Americans continue to lose their homes in catastrophic numbers, but while that tragedy is plain to see, Albert Clawson gives an all-too-human perspective—from the forecloser's side. "I've seen it all," explains the property manager, whose job is to provide "boots-on-the-ground" info on the condition of the house, in the Washington Post. The first one to visit the property once eviction begins, Clawson first must figure out if someone is living there. Often, homes have already been abandoned, left with half-eaten meals lying around, "receipts for one-way tickets out of the country, summons notices," pets ("not always still alive"), and even "floors splattered with blood and walls peppered with holes from bullets."
If people are still living there, foreclosure is trickier. Some deny, some threaten, others confide for the first time that they had no idea where to turn. One home had 50 motorcycles parked out front (Clawson came back another day). Often, owners are offered money to leave the home in a timely manner and in good condition. "I am frequently the first person to have an in-depth discussion with the occupants," says Clawson. "They tell me their stories. Death, divorce, accidents. I hear complaints of unfair lenders and unreasonable mortgages." Finally, he watches the tenant drive away, sometimes crying, sometimes relieved. "And at the last, I turn out the lights so they don’t have to." Read Clawson's full column here. (Read more foreclosures stories.)