Home Sweet 'Mortgage Hell'

     “The scariest money mistake women make (it’s not shoes!),” or so warned the cover of Glamour’s July issue. The cover story “Welcome to my Mortgage Hell” left homeownership looking anything but glamorous and banks looking worse. Glamour's Meghan Daum profiled the troubles of three women who told “what it’s like when the bank takes away the keys to your little piece of the American Dream.”

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average monthly mortgage payment in April 2008 was $966.  Despite this disparity, Daum insisted to readers that these women were “like you.” 

NAR found that of single women living alone, 56 percent own their home compared with 47 percent of single men.  However, Daum wrote, "Although women have come a long way since the days when we couldn't get a loan without a husband, some of us still have miles to go when it comes to the nuts and bolts of owning a home."  According to NAR, single women accounted for one in five homes sales in 2003.  Single men accounted for more than one in 10 that year. 

      "So what happens to the women who can't keep up that financial commitment?"  According to Daum, "It's a common scenario these days."

     This scenario was common among the three women Glamour chose to profile. Kim Monaghan, an aerospace engineer profiled in the article, spoke of friends calling her an "idiot" for not purchasing a home to use as a tax shelter.  At the time of purchase Monaghan had not saved enough for a down payment.  In fact, at least two of the three women profiled in the article did not have enough savings for a down payment at the time of purchase. (The article never stated whether Kristen and Zack Brockmeyer put a down payment on their home).  Additionally, when Monaghan arrived to sign her mortgage papers she discovered the terms were not what she had originally agreed too but signed them anyway.

     Daum used her examples to help prove that "their situation demonstrates just how dangerous the waters of real estate can be these days.  Despite decades of conventional wisdom that says a house is the safest investment in the country, their story... shows what a gamble it can be, especially when bankers behave like they're dealing rounds of blackjack."

     Daum went on to call the lending market "predatory" even after a "tsunami of foreclosures."  Again looking to pin blame on anyone, except on the home buyers themselves, Daum whined, "People who don't have the financial resources to buy homes are still given loans for them."

     Karla Hodges, a California homeowner profiled, "didn't have enough money for a down payment or even a reasonable amount set aside for emergencies.”  Daum ominously implicated the real estate business saying, "But in the market in which Hodges bought her home, that didn't seem to matter -- until it did."

     Relatively unconcerned by the concept of personal responsibility, Daum continued to find fault with lenders and bankers.  While none of the women was forced into the purchase, that wasn’t how the story depiced it. Laurence H. Michelson of Granite Lending, Inc. described the process in the article, "People were allowed to buy houses they couldn't afford."

     Readers never learned why Kalamazoo, Michigan residents the Brockmeyers were forced into foreclose on their home.  Their mortgage payments ranged from $565 to $790 while their new rental payments were reported at $850 per month.  That gave Daum a chance to tell readers a downbeat view of their city where, "...residential streets are lined with for sale signs."

     The article cited evidence from left leaning sources such as the Consumer Federation of America and Diane Cipollone of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).BMI has previously reported on the Consumer Federation of America's bias against business. 

     Cipollone has previously made it known that she is not on the lenders' side. In a May 4, 2008 Washington Post article she spoke of having trouble with lenders. "We are all in some cases hitting a brick wall.  The response time is months -- months -- to get a workout, and the workout is often unaffordable."  NFHA has strong ties to the Democratic Party and recently issued a press release praising their work in the senate. 

     Those ties aren’t surprising. Glamour's Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Leive has given more than $11,000 to liberals and their causes since 1997. That includes donations to Democratic candidates Sens. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

     This bias is nothing new.  In 1996 the Media Research Center conducted a study of popular women's magazines, including Glamour.  All magazines were biased in favor of government expansion, but Glamour was one of the top two offenders.  More recently, the Culture and Media Institute’s Colleen Raezler exposed the liberal tilt of Glamour's "Women of the Year" profiles.

     “recently reported the media’s negative take on the current housing market.  Glamour was consistent with this media-driven pessimism and even included a photograph of a home torn asunder with the caption, “A backyard, a picket fence and 100 angry messages from the bank…”