A video ballad of bubble and foreclosure

An illustration from the housing bubble music video created by former appraiser Dave Girtsman and animator Amy Baniecki
An illustration from the housing bubble music video created by former appraiser Dave Girtsman and animator Amy Baniecki
(Amy Baniecki)
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

It starts off happy and bouncy -- smiley faces, granite countertops, instant equity, a cash-out refi, a vacation in Hawaii, and a brand-new Hummer. But you know how the song ends: in foreclosure.

“I got my mortgage and I made my payments
But my rate reset in my latest statement
It was 12-hundred, now it’s twenty-four.
I’m three months late,
So I’m out the door.”

So goes the ballad of the housing bubble, a rapidly spreading YouTube music video written and performed by Dave Girtsman, a former appraiser in Ventura County. From 2000 to 2004, Girtsman witnessed -- and arguably participated in -- the run-up in prices now known as the housing bubble.

“I always kind of saw it,” he said. “I’d be appraising people’s houses and seeing how much they were paying and doing the math, and I’d be surprised at how much money people were making. And then it hit me – they weren’t making that much money. They were getting into interest-only loans or whatever crazy loans they could get their hands on to get into a house.”

Girtsman chucked his real estate career, and now works as a Web developer. He wrote the humorous song and recorded it in the bedroom of his rented Ventura house -- he says he can’t afford to buy a home in the area. Girtsman then persuaded a colleague, animator Amy Baniecki, to turn it into a short, animated music video.

He posted the video on YouTube in late January, and it has become a bubble hit, with 24,000 views and counting.

“I want to be clear,” Girtsman said. “I don’t think the situation is funny. But I see the humor in everybody pointing the finger at somebody else – they’re pointing fingers at [former Fed Chairman Alan] Greenspan or real estate agents or lenders or appraisers. You can’t pin the blame on one person or one situation.”

The song has a country twang and a quirky feel and look -- which is fitting given Baniecki’s offbeat resume. She is probably better known as “Crybaby,” a masked, bikini-wearing wrestler who performs daredevil moves in campy “lucha libre” wrestling events at the Mayan Theater in Los Angeles.

“The song’s really cute and catchy, and as you hear it, you kind of visualize things happening,” Baniecki said. “Dave just told me he wanted it to be really simple, almost like stick-figures animation. So I designed this really simple, almost goofy character.”

Like Girtsman, Baniecki is a renter in Ventura County, where median sales prices have fallen 24% in a year but still hover at $445,000.

“It’s unreasonable,” Baniecki said of the Ventura housing market. “I couldn’t afford it right now. It’s getting better, but it’s still unaffordable.”