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Market Meltdown: How Modesto-area leaders think crisis can be fixed

Attendees wait in line outside of the Foreclosure prevention workshop held at the Modesto Center Plaza in March.
Attendees wait in line outside of the Foreclosure prevention workshop held at the Modesto Center Plaza in March. Modesto Bee

The foreclosure mess may have started in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, but it's turned into a national crisis.

Federal leaders now are fighting a financial catastrophe, proposing massive bailouts and taking charge of failed financial systems.

Opinions are mixed about whether government officials are doing what's necessary.

Here is a sampling of what valley business and real estate leaders think Washington should do to ease America's fiscal woes. More of what they had to say is posted on modbee.com :

Mark Wilbur, owner, McRoy-Wilbur Communities Inc.

"As a builder it is very painful to deal with this foreclosure problem, but a hands-off approach will ultimately be best for everybody.

"Many of the people 'losing' their homes have simply chosen to walk away because of declining values. Making victims for political gain seems to be rampant in both parties.

"A major reason many loans have not been modified or rewritten is that the owners cannot show economic hardship. The current mentality is to ignore your debt if it is not financially beneficial."

RaeLene Brown, financial secretary-treasurer, Stanislaus & Tuolumne Counties Central Labor Council

"Laws should be put in place to never let this disaster in home mortgages happen again. Mortgage lenders were allowed to create loans to homeowners that they knew could never be repaid and would most likely have adverse financial affect if the market took a downturn.

"Taxpayer dollars should not be used to reward the irresponsible Wall Street executive who created this disaster. A bailout plan must include a payback strategy for taxpayers who are footing the bill and aid to innocent homeowners who are facing foreclosure."

David Hosley, president, Great Valley Center

"I think the federal response is generally appropriate. We need to stabilize the financial system, and the government stepping in to assume some of the loans is one step in doing that.

"It should be a limited response, and we should combine this short-term action with steps that will ensure we have a good mix of housing in the future."

Niniv Tamimi, real estate broker and developer

"Although the consequences of no action are dire, rushing to establish a trillion dollar bailout outlined on three pages without full disclosure of all the elements is foolhardy.

"Additionally, the relinquishment of a spending authority of this magnitude to anyone, including the president, appears to be unprecedented. The fact is, private equity firms are standing ready to acquire these assets from the government 'if attractively priced' and reap windfall profits such as those generated by the last bailout.

"Will this help or hurt the Central Valley? Perhaps it would be wiser and more productive to invest a trillion on our ailing domestic infrastructure, resulting in a tangible stimulus to the economy."

John A. Hillas, Appraisal Institute Board of Directors chairman

"The whole system needs to be changed in my opinion, whereby lenders receive fees as loan payments are made, rather than all at once when the loan is booked.

"It would cause them to be a whole lot more concerned about whether the borrower really can make those payments two, three or five years from now.

"Loan originators need to be certified or licensed just like appraisers, there needs to be meaningful requirements for those licenses, and consequences for those who do not comply with ethical and professional standards."

Rodney Lowe, owner, Rodney K. Lowe Development Inc.

"I'm a free market guy, and I think we have to let the economy run its course. Let's put the safety net in place with the government bailout, but only for the benefit of creating liquidity in the market, allowing life to go on.

"In the future, we all need to slow down on the borrowing and taking on extra debt, back off on the overconsumption and learn to live within our means.

"I think at the local level the market is taking care of itself. Homes are being discounted and sold in rather quick fashion. Many multiple offers are being seen on many homes.

"I think we have to stay that course and work ourselves through the excessive inventory in order to place a bottom that will then stem a recovery."

John Nelson, branch manager, Nor-Cal Lending

"The bailout, if done right, will definitely help our valley. The government must be able to offer loan modifications with a principle reduction at the same time. ...

"The government is quite frankly doing more than they should (to prevent foreclosure). A great number of homeowners qualified for much more home than they could afford, most with very creative loans.

"Those homeowners probably would still be renters had it not been for those loans. Going back into the rental market versus owning should not be looked at as a terrible experience, rather a re-grouping and educated one.

"In three to five years, those same individuals will be in a better position to purchase what they can actually afford."

Thomas Solomon, co-owner, CoSoL Commercial Real Estate

"My suggestion would be to encourage lenders to streamline the process for the sale of foreclosed homes to investors who can readily offer these homes as rentals to people who weren't likely in a position to own in the first place.

"By doing so, the high volume of unsold homes would be removed from the 'supply glut' allowing for the homebuilder to cautiously re-enter the home building industry.

"The home builder then must lower their profit expectations, which the smart ones will, enabling the construction industry to begin to marginally gain some growth, which affects our region's numerous industries, including all the trades, title companies, civil engineers, suppliers (and) local governments.

"Normality in this region is what we all should hope and strive to achieve."

Rich Murdoch, owner, J.R. Murdoch construction and development

"Interest rates need to be adjusted on a more regional level than what we have been doing. ...

"Our area is one of the hardest hit in the country in terms of foreclosures. When the Fed lowered interest rates, they weren't lowered commensurately to the consumer. Banks just raised their margins to help cover the huge amount of losses they are taking due to the foreclosures.

"If there was a strong supply of money available and the interest rate was adjusted low enough, I mean really low, the refinance industry would take off again, lenders would be busy, title companies would be hiring, people could refi their loans that have adjusted to a rate beyond what they can afford, more homes would be sold and purchased, jobs would be created, and ultimately more people would be able to hold onto their home."

Craig Lewis, president, Prudential California Realty

"It's something that had to be done, or we could have been in a real crunch. ... The government needs to put a cash infusion into the system, otherwise the banks have no money to loan. ...

"If no one can borrow money from anybody, then the entire economy comes to a crashing halt. ... They've bailed us out of a tremendous monetary crisis."

Joseph Anfuso, president, Florsheim Homes

"It's imperative the government try to shore up the financial system. What happens on Wall Street will find its way to Main Street. ...If the financial system is not taken care of, problems will trickle down to every individual.

"Sometimes the free market system isn't really free. You've got to pay to play."

Ryan S. Swehla, commercial real estate consultant, Tuolumne Capital Partners

"Until we acknowledge that the only path to regional prosperity is through bringing new businesses and jobs to the valley, we will never get out of this boom and bust cycle. Economic development has to be priority No. 1, and our local government needs to make a financial commitment to accomplish this."

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