so, how’s michigan weathering the housing bust?

According to data analyzed by the folks at the Consumerist, Michigan is fourth hardest hit when it comes to per-capita forclosures in the wake of the housing bubble’s burst. [I’m busy watching “Armed and Famous,” so you’ll have to insert your own snarky comments here about sub-prime lending, grossly overpriced mcmansions, and those who feel compelled to live in 10x the space they need.]

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  1. robr
    Posted January 11, 2007 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Hello Mark. Longtime lurker on your site, though we’ve bantered along on Brett’s and Laura’s sites now and then.
    One of my big passions is anti-sprawl– I hate what’s become of western Wayne Co. in and around Canton. I’m old enough to remember a drive out that way was a rural experience– What’s there now depresses me.
    An observation from that area: Two summers ago, while another surge of “Pulte Progress” was in session and going about bulldozing the woods aligning north Ridge Rd., I saw one of the big dump trucks involved back over and flatten a “natural beauty road” sign….sigh! Death to the mcmansions! –Rob, proud owner of 700 square feet.

  2. mark
    Posted January 12, 2007 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    I hear you, Rob. Thanks for the comment.

    And, on the subject of the housing bubble having burst, I just got word from a friend today who works in the building trade that she’s being cut back to part-time. This is going to impact a lot of people as it ripples through the ecosystem.

  3. k
    Posted January 14, 2007 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    People in SE Michigan who work outside of universities are going to find that they are impacted heavily by the situation in the domestic auto industry. Building has slowed, a correction, all over the U.S., but SE Michigan is its own little pool of an awful economy. It’s fun to go after housing because it’s easy to hate new developments, but restaurants are down, small stores of all sorts are closing, printers are going out of business because the people they served can’t afford to advertise etc.. And it’s not just builders with bad taste and the evil SUVs who are suffering, but carpenters and laborers from all the trades who can’t support their families now. I’m not saying we should sprawl just to provide jobs, but like most industries building had a positive impact along with the less desirable attributes. Not unlike the auto industry that supported so many Michigan families with a middle class income for so long.

  4. mark
    Posted January 14, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t see this post necessarily as an indictment of the building trades, and I’m sorry you took it as such. Builders are, by and large, good people. Why, Jesus himself was a carpenter, right? What I was commenting on in the post is the fact that our neighbors here in Michigan are losing their homes. And I didn’t mean to suggest that I was taking any glee in that. I’m not. As with SUVs, it’s a complicated issue though. The people who live in McMansions and drive SUVs do deserve some of the blame, as do the manufacturers.

    In the case of the big three, I understand the realities that they’re dealing with. People wanted SUVs and they gave them to them. To have changed over to making small, efficient hybrids in such an environment probably would have been foolish (from a business perspective). I get that. And, in that instance, I attribute most of the blame to the buyers. They knew that their urban assault vehicles consumed more resources, did a disproportionate amount of damage when colliding with other vehicles, etc, and they didn’t care. They wanted to feel indestructible. So, yes, I fault them. What I really fault the automotive companies for is obscuring the truth, using lobbyists and astroturf organizations to tell us that global warming isn’t real. They knew the score, just like the tobacco companies did, and yet they did nothing. They fucked with the future of our planet because they wanted to hit their quarterly numbers, and, yes, someone should be held accountable for that. Oh, and they also systematically went about destroying mass transportation in this county. So, yeah, there’s more than enough blame to go around.

    As for the building trades, the evidence of wrongdoing isn’t as apparent. On the financing side it’s clear that several companies were selling mortgages to people that they knew couldn’t afford them, but I don’t see it so much with general construction. Yeah, some of them probably knew that the model wasn’t tenable, but I don’t think that makes them evil. Some builders, no doubt, do shitty work, and they should be held accountable for that, but I don’t know that we necessarily need a jihad against everyone that was building McMansion developments just because they might have suspected that they wouldn’t retain their value, etc.

    The system is fucked. We have lenders telling people that they can afford way more than they can. We have a culture telling people they need much more than they need. And we have precious little media telling the truth of the matter, which is that, in the long run, it’s not going to work. Do I want for builders to lost their jobs? No. It would be nice, however, if their bosses started putting some time and money into thinking about how to get people to want to move back into urban centers, instead of just sprawling from cornfield to cornfield.

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