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Bob the Grumpy Rooter Man

Posted by: Chris Palmeri on March 11, 2009

It’s annual rite of spring in Southern California where everything grows like weeds to get our sewer pipe shorn of any wandering vines. My wife decided to switch plumbers this year—because her old guy now only wants cash up front-instead of credit cards later. But Bob the Rooter Man that came yesterday morning was nothing short of grumpy. He left with the work undone because he felt the neighbor’s cars blocked his access.

He came back again today when the cars were moved, but why was Bob so grumpy?

It turns out Bob used to be a mortgage broker. He lost his job and his house and started sleeping on a friend’s couch. The friend owned a rooter business and opportunity knocked. He said the business was doing $2,500 a week before the housing market crashed. (It’s practically mandatory to get your sewer checked in Los Angeles when you buy a house.) Today a good week is $700.

And that’s the story of Bob the Grumpy Rooter Man.



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.

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