Monday, April 13, 2009

The Heavy

It's Monday... more important, it's APRIL 13th. Two days before tax day! For most people, this week is going to be a challenge. Yes. We love taxes, don't we? I suppose when the IRS owes YOU money, it's not so bad. But when you owe them... more than you can pay. Much more. Well...all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. File, be in communication, deal with what comes.

Being in communication has been our key through this entire ordeal. It's what helped us avoid the "charge off." Yep. We avoided it. Here's how.

A week ago, Bob got on the phone with our Realtor and together they called HER contact at National City. She has a contact there because she's been negotiating another short sale offer with National City. She wanted to get some information about the charge off and what it would mean for us from someone she knew to be rational. Her contact told her that indeed they could do this but that it would NOT impede the sale of our house. This was contrary to what the other National City person had told us. The one that had been threatening us. This person shall now be referred to as "The Heavy."

The Heavy told us that if we didn't pay them $645 by 9 PM, they would charge off our mortgage and we wouldn't be able to sell our house. This is a lie... we knew this now. Bob told her: well, that's not what we were just told by one of your negotiators. The Heavy fell silent. Most people don't verify. Most people fall for the threat. I suppose.

Bob asked her: Do you have our current phone number? They did not. But they did have a note saying that they should update it in their system. They just hadn't. Since December. Since December they had been calling our old number and leaving messages. In their mind, we were non-communicative. This is NEVER GOOD in a situation like this. It's infuriating that they completely ignored our note to update the number and were blaming us for their inability to reach us, but that's what they do. The burden is on us because we're the ones in financial trouble. We owe them money. They don't owe us anything. You do not argue with them. You accept responsibility and you explain your situation. Calmly. Nicely.

That's what Bob did. He nicely explained the whole story to The Heavy... and she listened. He told her how he had been making a very nice salary and then suddenly lost it, how it took us both several months to find jobs, how we have been working very hard to sell our house, how we've tried everything and how we have absolutely no money to pay the $645 just to hold off the charge-off for 30 more days...

He was calm. He explained. She listened. Then something crazy happened. She said:

"Okay, we're not going to charge-off the loan."

Um, okay. What? Really? Just like that?

Apparently the threat of the charge-off is a tactic they take when they fear their homeowners are on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. They pressure until they squeeze out what they can. They use fear. They scare you into thinking if you don't pay them, you are screwed royally. They want you the think that the only answer is to pay them. They're trying to put themselves into the "First" position when they're in the second. The second has no real bargaining power, so they threaten. They bring in The Heavy. They make you think that not only will you not be able to sell your house, you'll be marked for 7 years AND taken to court for every penny.

Hearing our story, she realized that we weren't who she thought we were.

The next thing she said was even more interesting. She told Bob that if for whatever reason the short sale fell through or if we decided not to go through with it we qualify for a MODIFICATION where they would take the late payments and money owed, put it on the back end of the loan and drop our monthly payment 50% for 2 years. 50% for TWO YEARS.

This points to just how crazy this process has been. Had this been offered to us in the Fall when we first started asking for modifications, we would never be so far under water. None of it makes sense. And this modification means nothing, unless Countrywide is willing to do the same. So Bob called our contact at Countrywide, told them what National City was willing to do and requested that they do the same. Our contact said she have our case reviewed to see if it was possible and would get back to us by the end of the week. We called on Friday when we didn't hear back from her and left a message. We're still waiting. We're not holding our breath, but it was worth asking. You, obviously, really never know. One second The Heavy is threatening to ruin us and the next she's offering to save us.

Where does this leave us today?

Well, this weekend we signed more documents. Another offer. This will be the 2nd we submit to the bank. This means the bank now has two offers to review and consider. They choose the one that looks the most solid. Or neither. It's up to them entirely. We just keep doing what we're doing. Taking each day as it comes and continue to be in communication.

Today, The Clash is in my head.

A little ditty we sing to our lenders:

Always tease tease tease
You’re happy when I’m on my knees
One day is fine, next day is black
So if you want me off your back
Well come on and let me know
Should I stay or should I go?

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