Illinois files suit against Countrywide, but who is really to blame?


The State of Illinois has announced that it is suing Countrywide and its CEO for using unfair and deceptive practices in marketing and selling loans. (California's Attorney General, Jerry Brown, filed suit against the beleaguered company today as well.)

Specifically, Illinois's complaint is alleging that Countrywide used underwriting standards that were lax, used "risky features" in loans (do they mean ARMs?), and gave incentives to mortgage brokers who sold loans.

All of this was done to coerce people into buying homes they couldn't afford. If you've read any of my past pieces on the "mortgage crisis," you see that I don't accept this theory that zillions of homeowners were hoodwinked when applying for mortgages. I do accept that some people didn't know what they were signing up for, but that's their own fault. If you can't understand your mortgage, you shouldn't get one. Be a happy renter.

I don't accept the argument that it's the mortgage company's fault for offering attractive mortgages. At the end of the day, if a buyer couldn't afford a house, he shouldn't have bought it. And with very few exceptions, home buyers are well aware of what they can and cannot afford. It's simple math: Money in, money out.