I have an idea that just might help out our national economy by boosting the real estate market. My idea involves the U.S. government handing out more money, but the catch here is that what I have in mind has nothing to do with race, gender, wealth, political influence, or anything else in that regard. This is about victim’s rights and a failure of the U.S. government to protect its citizens from harm.
Chinese drywall has been a major problem in the United States for the past several years, and areas hit by hurricanes have been especially affected due to the need for rebuilding. The Chinese and their total lack of standards made sheetrock that contained sulfurous substances that corrodes copper wiring. People began to realize the problem when major electrical problems arose in their new homes, then electricians began to identify the tell-tale signs of Chinese drywall by looking at the gritty black corrosion that forms on copper wiring. Just imagine what it is doing to your lungs if it can make copper wiring look like a BBQ grill.
I believe that it was a complete and total failure of Homeland Security, which includes the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, that allowed this Chinese drywall into the country to taint so many homes. A visit to the CBP website (www.CBP.gov) shows news about them capturing millions of dollars worth of fake goods, drugs, and the like. How did they allow so many boatloads of Chinese drywall to get past their screening process? It should never have been allowed into the country.
Rather than affected homeowners sue their contractors and home builders, I think the United States government is ultimately responsible. It really isn’t the fault of the builder to want to maximize profit by using cheaper material, and how were they to know the Chinese drywall was going to corrode the copper wiring in the house after a couple of years? Many contractors and builders have already been sued out of business by angry homeowners because there isn’t anyone else to sue besides the Communist government of China, and good luck with that.
Now that we have established why the U.S. government is responsible for making things right, here is my plan to help bail out homeowners affected by Chinese drywall in such a way that will have a snowball effect to boost the economy and help raise up the real estate market.
To get started, the government will need to set aside funds specifically to help the homeowners affected by Chinese drywall. I would imagine a few billion would be needed, but that really shouldn’t be a problem with the way the Bush and Obama administrations have been tossing money around for the past several years. Share the wealth, right?
Once a fund has been established, set a deadline for homeowners to have their homes tested and certified to contain Chinese drywall. If a home is unoccupied, the bank or real estate company currently responsible for it should have it tested. Every home tainted with Chinese drywall needs to be clearly identified.
When the deadline expires and the homes have been identified, the U.S. government should pay off the mortgages on these tainted homes. That way, the mortgage company gets their money and the banks are happy. This also relieves the homeowner of being stuck paying for a home that nobody in their right mind would want to buy.
After the mortgage companies have been paid, the homeowner should be compensated for their loss. The amount they receive should be equal to how much was put into the house. Basically, we’re cancelling the whole mortgage and any out of pocket costs associated with the construction of the home should be reimbursed to the owner. This includes closing costs, down payments, and so on. If you’ve got $55,000 tied up in your house, then you get a check for $55,000 and nobody owes anyone else a thing. In many cases, this will also include the property on which the home was built.
The next step should be to bulldoze the tainted home. Knock down the house, bust up the foundation, and completely clear the lot. This will help put a lot of money in the hands of wrecking crews and truck drivers to haul off all the debris from the razed home. The secondary purpose will be to permanently take that house off the market.
Because nobody yet knows the long-term health risks of being exposed to the sulfuric content in Chinese drywall, it should be considered a public safety issue as the main reason for tearing down the tainted home. There are some treatment procedures that involve sealing in the toxins, but how safe is that really? The only way to truly repair the home would be to rip it down to the studs and redo all the wiring. We already have lemon laws in place for defective cars, and the same principle should apply here. Even if the house was completely redone, what prospective home buyer would want to risk buying a house that had been tainted with Chinese drywall when there are so many already on the market that were not?
At this point, the lender has their money and the homeowner has their investment back, plus the home is completely gone. What does this accomplish? First and foremost, having all those Chinese drywall homes destroyed is going to boost the real estate market simply by supply and demand. Reducing the number of houses on the market will make the rest more valuable. Couple that with an army of homeowners carrying large checks and looking for a new home, and there will be a rush of new home sales and constructions.
The jump in new home purchases and new construction will have an economic snowball effect. Construction workers will find more work, home builders will make more sales, and places like Lowes and Home Depot will greatly benefit. On top of all that, those other homeowners who have been unable to sell their home may be able to finally sell it to someone with a Chinese drywall check and then they can go buy or build their own dream home. A lot of money will be changing hands, and that’s just what this country needs right now.
Best of all, the person who benefits most from this program is the little guy. This money is going to directly benefit the kind of homeowner who simply cannot afford to go buy another house and is facing financial ruin for being stuck in one tainted with Chinese drywall. If Congress wants to help boost the economy, it needs to be done from the bottom up because their top-down approach clearly isn’t working.
If there is any incentive at all for Congress to introduce a plan such as this, all they have to remember is that every homeowner is a potential voter.