Q: I am a victim of foreclosure this year, having lost my townhouse in October of last year. I am a professional, middle-class 36 year old and was the sole owner of my home.
When I was laid off from my job as a marketing director, I simply couldn’t keep current on my mortgage payments. I worked with my lender as long as I could, went through a modification, but without full-time employment, there was nothing left I could do except bid my home farewell. It was the most heartbreaking experience and still is, quite frankly, because in November I finally secured a full-time position again and have been working there ever since.
Now that my credit is ruined and I have a foreclosure on my record, I am forced to live with my parents after being on my own since my early 20s.
What I’d like to know is that with so many programs now to help people modify their loans and “avoid” foreclosure, why has no one addressed helping those who fell into this hardship and now are trying to rebuild their lives? Surely with the millions who have been through foreclosure in the past few years and are going through it now, the government could pass some sort of program or alteration to traditional mortgage lending to allow hard-working Americans the opportunity to rent and even own again without losing ten years in the system.
It seems terribly cruel and unfair that people like me, who are victims of the economy, are tossed aside and dismissed once they’ve been foreclosed on. We are no longer seen as suitable buyers or even renters, for that matter.
I drove by my empty townhouse last week, looking at the “Great deal -Foreclosure” sign in my front yard. I fought back the tears. Everything I worked for and put my earnings into for eight years is now someone else’s “great investment opportunity.”
I paid $150,000 for my home and now it’s listed for under $100,000. So, someone who has been more fortunate than me in the past year can have the dream I built for a real bargain when my lender wouldn’t extend the same deal to me, the rightful owner of the property.
What kind of system allows this to happen? Why are there no programs to help victims of foreclosure? I am thankful to be blessed with a wonderful family that has taken me in, but without a home of my own, it’s difficult to find meaning and purpose in anything.
I just want a second chance at the life I lost, or at the very least, the ability to rebuild a new one.
A: Thank you for sharing your story. It can’t be easy driving by your old home, marveling at the unfairness of it all.
I don’t know what to tell you. Your story is tragic and it is the same one being told by millions of homeowners nationwide. I am so glad that you have found employment again – and I’m sorry that you’ve lost your home.
Unfortunately, tighter lending standards mean that mortgage lenders will not give you a loan for the next 3 to 5 years. You should save up your money, work hard on fixing your credit history and credit score, and in a few years you’ll be able to qualify to buy another home.
In the meantime, think about renting a property so that you don’t have to live at home with your folks. It will do wonders for your self-esteem, as will building up your bank account if you rent something relatively inexpensive. You should look at these next few years as an opportunity to get your finances in order and to salt away as much savings as you can. You may also find that in some real estate markets, renting a home costs far less than owning it. So use that time to save your money to buy another home a couple of years down the line.
The Obama administration may try to modify their loan modification plans to force lenders to work with borrowers prior to initiating foreclosure proceedings against them. It’s hard to know whether this proposal will work any better than the HAMP proposals that have been out there for the past year or so – and whether this new incarnation of the program would have helped you out.
With any government program there are winners and losers. Unfortunately, it seems that most borrowers are still losers even with the current loan modification programs out there. Any new plan has to address some of the issues you faced and force more lenders to actually work with borrowers to stabilize the housing market.
Check back in with me and let me know how it’s going. If I hear of a program to help folks like you, you know I’ll be sure to mention is in this column, online and on my radio show.