More About You

By Dave Fratello | May 27th, 2008
We learn a lot from readers here, even though the MBC comments section is anonymous. Correspondents reflect several different viewpoints based upon factors that include homeownership status.

Twice recently, we have run polls that gathered interesting evidence on who reads MBC. Our most popular poll yet asked simply which RE-related actions readers had taken, if any, in the past 2 years. (See "Recently Bought? Or Sold? Why?")

In comments on that story, people described their decisions to buy and sell in recent years, and gave some sense of market psychology. In the poll, we learned that slightly more than a quarter of the MBC readership has bought or sold in the past 2 years. Most readers have not been active in the market in that timeframe.

About a third of readers (32%) say they've "stayed put" in homes they own during this period. Added to the 18% who bought in these past 2 years, our poll tells us that fully half the MBC readership consists of MB homeowners.

Meanwhile, 27% of poll respondents said they "stayed put" in rental homes over the past 2 years. It is conceivable that, also, some of the 8% who said they had sold in MB as their last RE-related action are currently renting in MB. If so, the total number of MB renters reading MBC could be as high as 35%, still considerably below the number of homeowners.

Finally, 15% of readers chose "other" to describe their actions in the past 2 years. We know that we have plenty of readers from outside MB to whom this category would apply, but it's also possible that our poll didn't offer adequate choices to readers who do live in MB.

The Scoop on HELOCs

Now, as to MB homeowners, we ran a poll a little while back asking about Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs). (See "How's Your HELOC?")

A loyal reader had asked for help getting a HELOC "unfrozen." The bank claimed that a "decline in value" had wiped out the available credit, but any halfway reasonable calculation of LTV would show that not to be true, the reader felt. We saw this as a case of a bank in trouble shutting down credit, not really a reflection of the reader's home's value.

We asked how common this problem was among readers with HELOCs. And we found that it was somewhat uncommon, but not unheard of.

Nearly one-third (31%) of readers with HELOCs said they had their credit lines frozen or reduced recently.

In comments, a few readers complained of Washington Mutual having chopped their limits substantially, while a couple others mentioned Chase doing the same thing. Our reader whose experience sparked the story worked with a third lender, a popular, but troubled, online brokerage.

A second graph of the poll results includes the 34% of readers who said they owned their homes but did not have a HELOC. This is a different way of looking at the problem among all MB homeowners.

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