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A Foreclosure’s Final Chapter

The house that former Manassas homeowner Julio Angulo lost in a foreclosure eviction chronicled by TWI is back on the market. Haymarket Realtor Keith Elliott Jr. said Angulo’s former home is listed for $84,900.

Think about that for a minute. Angulo bought the townhouse, in a working class subdivision in suburban Virginia, for $280,000 in 2005.

Now it’s being offered for a fraction of what Angulo paid for it. He’s out of a home he desperately wanted to stay in. Investors in his loan didn’t exactly come out ahead. No one knows yet how long the home will sit vacant before someone buys it, if anyone ever does. Neighbors who have been paying their mortgages will find their property values taking another hit from this.

Here’s what I can’t figure out: Who really won here? Who benefited from all this?

You could argue Angulo got to live for three years in a house he apparently couldn’t really afford, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that he hoped to stay in it for the long term. Or that he ended up having to go through foreclosure and eviction. He’s back in El Salvador, with a ruined credit rating. The lender, Aurora Loan Services, surely didn’t make much money on this deal - although the firm probably picked up fees for foreclosing and other services, so don’t pull out your hankies just yet.

This is a loan that probably never should have been made to someone who probably didn’t understand what he was getting into. Multiply it by hundreds of thousands of deals just like it and you can understand why we’re in the mess we are right now. What strikes me is that in the end, no one benefited. No one’s better off for what happened - not the former homeowner, the lender, or the neighborhood. Nor are taxpayers who are picking up the tab to clean up messes like this.

What happened, in the end, can’t be summed up with a tidy moral lesson, the hugging and learning moments of television sitcoms. There’s just a sense of purposelessness, of wasted time, wasted emotions, and a churning of money that didn’t create anything of value, although some lenders and Wall Street investors made big profits, for a time. There’s nothing more that comes of this than a glimpse into the way the American Dream of homeownership got twisted and turned upside down in recent years, leaving behind an empty townhouse at a fire-sale price, and a former homeowner broken and gone.

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