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Thursday, May 26, 2011

 

The Victims of Extreme Makeover Homes.

I never like the “Extreme makeover” show. It’s a tearjerker in which a poor family with a tale of woe to tell gets a big beautiful new house that’s put up in a week. The end of the show has the family being shown their new home as a big RV drives off and allows them to see what has been constructed for them. The family breaks into the obligatory tears and gasps of wonder, hugs and thanks everybody involved … fade to black.

I’m sorry. I’m in the business of helping people finance their lives and I have often wondered how the people who received big, beautiful new homes were able to afford the higher property taxes and utility bills. These people had sad stories to tell BECAUSE they were poor and unable to afford anything better. Along with their house they may have received some cash but not a great new job at much higher pay.

It turns out that my concerns were not out of place.

From the Wall Street Journal:
The “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show is back in the news – and the big reveal doesn’t have a happy ending.

....Chuck and Terri Cerda appeared in a March 2009 episode showing the precautions their two children, Molly and Maggie, have to take because of a rare immunodeficiency disease. They received a McMansion equipped with air filtration systems and a solar-heated swimming pool. (Extreme recipients also receive other goodies, including cash. In this story, there were also two oboes, a flute and $2,000 worth of music lessons.)

But, according to news reports, the family struggled financially the supersized bills and sold the house. ...

...financial drama isn’t unusual for Extreme recipients: They often struggle to keep up with their expensive new digs. In many cases, the bigger, more lavish homes have come with bigger, more lavish utility bills. And bigger tax assessments. Some homeowners have tapped the equity of their super-sized homes only to fall behind on the higher mortgage payments. After using the home’s increased equity Eric Hebert lost his Sandpoint, Idaho, home to foreclosure in 2009. This is said to be the show’s first known foreclosure.

Earlier this year, the Harvey family in Hastings, Fla., faced foreclosure on the home they received in 2005. Tax payments soared to $5,200 from $500 a year to, while utilities spiked to $400 a month, from $60. An auction has been canceled, which isn’t that unusual as families fight to keep their homes.

It would have been easier to give them the money, but that would have spoiled the TV show ... and that's what this show is about. The people are just props.

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Comments:
In 2008 Extreme Makeover tore down and rebuilt Arlence Nickless's house in Holt, Michigan. The address is 2376 Eifert Rd Holt Michigan. According to tax assessment records there was a Shefiff's Deed placed on 12/09/2010Monies owed are 37,539.00 for a home valued at nearly 300,000. The latest taxes per year are 7,323.45= 610.00 month. How did they expect a widowed unemployed mother of several children to pay taxes of 610 month plus whatever her mortgage payment was? I have seen nothing in the local papers covering this unfortunate event. I also cannot understand why Mrs. Nickless did not put the home up for sale when she realized she was unable to afford living there.....
 
She receives $3000 in Social Security every month. Not a lot for a family of four, but "do-able". Utilities and a few extras were covered for the first year, her water bill was covered by funds that were raised by her water company. ($2000) She had time to find employment.....her situation was tough but I do believe she found a way to stay afloat.
 
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