Reader Rant: Being Underwater and Coming up for Air

by on August 9, 2010 · 9 comments

in Culture, Economy, Reader Rant

Editor: The following was submitted to us by one of our readers, and occasional commenter, who goes by the internet handle of “not a redneck in east county.”  She submitted this under the name of “Elaine.”

moneyhelpby Elaine

After losing my job of more than 25 years, being unemployed for 8 months and finally being offered a job at half the money I used to make, I found myself close to foreclosure. Really close. I have been consistently 2 months behind on my mortgage for over 2 years and cannot catch up. If it wasn’t for the 2 roommates that live with me I would have given up and let the bank have the damn house, along with the negative equity.

The story behind how I ended up in this situation is one you’ve heard before. Simply stated, I got divorced at the height of the real estate market (my house was appraised for almost 3 times what I paid for it) and at the time the best thing I could do was to stay put. Buying another house would have cost me just as much, increased my property taxes and with the additional expense of moving, well it just seemed like the best option for me and my kids. And for 5 years things were fine, then I the company I worked for went out of business, I depleted my savings and well, I told you the rest.

I don’t have a lot of bills, some medical bills, a small amount of credit card debt (the cards have all been cut up) but I struggle every month. I stress every month. I quit answering the phone because how many times can you tell the mortgage company you’re doing the best you can and will make a payment as soon as you can? They say they will make a note on your account but then they call the next day and the next and the next…

I tried to talk to them about a loan modification, they referred me to their website, which referred me to the HUD website. To their credit the HUD website has greatly improved since I went there last year, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork needed to apply for a loan modification, copies of bills, statements, accounts, documentation of income, expenses… I heard so many stories and got “advice” from so many people, it felt like a huge amount of work for something that probably wouldn’t help me anyway. With my tendencies toward denial and avoidance I put it off. For a long time.

Last month I decided I couldn’t wait any more. I knew the process could take a long time and have been told that some people have been trying to get approved for almost 2 years. I found a local non-profit agency called the Community Housing Works online and on their homepage they asked, Did You Know:

  • Even if you have been previously turned down by your Lender for a loan modification, you can re-apply. Many homeowners who were previously denied have found success utilizing our probability meter.
  • Overstating your expenses by as little as $10 can result in your lender declining your loan modification? Our Probability Meter takes the guess work out of the income/expense process. In other words, we have the secret formula.
  • You do not have to be delinquent to qualify for a loan modification. We have successfully helped many people who were still current on their mortgage.
  • If you don’t qualify for President Obama’s new Home Affordable Modification Program, there are alternate modification programs being offered by almost every Lender.

making-home-affordable_short-logoWell no, I didn’t know that. I registered at the site and began the self evaluation. A few days later I received a call from one of their counselors and made an appointment to go into the office. I knew if I had an appointment set up it would put pressure on me to get all the paperwork done. I got everything together and kept the appointment with a counselor who explained everything to me, helped me word the hardship letter that I needed to send to my lender and calmed my nervousness about the whole situation. They sent the whole package to my lender via email (and cc’d me), printed out an action list for me and told me that the first step was done. Now it was up to the lender to come back with an answer and that answer would dictate the next step.

The next time the mortgage company called my house I answered the phone and explained that I had applied for a modification. They checked and said my paperwork had been received and had been assigned for review. And they have not called me since. It’s quieter here. I’ll keep making my payment, and struggling, but I feel like I can breathe a bit. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace August 9, 2010 at 10:23 am

Elaine- thanks for the post. Once again we hear how people are laid off, then when they do get a job, get paid half as much; that when you are laid off it is close to impossible to raise a family and pay the mortgage/rent. Good luck with the mortgage modification and let us know how things turn out. Hopefully this group can help save other people’s homes, which was the intent of the government intervention in the first place.


nunya August 9, 2010 at 10:24 am

Thank you for sharing your story. :) Please do let us know how it goes?


Diane5150 August 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Hang in there Elaine. At the rate that houses are currently going into foreclosure, your being a couple of payments behind, is not something to stress about. In the overall scheme of things, baby, you are doing great. And if you continue to fall further behind, shoot girlfriend; There are a lot of people way ahead of you in the foreclosure line not even making their payments and “still livin in they house.”


Ernie McCray August 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Hang in there. I remember my mother’s struggles for a while as the sole supporter of little-old-ravenous-rapidly growing-me and I respect you greatly for dealing with forces that couldn’t care if they tried.


not a redneck in east county August 9, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Thanks for all your kind words and understanding. I will let you know what they say. The counselor at the Community Housing Works told me that there would be several different options depending on whether the bank approves me for some program or they deny me. He said if they deny my request they have to say why, and then we will know what needs to happen next.

I was very happy with the way CHW dealt with me and wanted others to know they are out there to help.



Sunshine August 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm

thanx so much, elaine, for getting your truth out there. I know firsthand how hard it was to struggle under the pressures of slightly past due yet never ending mortgage payments and the relentless phone calls the lenders make in an attempt to get blood out of us turnips. I never did understand how my conversations today with xyz wouldn’t matter tomorrow to another caller from the same company. Did they think I would wake up at 8am the next morning and magically find 2 mortgage payments under my pillow? I/m happy to be done with all that.

I sure hope you get a good nights rest or two. Your story speaks of the hope that is still alive and well out there on the horizon. I’ve heard it said…”Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle!” sounds like yours is on its way.



just my 2 cents August 10, 2010 at 8:17 am

Sell the house or let it go and rent.


dave rice August 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Thanks for your story, Elaine! It’s refreshing to hear a good story about the modification assistance groups for once, I hope that with their help you’ll be offered a mod that fits your needs and helps out. As others have said, keep us posted!


RB August 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

So we gave $85 billion to Fannie Mae and $63 billion to Freddie Mac and $70 billion to AIG and we still have housing crisis? Too bad the government didn’t bailout the individual mortgages instead of the their corporate friends.


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