How deeply has the home foreclosure problem affected retirees?

BY busadmin  September 18, 2008 at 10:04 AM EDT

Question/Comment: How deeply has the home foreclosure problem affected retirees?

Paul Solman: Wasilla? THE Wasilla? (Indeed, there IS a Marian Elliott in Wasilla, according to Zaba Search, so I suppose so.) Welcome.

Small town; short question. So I’m tempted to give a short answer: I don’t know. And it’s true, I don’t. Moreover, I can’t find any data to enlighten me. But, as the kid’s food joke goes, lettuce raisin together. It would figure that retirees bought their houses longer ago than the average homeowner. Therefore, they would be stuck with fewer of these new-fangled adjustable-rate mortgages, and be in less danger of falling behind in their payments, and thus of foreclosure.

I spent part of the other day at a senior center in East Haven, CT., and hadn’t realized one problem retirees face with housing costs. As prices have risen, so have their property taxes, which are now incommensurate with what they originally paid and, in many cases, what they can afford. In addition, heating, air conditioning and electricity represent a bigger-than-average proportion of the elderly’s incomes. So my “raisining” may have not have been worth the grapes it was based on.