Fear and loathing Marty, fear and loathing…that’s what Vince Gonzalez, the then KPHO news reporter, used to say to me whenever we’d head out of the newsroom on our daily search for the latest victim of wrongdoing.
Vince and I once got into a heated on-camera exchange with the owner of a mortuary. Evidentially, this guy was cremating people using sub-standard equipment and techniques. Let’s just say the loved ones of the deceased and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality were not too happy with this mortician. So we did what all good local TV news teams do – we ambushed him at this place of business. He nearly punched out Vince and ripped the camera off my shoulder. Good journalism? No. Good TV? Yes.
Last I heard Vince was a correspondent for the CBS Evening News. I left the news business in 2002 to embark on a more stable career in real estate. These days whenever I read or hear a real-estate related news story I remember Vince’s words – fear and loathing.
The news media’s job is to attract the maximum amount of readers/viewers. More readers/viewers equal more money. It’s a simple formula that media executives have mastered – scare the crap out of your readers/viewers and they will read/watch your news more often. That is why at least once a quarter you’ll hear a moronic news reporter saying that the bacteria in your kitchen sink could kill you.
For the past month Bank of America has dominated the headlines. Their moratorium on foreclosures has created an industry-wide panic. Retail home buyers and investors have put the brakes on because of all the uncertainty. The mainstream media loves this stuff. It’s good for their bottom line but lousy for us real estate investors.
Needless to say, it came as no surprise to me that THE foreclosure story no one is talking about, first announced on October 12th and updated October 20th, is a story no one is talking about. Why? The story puts an end to all of the fear, speculation and uncertainty circling “foreclosure-gate.” The wide reporting of this story would get scared retail buyers and investors back into the real estate market – exactly what we need to continue the recovery.
The Associated Press headline read ‘Fidelity National, Bank of America in Foreclosure Deal’. You don’t have to read the entire article. Here’s the deal in one sentence – Fidelity National will continue to issue title insurance on all foreclosed homes and Bank of America will pick up the tab for any potential litigation that could come from cutting corners on paperwork or legal procedures.
What does that mean if you are a retail buyer or investor? It means you will get a title insurance policy on that foreclosed home you want to buy. It means that if the former owner tries to sue, Bank of America will step in and cover all the costs. You no longer have to worry about giving up that foreclosed home you just bought to the prior homeowner. This deal removes the cloud of uncertainty that hovers over the huge supply of foreclosed homes.
That’s good news for retail buyers and investors. But like I said, news outlets prefer fear and loathing. It’s like an economist once proclaimed, “If the media was there the day Jesus walked on water next day’s headline would have read JESUS CAN’T SWIM!”