Perhaps I’m feeling particularly crotchety today, but the use of the word “seize” to describe foreclosures seems to me a bit overblown.
Headlines like these abound:
California Foreclosures Jeopardize Renters as Banks Seize Homes
Banks Seize 288K Homes in Q3,
Banks seize record number of homes
Webster’s dictionary offered this as one definition of seize: To take possession of by force. [1913 Webster]
The word, at least for me, has a connotation of violence. However, “seize” or “seizure” is a distortion of the foreclosure situation, since the homeowner bargained away an interest in the real property for a loan. It was an arms length and voluntary process. To then label the exercise of the rights obtained by the lender in that deal as the seizure of the home suggests that the change of possession was sudden or illegitimate.
Mind you, I’m furious at the indifference of big banks to honesty with respect to oaths to the court and their sense of “it’s right because we say it is” in connection with foreclosures. I’m equally appalled at the “see no evil” attitude of the lenders when loans were offered and accepted by borrowers who had no chance of meeting the terms of the loan.
But the press owes us better than to cast the exercise of the right of foreclosure as an act of violence as suggested by talk of “seizing” homes.
Let’s talk about the threat to a credible judicial system that robo signing represents; let’s talk about solutions to widespread economic distress; let’s talk about the role of the housing market in our economy. Let’s not be incendiary about the process of foreclosure.