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The Los Angeles Times had a poignant feature over the weekend showing the impact of the mortgage meltdown on all sorts of related businesspeople, from the 27 year old loan processor at Countrywide Financial who got layed-off to the Century 21 Realtor who’s offered to babysit for clients to win their listings.
Escrow company owner Juliana Tu has had to ask her employees to pay for their own health insurance premiums. Home appraiser Michael Mathis has seen his income fall so dramatically he put his own home up for sale. It’s been on the market since December. Economist Christopher Thornberg notes that California could lose some 200,000 real estate related jobs before the slump ends.
Of particular note was how dirctly connected the home remodeling industry was to the real estate boom. In the article, tile setter George Ordunasays he’s gone from five jobs per week and turning business over to others to being lucky if he can get one project per week. Jobs that used to pay him $25 a square foot now pay $12. Painter Brulio Gonzales used to get four or five calls a day offering work. Today he can go five days without a call, a burden too on his grandmother in Guatemala who relies on money he has sent home.
If you need remodeling done, now’s the time to call.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.