When we think about how we can best serve our returning veterans, why are we not offering them a first crack on foreclosed housing? Foreclosed homes are a good deal for first-time homebuyers, but the reality is that any good deal gets scooped up by real estate professionals or lawyers. By the time a foreclosure gets to the general public, it’s no longer a great deal.
Since September 11, 2001, there have been 2,176,410 veterans serving our country. There are 2,136,868 homes that are currently in foreclosure in the United States. Maybe not every veteran wants, or qualifies for, a mortgage, but this is a way to say thank you and a way to re-invigorate housing in neighborhoods that could benefit from America’s best citizens. It would also get a lot of stagnating inventory away from the banks, who desperately want out of the real estate business.
The average foreclosure in the United States costs approximately $171,971, as reported by Bloomberg (figures are $175,701 if you reference the trend center at realtytrac.com). And the cost could be even lower if the best bargains were not swallowed up early by real estate professionals. Homes under $200,000 are still a good deal for young soldiers looking to establish themselves in civilian life.
Nevada, Florida, California, and Arizona have some of the highest rates of foreclosure. These are states that already have a high veteran population, so a policy like this might have a chance. It would also help bolster home building and construction. The most important factor is that it would address an economic situation while thanking our veterans. This is a stimulus program that could work, and would probably get no real opposition in Congress.
Strat-O-Matic Baseball (“Strat” to those who lived for this game) was what real baseball fans played whenever it rained in New York City. Last Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the game, which is played with dice and cards that measured the probability of every player’s ability to hit, throw, run, and pitch. I first came to know Strat when my uncle, a die-hard Mets fan, would talk about it. A new version came out every year, where every player in the majors had a card with all kinds of outcomes printed on the face. A player would roll the dice and play the odds for every out and every inning. This game was so important to baseball fans that I remember my eighth grade shop teacher, Bill Krolikowski, talking about it endlessly in class.
Some people used to play with two dice and the cards; others used one giant 20-sided die instead of two. Last Saturday, in honor of the game’s 50th Anniversary (I thought the game was older), people were invited to play in tournaments at Community Church in the City. Hundreds showed up to honor the anniversary of this great game. Strat-O-Matic was there for kids who loved baseball enough to sit and measure the probability of outcomes long before the advent of computers and fantasy leagues.