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Stories From the Boom and Bust, And What Happened Next

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The Year in Review posts continue. It was in late August/early September 2008 that the financial markets started feeling really scary, but last year saw the tidal wave of bankruptcies, foreclosures, and in some cases, deals. Notable boom and bust stories from the year....

Seeking home ownership: What downturn? Writing in March's Los Angeles magazine, writer and Silver Lake resident Lesley Bargar recounted her experience of trying and failing to find a $400,000 home in the Eagle Rock, Highland Park, and Montecito Heights area. In May, she decided to take a break from looking for a home.

UPDATE: In an email, Lesley Suter (the gal got hitched!) fills us in: "In the last month we've decided to go at it once again, and I'm seeing that the situation has only gotten worse—the houses are cruddier, the overbidding more intense, and there are still 20+ bids on any liveable properties. While we're coming at it with a little more cash, we're still under the $500,000 mark, which means we're still in the thick of it." More from her email after the jump.

More from her email: "The feedback on that article was interesting: a number of people told me I'm in no financial situation to be buying a house—note taken—while the other half commiserated about their similar experiences. Every party I go to I end up ensnared in a long conversations about the house hunt. I have to hide my jealous rage when friends whine about their escrow hassles, and I find my outlook has grown so dubious it's hard to get off the couch for an open house anymore. I mean, why bother? But all is not lost: We convinced our landlord to give us new appliances while we wait it out. We're both still employed. We're newlyweds. Life is good."

But perhaps another story is coming? In the same email, Bargar noted: "I've since learned enough to write a whole second article: the criminal prejudice about FHA loans, price baiting, and cash-only bidding."

MORAL: Having a job (and a new husband) is more important at this point than owning a home.

2. Seeking to cover the bust: Edmund Andrews was the New York Times economic reporter who published his financial downfall in "Busted: Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown," a book that was excerpted in the paper's magazine. The Atlantic would later skewer Andrews for not disclosing the full truth about his financial status, notably that his wife Patty Barreiro had filed for personal bankruptcy twice.

UPDATE: This month, Andrews took a buyout from the New York Times (the buy-outs are part of paper's larger layoff and cost-cutting strategies). In an interview with the The Observer, Andrews said the buyout was "more than a year's salary." He also told the paper that "our finances have stabilized a bit, but we're not out of the woods yet." He didn't mention any specific plans for the future, but mentioned "academia, possibly a return to journalism or taking a job that would make use of years of reporting on finance."

MORAL: Tell-alls about your life=Tough gamble. As for the future, we're going to suggest Andrews take a break from covering the financial markets. Move to an island, perhaps, and open a "Cocktail"-style bar.


Seeking to avoid losing their shirts: Chronicling her and her husband's attempt to avoid foreclosure on their Silver Lake home, Stephanie Walker began blogging at Love in the Time of Foreclosure. It was a brutally honest blog, though some commenters found her account a tad whiny.

UPDATE: The Walkers avoided foreclosure, selling their home via a short sale process for $700,000. They also left Los Angeles, and according to Stephanie's blog, are now living on San Juan Island, near Seattle. But it sounds like they are having some tough days on the island. Additionally, they filed for personal bankruptcy. And her blog now appears on Chicago Now, a big consortium of sites run by the Tribune Company (she's a native of the Chicago area). Walker also appeared on NPR in November.

MORAL: Tough times will come and go, but err, you can always blog. But come back to LA, Stephanie! Riding out the economy on a rainy Northwest island? Gloomy.