Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to Lose a House

Sorry, best title I could come up with.

I have not blogged about this situation but have mentioned it privately in bits and pieces to a few people. I have not posted because before I really thought it was not the world's business about my financial situation. And it is a subject that is a sore spot for me to talk about. So I decided it was time to go ahead and let everyone in on the "big secret" about my previous housing situation.

First, I was not one of those people that applied for a home loan knowing they could not afford it. I had a really good job with a company I had been working with for quite a while and at that point had no intention of ever leaving the company.

We were living in a rental in Northwest Oklahoma City at the time. It was not a bad place but the utilities were crazy because the house was not well insulated. Besides, we had recently moved to Oklahoma with the intention of owning a home. So we went looking. We found one we liked. We applied for the loan and we were approved for it.

We never had any problems paying our mortgage payments. I made more than enough money to pay it.

But here is where the problems began....

I started having some problems with my company. Mostly with mid-management. Little things like them promising something and never following through with them, outright lies, and a general lack of respect. Almost the entire time I was there, I honestly felt like an outsider. Like I was the one from Washington that did not fit into their Oklahoma City world.

But after several months of jumping back and forth in my mind between leaving the company and sticking it out, I decided to give them one last chance to redeem themselves and give me a reason to stay.

I applied for a promotion that I was, quite frankly, more than qualified for. Definitely more qualified than anyone else in the department. There were 4 openings. Certainly the job was mine. I went through the application process, the testing process and 2 separate interviews.

A few days after the 2nd interview I got a call from one of the managers who told me that I did not get the promotion. I was pretty irate to say the least. Come the next day at work I am a little more than surprised to find out that out of the 4 people that did get selected, I personally trained 3 of them!

So that was it, I was done. End of story. Goodbye [name of company]. In retrospect I should have stayed anyway. But I didn't. Big mistake. You live and learn I guess.

I had another job waiting in the wings though. However, it did not start for another month. Okay, here is a problem. I won't be able to pay the mortgage that month. This was November 2007 by the way.

So I did what I THOUGHT was the responsible thing to do. I called my mortgage company which I will call Company X instead of their actual name so I don't end up getting sued for libel. I called them up and explained the situation. They told me not to worry about it and put my mind at ease. They would just extend the loan out. No big deal. They do it all the time. They will just send me some paperwork to sign and return to them and once we got back on our feet we could just call them up and have them start up the loan again. Sound easy right? Wrong!!

December comes and still no paperwork. I did get a statement which included late fees though. So I called back. "We have no record of that conversation." What?!? "No problem, we will get that paperwork started for you. Send it back signed and the loan would essentially be put on hold." Here is how they explained it to me:

I could do one of two things. A forbearance, which means whatever amount the loan was overdue, they would add to the loan and make my payments higher. Or I could do a loan modification. Which means they add the amount the loan was overdue to the loan and the payments would stay the same but the time period would be extended. I chose the loan modification.

January comes. No paperwork. Got another statement.

February comes. No paperwork. Another statement.

I call again. I can pay my payments now folks. Heck, I was able to start paying them again in January. I am told not to mail any payments until I have gotten the paperwork. I tell them I don't have it. Where is it? "It's in process." In process? I need to pay my bill. Get on it. Fine. I will wait. *sigh*

March comes. Paperwork arrives....for a forbearance, not a loan modification. I call again. This is not what I agreed to. "Okay, we will send out the correct paperwork." The guy on the phone does let me make a payment though.

Next month, I get a foreclosure notice but no new paperwork! And come to find out that they did not accept my payment. I call them and ask what is up. They can't take a payment until the paperwork has been processed because at this point they will not accept a partial payment.Arggh!!!

May comes. Paperwork arrives. I look it over. It is for a loan modification. Good. But they want me to pay over 3 grand in late fees, legal fees and other fees. Whoah there, what?!?

Another call to Company X. "The rep that you originally spoke to told you there would be fees involved in a loan modification." Oh no she didn't. I would remember something like that. "It's right here in her notes." Well, those notes lie. I would remember that. Oh, and the legal fees are being assessed because we started foreclosure proceedings.

What?!? Why did you start foreclosure proceedings? I have been talking with your company about this situation since November. And I have been trying to make payments since January but told I could not until the paperwork that I never got until MAY is finished.

"Well, we can continue on with this loan modification and end the foreclosure proceedings but you will still have to pay all the fees."

I don't have 3 grand on me right now. Their answer......"Well sir, that is not my problem." Dead silence.

Somehow, I miraculously come up with the money and send them a cashiers check.


On another note, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2006 and we have also been dealing with that. She had just ended one round of chemotherapy and was told they would have to start another round. At this point we are all stressing out and exhausted with life. Between dealing with Company X and the thought of losing our house and dealing with cancer that won't go away and on top of this we were having problems with our daughter's school so we pulled her out and started homeschooling her. And...all this stress is affecting my work which is adding to the stress itself.

So we begin to think long and hard about our options. We are seriously considering moving back home to Seattle. There is a better support system there. But we don't have the money to move. But if we still had the money we sent to Company X we would. Can the bank do a stop payment on a cashiers check?

We go to the bank. The decision is made. If we can get that money back, we will move back home. If we can not, we stay in the house and try to move on with our lives. The bank says they will issue a stop payment. That is it. We move.

I call Company X and inquire about our options to keep from the house being foreclosed on. They tell me they can do a deed in lieu of something. Basically we turn the house completely over to the mortgage company. All I have to do is sign some paperwork turning the house over to them and it is done. No foreclosure on our record.

That paperwork never showed up. But I did receive a noticed about a sheriff's sale on our house and about a month later a document advising us of who bid on the house and who now owns it.

So our home was foreclosed on.

A lot of this I blame on myself.

I never should have called them in the first place. I could have just been a month behind in payments and made it up somewhere. But I thought I was being responsible.

I never should have quit my job. I could have just hung on and dealt with a crappy work situation. But I was really irritated at the time and really unhappy with where my future with the company was headed.

And maybe I should have just gave them their money and stayed in Oklahoma. We could have made do with where we were at. It would have been hard but we could have done it. But we were really unhappy there. Dealing with cancer without any kind of support system except ourselves was really getting to us.

Psychologically and spiritually it was a good move for us. We are still dealing with cancer (3 years later) but it is easier to deal with here. Life in general is good here in Washington.

The downside is that we will now ever own a house again and our credit it completely shot.

And that is the story of the Great Housing Battle with Company X.

So think what you want about me. Call me irresponsible. More often than not I will probably agree with you.

That is all I have to say about it so I will end the tirade here.


  1. What a mess.
    God bless you and your beautiful yet brilliant wife steve.
    We too have been through the craphole at times the past 5 years... tough to make a living in Oklahoma (I won't go political here) I think I mentioned somewhere to you or dave that we got a notice that the home we thought we were "renting to own" here in Denver for a year got foreclosed on because the landlord wasn't making the payments with our rent... and skipped... tons of other stuff too man, but I'm older than you and I can tell you nothing stays the same.

    You will see better times I assure you of that. You and your wife are in our prayers.

  2. Very well written, Baby. (Just a year slower than me - lol)

    Thanks, Red. (for calling me beautiful and brilliant - lol)
    We appreciate the prayers. Lord knows they're the only things that help.

  3. I completely understand your circumstances. Now, we have many families each day losing their homes in Oklahoma due to medical expenses that are out of control and most of them not covered by insurance.

    One of our arguements to the legislature about Nick's Law is that families dealing out of control medical expenses deal with bankruptcy and foreclose 4 times the "normal" rate of others in Oklahoma.

    It's a brave new world out there and you are on your own.

  4. "You will see better times I assure you of that."

    Lord I hope so. It can't get much worse.

  5. ohhh otter.... NEVER say that. I learned that the hard way man... it can always get worse.

  6. Wow Steve. That's horrible. I don't think you were irresponsible. You did your best and what you thought was right. Could you have done a couple of things better? Sure, but so could we all. You tried to do the right thing by that company and their bureaucracy failed you. Sadly this kind of bureaucratic failure is common place nowadays.