A sunken housing market has turned foreclosure auctions into feeding grounds for the vultures of American capitalism. Low prices mean plenty of available buildings to be bought, fixed up and sold at a profit. Meanwhile, suffering evictees are nowhere to be seen, except for the rare occasions when they show up to protest or bid on the homes themselves. –ARK

The New York Times:

[T]hey are preparing to bid on the hundreds of foreclosed properties auctioned each week in one of the country’s more colorful public clearinghouses. During the housing boom, when mortgages were being given out with no money down and prices soared, the auctions were a sleepy sideshow. But in the years since, the auctions have grown into a scruffy economic circus where bargain hunters from around the world have scooped up houses often sold for less than half of the value of the mortgage.

… The courthouse auctions have a bloodlessness that belies their impact on people’s lives. Every day, in the rain, morning chill or scorching heat, a half-dozen auctioneers set up shop on the picnic tables in front of the courthouse. They flip open their laptops and read off the addresses of the properties for sale, the value of each mortgage, the taxes due and the opening bid, which the seller determines. Homeowners’ names are never mentioned.

… At times, the auctioneers and bidders are confronted with the reality of what they are trading. Some homeowners come to see their houses sold and vent their anger. A few bring video cameras to film the auction, trying to intimidate the bidders. Every so often a homeowner, having walked away from the mortgage, will bid on his own house. In recent weeks, protesters from the Occupy Phoenix movement camped in the park across the street have stopped by to appeal for an end to the auctions.

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