I wonder if Matt Lewis is shaking his head over this, too. The background: in the early 1980s Mitt Romney purchased five houses in Texas and set up a strategy by which to the renters of those houses could eventually purchase them from Romney. The idea was to get the tax shelter advantages from depreciation and mortgage interest deductions, while the renters would eventually get the houses: unfortunately, the entire plan fell through when the local real estate market bottomed out*.
[Romney] was stuck renting out the houses for years before unloading them, mostly at a loss, in the late 1990s, according to property records. The renters were offered the first chance to buy, but the Stampses could not qualify for a mortgage, recalled Mr. Stamps, who at the time had recently lost his job at an oil company.
“Then I got this phone call, personally, from Mr. Romney, asking if we really wanted to buy the house,” Mr. Stamps, 63, said in an interview the other day at the barbershop he now runs. “I said, yes we did. And he said he would loan us the money. He really helped us when we needed it.”
Two things to note from this: first, Romney’s instincts for identifying a reliable borrower were sound in this particular instance. The Stamps have been paying off the mortgage ever since. Second, apparently the Stamps have been recently contacted by anonymous sources looking for dirt on Romney – presumably for campaign ads. While I agree that this story should be in a campaign ad, it should be in one of ours.
*Local real estate markets do that. Quite often, actually.