Friday, January 29, 2010

Caught up in the wave of foreclosures?

Last Monday, 14 of the 20 Mecklenburg homeowners scheduled for a foreclosure hearing before Cameron Scott actually showed up.

That was the highest rate of attendance the Mecklenburg County assistant clerk of court recalls having at the hearings - one of the last stops on the road to foreclosure. Used to be, no more than 15 percent of people came, said Scott, one of three attorneys who run the hearings.

More people are coming because they are more likely to know that, even at the last minute, they can stave off foreclosure. Some know because they read about it in The Observer. I know this because when I talk with people worried about losing their homes, they often show me one or more stories I’ve written about how to stop foreclosures.

But then I hear the process hasn’t worked for them. Or they didn’t call soon enough. Or they have more questions.

Here at the Observer, we began writing about the foreclosure problem long before it was recognized nationally, before it helped bring down the economy. That news coverage continues. With this blog, we’re reaching out in a new way.

Are you struggling to get a mortgage modification? We want to hear from you.

Were you able to get a modification? We want to hear your success story.

Are foreclosures hurting your community? Tell us about it.

Is it your job to help people save their homes? We want to hear your tips for what works.


We want to be a resource for linking people with the help they need. We also hope this blog becomes a place for sharing not only stories of struggling homeowners but also ideas about how to solve a problem that touches everyone. Sometimes, we’ll do all our talking in this space. Other times, your stories will also run in the newspaper.

Please join us.

Coming Sunday in The Observer: Read MoneyWise for the stories of three struggling homeowners and a discussion of whether foreclosure prevention programs are a good idea.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Scott is an attorney that holds hearings, but his title should be Assistant Clerk of Court. Please show him the appropriate deference as a court officer.

Anonymous said...

A friend was recently told by his mortgage company that he and his wife did not make enough money to qualify for a loan modification. I dont even know what that means. If your income has been reduced and you cant afford to make your mortgage payment wouldnt this be the reason you are seeking a loan modification?

stillfree1 said...

First I tried to refinance with Bank of America. I was given my loan on the basis of being self employed. But they said no one gets to refinance now if you are self employed even though the interest rate was less than 5% that day. So I went to the NACA event to try and get my loan restructured. Well BOA did give me an offer from that....a restructured loan at a higher rate than I already have 6.12% LOL!!!They offered to refince at 6.9% LOL. They get to borrow money from the Fed at 0% and then loan at what ever they want or not at all.

JAT said...

Stella, going forward please consider that artificially avoiding foreclosures is a cure worse than the disease.

If you are upside down on your house it MIGHT be better to simply walk away from the mortgage rather than continue to pay entirely too much for housing. Pick your price point, but paying on a loan $50K-$200K more than the house is worth is a losing bet.

If the bank would do a voluntary principal reduction that would be one thing. But this string of silly money has to snap at some point.

Oh, and NACA is Satan.

Stella Hopkins said...

Anon 3:52
Mr. Scott was identified as an assistant clerk of court and later as an attorney. Stella

Anonymous said...

The stress of being laid off from my job has been unbelievable. I refused to be jobless and homeless, so I withdrew $51K from a retirement account and paid off my mortgage. I felt I had no choice. I've been out of work well over a year. My mortgage was not a part of the mortgage mess that has caused so many problems. I would like to see Congress and President Obama help citizens like me by putting a waiver on the 10% early withdrawal penalty that the IRS imposes. Thousands of laid off citizens have had to use retirement funds to make it through this recession. We need help. We should pay income taxes, but not the 10% penalty.

Anthony said...

I wish the Gov would just freeze any foreclousures until things get better!! thisis going to sent home valuse 6 feet under! we will all loose with a market flooded with underpriced homes!

JAT said...

Anon 3:52 --

Please roll with your name and occupation before demanding honorifics for your -- boss? co-worker? relative? frat brother? -- OK?

ML said...

I was able to obtain a modification of my home loan. I originally tried through Countrywide/BofA for over 6 months. I was told to start the trial modification. I made my payments and never received any paperwork during the 90 day period. I called and called and was told it was in the works. I was then told that the rep had not locked in my information. Needless to say it was a big run around. I started in March 09. The same day the HOPE program became effective. This week I finally received a final modification. How did it occur. I went to the NACA save the home event. I waited 12 hours and was given a work out by BofA. I think I was the type of homeowner that the HOPE program was meant to assist. I was making over 60K a year, lost my job, used all of my savings/retirement to make my payments while I was unemployed. After 14 months, I found a job but make less than 1/2 of my previous salary. I was using all of my salary to make my payments and other necessary bills. NO frills, no extras just the basics. My house was not abv my means when I bought it. I was approved for a lot more but only spent 150k. I was naive about an ARM. My rate went to 9.5% with the ARM. It is now 2.375%. I can afford my home. It took a year but I was persistent with saving my home.

Anonymous said...

'Owning' a home by financing it is not a right.

It is a business transaction.

The bank is not there to take a loss for you.

Just as you will never go to your 9 to 5 job for no pay.

Government coercing the private banking sector started this mess, don't think it is going to be able to fix it by doing more of the same.

More government involvement
other than stimulating job creation is just going to make things messier.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with JAT. I've been out of work for 13 months, burned through all the excess money we had, begged with Suntrust for months to no avail, and have decided to just send them the keys. It's just not worth stressing every day over a house payment that has lost tons of money because of the greed in the banking and financial industry. Screw those guys. My credit will be back before my house will be worth more than I owe

Anonymous said...

anonymous 8:34 - go ahead and default on your obligation and walk away. People don't understand they have a LEGAL obligation to pay. I hope your mortgage company sues you and attaches future earnings through a judgement - you deserve it. Oh and you haven't lost money because of anyone's greed but your own - prices go up and down. If you couldn't afford a sizable downpayment and have reserve funds you shouldn't have bought a house. Of course people it is easier to blame others for your FAILURE isn't it????????

Anonymous said...

I was told by my bank I would be approved for a hardship modification for 6 months. Then I got a letter advising I was not approved. Then the CCCS agency told me the State of NC had a loan program where you could borrow up to 6 months of payments. I applied and was denied because and I quote" If were ever late on a mortgage payment, you would not qualify" WHAT? If I wasn't late, why would I need a loan and be in foreclosure? So then I asked my bank for refinance and they said they don't do re-fi's and to go to another bank. Well since I am in foreclosure, what other bank would give me a loan? The whole Obama program is a joke. I think the only people benefiting from it are the banks, not homeowners. It is so frustrating.

Anonymous said...

I have sat in and watched this Scott Cameron treat the "defendant" with intimidation and rudeness. Since he is an attorney who acts an assistant clerk of court, he demands you have an attorney or refuses you the right to speak. As a member of a private click called bar coded attorneys he circles the wagon for his "brothers", meets with them in private before the "hearing" and discusses how to shut down any valid points such as the failure of the alleged lender to validate the debt and proceed to a foreclosure order. From what I witnessed he works as much for the banks as he does as an attorney. The truth is not in him.

Anonymous said...

We purchased our home in 2005, at the hight of the market, putting down 20% and locking in a 30 year fixed jumbo rate of 6 3/8%. It was affordable based on our income at the time. The mortgage broker told us we could refinance when the rates dropped. Fast forward 4 years and the rates did drop, but so did the value of our home, by more than 30%, thanks to the foreclosures in the area - making us upside down for the first time in our lives. To make matters worse, both my wife and I had to take pay cuts (teacher and nurse) so our home became both unaffordable and not sellable based on the money we owe on it. We went to a NACA event to see if anything could be done. We waited 12 hours, filled out pages and pages of paperwork, brought all the documentation they requested, and was sent on to a Bank of America representative. That was 2 months ago. Within 30 days we were told our modification request has been approved, our rate dropped to an amount we can afford, and we will be able to stay in our home and continue to make timely payments. I'm just hoping this does not have an effect on our flawless credit rating, but no one can give us an answer on that. NACA was fantastic for us, but Bank of America was a nightmare, giving us the run around and losing our info and refusing to change inaccurate documents on file or granting us access to the "customer relationship department", which they ironically say is not accessible to customers?? Overall though, it was well worth the hassle, and I recommend it to anyone in a similar situation to us.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I spent the majority of last year unemployed. I went 3 months without making any house payments after burning through savings and 401k's. I finally went back to work and immediately called B of A to try for a modification. Of course I was turned down. Seems they can't modify VA loans. That has to have special permission. I am not in a home that I can't afford; in fact, my house payment is less than I would pay for rent somewhere. I was in my home for 15 years before the meltdown. However, my home is now worth less than it was. I am slowly working on catching the payments up. Everyone can say what they want about just walking away but you haven't tried renting someplace in this day without a sparkling credit record. I know people who are now bunked up with friends and relatives because they lost their homes and NO ONE would rent to them because of their credit records. The stimulus was misapplied and should have been given to homeowners to assist with mortgages, not to the banks for them to hoard while crying poor mouth to the country. This last year has taught me a lot about NEVER relying on anyone to help you regardless of your situation. If you don't do it yourself it won't get done.

Kevin P. said...

A year ago, I was forced to take on the expense of providing Assisted Living care for a disabled spouse. Obviously, with nearly 100% of our income going toward that expense, there's no way to continue paying the mortgage, as well as the other utilities and taxes. I've asked many times for a plan that would allow me to keep the house and the contents, but without being able to dedicate any funds at the current time, there's been no plan to help me.

Anonymous said...

I modified my mortgage by myself with no help from the banks or government. It was pretty easy. I just bought a home with a payment of 9% of my income. Just because a bank is willing to loan you 28, 30 oe even 33% of your income, doesn't mean you can "afford" it. People lived on the edge and are getting bit by it. Too bad, so sad! Anybody wanting a home should have at least a years worth of $ saved just for these times.

Anonymous said...

I also lost my job, because of the economy, which had enabled me to pay for my home when I bought it. I used my savings to support me and pay the mortgage while I searched for a job for months, got one and lost it, again because of the economy, and went through the search again, all the time losing savings. Now I work for much less money. I signed up with NACA in June to get a BOA modification which they said would take 30 - 45 days. It's been seven months and I'm still waiting - I'm told eah time I call that it's "In Process". NACA does not respond to my emails or phone calls, so they are useless. It's cruel to get peoples' hopes up and then desert them. It may cost me my house as well. I've been extremely disappointed in them - they do a poor job.

Anonymous said...

if you have a mortgage, your home is collateral for a loan. if you default on the loan, the bank gets to take it back. allowing people to not pay their loan back and stop the bank from getting their money back seems unfair to everyone else who pays. what's wrong with becoming a renter? why are we all entitled to keep living in a house we can't pay for?

should people who stop paying their credit card get to keep making purchases? should people who stop paying their car loan keep their car?

it's very sad that many people are making less money, or no money, now versus what they made before. but that's all part of personal responsibility - saving for the rainy day and not living beyond your means. if we all want the government's role to be protecting us from poor planning on our part, then we are all advocating the opposite of what we've relentlessly voted for. you don't get the upside of capitalism without accepting the downside.

it's amazing that mortgage rates haven't shot up into the teens. if your neighbor asked you for $200,000 to help him buy a house but you weren't sure you could take the house back if he stopped paying you, how much interest would you charge him? only our tax dollars flowing into the market to buy mortgages through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Treasury's purchase of mortgage backed securities keeps the rates as low as they are.

foreclosures are not the problem - people being unable to pay their mortgages are. if you don't like the risk of being a mortgage borrower, you should rent. if you find yourself behind on your mortgage and see no way to catch up, get ready to rent somewhere else and call your servicer about a short sale. i'm not entitled to unilaterally change the terms of any contract I sign, let alone a mortgage, so I don't understand why so many borrowers believe they have that right over their bank.

Stella Hopkins said...

Thanks for all the great discussion! A reminder to keep it civil. No name calling, no slurs, no blatant untruths. Such comments will be rejected. Stella

Stella Hopkins said...

I'd like to talk further with folks listed below, by posting name and time of comment. My direct line is 704-358-5173. I'll be back in the office Tuesday. Please call. Thanks.
Anon 12:19
Anon 8:59
Anon 8:15
Anon 7:34
Anon 8:34
Kevin P.
stillfree1

alittlemoretolerant said...

to the person who just bought a house for 9% of his income and says people should have a years worth of income in savings. please let us all know what your income is. Because 9% of $40000 yields a monthly payment of $300 including taxes and insurance. If the house price was $100000, and assuming that the taxes and ins on this house was $150 per month, at a rate of 5%, that leaves a principle and interest payment of $150. The max loan would be $27900. Quite a down payment. Not many people earning $40000 could save over $72000 while paying rent. The real point of this is: walk a mile in someone's shoes before you become so arrogant about their life's problems.

Joemnc said...

I feel really bad for the many families that are loosing their homes because of job loss, sickness, etc. But, there are some who are simply walking away without trying and that makes me angry. I have had my home on the market for a year and it is so hard trying to sale in a neighborhood with foreclosures because you cannot compete with those prices. I am willing to sale at a loss but I am not willing to sale and owe money at closing. I had one neighbor who told us that he refinanced to get the equity in his home, then used the money for a down payment on a new home and stayed in his old house for three months (without making a payment) while his new house was being built. Further, when his house did sale (for less than he owed) he did not get anytype of lien to pay off. I think the person should be responsible for paying off the difference between the loan and what the home sold for as a foreclosure. It's those types of people who make it hard for the people who really do care and want to save their homes from foreclosure. The bottom line is that foreclosures ruin the comps in the neighborhood.

Algernon said...

I work on the post foreclosure side of the mess.

Back in the boom days, up until 06' we enjoyed the business of "flipping". It was an honest business, we just rehabbed them, the sales and mortgages were left to the brokers of both professions.

The few foreclosures we had back then were born of divorce..98% of the time. Now the foreclosures we see are the result of the economy... obviously.

It is amazing the condition some of these places are left in. The majority are simply filthy with all sorts of undesirable things left on the walls and floors.

The last one we did was missing every single light bulb, pet excrement in every room, on every stair...appliances, and cabinets gone. Piles and piles of belongings flung about like a tornado paid a visit. The pictures would shock most. Yet there were empty boxes for new cell phones, iPods, and one for a big screen TV all with receipts not but two weeks prior to the eviction...

It does not seem to matter what part of town they are in, or the price break the condition of these foreclosures is almost cookie cutter in consistency. The despair and angst still lingers in air of these houses by the time we get there.

Some folks though exercise a sense of pride in what must be one of their darkest hours...scrubbed showers, and floors. Vacuumed carpets, windexed appliances mirrors and windows.


Interesting thing, human psychology.

ABC said...

I was able to obtain a trial modification through Wachovia. They were efficient, never lost my paperwork, and I was able to call and check in on the process. I made all my trial payments on time.

Well, guess what? Now I am dealing with Wells Fargo and the communication is horrible. They sent me the paperwork for the final modification via UPS on Dec. 24th. I had already left to visit friends for the holidays. If I had not come back to the house for something I left behind it would have sat there for 5 days. It was due back to them on Jan. 2nd - not much time to carefully read the documents!

Turns out the modification they offered me was much higher than what Wachovia had been able to calculate for the trial modification. A Wells Fargo rep advised to write a letter explaining my objections to the offer, and send it back with one copy of the loan mod documents. I did that - and am back in limbo.

When I closely examine the Wells Fargo modification I see that they have not brought the interest rate down low enough, nor have they stretched the mortgage to 35 or 40 years. They could do either to get the numbers that worked that Wachovia came up with for the trial mod.

I feel like writing a letter to the media and the president of Wells Fargo saying "You guys don't want my little house. You're going to be paid $4500 from the government for this modification. Your President has asked you to do these mods in a certain way - dropping the interest rate, stretching out the length of the mortgage - and you're not doing that. Why? What's the problem? What is the bank or society going to gain by me losing my house?"

I honestly believe the banks want Obama to fail and they are doing just the bare minimum to make it look like they are trying.

Anyway - I have written Wells Fargo and been quite explicit in telling them the ball is in their court. I send them copies of the documents that describe how these mods are to be done. I'm nice to the resp who call, it's not their fault! But honestly, I'm sick of the frigging big banks.

trh said...

Why does JAT say NACA is Satan? I really am curious and don't know. They are supposedly helping me because Wells Fargo won't work with me. We got behind a year ago, have been making our payments but can't get the past due balance caught up. Not to mention the late fee and $15/month "drive by to see if you live there" fee. After trying to work something out with Wells, heard of NACA, but they seem to have their success with easy solutions. Our home was in my name before my husband and I married. I quit work to stay with our two babies. Wells say they can't use but 50% of his income because his name is not on the loan. At the Dec 6th NACA event, the Freddie Mac rep Ms. Skipper told me that wasn't true, that because we are married I can use all of his income. None of the negotiater for NACA will address this with Wells even though they all say there is absolutely no reason Wells won't work out a solution!

Anonymous said...

We too started paperwork for our loan modification through HAMP in late March 09 with three trial payments in July, August and September. We just sent out our EIGHTH trial payment. Everytime we call we get the same run around about how we are not the only ones they (Wells Fargo) are helping. My husband was laid off late February 09 and we immediately sold our vacation club and used income tax refund money to help. The money is running out quickly. We are anxiously awaiting an answer, if they take too long they will have another house on their hands to deal with.

Rod Potter said...

I have been working on shortsales for over 10 years. I have found that it is definately MORE difficult to do them now then EVER before. There is a bank or two that I will think twice about doing a shortsale on because of their unwillingness to truly/honestly work on the offer/shortsale. It should not take 4 to 6 months or more to do a shortsale.

Toblogistobe said...

Kevin said "A year ago, I was forced to take on the expense of providing Assisted Living care for a disabled spouse."
I wonder if the tone of this sentence would be the same if it was Kevin the disabled spouse. Forced to take care of your spouse?

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