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7 lessons to navigate housing storm

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By DAVID FLETCHER It seems like just a few months ago that unqualified buyers were purchasing overpriced homes for no money down and approved for a mortgage with no closing costs they could not afford, supported by "made-as-instructed" appraisals. Overpriced condominium developments sold out in a weekend to buyers who just wanted to brag about owning one, or so it seemed. Those who obtained a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage seemed embarrassed to admit it to their much smarter friends, who bought with a first and second mortgage and had nothing invested. Who among us had the thought to challenge the fact that mortgage costs came in higher than the good-faith estimates? Those were the days of: "Welcome to homeownership, everybody!" Then one day, as this unreal world was spinning out of control, Fannie Mae yelled, "Stop!" and the lenders got off or fell off. The housing industry was out of control, but help was on the way. State (and in some cases...