I'm afraid I can't get all that worked up over a story about how foreclosures on million-dollar-plus houses are going up. I'm just not that sympathetic. Here's why.
In 2003, Robert Provost snapped up a $2.5 million villa with its own boat dock in Sarasota, Fla. A finance chief for an auto-sales chain, Mr. Provost earned more than $250,000 a year and had an impeccable credit history.His mortgage payment is roughly a third of my yearly base salary, and I suspect that for him, starting over from scratch won't involve living in a car, or under an overpass, scrounging for cardboard and a marker to make a sign that says "Will Close For Food." Or maybe it will--economic times are tough, and even people who have done well for themselves have been known to make disastrously bad decisions. Somehow I doubt it, though.
Then he lost his job. Mr. Provost missed one $10,500 mortgage payment, then another. This month, the 53-year-old put his house, a five-bedroom with sweeping views of an intercoastal waterway, on the market for $3.4 million. But the listing has thus far attracted little interest. Mr. Provost says he expects to receive a notice of default from the bank — the first step to foreclosure — in the next month or two.
"A foreclosure would be devastating," he says. "My wife and I would have to start from scratch."
Robert Frank wrote this piece, and to his credit, he doesn't lapse into a tale of "oh, the poor rich people, forced by this crisis to scale back." But he doesn't exactly use the same tone that we've been hearing for the last year and a half as the housing bubble was bursting; that "these people should have known they were buying a house they couldn't afford" attitude has quieted down a bit now that it's the upper 5% of income earners who are getting hit.