By Jim Wasserman
jwasserman@sacbee.com The Sacramento Bee
Published: Friday, Feb. 12, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1B

If you’re among the thousands of Sacramento-area homeowners who played it conservative during the housing boom, who didn’t refinance or flip to a bigger house, everyone else’s foreclosures reached out and smacked you anyway.

Sales prices are lower. There’s less home equity to tap into. Local services have been shredded by falling property tax revenue.

Such repo collateral damage is why so many owners who pay their mortgages on time are so grouchy.

Rob Wassmer hasn’t been affected so much. Fourteen years ago he bought an east Sacramento house – in the Fab 40s – cheaply at the very bottom of the last housing bust. His older neighborhood has largely escaped the brunt of 52,000 foreclosures across the Sacramento region since 2007.

But Wassmer knows the financial whipping people have taken in Lincoln, Elk Grove, North Highlands and Yuba City. Being an academic, he knew there had to be a number for the carnage.

“I knew this kind of research had been done. I wanted to do a study of Sacramento,” said Wassmer, chairman of California State University, Sacramento’s department of public policy and administration.

Wassmer analyzed $9 billion in sales prices from 36,822 home sales in Sacramento, Yolo, Yuba, Sutter, Placer and El Dorado counties between January 2008 and June 2009. Almost half were homes sold by banks. The other half were sold by regular folks.

He concluded that the foreclosed homes cost this one region of America $2.7 billion in price cuts and lost equity over just 18 months.

• The repos sold for $659 million less simply because they were bank-owned and differed from normal sales. They took $1 billion more in price cuts because they were near other repos.

• Both reductions then stripped $1 billion from sale prices of nearby homes never in foreclosure danger.

Collectively, these foreclosures cost local governments $27.1 million in property taxes. Reassessments will likely take more.

Said Wassmer, “This is a call for regulation.” He suggests a federal law to make lenders and borrowers meet in “structured mediation” at least once before foreclosure.

Few ideas have proved so far to be the solution. See the research directly at: >www.csus.edu/indiv/w/wassmerr/ResForeclosure.pdf

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