Mortgage industry veteran Jack H. has experienced fast-rising home prices and plunge-like-a-rock housing values during his 30-year career. But nothing compares to the current market.
“I never thought it would be this bad – and for this long,” says Jack, who lives in Orangevale, about 20 miles from the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento. “It’s new ground for everybody.”
Indeed, homeowners who once enjoyed annual double-digit price gains have endured an average decline in their home value of more than 40 percent since the housing crisis started. And one-time multiple offers for homes have given way to a record number of foreclosures and short sales as lenders take them back.
“We didn’t realize how good we had it,” says Jack, referring to the booming economy during the first half of this past decade that has turned into a gut-wrenching bust since 2007.
Jack – like more than 2 million Californians – is unemployed. He has been jobless off and on for the past three years.
“I had a lot of responsibility,” Jack says of his previous positions in the mortgage industry, including as an executive with The Money Store. The company was one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders before being sold more than a decade ago.
“Now, it’s hard to get a job,” says Jack, who is receiving mortgage assistance from Keep Your Home California while he looks for work.
Jack first heard about the state-run program at the California State Fair in mid-July. He completed an application and the necessary documents and was approved for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program two weeks later.
“It all happened very quickly,” he says. “I was impressed with the service.”
Keep Your Home California, with $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund®, started paying his monthly mortgage in September and will continue for the next several months – or until Jack finds work.
“It helps me breathe a little,” says Jack, a matter-of-fact guy who moved from his native New Jersey to the Sacramento region in 1994. “It’s nice to not make a payment for a while.”
So, with Keep Your Home California handling his mortgage payments, Jack concentrates on applying for positions, including those in one of the hardest-hit industries where he had a front-row seat to the housing meltdown – and now watches for the recovery.
“Nobody is looking to upgrade” their home, says Jack, who expects the housing market to struggle for some time. “It’s not going to be an easy turnaround.”
Jack, a Navy veteran and former reservist with the Navy and Army National Guard, volunteers at a local church when he is not looking for work.
“Anybody I talk to, I tell them (about Keep Your Home California),” he says. “It was painless, it was easy.”