State of Foreclosure Blog

This one's been tough! Tough to find the right, "typical" people to represent typical problems. Physically tough on some very long shoot days. And certainly, emotionally tough to see terrific people facing financial meltdown.

A couple of months ago, we started kicking around themes for a foreclosure-related special. Since it always so much more powerful to tell a story from the point-of-view of people coping with a problem, we started looking for a family going through foreclosure.

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But guess what?

You can't call up Central Casting and say, "Send over a dozen or so people who are willing to put their most intimate, personal, painful financial problems on TV. Oh! And can they be here by noon?"

That's where my Secret Weapon, Associate Producer Alexandria Gales comes in. Alexandria is resourceful and relentless. She posted stuff on websites, yacked with financial support groups, nagged realtors, talked to people who knew people who knew other people.

Slowly, we got some names. Sometimes, we'd find the right people at the wrong time. Or the wrong people at the right time. We even found wrong people at the wrong time!

People say I'm very particular. Alexandria certainly said it during this process of trying to find our mythical, typical family.

Finally, we found the right people at the right time - Erin and Joe Balli and their two cute, chatty, outgoing sons - Joey and Matthew. See them take over the shoot:

The Ballis are the kind of folks you like - and feel as though you've known forever - right away. They were desperately trying to sell them home as what's known as a "short sale" which is when you owe the bank more than your property is worth.

In addition to their friendliness and openness, what astonished me about Joe and Erin was that they were still maintaining the home they no longer lived in! They went there on weekends to cut grass, wash windows, pick up trash and clean the pool. All this to try to salvage their credit but also out of a deep sense of pride in a home that meant so much to them.

The clincher in choosing Joe and Erin for our lead story, entitled "Selling Out" was when Joe told me they still had things stored in the garage and would be having a yard sale on one of the weekends when they were taking care of the property. What a meaningful, insightful way to get into their story!

It also didn't hurt that Joe was a regular "Soundbite Machine" as Alexandria and I called him. He's thoughtful, sensitive, steady - the kind of guy who easily expresses what he's feeling. Erin's the same way. It's easy to see why they love and cherish their kids and each other.

When I asked them why they'd be willing to share their story, Joe and Erin said the same thing. They just wanted other families in the same boat to know they're not alone and that there's no shame in being a victim of this foreclosure mess.

In addition to Alexandria and me, the production team included our terrific correspondent Judy Muller reporting and ace videographer Brett Wood shooting this piece. Alexandria captured a couple of funny, behind-the-scenes moments when Judy bought the best thing at the Ballis' yard sale. Check it out here:

I think these little web-moments are reminders that there's lightheartedness and humor in even the darkest times. And I think that's why Joe and Erin Balli are so inspirational and why we admire and respect them so much. They're not at all negative and morose. They're not letting This Thing destroy them. And, even though they cry, they still laugh. And, as Joe says at the end of the story, they lost a house, not a home.

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