I lost my house to foreclosure- and then the bank gave it back. REALLY!!!

I lost my house to foreclosure- and then the bank gave it back. REALLY!!!

Foreclosure is an evil thing to admit to. You admit you're a bum, a cheat, a liar and broke. You admit to the world and your neighbors, that you are somehow not as good as everyone else. And you admit, you can't afford your home anymore. For a long while there, I probably shouldn't have felt so bad about it, it seems everyone I knew was facing some sort of financial downfall, but just the same, when they told me that my house was going into foreclosure, a sick feeling of despair set upon me and I knew I had been beaten.

The reason why I fell behind in my payments started several years before the actual paperwork and sheriffs order to vacate came. It started well before I even missed my first payment. It started when I became the sole breadwinner in my home, and I realized my job was not paying enough to carry the whole enchilada.

Truth be told I didn't really care to own the home. I lived on a boat year round, was quite happy to do my laundry at the laundromat and slept in 10-degree temps with my faithful pup cuddled up in my sleeping bag. I showered at the gym, ate dinner at the bar and only slept four hours a night anyway, so why did I need a home to do that?

Turns out, I needed a home not for me, but for my family- my two dogs and a my cat. And another family member that I wasn't so proud to admit I lived with, my Mom. I didn't really live with my Mom, but when my Dad died so many years back, it kind of fell to me to care for her, so it was a tentative balance that she lived in the house and I lived on the boat. And we all could be most self-respectable that way. Unfortunately. in 2012, a great recession, a job loss, a fight for boaters rights, a dog bite incident and a freak October snowfall hit and that tentative balance was thrown into chaos. A so my life would change and my home would slide into Foreclosure, despite my fiercest attempts to fight it.

It was early 2012 when I finally missed my first mortgage payment. That month, money was tight and I had been fighting with the bank to modify my mortgage payments since 2010. I couldn't pay my mortgage for the first time ever, but I had every intention of catching up the next month. The next month, it was same the deal, just not enough money. And then as the bills piled up, the job market slowed down and the dog managed to sneak out of the house and bite a bicyclist who wandered down the dead end dirt road along my property line, the tide turned against me.

Over the next three years, I would argue in court, go to mediation sessions, work four jobs and make a bundle of money and all the while, the Bank decided they wanted my home. They threw every excuse at me why I couldn't have a loan modification. First it was I didn't make enough money, and then I made too much money, and then my sources of income weren't reliable enough, they didn't like my career choice and then they weren't sure I even was a Connecticut resident anymore and made my money out of state. It wasn't about how green my money was, turns out, even banks are not all about money or profit.

Because again a sad truth I had to admit, my house wasn't worth anything. The septic was failing, the windows leaked like a screen door on a submarine, there was a lien on the property from my business that failed, that I couldn't pay, and it was located not quite at the end of the earth, but you could see it from my back window. In short the house was an albatross located in the middle of nowhere, Connecticut.

I tried to explain many times to the Bank that they didn't want to foreclose because they could never make any money on my house. The note was $189,000 over the market price and the home was valued at somewhere below $40,000. In Connecticut, there are portapotties that go for $40,000, and I was living in a home that on a good day could only hope to fetch a similar value. They could grab it, but they would not profit from it. And besides being well underwater, the septic was going to cost another $40,000 to fix, the lien was going to cost at least $16,000 to pay off and when it was all said and done, the house was going to cost the bank close to $250,000 and could only sell for the best price of $40K, a $210,000 loss. But they did it, and foreclosure papers were filed.

Now a quick note on Connecticut, the property tax is the entire reason that state exists and so if your own property or start a business, the culture is to bleed you dry so that bureaucrats can get paid and State Government employees can keep their jobs.  It also is the dirtball little cousin of Massachusetts with none of the charm, no pro teams, no nightlife, no public transportation, no reliable infrastructure  and did I mention no jobs. It is a place where rich white people go to raise kids and die. Its really is the W.A.S.P. answer to the salmon, who return to the same river beds after making their way in the world to mate, lay eggs and become Grizzly bear food. In Connecticut , the grizzlies don't eat the dead, we just name libraries after them. It's a shit hole and my house was sitting in the poorest, most far reaching quiet little corner of the shit hole, and the Bank wanted it.

So I did what any somewhat intelligent young man would do, after five years of fighting it, and months of sleepless nights, menial job filled days and more fights, screaming, heartache and pain with my Mom than I could care to disclose, I told the Bank, they could have it. I should have done that six years before and skipped all the heart ache, but if you read yesterday's blog, Nearer my God to Thee, you'll realize, I'm a stubborn S.O.B. and it takes an act of God to get to me to listen. (Im working on that).

My Mom was heartbroken, she had to leave her home and I had to walk away from my life as a liveaboard. It turns out, Foreclosure doesn't happen fast at all. Once they tell you to leave, then there are mandatory things that have to be done before you can give them the keys.

Another thing about me you should know, is once my mind is made up, I will blow your hair back with how fast I get things done. And rather than have a sheriff move my stuff for me, I decided I would make alternative arrangements and move in with my Psychotic Uncle and bring my Mom with me. BAD decision, but that's a subject for another blog post.

So last Spring, I drove a Uhaul through the hills of Connecticut down the I-95 Corridor and dragged 20 years of Stuff, to my family home in Annapolis. Later that Spring, I moved my Mom, two dogs, one cat, a dozen house plants and one overgrown goldfish, 1200 miles to North Carolina. I figured I was free of my Mortgage, my credit was shot with a foreclosure, and my life was for all intents and purposes over, why not go to sea. And that's when I decided to wander the East Coast in a boat.

And I thought that was it, I really really did. But it's a funny ole world isn't it? In late August on one port of call I made to see my Mom in North Carolina, I walked in and my Mom had an incredulous look on her face. "What's up" I asked, laying my seabag on the floor next to the door. "You're never going to believe this," she said, taking a long drag on her cigarette and thumbing a glass of box wine."What Mom," I asked again, irritated to have to pull the info from her. "The Bank gave you the house back".

I probably should have been thrilled to hear that but I wasn't. I didn't want to own a home ever again. I didn't want to be in debt anymore. And I sure didn't want to live in the festering cesspool of a State called Connecticut under 6 feet of snow anymore. But to my greatest surprise, I was still a homeowner after all.

Was it the hand of God that softened the Bank's cold, cold heart that made them reverse course? Was it the pile of losses they were going to take on by foreclosing on the worst house in Connecticut? Or was the fierce battle I fought, the pleading letter writing campaign my Mom and neighbors put forth, and the Congressional inquiries that were made on my behalf by my local Rep that turned the tide in my favor? Perhaps.

Or perhaps it was something more practical and pragmatic that stopped the biggest bank in America that is to big to fail from Foreclosing on my home? Perhaps it was as simple as it was too damn expensive to take a home in a State that was too crappy to invest in? I like to think that's it.

Im not gonna fault the bank, As I much as I hate them, they did wind up giving me a really good deal on a mortgage, cutting nearly $200,000 off the principle and lowering my rate to a very reasonable 2%. Are they too big to fail? Sure. But does that mean my mortgage will be paid and my home will be mine for at least the next 30 years? Yup.

The Bank gave me my house back, pulling it back from the brink of foreclosure, reversing course and changing their mind. They did. I don't know why, but it can happen. Miracles do occur and lightning most certainly strikes twice somewhere in the world, every day. And this dog, at least for a short while, had a beautiful ray of sunshine shine on his flea-bitten butt for at least one day. And now I am once again a homeowner, and I have a new life to boot. It seems to be working Ok. I have no idea why it happened or if it will last, but I wish you the same luck and fortune that I seemed to have gotten and suggest that it is never too early to give up the ship, because who knows what's floating in on the tide when you're paddling back to shore.



Published by Christopher Richard

Comments (5)


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