Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To make a long story, well....long.

There is no way to tell this saga without a lot of words, so I apologize if you're here for the pictures-there are none in this post.

I feel the need to record our experience-mainly for our family's benefit. If we ever wonder again if the Lord is paying attention or knows us, we can remember the last seven months and know without a doubt, yes, He is and does. He will soften hearts, inspire others, and step in at the very hour help is needed.

The day that Zak was laid off from his job, I began the phone calls to our mortgage lenders. This responsibility was handed to me because I have always been the one in charge of finances and paying bills. Not only that but Zak was still reeling from the unexpected loss of employment and all of the subsequent emotions that follow such a blow. Little did I know that those hour long fruitless phone calls would be the first of many months of similar conversations.

In the beginning, we had the hope of staying in Phoenix, quickly finding a new job (we're educated! he's smart! hard working!), and keeping the home. My original goal of the phone calls was to find out about loan modification or payment options. Ridiculously, before the layoff we didn't qualify for a modification because Zak made too much and during his unemployment he didn't qualify because he didn't make enough. And because our home was worth 30% of what we purchased it, there was no hope for refinancing either. It was very frustrating.

Once we realized that there were no civil engineering jobs to be found in the Valley, we listed the home with a realtor, Marci. We knew that the home would sell as a short sale, which was disappointing, but research showed that we would be able to buy again within two years--not so bad. The home was listed in May and right away we received offers. This made us feel sure that the process would be swift and easy.

Fast forward two months. One of the offers on the home was approved by Citimortgage (our first). We were told that we have to wait a little longer on the short sale approval from Countrywide. As we were waiting, Countrywide was bought out by Bank of America prolonging the process even more and the approval time limit for Citimortgage passed. We were assured by Citi that they would open our file again once we heard back from BofA. No big deal. Our buyers were extremely patient, loved the home, and knew they were getting a great price, so stuck around, much to our relief.

Mid-November Bank of America finally came back with an approval. Now things would move forward!! The realtor contacted Citimortgage to let them know. Our negotiator at Citi informed her that they would give us 10 days to fund and close the sale or they would close the file completely. Although the buyer was pre-qualified for a loan, they had not started the loan process and didn't think that they will be able to get the loan in time. Not only that but Citi also wanted a couple thousand dollars more and the buyer didn't have it. Although we tried to negotiate with them, they walked. We were left with a home that had 8 days to close and no buyer.

The approval date came and went. Zak and I resigned ourselves to what we thought was the worst case scenario-foreclosure. I spent hours on the phone to find out about a deed in lieu of foreclosure, only to discover that we didn't qualify for it because we have a first and second loan on the house. Many prayers were said, our family fasted, and we finally gained peace about the home foreclosing.

On Monday morning, the week of Thanksgiving I received a call informing me that there was another offer on the home, this time from a cash buyer. Marci was sure that Citi would reopen the file (approval deadline was just the Friday before) and we still had approval from BofA. We were excited, but apprehensive because of our previous experience. Tuesday I got another phone call, this time from the bank. They would be willing to reopen the file, but gave us a ridiculous deadline to close--- Friday at noon.

Remember, this is the week of Thanksgiving. Most people work a half day on Wednesday and not at all on Thursday or Friday. In fact, we later found out that the same negotiator that gave us that deadline didn't work the rest of the week, even after insisting that it was a normal business week.

Normally, the realtor does all of the leg work with the banks, but it is at this point that I got extremely involved. It was my house after all, our credit on the line, and I had a vested interest in the success of this transaction. Not only that, but the negotiator had caller ID (and a power trip) and refused to answer the phone when my realtor called. She did, however, answer when I called. I explained that even if the buyer could wire the money in time, we would still have to wait for re-approval from the second in order to move forward. She told me that she would talk to her supervisors about getting an extension and would ring me back by the end of the day. I waited. Finally, at the end of the day, I called her again. No answer.

At that point, I was furious with the lies that I had been told and the ridiculous deadline we had been given. I called the loss mitigation line and yelled at everyone until someone finally wrote an email to the negotiator's supervisor (they can't give me the email or phone number or name of the person) letting him know of the situation.

Bright and early Black Friday morning, we got a phone call from the supervisor. He told us that she was out of town (regular workweek my foot) and that he hadn't even seen the new offer yet. He explained that she actually had no business approving it or giving us a deadline of any sort! The lies!! We emailed him the offer and the following Monday received word that we had approval until December 18th.

Finally, with a time limit we could work with, Marci kicked into high gear to make sure that all of the paperwork was done by the 18th. At that point, the approval deadline for BofA had passed, but we were assured by the bank that since the offer was the same, it would surely be re-approved. Bank of America hadn't done anything quickly during this entire process and the re-approval was no different. They decided that they needed to re-assess the value of the property, slowing it down and then took awhile to turn in the paperwork to their superiors. Still we were told that we would receive the approval in time to close.

Then last Wednesday morning, everything REALLY fell apart.

It started with a phone call from Bank of America letting me know that they were not going to re-approve our short sale. Apparently, they had found mortgage insurance tied to the loan. This fact was not known by us and wasn't even caught by the bank during the original approval of the short sale. According to the negotiator, when the loan was originally bought by Countrywide from our builder, allegedly Countrywide also purchased mortgage insurance to go along with it without our approval or signature. Then Countrywide was sold to BofA and the MI stayed with the loan. The negotiator explained that since the loan was backed by mortgage insurance, they were no longer interested in working with us unless we could come up with another $2000 (from the buyer) and a signed promissory note for $7500 (from us).

I don't know about you, but $7500 is a heck of a lot of money for a home that we are no longer living in.

I told the negotiator that we would just go ahead and foreclose, meaning BofA would get nothing. He threatened that if we foreclosed on the home, the mortgage insurance would pay BofA the full amount of the loan and then file a lawsuit against us for the money. We would then be forced to file bankruptcy because (obviously) we don't have $40,000 lying around to pay the MI company.

Bankruptcy. A concept we had never even considered. Isn't bankruptcy for people like Donald Trump? Not little families that shop at thrift stores, use coupons, and buy everything with cash.

Frantic, I called Melissa, my extremely intelligent sister-in-law who happens to be a bankruptcy lawyer. She thought the whole lawsuit concept sounded fishy, but did admit that they may have found a loophole in the laws. I called the bank and demanded proof (which they could not provide), schemed with our realtor, and discussed taking a loan for the $7500 promissory note with Zak. In the end, we knew that it was not the right thing for us to do. In our heads it seemed like the most logical move to make ($7500 or bankruptcy? Hm...), but it did not feel right. Turning down the offer seemed so foolish, but we also know that our ways and the Lord's ways are not the same.

For a full 24 hours we believed that we would soon be declaring bankruptcy. I never want to feel that way again. Bankruptcy seems so final, so harsh. But with a Kitchenaid as our most expensive asset, we didn't have very many other choices. Zak came to terms with it long before I did. He just kept telling me that it was just about money-at least we were together, at least our family was still intact--the "stuff", the credit rating, all of that doesn't matter. By that night I agreed with him, though it took a lot of time on my knees to gain that peace. I am so grateful for a spouse who sees the bigger picture.

Thursday morning, I was walking through Walmart getting some last minute fabric for my orders when I got a call from our realtor. She should have told me to sit down first. Marci said that she hadn't slept at all the night before (join the club). As soon as a decent hour came, she phoned the bank again and demanded that they give us proof of the mortgage insurance. It came back that they could not and the negotiator had backed down. He was willing to accept the short sale on the original terms, plus $2000 from the buyer. I literally almost collapsed in the middle of the dirty Walmart toy aisle. It was truly a miracle.

The buyer accepted the terms, I called Zak to come home and sign all the paperwork, we overnighted it to the title company and received a phone call at noon on Friday letting us know that we are now the proud non-owners of a home. God is good.

Even now I can't believe that everything worked out so well. It was definitely hellish to deal with, but we ended up with our best case scenario. What a blessing.

Apparently, I needed this trial to be humbled and learn a few things about myself, the strength of our family, and maybe even a thing or two about having a positive attitude regarding our current situation. When people in our ward (local congregation) heard about our situation (bad news travels fast), suddenly we were inundated with offers to take the kids for a few hours, meals (three nights in a row!!), and promises of prayers. It was wonderful to feel so cared for. I know a loving Father was working through those around us to fill our needs.

I have been reminded over and over in the past few days of this promise in the Doctrine and Covenants. "For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment...." (D&C 100: 6) We have been so blessed this holiday season. I am truly grateful for our Savior's birth and a loving Father in Heaven who makes good on all of His promises, even in the 11th hour.


[AnnieR] said...

This is a wonderful story. I had been thinking about you and praying for you since your last post concerning the matter. So many times our prayers have been answered at the very last minute, which ends up being a double blessing because everything works out but you also gain the wisdom that comes from enduring. You nailed it right on the head: God is good.
P.s-my word verification is "wimper." odd.

Shenna said...

I'm glad things finally went through for you guys! What a relief and a blessing!

Melissa said...

What a mess! But a sweet ending. I am so happy for you guys to have the house outta of your lives.

Cheryl said...

I am so GLAD that is over for you guys! I am afraid for the day when we will no longer have renters in our house and will have to figure out what to do with it.

KatieB said...

i love what annie said about prayers being answered at the last minute and then the double blessing of gaining wisdom: so true! so happy for you to have an ending to this trail. may you have many nights of good sleep after this!

Anna Knowles said...

Wow, what an ordeal to be put through, but I'm glad you learned so much and are the better for it. And I'm glad it worked out financially as well.

I think it's sad how businesses are so dishonest these days. Not all businesses of course, but it seems to be getting more and more prevelant. They expect that the victims won't do their homework and put up a fight . . . very sad. Sometimes it's your health insurance, cable company, etc. You have to always keep detailed records. My favorite line (my husband and I totally agree on this) is "Who did you talk to?" That one just boils my blood.

A few times I had the good sense to write down the person's name and so when I called back to resolve a problem and the person asked that token question I was ready. However, it only helped half the time.

Our old health insurance company gave me so many problems that it was literally my part time job to get them to process any of my bills correctly. Most people don't have that kind of time and they count on it. Like I said, very sad. I should get off my soap box now. :)

On the flipside I must say I've recently had experiences with companies where they have gone above and beyond standards of good customer service. It has surprised me so much that I almost got misty eyed a few times as if I was watching a touching Hallmark commercial. :)

I'm glad things are much better now. :) Happy Holidays!!!
Love, Anna

Sabrina said...

Beth, that is an amazing and humbling story. Our God is truly and amazing God and you are an amazing woman to follow Him with such faith. Thanks for sharing.

Talk With Tami said...

Another thing...in case it didn't work out. Countrywide settled a lawsuit for its predatory lending practices, so you probably had a case that BAC couldn't have foreclosured on you. I am glad your house sold.

bpetersen said...

So... I'm finally getting around to commenting on your blog.

You are truly an amazing woman with an amazing faith in Our Father in Heaven. I'm inspired by your faith and your ability to see the positive in not so wonderful situations. I'm glad things have worked out for you guys in this instance. And I'm glad the ward was around to help!


Amanda said...

That was quite an ordeal! I'm so thankful that everything worked out for the best. I know you will have an extra merry Christmas with that burden removed from your hearts. I think it's great that the people in your ward stepped in to love on y'all.

Leanna said...

i'm really sorry you guys had to go thru all that crap. i feel bad cuz i really didn't even know about it. Hopefully everything is better from here on out!

West Family said...

You have been amazing in the face of such a trial! I am glad that you received the "best" outcome! Your family is such a great example to me! Thank you for having so much faith!

Lisa & Gerald said...

That's great news..sorry you had to go thu all that....time to relax...Hugs...

Spjut Family said...

Wow, what a story. I am so glad everything is okay. I didn't realize things got so dreary. You two are so blessed.

Audra Bollard said...

Wow and wow. I'm totally behind on my blog reading, so I know this is "old" news, but I still had to make a comment. I'm so glad you recorded this and so proud you are my friend. Thank you for being a wonderful reminder about why we really experience trials. May you have a peaceful 2010!

*katie said...

Wow. How nice to finally be done with it all! I can't imagine the stress. I would imagine you're sleeping better these days:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails