Saturday, March 7, 2009

Jane's story: "Are you kidding me?"

Charlotte's Jane Barrett has done good work, saved money, and never sold a subprime loan in her three decades as a Realtor. Now, she says, she's trying to keep a positive attitude.

How's she doing?

We've been bringing you stories from around Charlotte, voices that speak to the struggles and successes you'll find throughout our city. Tell us your story, too.

Says Jane:

I've been a moderately successful Realtor for 32 years. I never sold a subprime loan and none of my clients are in foreclosure. Our broker in charge says no "woe is me" at the office. Well ...

In 2007, I earned $150,000, saved the appropriate amount, spent the rest. In 2008, I earned $80,000, saved the appropriate amount, spent the rest. In 2009 so far, I've earned nothing, saved nothing, spent the rest. The money I saved for 30 years has been reduced by half. I am happy to be alive, I am happy my family is healthy. I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage, but I will try to have a positive attitude.

What, are you kidding me? I read a story about a retention bonus for a Wachovia - no, Wells Fargo employee of $8 million dollars. It gave me a pain in my chest. How is it possible that I did good work and lost my income and my savings. He crashed a whole bank and gets $8 million. Hello, no one is worth that kind of money. NO ONE.

Let's see, how bad is it? I'm 60 years old, cannot ever retire now. I have a positive attitude. I'm positive that I'm screwed.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%, Jane. These greedy @!#$%@@ are going to be the end of us all.

Anonymous said...

If you were really saving the "appropriate amount" all these years there is no way you would have reduced your life savings by half in the first 2 months of 2009.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps one of you Walkallovaya guys can find the $8-million-dollar parachutist and get him to comment on this column? Of course...I'm not going to hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

what happened to the other 30 yrs of earnings??

Anonymous said...

hang in there Jane!

Anonymous said...

While it is unfortunate that you aren't making any money now, you can clearly see the declining trend in your salary. Maybe it is time for a different line of work? The housing market will be a bust for a long time to come. Especially since you say that you are positive that you are screwed... If you know you are screwed then move on. You obviously have some skills that made you a successful Realtor, you are capable of being successful again in some other field. I would rather start over at 60 and be happy for the next 30 years than to suffer and wait and wonder and be miserable waiting for my old career to revive itself. Best wishes to you and thanks for sharing your story.

Anonymous said...

Jane - If you have been a commission salesperson for 30yrs, then I know you have seen market cycles, and I'm guessing you have thought about what happens in a period when you don't sell anything. If you are out of cash after 2 months, then stop patting yourself on the back for doing everything right. No group in Charlotte has benefitted more from the banks than the realtors. It was a good ride, and you made some easy money from the froth in the housing market here. Be honest with yourself!

Anonymous said...

Keep plugging, and dont give up.

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is while she is suffering, she's surviving and has saved enough to get through these times. What is disappointing is all these people who couldn't afford their current lifestyle, never mind having a rainy day fund (or a rainy couple of years fund these days.)

Anonymous said...

I think she means the money she saved in her 401K has been reduced to half in the past year or so. Hasn't yours? ( maybe not by 50% but at least 35%) I would like to know what Jane made before the real estate boom. Was she used to making over $100K or did that come along when EVERYONE was buying a home. Homes are selling now. just not at the pace of two - five years ago. Keep your clin up and keep trying!! You will start selling again.

Anonymous said...

You move on. My mother has almost 10 years on you, never made that kind of money. My dad became very ill a few years ago, and with the medical bills, mom had to go back to being a long-term public school substitute teacher. She is grateful for her retirement and benefits. She may well never retire.

It's funny- she's a happy person- doesn't worry about the guy down the road. Just does her work, pays dads bills and enjoys what she can enjoy.

LOL, her favorite sayings are "Life isn't fair" and "Sometimes you need to live poor". She watched her parents struggle and die too young. She put herself through school doing janitorial work.

Be bitter for a day or two, then leave it behind and do what you have to do. Which is take care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenter at 3:02. Even if the realtor never sold a house to a subprime borrower, she benefitted greatly from the prosperity of the local economy, which was partially due to paper profits generated through subprime lending.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that everyone feels the need to blame people who work at the bank and claim that "they" crashed the market. The reason the market has crashed is because for the last 10-20 years everyone has lived in excess. Now I know there are people that have done all the right things, but while the banks should share a good portion of the balme, shouldn't the consumers shoulder some of the blame as well? Did they not buy a house they could not afford, did they not buy a house with no money down, did they not buy a car they probably shouldn't have, myself included, we all thought we deserved more. Oh and now people are mad that the banks have pulled back on their lending, because they should be lending to the same people who dont have a job and cant afford what they have? How does that make sense. The bottom line is we just have to work through all of the excess that everyone in america has built up over time. Trust me, most of the people at the bank are hurting themselves, and they have been dealing with it for almost 2 years now. not 6-12 months liek most of the other industries.

Randy said...

I also agree, and the way to fight those high-payed executives is to NOT use their service/product. I don't bank at Wachovia, or Bank of America...do you? If so, you help put money the pockets of those executives.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to believe she never had clients who benefitted from sub prime loans. All sub prime loans were not for people w/ poor credit. Any loan that provided 100% financing is subprime.How about self employed business owners who write everything off on their taxes & don't show income? Both these borrowers were required to have good credit to obtain these loans. People who showed they paid their bills. Come on Jane? Good luck to you though....

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should have used more subprime mortgages.

Anonymous said...

For the commentor who said selling real estate was a "good ride" and "easy money", I have some beautiful waterfront property in central Florida to sell you! I've been a Realtor since 1978 and I can tell you it has never been easy. If you call working nights, weekends, holidays, long hours--sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day easy, I wonder from which planet you came. In addition to this, our business expenses and taxes take a big bite out of our profits. The average real estate commisison is 2.8%
If an agent is on a 75%-25%split with their company, this further reduces the commission. The split varies depending on production and company policy. In addition, the agent very likely has additional business expenses of $10,000 to $15,000. If an agent produced $3,000,000* per year, based on the above commission schedule and expenses, the agent's net income would be approximately $37,000 after taxes. Since we have to pay for our own insurance and retirement, you can deduct another 3,000 from this. That leaves us $34,000 to live on. To add insult to injury, we have now lost 50% of all of our retirement nest egg. Oh, and although we now have no income, we don't qualify for unemployment benefits and are not even included in the national unemployment statistics. You can put this in that whacky backy pipe you're smoking.

*The gross average sales per agent is less than this.

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to tell the damn crooks in the tax offices that real estate values are way down and going down furthur not up and to stop raising the prices to steal more tax money. They may never come back. We know its all semantics as they raise or lower the rates and property values based on need but this is a MAJOR DEPRESSION much worse than 1929. America is coming apart at the seams thanks to Bush and his neocons. Wheres the weasil Bush anyway? We see the basket case Daddy Bush crying all over since he was behind it all anyway. Now the country and world is screwed up just because Daddy wanted his boys to hog the WH like him.

Why do states like Florida and California have laws to protect homeowners and reduce property taxes as values go down? NC tax officials play dumb when they are confronted with this or say the city or county needs this money.
This is idiot logic. It should be criminal for tax appraisers and tax administrators to overtax at any time.

The Observer needs to do some investigation as to why NC dosent haver laws to protect taxpayers from these tax bandits and reduce property taxes as real estate price decline. We see the new politicians in Raleigh are at least doing something good trying to end the liberal annexation laws so cities cant continue their raids taking people hostage and doubling their taxes for no better services. Allegedly the new laws will require county resident affected to vote since this is supposedly a democratic system in name.
It wont help Mecklenburg a lot now since the QC has long gobbled up and continues gobbling up about all it can gobble. Attorneys for the city have made mega millions off this.