable chance to pay back their debts, then they are in serious trouble.

I have wished all affected families I have met good luck. I know how they feel. I am one of them too.

CINDY, KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI

We have an adjustable rate mortgage from one of the sub-prime lenders. We had a terrible financial year last year and fell behind in paying off our credit cards.

As a result our credit is even worse this year and now as our mortgage goes up, we can't refinance due to horrible credit.

Foreclosure auction sign
We could still make the payments if they [lenders] would just give us a chance - before we lose our home
This is all despite the fact that I am finally making more money and am now able to pay higher mortgage payments.

It is a terrible place to be.

If we could get a loan to consolidate all our payments into a new mortgage, we would be so much better off, but that isn't possible now and this whole situation has become a catch-22.

Our ARM has gone up twice this year and I am afraid if it keeps up at this rate, I might not be able to stay on top of things.

It would be great if these lenders could appreciate that although a lot of us don't have good credit, we could still make the payments if they would just give us a chance - before we lose our home.

ANGELA KINARI, EUGENE, OREGON

Angela Kinari
I own a small mortgage brokerage company.

This was one of the worst summers I have seen in my five years in the business.

I have found that although many people want to refinance, many of them are unable to do so because of new guidelines that lenders have imposed.

Personally, it is as though I am starting all over again, spending all of my time trying to figure out each lender's new rules.

In our office, we processed only a few sub-prime loans.

If truth be told, they are difficult to process and in my experience, the clients tended to be difficult to work with - either in proving their income or having high debt. We never advertised for these types of loans or clients as a result.

Overall, the money coming in the door is definitely considerably lower than in years past.

I am worried as I am the breadwinner in the family.

JENNA, HOUSTON, TEXAS

I am a loan officer working in sub-prime lending.

At the present time, I am looking for a job in other industries as we are facing a 20% reduction in our company.

I have learned that lending to people with spotty credit and the promotion of ARMs was not the best of ideas.

I am thankful that I was always quick to dissuade borrowers from ARMs, as I had my reservations about them even two years ago.

Encouraging 100% financing with ARMs is a recipe for disaster, as proven by the hike in foreclosures on homes this year.

My advice to anyone buying a home is - make sure your credit is excellent, put at least 10%-20% down as a deposit, and never ever get an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), unless you plan on selling before it adjusts.

MARC CARDULLO, SACO, MAINE

Marc Cardullo
As a mortgage loan officer, the bad news pours in from across the industry on a daily basis.

Many homeowners are abandoning their homes or are being foreclosed on.

I blame the government for not regulating our business more, like they do with banks. They should have seen this coming.

I blame homeowners for basically using the equity on their homes as an ATM machine. I blame the banks and lenders for approving people for homes who had no business buying one in the first place.

I also blame the banks and lenders for coming up with teaser rates and interest-only products that are confusing to your average American consumer.

From my own experience, I have an ARM but knew what I was purchasing and have a plan to switch to a more stable product.

When I re-financed I left my equity alone and went with a reputable bank.

It is back to basics now in the lending business, which means only people with good credit, good ratios, and money down can buy their home and prospective buyers will be scrutinised more closely.

Overall, things are not good here and my guess is it is going to get worse before it gets better.

RICHARD SITTEMA, WARREN, OHIO

Richard Sittema
I live in an area of north-eastern Ohio that has been in economic decline for quite a few years. The recent housing crisis has only made things worse.

Many people who purchased homes in this area within the last five or six years did so with sub-prime, variable interest-rate loans.

Unfortunately, many of those same people have since lost their homes or have had to sell because they couldn't afford the payments once the interest rates went up.

This has impacted on my wife and I as the value of our house has been reduced, and if we wanted to sell it in the near future we wouldn't make much.

There are simply too many properties on the market now so buyers can essentially dictate their terms.

As a result, our once beautiful town is now dotted with "For Sale" signs and many of our neighbours have had to leave.

Interviews by Stephen Fottrell.





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