Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dark Days for Real Estate

Sometimes “darkness” forces us into situations we would not attempt without its prompt. For the past nine months, I have been struggling to hold on to my house. I have fought against foreclosure, jumped through hoops to please the mortgage company as they presented work-out options, complied with a forbearance agreement, and now they have offered me a potential “settlement” that will put me back in good standing with them regarding my mortgage loan.

I had to put up a $3,000 “contribution” just for them to consider other options besides foreclosure. I had to borrow this from family, as the facts are that if I had $3,000 I would not have been behind on my mortgage payments. Then I had to call three times a week to convince someone to even look at the possibility of a loan modification. I went to court, where a sale date for my house was set. It was literally three days before that sale date when the adjuster notified me and the court that they were suspending the sale of the house to work on a loan modification. Then they issued a forbearance agreement which stated in paragraph one that the payments indicated in the agreement were the same or less my regular payments. The payments were, in actuality, $190 more than my regular payments. I scraped and scrimped and managed to pay the first three payments. The final payment asked for the total of arrearages, plus late fees, plus lawyer’s fees, plus court fees, plus filing fees – totally almost $11,000. I was told to default on that payment and that would trigger the adjuster to look at my file and consider adding this amount back to the principal and renegotiating the loan.

I called the adjuster to give him an income statement. We talked and he assured me that a loan modification should be approved and that my new mortgage payment would be “about” $25 more than my previous payment.

I received the loan modification today! Part of me wants to laugh; part of me wants to cry; part of me wants to curse. They want an additional $1,000 “contribution” payment immediately. Then they want new payments beginning August 1 that are $110 more than my old mortgage payments. Instead of adding length to my mortgage agreement, they have increased the payment amounts and have it ending on the same date, July 2030.

The truly sad part is that the mortgage company really does not want my house. The real estate market where I live is in terrible shape. Houses simply are not selling here. Additionally, my house was built in 1963 and needs extensive repairs and upgrades. They would have to put a significant amount of money into the house just to sell it!

Yet, with this deal, I cannot keep it, either. So, I am being pushed to move. I have begun looking at rentals that are closer to my work (save money on gas!), allow pets, and that have rental payments in my budget. I am starting to believe that this is what I am supposed to do – move. Perhaps for some time now I have been supposed to move and this is the only way to rock me off my foundation and force me to do so. As I consider my options, I will continue to look for the lesson to be learned or the peace to be gleaned from this particular style of “darkness.”

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