This post is part of a series about real-life signs we're in a recession.
I've had a couple close calls over the years, but happily, I've never had the experience of having anything repossessed. But if anyone reading this has had something hauled away, if it makes you feel any better, you're obviously not alone.
In this almost-but-not-quite recession, repo men have some enviable careers. Newspapers around the country have been publishing stories about local repo men raking in the bucks, taking away mostly vehicles, from cars to campers, and motorcycles to motor boats. According to KHOU, a Houston TV news station, 1.5 million vehicles were repossessed last year, a 15-percent increase from 2006. 2008 is expected to jump 10 percent from 2007.
But you can't really blame the repo men. They didn't create the current economic conditions, and they are just doing their job, and while I'm sure they're glad to be making extra money (who wouldn't want that?), I doubt these guys are getting their kicks off another person's misery. Besides, somebody's gotta do it.But what is a little creepy is what Cesar Dias, a California real estate agent, is doing, no offense meant to the guy. Obviously, he's a capitalist, and that's great, but it's not like his money-making venture was something the world was clamoring for. In any case... every Saturday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., he takes three sold-out full-sized buses of interested buyers on a tour of all the repossessed homes in and around Stockton, California.
Meanwhile, Dias has been consulting other real estate agents at $5,000 a pop, so they can make an informed decision whether they should rent or buy a bus and get listed on his Web site, RepoHomeTour.com.
But it seems like it would have to be one of the saddest bus rides and money-making ventures going, if you really consider it. Owning a home is supposed to be the American dream. The people on the bus will be easier able to fulfill their American dreams because a lot of others failed to make their own come true.
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
Recession watch: Repo Men are reaping benefits