Media Find Another Housing Crisis Villain: The Builder

     If it isn’t another heartbreaking victim story about a homeowner who got in over their head with a mortgage they couldn’t afford; the media look for someone to blame for the housing downturn.


     This time, it’s homebuilders. ABC’s May 7 “Nightline” featured Maricopa, Ariz., a community near Phoenix where one in 10 homes is for sale.   


     “While existing homes go begging for buyers, builders continued putting up new houses,” said ABC correspondent Brian Rooney. “As many as one in 10 of the homes in Maricopa are for sale right now, as builders, banks, homeowners with mortgages they can’t afford all compete to sell at lower prices.”


      But the segment didn’t focus on the irresponsible lenders or borrowers that created the market for home builders to thrive. Instead, it concentrated on the builders for capitalizing on the market. The report didn’t include anyone speaking on behalf of the homebuilders in that particular Arizona market.


      “I pleaded with [the National Homebuilders Association] that the investors are coming in to town,” Maricopa Mayor Kelly Anderson said. “They need to watch what they’re doing. One in five homes were sold to an investor. But times are good – they wanted to keep the sales going to satisfy the stockholders in those firms.”


     According to Anderson, he saw this coming, but the builders wouldn’t listen.


    “Yes,” Anderson said after being asked by Rooney if he actually “pleaded” to home builders. “To be careful on selling to investors. I could see that we'll have potentially neighborhoods with for sale or rent signs all on those lawns.”


     Dr. Jay Butler, a real estate professor at Arizona State University also denigrated the builders, blaming outside investors.


      “They really weren’t building homes,” Butler said. “They were building mortgages that they could put in to their investors or lenders to put into mortgage-backed securities and in turn sell them to investors in China, France, other parts of this country. They were really a financial generator. Not a homebuilder.”