Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Last Night (I can't wait to have nothing!)

This is a picture of all of our receipts from the big Estate Sale. Receipts and an empty room (almost empty.) It feels good now. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel...

It’s 1:05 AM on Tuesday, June 30th. Closing day. The day we have to turn in our keys. Also, moving day. Driving cross-country day. I'm quite exhausted. So please forgive the randomness of this post. I just want to get it out.

Bob is asleep and I am gutting it out as long as possible. Trying to get us out of here by 11 AM.

How do I feel?

Over it. So many things at once. My feet ache so much from being on them all day. I got up at 6 and haven’t stopped except for the few minutes I took to cry on the kitchen floor. The crying came at a point of pure exhaustion and utter despair. We have been getting rid of stuff for the last three weeks and we’re still not done! Oh. My. Freaking God! At about 5 PM today I just gave in.

“I can’t do it. I can’t. I just can’t!” I cried to Bob.

“I know,” he said.

“We’ll never be done. Never. And we’re all alone!” I wailed a bit there. Then I said, “This is the worst day of my entire--,” I stopped myself. I knew what was about to come out of my mouth was far from true. A smile made it’s way onto my face. Acknowledging the absurdity of that statement. I looked at Bob through my salty tears. He was smiling at me. In that way. As if to say, “Really? The worst day?”

So I said it first, “Well, not really… but it feels that way. I know it’s not the worst. But it FEELS like the worst and definitely the longest.”

So. Here we are now. Bob asleep and me sitting here trying to capture the moment. I wanted to do a video blog but can’t figure it out. And I don’t have an internet connection. So I won’t be posting this until much later when Starbuck’s opens.

Bob’s plan is to get up at 4:30 AM (!) to go to Starbuck’s (where, again, they have a working internet connection) to work. My plan is to get rid of more stuff, pack more stuff and not sleep until it’s all done. Then I am calling 1-800-Gotjunk. I tried to book an appointment online, but… well, we’ve been over this. No connection.

Our driveway is a junkyard. See:

It’s hilariously obnoxious, don't you think? We just keep putting stuff out. Some of it went fast. Neighbors walking by, find gems in our junk. The whole one person's junk is another's treasure cliche. Honestly, I feel like a broken record but I am amazed at how much stuff we had that we didn’t even know we had. The stuff reproduces faster than gremlins somehow. It’s not a fair fight. I don’t know how it happens and I never want to go through this again. I never want stuff again!

I’m backing up a little. Back to my crying fit on the kitchen floor. Back to the moment I said, "And we're all alone!"

That has not been true through this entire process. We have been SURROUNDED by people supporting us and helping us every step of the way. I was just being dramatic. Venting. And once I got it out, who did I call but our friends. I called to say that we couldn’t go to their house for our goodbye dinner because we had too much to do and I’m having a nervous breakdown. Not 20 minutes later, 7 of our friends were here to help us and feed us! They rescued us. Our friends literally came to our rescue! You guys, we are so moved and RELIEVED by your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We have not been alone for a minute through this because of you. And because of the LITTOF readers. I'm not kidding. I feel you pulling for us.

Okay, back to the present. I smell pretty bad. Too much information? Well it's pretty late and I do. I’m a total disaster. My nose is all chapped from blowing it so much- from my cold and from crying. Speaking of crying, one of my friends looked at me and asked what was wrong with my glasses.

“Oh, those are tears.” I hadn't noticed them until I went to the bathroom and you could see a big salty streak across the right lens.

She called them projectile tears. And laughed. I guess it was ridiculous. I hadn’t even bothered to wipe them clean. “Oh, Stephanie,” said another friend, “Please let me clean those for you.” And he did. Which was a good thing. I could see better and I didn’t look so ridiculous after that.

Okay. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous tonight. Here are a couple of pictures. Our last sunset:

What now?

Back to work… while I have the energy. And tomorrow we hope to be on the road by 11. I will continue to blog along the way so please check for updates.

You can get LIVE updates on Twitter. I plan to be quite active there as long as I’m not driving.

L.A. to Denver
Denver to Humbolt, Iowa (Bob’s hometown)
Humbolt, Iowa to Barrington, IL (to our new temporary home in my mom and stepdad’s basement)

Then...? Something very exciting. Our next adventure. A blank slate. Nothingness. A beautiful thing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Making Home Affordable? More like Making Me Crazy

A few weeks ago I read about a new addition to Obama's Making Home Affordable Plan that included a $1,500 incentive to homeowners successfully selling their homes in a short sale to assist with relocation.

We could obviously really use this money. So far we've spent $380 shipping clothes and shoes to the Midwest. We don't have too much more to ship, but we need to buy a bike rack and pay for gas, etc.

Today I decided to get on the phone to find out how we receive this mythical $1,500. That didn't go so well. I invested an hour into it and got too frustrated to continue. Plus, I really need to get the house ready for the walk-thru tomorrow. We still have piles of odds & ends all over.

So, instead of continuing in the phone call vortex from hell, I decided to write a blog post about it and share my notes from the hour I wasted on this today.

Friday, June 26

Trying to obtain information about how to receive the $1,500 in relocation assistance as an incentive for having successfully sold our house in foreclosure.

Who pays this?

I looked at the Making Home Affordable website: and called the number listed for questions: 1-888-995-HOPE

I'm sent to a counselor. The counselor says they're just an agent to help communication with the lender. I tell them I got their number off of the MHA website. The counselor says, "If you're positive this program exists."

I tell him I'm positive! It's on the MHA Fact Sheet.

Counselor says:

“I really would be willing to help you out, but we don’t have any information to help you out. We don’t know the source of this. You will simply need to make some more phone calls. If indeed there is such a program in your state.”

I tell him thank you and we say goodbye.

Breathe. Seriously?!

I’m having flashbacks.


Calling Treasury Public Affairs (number listed on press release about MHA.) A real person answers. I tell them I'm looking for info in regards to the press release about the additions to the plan. She asks if I'm press. I tell her no and am transferred to Dept. of Treasury.

Automated menu. Press 2 for Homeowners looking for info on MHA.

Message says, "For info, please visit the website at"
Tells me the website has detailed information. After reviewing, contact loan servicer directly and they can help w/ loan modification and refinancing.
Also says- call 995-HOPE if you're already delinquent.
We hope this information was helpful. Goodbye.
And I’m disconnected.


You can see why I didn't get very far. Right? Okay, so here's my question.

Why announce this great new addition to the program that will promote short sales and not give any information on how?

HOW. How do we get the $1,500?!

Who knows? Not 995-HOPE. So who?

I notice that the language in the Fact Sheet says we may be eligible. Fine. But how do we find out whether we are or we aren't? The only number listed for info is 995-HOPE... and they really truly honestly have no clue.

Somebody help! Seriously. I'm now hoping that someone will read this blog and point me in the right direction. Planet Money? Please. Someone. Anyone. Mr. President? I'm sure I'm not the only borrower in America who wants to know.

Thank you.

Here is some info to prove I'm not crazy. This $1,500 exists somewhere. If only in theory.

This is from the Making Home Affordable Fact Sheet:
How The Home Affordable Short Sale/DIL Program Works:

• Borrower Eligibility. Borrowers will be eligible for the Foreclosure Alternative Program if they meet the minimum eligibility criteria for a Home Affordable Modification but did not qualify for a modification or were unable to sustain payments under a trial period plan or a modification. Prior to proceeding to foreclosure, participating servicers must evaluate each eligible borrower to determine if a short sale is appropriate. Considerations in the determination include property condition and value, average marketing time in the community where the property is located, the condition of the title including the presence of junior liens and a determination that the net sales proceeds are expected to exceed the investor's recovery through foreclosure Incentive Payments.

-Servicers may receive incentive compensation of up to $1,000 for successful
completion of a short sale or DIL.

-Borrowers may receive incentive compensation of up to $1,500 to assist with
relocation expenses.

-Treasury will also share the cost of paying junior lien holders to release their
claims, matching $1 for every $2 paid by the investors, up to a total contribution
of $1,000 by Treasury.

And this article spells it out:
-Plan to Encourage Banks to Allow Short Sales - Washington Post
(I found this link on the Making Home Affordable website here)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Moving is... the top of my least favorite things list. Above the dentist. That's not saying much though. I don't really mind the dentist. So it's worse than... it's just... it really just SUCKS!

We've all done it. We've all said it. Never again. Because it really does. Moving just sucks!

We really thought that selling everything would make this move a snap. And it has made it easier. Definitely. Without a doubt. But. All this stuff that's left. Ugh.

Last night Bob said, "We're getting what it is to have a lot of shit."


Uh, well... I don't really have much more to say than that. Oh, the picture shows what I have to sort through today. Our clothes. How to pack them. What to bring, store, etc. Yes, we're still doing this.

I have someone coming (a volunteer) in an hour to pick up donations for Corazon de Vida. We're donating some tools, towels and sheets. I'm glad they can use them.

A Littof reader is buying the dishes! Yes, she wrote in after my post about them and asked if we'd be willing to sell them. She described herself as in the opposite situation as us as she's trying to buy a house for the first time so that she can have a place to retire. I'm happy she wants our dishes.

So as not to further procrastinate, I am bringing this post to a close. That's all for today.

From Silver Lake (where we're getting what it is to have a lot of shit,)

-Bob & Steph

What have you done to make the moving part of moving easier?

write us:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Announcing the BIG BOY replacement contest!

You've all met Big Boy.

He was with us a while. He's been sort of our little mascot over the years. A traveling gnome in suspenders with, as Nina (a Littof reader) noted, Rod Blagoevich hair.

But I sold him at our sale. For $5.

He now belongs to these nice people:

Who wrote us this e-mail:

Hi steph,
Loved reading your most recent post. We’re big boy’s new family and are honored to have him join us. We will have to send a picture of him in his new place (looking happy, I hope). He is currently in transit, actually, from Corralitas Drive over to Echo Park.
Don’t worry, you can certainly post the picture any time you’d like. I would love to hear big boy stories posted some day as well.

Thanks for letting us into your home and allowing us to enjoy your well-loved pieces. Glad it was a fun sale- we were amazed at your organization and all the friends just enjoying the day together. Thanks for sharing your story in your blog –so inspiring and beautiful!

Thanks to Debbi's e-mail, we now feel good about Big Boy's new home and are already on a quest to replace him.

Here's how this will go. We will introduce 4 contestants here on the blog starting today. Once all 4 contestants have been introduced, we will ask Littof readers to vote. The contestant with the most votes wins.

So, without further ado, we introduce CONTESTANT #1

Little Red Riding Hood's head:

BIO: She once was the top to a collectible Little Red Riding Hood cookie jar that belonged to my grandma. Grandma eventually gave the cookie jar to Mom who had always wanted it for her collection. Yes, Mom had quite an impressive cookie jar collection. The Little Red Riding Hood jar became the crown jewel. And Mom enjoyed it for a while. Then in an effort to downsize and declutter, she sold her collection... all but Little Red Riding Hood. After Grandma passed away, Mom sent me Little Red Riding Hood. But sadly the only part that survived that journey through the mail was her head. So I saved it. And displayed it.

PROS: She's very pretty. Colorful. Makes me think of my grandma (just like Big Boy did.)

CONS: She's fragile. Pointy. Not so easy to just shove in a duffel.

Comments? Feedback? Thoughts? Suggestions? Please....

Monday, June 22, 2009

"If this isn't nice, what is?"

“What Uncle Alex found particularly objectionable about human beings in general was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy.

He himself did his best to acknowledge it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

I myself say that out loud at times of easy, natural bliss: “If this isn’t nice, what is?” Perhaps others can also make use of that heirloom from Uncle Alex. I find it really cheers me up to keep score out loud that way.”

- Kurt Vonnegut from God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian

I had the pleasure of spending the last few days in Monterey with my dad, stepmom and siblings. It was a bit of a reunion as it had been a long time since we've all been together. I forgot to bring a book so I picked up one of my sister's- God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut... which is where I discovered the above passage.

It really hung with me, perhaps because it so aptly put to words what I've been experiencing throughout the last year. Happiness isn't about perfection or being happy all the time. It's about moments, and noticing it when it's there.

Last week Bob and I were driving somewhere, I don't remember where, when he suddenly remarked, "Trees are amazing!" The awe and enthusiasm in his exclamation instantly put me in a better mood. We were at a stop light and he was looking out the window at a tree and it struck him: "Trees are amazing!" It was a "If this isn't nice, what is" moment. And I was happy that Bob, who has been so busy working so hard, took the moment to, as Vonnegut says, "keep score out loud."

It's like this. Here we are in the final week of life as we've known it for 2 and half years in our house on the hill in Silver Lake. Nothing has gone as we planned. We've lost more money than we could have imagined. Made so many mistakes as to be up to our eye balls in debt. We're heading back to the Midwest to move in to my mom and stepdad's basement and in the face of all of this, we are happy.

I've said before it's a declaration. I think that Vonnegut's words help explain it. It's not some place or state of mind at which to arrive. It's about experiencing it when it's there.

Like this, for example:

It's 10:30 PM, I'm sick, I really don't want to do this and my only response is to cry. This. 'This' is packing up the house. Going through our food, toiletries and medicine- tossing the old and sorting the new. Some to the food bank others we carry with us. How is it possible for so much to exist in one tiny bathroom cabinet? Seriously. I can't do this. I don't want to. I don't want to clear out our house. I don't want to leave. I just want it to be over.

Bob holds me. This is a relief. I cry more. He says he understands. Gives a pep talk. We're almost there. We can do it. But there's so much stuff! How? One thing at a time.

Tomorrow they are tenting the house for termites. They will be flushing Vikane gas into every nook and cranny in the house and doing battle with those little wood chompers. This is why we're moving it all out tonight. Because even though they say it's fine for your clothes to be in the house and fumigated with this gas, we don't really feel comfortable with that.

But it's late. And I seem to have contracted the same sickness that plagued Bob during our estate sale. My eyes burn. My throat is on fire. My sinuses are being squeezed together in a vice (or so it feels.) I'm trying not to be sad. Just keeping on. This is it. It's finally hitting me. This is the end. One final week. And it will all be over. For a moment the house will be completely empty. No more inhabitants. Not us, not the termites. Empty. Then... new owners move in and we'll be well on our way to what's next and what is sure to be a catharsis.

Bob suggests we go to our friends' house tonight and come back in the morning for the clothes. I'm all for that. I just want out. Away from the mess. From the in-your-face-ness of our reality.

We arrive at our friends' bungalow a few miles away. (They're out of town and have graciously offered their haven.) We make it inside and the tiredness just washes over me. But we made it. And it's cozy in here. I'm so sick, but I feel good. I feel safe. It occurs to me that I can feel this way anywhere, under any circumstances. I take some Sudafed and crawl into bed. Bob spoons me. And I think, "If this isn't nice, what is?"

Our house in battle gear:

3 things:

1. Discovered Soul Pancake today thanks to Twitter. Today's Big Question fits nicely with this topic:

Is our misguided pursuit of happiness the source of our misery? - Soul Pancake

2. We feel such gratitude for all the support we're receiving from the wonderful people in our lives. We cannot thank you enough. But we'll try. To start, we thank the wonderful people who helped us yesterday in various and amazing ways:
Jeff & Nikki, Porter, Brian, Cece, Chris & Regan

3. And lastly, we'd love to hear your "If this isn't nice, what is?" moments! So please share them in the comment section below. Thank you! We look forward to reading.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ancestry of a House

This is a story from the "Freeing-Up Sale" last weekend. The dialogue is based on my memory, not a transcription of the actual conversation. The facts remain...

LAST SATURDAY at the tail end of the day, when we were all about ready to collapse from exhaustion, someone asked if they could buy two old rusted spray paint cans that they had found in the garage. After my initial mortification that he had actually rummaged through our dusty, spidery crates filled with paint, I asked him why. Why. Why do you want to buy those? They're old. The paint's probably not even good. Does paint go bad? If it does, this paint has to be bad.

"I'm not going to use them," he told me, "I'll just display them." He liked the way they looked. The rust and the tagging. Who was this guy? He was a neighbor I’d never met. Lives just up the street from us. Very friendly. An artist. Painter, sculptor. Wearing a Phillie's cap. He introduced himself when he first arrived and asked if our house is Eric Haze’s old house. I told him that I didn’t know an Eric Haze, but that the guy we bought the house from was named Eric, but not Haze. He said, “I think Eric Haze used to live here. Was the guy you bought the house from an artist?”

One of the things that struck me when we first saw our house was the art. This guy had good taste in art. We had asked if any was for sale (figuring we wouldn't be able to afford it if it was.) It wasn’t. I had art envy. “He’s some sort of graphic artist,” the listing agent’s assistant had told us when we asked what he did for a living. I immediately thought graphic designer. Like, websites... that sort of thing. But he definitely had an eye. For sure. In addition to his art, his furniture was enviable. And out of our price range. That, he was selling.

So, he was some sort of graphic artist, with a good eye for art and furnishings.

“I bet it's him. Did he move to New York?” Asks our curious neighbor.

Why yes he did. We had his forwarding address for any mail that ended up at the house. He was already living in New York when we bought the house. But how did our neighbor know this? Did our house belong to someone famous and we had no idea? I guess it's possible. I never really thought to Google the previous owner. I was way more preoccupied with other things. It just never occurred to me.

“It must be him,” our neighbor says with an excited glimmer in his eye. "I think the guy that owned this house is a famous graffiti artist."

"I thought he owned a clothing company or something," I was thinking about the wardrobe boxes filled with clothes left behind when he moved out. About ten wardrobe boxes filled with new clothes were left in the driveway for us. Well, they were left for the Salvation Army, but they didn’t pick them up because they weren’t properly labeled. So before we moved in, we had to move these wardrobe boxes out. We weren’t happy about that and expressed our annoyance to the seller’s agent.

“Those clothes are worth ten thousand dollars,” he had told us. We looked inside. What we saw did not look like $10,000. So we called the Salvation Army to come back for them. But they couldn’t get them for a few days and we didn’t have a few days so we brought them in ourselves. Begrudgingly. And that was the end of that. We moved his stuff out and ours in.

“Look,” said my neighbor. “Check it out.” He pointed out the tag. “Haze” This looked familiar to me. I know I’ve seen this before. And the color of the paint- “Federal Safety Purple”… that’s not common. He was very excited about these paint cans. So I told him to take them. I figured, even if they are worth something, I was just going to leave them anyway. I gave him the whole crate of the previous owner’s spray paints. Just because. He found them. Besides, he was saving me the pain of having to figure out what to do with them. I was in Bob's "Get rid of it!" mind-set.

The next day after things finally calmed down, I did a little Googling. And found that yes, the Eric that owned our house is Eric “Haze”- famous graffiti artist AND clothing designer who, according to his Wikipedia page, "has his own limited edition versions of G-Shock, Nike, and New Balance shoes."

And he's fascinating. He's, apparently, a LEGEND! And those paints, of course, were his. And now Bob thinks perhaps those clothes were worth $10,000. Who knows. But all of this got me really excited. Our house had a secret we might never have discovered had we never had our sale and if our neighbor hadn't come and dug through the paint cans. And I have no regrets giving them away. It's not about that. It's about the secret... now revealed.

It makes me want to research all of the previous owners of the house. Each of us shares something really unique. And I wonder what we might all have in common. What I know for sure is that we’ve all been gifted with this space- for different periods of time and under different circumstances. But we all lived here. I wonder if we appreciated it the same.

The cans:

*Think they're worth something?
*Think I'm crazy for having given them away?
*What would you have done?
*Does your home have any secrets to share? Share them here in the comments! I love this stuff!

-Eric Haze
- Wikipedia
-Interhaze- His site where you can see images of his graffiti work, his bio and much more!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Dish

MY MOM sent me this e-mail yesterday that I wanted to share with everyone because I think her observations are really fascinating. And I've been wanting to inject a little of her perspective into the blog.

So, without further ado, I introduce my Mom...


Throughout your whole house saga and particularly recently, I have been pretty much in my head about you and Bob selling everything and traveling lightly. It sounded romantic, adventurous and freeing. UNTIL...the white dish conversation. When you told me you couldn't even get $25.00 for the Crate&Barrel set of white dishes that we bought you for your 4th anniversary, everything became real for me. I started thinking about what will you do when you land somewhere??? What will you eat on and with what utensils??? You're giving your wonderful Crate&Barrel stainless to Tommy... such lovely "things" and now your casual ware will probably be Scott paper plates.

Getting rid of those white dishes really bothered me. Not because I gave them to you, but it was like no one wanted them even for 25 lousy dollars! Then I thought of registering for things when you got married...all the time and energy that went into those choices, and all the people who chose your dishes and stainless to give to you as just gone for a few bucks and someone else's whim at a garage sale on a Saturday afternoon.

But, my upset really got me thinking. When Tom and I returned home after living on board our boat for a year, I was amazed at all the "stuff" we had in our house. It made me nervous and agitated. After cooking out of one pot and one pan for one year and having the time of our lives, our excess at home made me feel somewhat guilty. But, that was two years ago and somehow I've gotten sucked back into my things.

Your white dishes made me count my own sets of dishes. And guess what I discovered?! We own 7 complete sets of dishes not counting our Christmas china. Seven! Isn't that insane? And how much could I sell them for? Well, apparently not even $25.00.



A couple of things....

1. We have decided to keep the Crate&Barrel everyday china that no one wanted even for $25. That's going in our tiny storage unit that our friend has rented on our behalf.

2. Mom and Tom's year on the boat has been in my thoughts often through this whole house - as Mom called it- Saga. They had all they needed in one boat. A tiny space. Two people and a dog. They made it work. My grandparents did the same thing. Every summer they lived on their sailboat on the St. Lawrence Seaway in Detroit. Mom's comparison of the two lives-- boat life and house life-- speaks to an interesting phenomena. We get attached to the things we have. But when we don't have them, it's often true that we don't miss them. Seven sets of dishes. I had 5 water pitchers that I sold at the sale. 5 water pitchers? Who needs 5 water pitchers?!

Thanks, Mom, for your e-mail and allowing me to share it!

Littof readers, what's your equivalent of Mom's 7 sets of dishes or my 5 water pitchers?


So, funny story... Usually Bob reads each post before I post it. Not this one. This one he read after I had already posted it. And this is the conversation that followed:

BOB: We decided to keep the dishes?! I don't remember deciding that.
ME: You don't?
BOB: No.
ME: I thought we did.
BOB: Uh, I don't think so.
ME: Oh. So you don't want to keep them?
BOB: (emphatic) No.
ME: Well, I guess we'll talk about it.

So the fate of the dishes remains undecided. I have a feeling that Bob will win this one, though. After all, the point is to let it all go. Dishes included. Sorry, Mom!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Freeing-Up Sale: We came, we sold, we have nothing but this blog post to show... and it feels fantastic!

How do you move powerfully forward in life during an unexpected transition?

How do you say goodbye without regret?

Lots of people hate goodbyes so they avoid them entirely. Others pick fights to make the leaving easier. Others use reasons to justify the decision to leave. Do we all do that? I know I do. What's wrong with that? Nothing's wrong with it. It's just that we're looking for a way to say goodbye without having to rely on reasons to make it okay. To simply say goodbye. Not good riddance. Not why is this happening to us?!

Just good and bye.

When we bought this house, though I was in love with it and so thrilled to move in I was actually also sad to leave our condo. Why? Well, because we were happy there. It was our little haven. We had just gotten to the place where we felt really at home. It was decorated perfectly, we’d made good friends in the building, we had our routine. We were comfortable. Yes. We were comfortable.

So when it was time to say goodbye to our condo, I had to focus on what I didn’t like about living there to make it easier.

There are always little things, right? Though we owned our own condo, I always wanted more space. More storage. More privacy. More conveniences- such as a washer/dryer in our actual living space. But those are little things. And easy to accept.

What I really didn’t like was the crazy neighbor who one night in a drug-induced haze threatened to kill everyone and threw all of his belongings out the window into our courtyard below. I didn’t like that we were constantly reviewing security tapes to find the people who had broken into our cars multiple times. I didn't like that a gentleman in our building had begun to leave threatening Post-It notes on our door accusing Bob of passing gas in the elevator and "using his flatulence as a weapon." (No, I am not kidding.) And I really didn’t like that the meth-addict neighbor had broken into our condo while I was in bed, stole my laptop and purse off of our dining room table and sold everything for his fix!

And that’s what I focused on when we moved.
It helped.

Now, in this situation, I can’t do that. I don’t have any of those reasons.

In this house, we have everything we always wanted: stunning views, an enclosed yard that Pablo can run around in, plenty of storage, plenty of room to entertain, gorgeous space, conveniences galore (2 bathrooms, washer/dryer in house, our own garage...)

Instead of crazy druggie neighbors who steal our stuff for a fix, we have neighbors who help carry our washer and dryer out of the house up a flight of stairs (as one of our lovely neighbors did on Saturday when we sold our washer and dryer!) We have neighbors who offer their daughter’s assistance to help us communicate with the president of Bank of America. Neighbors who walk Pablo when we're in a pinch and who give up their Sunday morning to be at our house at 7:30 AM to help us with a sale!! Yeah. Seriously. (Remember the friends I said we made in our condo building? Well, one of them was here both days, too.)

My point is that it's a lot harder to "pick a fight" with this house in order to make it easier to say goodbye.

So… what do you do when you can’t rely on a negative aspect to launch you from one situation into the next? To move you forward, to help you say goodbye? Well, for me, you just be here for as long as you can… eyes wide open. Not missing a single moment.

This weekend- selling all of our possessions- helped. It was so hard and long and terribly frustrating at times. But, necessary in terms of our own process. To help us let go and move forward without regret. I have so much to say about it and it's definitely challenging to organize my thoughts. I'm trying my best. What follows is a list of the highlights.


-FRIENDS Our friends being here to support us and help us through this process. We had people helping at all the critical moments. One friend who couldn't be here on the weekend was here weeks ago helping me sell my books, thus kick-starting the process. Another friend priced almost everything in our kitchen. Another shared important estate sale tips from her mom who used to run an estate sale business. So helpful! And another was here the night before making signs and wrapping the breakables until about 10 PM. We were saved by our friends. Saturday morning another friend arrived at 7:30 sharp with a baguette and hazelnut spread for all the volunteers. She even made name tags and lanyards for each of us. Thanks to our friends, the estate sale was so well organized that one person asked if we worked a lot of estate sales- assuming we were a business. I loved that moment.

-THE KIDS Watching the neighborhood kids delight in the small things we gave them— wind chimes, puzzles, books, etc. One neighborhood boy came over and said: “I have $20 and I want to spend it!” He had wanted to buy our fake pre-lit Christmas Tree. But it was $25. Of course, I would have struck a deal with him but his mom didn't want him to buy it. He came back and said, "My mom thinks $25 is too much for a Christmas Tree." So I sold him a tennis racket for $1. He was happy.

-LIKE "KING OF THE HILL" Being with our friends… while it was insanely busy on Saturday, we had some great moments. The experience was shared. We weren't going through this alone. I watched as our friends protected our possessions and got offended - on our behalf- by the people that haggled over 50 cents or a dollar. They contributed much needed help, support and fun. I can't say enough. Sunday, being so much slower than Saturday, was really like a lovely extended hang out with friends. Bob said, "I feel likeKing of the Hill" Referring to us sitting in our driveway watching the street, talking and drinking (coffee and water instead of beer.) Enjoying the sun and just being together without rushing away. Something that I've missed.

-DISCOVERIES Meeting neighbors we’ve never met and discovering new things about the neighborhood and the house. (I have a great story to share... and will do so in another blog post.)

-THE HOUSE Watching as total strangers enjoyed the view and asked "How much for the house?" One of our friends eventually put a tiny green "sold" sticker on the house. I don't think I noticed it until much later. But when I finally did, I laughed.

-THE CHARACTERS The older gentleman who arrived to the sale dressed in what looked like a boy scout uniform in very tight trousers. And the man who showed up at the end of the day on Sunday and said, "So who died?" When I explained that no one died, that we were just selling our entire 'estate' he said, "Well, I guess it's possible that I have the wrong definition for that term." Or the early bird that showed up at 6:30 AM on Saturday. Since we weren't opening until 8, he waited over an hour to get in. Then rolled on through our sale like a bulldozer with a method. He was a force... moving room to room, shuffling through things methodically before determining that there was nothing here worth his cash.

-BIG BOY Okay, how do I explain the importance of Big Boy? Let's just say that this little piggy bank has had some significance in our lives. He's been with us a while. And he's made connections with our friends and family. And yes, I sold Big Boy. For $5. When you're selling everything, you really are selling everything. Yes, I thought about keeping him. He's small. Easy to shove in a duffel. But my friend who was pricing things stuck a $5 price tag on him and I thought, "Well, there it is. Okay." It didn't occur to me that I was actually letting him go until I saw the people who were buying him. He was lying amongst their 'loot' like this:

I suddenly wanted to take him back and tell them, "I'm so sorry, but Big Boy's not for sale. That was a mistake." But then I thought how silly that would be. It's just a little piggy bank. This is a test. Let him go. And I did. But I got the relevance of the moment. So I asked the new owners of Big Boy if they would let me take a picture of them holding him. They obliged. But I won't post the picture here because I didn't ask their permission to do that. I got the sense that I was kind of freaking them out. The point is that I captured the moment. I think that picture was my completion. He has a new family now.

Friends of Big Boy: I know you might be disappointed that we sold him. I understand. But consider this: He very well could have been bad luck. Perhaps, even a curse- as Bob suggested. Or not. But he is just a doll. A symbol. Our version of the traveling gnome. And we can always find a replacement for that symbol. In fact, maybe we'll make that an ongoing thing here on the blog. Items auditioning to replace Big Boy. Stay tuned for that.

-RELATIVITY OF WORTH Watching strangers rifle through our belongings and ascribe a completely different value than we ever have. It really grounds you in the idea of relativity of worth. We made just over $3,000 on the sale. Yes, we still have some items left to sell. But not much. It's almost ALL gone. And what do we have to show? $3,000. Not much. Bob said, "That's only a little more than what we paid for our TV." Crazy, right? Fascinating. We may only have a little more than $3,000 to show for all of our belongings, but we have way more than that in emotional value. As they say, you can't put a price on freedom.

-SAYING GOODBYE OVER AND OVER AGAIN Having the opportunity with each little item sold to say goodbye over and over and over again. Until it no longer stings. We started with our dining room table a week ago. That stung. That brought tears to my eyes. Tonight I sit in my kitchen in my Eames stool (which still hasn’t sold) and am in a much emptier house than two days ago. The couch is gone. The green chair. Gone. The floor lamp. Gone. The coffee table, bookcases, books, fabulous mid-century modern wall unit. Gone. Almost all of our kitchen supplies- from our microwave to our tea kettle. Gone. And I feel so much better than I have in a long time. I do feel free. Light. Complete. I’ve let go. Truly. And am ready to move on.

I'm sure I will have more to say about the sale as the week progresses. There is a lot of material here. Many stories, characters, impressions. I am looking forward to the moment that there's literally nothing left in the house. What will we feel then?

In the meantime, I would love it if readers who were here for the sale- either as volunteers or as purchasers- would comment with either stories or your impressions from the sale. I want to see what you saw!

And lastly, I woke up this morning and read a blog post from a wonderful blog that was recently brought to my attention. The blog is called "The Art of Nonconformity" (AONC for short) and today's post is all about SUFFICIENCY. Chris, the author, writes:
"As I see it, sufficiency simply means enough. It means having everything you need and not lacking for anything."
He suggests that getting to that place of having enough requires not money, but a shift in thinking. A state of mind. And I wholeheartedly agree. We are engaging in this on a daily basis in an extremely concrete way. We are broke, but happier than ever. This very occurrence is why I started "Love in the Time of Foreclosure." Because, how can that be? With each post I write, I try to chip away at the answer. Today's AONC blog post speaks to it in a clear and powerful way. I highly recommend the read. The comments are great too. He's generated a rich dialogue.

Check it out:

Sufficiency - The Art of Nonconformity

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bob, Pablo and a Change of Underwear

It's midnight before our big estate sale and we are still working. Bob is sniffling and coughing (feeling miserable) and I just realized I forgot to eat dinner and am suddenly starving (and crabby.) We're both tired. Which seems to go without saying.

Earlier tonight we noticed that our neighbor down the hill was also preparing for a sale in his garage. Because his house is down the hill from ours, we have to make sure to get people to keep driving up to our sale. Our friend made signs that say: THIS WAY TO THE ESTATE SALE (with an arrow) and ALMOST THERE!

Who knew that it would take so much time to plan to sell everything? I had no idea. And I really have no idea how we ended up with so much stuff. This really makes me never want to buy anything ever again. Ever!

I just cannot wait for it all to be gone. To be free of it. I'm so ready to simplify.

Bob's motto is now "Get rid of it." Every time I ask him, "Think we should keep this because we might want to use it later?" He responds (without even looking at whatever item I'm asking about,) "Get rid of it."

This process is long and arduous, but necessary. It's really having me get... really get... how much stuff we have that we absolutely don't need. All of it really. Except for, as I wrote before, Bob, Pablo (our Pug) and a change of underwear.

By the way, meet Pablo the Pug:

No, he's not for sale!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are we there yet?

How about now?

Are we almost there?

Today is Wednesday and we are T-I-R-E-D! Bob is working crazy hours on his project while I manage selling every item we own (with the exception of a few pairs of underwear, of course.) Actually, we're keeping the clothes that we wear regularly. The rest? Gone. You know how that is, right? We all have stuff in our closet that we haven't worn for months, or that doesn't fit and hasn't for perhaps years but we're hoping we'll get back into that size one day... we're getting rid of those clothes.

My goal this morning was to fit the entirety of my wardrobe into one large duffel bag. This was optimistic. The problem? Shoes. Sweaters. Bulky items. I'm definitely shedding a lot, though. It's daunting, I won't lie. In moments it's exciting. Others, I just want to be done. Like now.

I just want to curl up in front of the TV and watch movies and sleep. I want to check out. So badly. But... there's this estate sale and a few people have heard about it. Just a few. Hundred. Thousand, perhaps? I don't know. What is the readership of Apartment Therapy and Curbed LA? Because both sites have blogged about our sale! And I was worried about getting the word out. So, we are not there yet. Must keep going.

We're so busy that the only time we have to talk is either late at night or when we're walking the dog. Those walks make a big difference. They center us. Calm us down. Get us breathing. Connecting. So yesterday on one of our walks we got talking about our departure plan and ended up changing it YET AGAIN! This is a good thing, though. This is a better plan. See, it occurred to me that road-tripping and working at the same time (as we would both have to be doing) would be a tad stressful. So rather than rushing out of L.A. early, we are going to stay here until the day we have to hand over the keys. The benefit in doing this: more time to tie up loose ends, more time to say goodbye to friends, staying put gives us the focus we both need in our work right now. It just makes sense.

When we do depart, we'll be taking I15 to I70 to I80 to Bob's hometown in Iowa where we will celebrate the 4th of July and his very young and vital grandma's birthday. After that, we will continue to Illinois to my hometown to the comfort of the Midwest. I'm looking forward to the drive through Colorado. We'll get to see friends in Denver. Breathe mountain air. Wave to Vail where I spent many weekends skiing in college. Colorado. I've missed it.

Have any of you done that drive before? We've only gone the 'southern' route. We'd love suggestions on good stopping points along the way. We need to do the drive relatively quickly, but don't want to miss anything along the way. So please leave comments with suggestions! Thank you.

Silver Lake Foreclosure Couple Leaving LA, Selling Everything - Curbed LA
(sounds so dramatic, doesn't it?)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Sale

We are totally blown away by the interest we've gotten for our sale and I'm just posting very quickly to say:

If you have e-mailed us about any specific items for sale and haven't heard back from us, please understand. We're totally overwhelmed! We've received so many e-mails and really need to organize everything for the sale. So we hope you will come by this weekend if you can. I will try to follow up with everyone's interest on Monday... you know, in case we have anything left to sell that you might want. But do try to come this weekend. Thanks!

We also wanted to say this:

Thank you, Littof readers for your concern about us. When I wrote yesterday that we were planning to leave early because we didn't want to "camp out" in our house, several of you either commented or wrote in to express concern. You are worried that we are leaving the house empty for a week and announcing it to the world. Yes, in hindsight that was silly of me write that without explaining that, in fact, the house will not be empty. No, no, no. We have lovely friends who have taken care of our house over the last couple of years while we're away and they will be house sitting for us with their dog. Thank you guys for taking care of the house! Also, thank you to our neighbors for keeping an eye on it as well. We love our friends. We love our neighbors. We'll miss you!

Back to organizing, pricing, tagging...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday: Everything Must Go (including us)

Bob and I just had a lunch pow wow over noodles about everything we need to accomplish this week.

ITEM NUMBER 1: Sell Everything.

No problem. That's totally easy. You know what would be easier? Donating everything. Hmmm... we did consider that. But we have this big debt we're chiseling away at... chipping away at everything that isn't a work of art. Shedding, chipping, stripping it all away. What's left? The simple life. Each other and peace of mind.

Bob said, "I'm already there. I already feel a lightness even though I know we have this massive debt. Because I'm not afraid anymore. The fear is gone."

Ahhhhhhhh. Thank you, Bob. Perspective. We keep giving it back to each other. Passing it back and forth and in our best moments, sharing it.

But I digress. How are we selling everything? A combination of Craigslist and a big ol' estate sale. When? This weekend. June 13th & 14th.

ITEM NUMBER 2: Plan our departure.

It's official. We're leaving L.A. On June 19th. Or 20th. Well, we have to figure out if we're leaving the evening of the 19th or the morning of the 20th. We were going to stay until we closed on the house (which is June 27,) but then we realized that once we sell all of our furniture including lighting, plates, dishes, utensils, bedding, etc. we would essentially have to camp out in our house. And if we're going to be camping, we'd much rather camp out on the beach or somewhere in Oregon (where I've never been) or in some fabulous place. Not our house. That's just depressing.

So... we are having our big estate sale this weekend and hopefully selling everything. We'll use the rest of next week to handle the rest. Then we will pack up our car with only the bare essentials and head out on an adventure.

The start of a new life. New because we have a new mantra: Less is more.

ITEM NUMBER 3: Work, work, work.

Bob is working very hard on a deadline this week. I'm handling everything house-related so that he can focus on work. But, I'm also scoping out job opportunities and writing as much as possible. Oh... and working out. Yes, Bob and I have joined forces in the fitness arena and have begun to work out every day. It's not easy, but it sure feels great to be working out again! With everything going on we have to get up at 5 to get a workout in, but it's worth it. (I lost 2 pounds last week! Woo!)

We do know where we're headed. To Chicago. We plan to be there until November. Why? Well, we'll be living with my family until we can figure out where to live in the city. I want a view of the lake. Is this too much to ask? Possibly. Though Bob works from home and can technically live anywhere, there's actually a lot going on in Chicago with his company. So that's good. And for me. Well, I love Chicago in the summer. Being near family will be so great. And old friends I haven't seen in so long. Wrigley Field. Chicago theatre. I'm excited. I already have one job lead. I'm workin' it.

So now you're mostly caught up.

I wish I were more coherent today. More insightful. I just want to say that I've been getting wonderful feedback from readers as well as fantastic suggestions. I hear you. Please keep writing in as I take all of your suggestions to heart.

I've got all kinds of stuff marinating in my head. My goal is to continue to reflect on our experience as we're experiencing it and share it as openly as possible... while trying to understand it all at the same time.

The other night I asked Bob why does he think we're happier now than we were before. We've been talking about that a lot. And I'm working on getting to the heart of that in a specific way. We both agree that it's not just one thing. But that we are and continue to be happier than ever before.

Like this bed? Live in L.A. and want to buy it? E-mail us at:

UPDATE: Apartment Therapy LA blogged about the sale. They've got tons of pictures up there. We're slowly stripping away the anonymity (or ripping it off like a band-aid) and it's a bit scary. But it is what it is.

Their post is very nice. Thanks, Apartment Therapy! Check it out:

Silver Ridge House Tour Residence Everything Goes Sale - Apartment Therapy

Friday, June 5, 2009

Surpassing the one million mark

One million dollars? No.
One million served? Nope.
One million doughnuts? (Today is free doughnut day... so they're on my mind, but...) No.

Then what? One million what? Foreclosures. 1,000,000 foreclosures.

Yesterday The Huffington Post reported in "Dispatches from the Displaced" that according to the Center for Responsible Lending, foreclosures have passed the 1,000,000 mark for 2009! In the same piece they feature our story and this blog. Check it out. Dispatches from the Displaced: Los Angeles Couple Blogs their Foreclosure.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, every 13 seconds another person/family loses their home to foreclosure. Take a visit to their site where you can see the National Foreclosure Ticker.

I don't really know what to say about that except that it seems like an awful lot for 5 months. And it really drives the point home that we're not alone in all of this.

I was interviewed for a Business Week story that is in today's issue and online. The story is titled: Foreclosure: Now an Upscale Blight and talks about how the foreclosure problem is growing and is not just about subprime anymore.

We see ourselves in this excerpt:
"The biggest factor in this second wave of foreclosures is the inability of distressed homeowners to sell in order to pay off their debts. Prices in bubble cities such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Miami are down less at the high end of the market than at the bottom, according to data from Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price indexes. But that's cold comfort to people who haven't managed to sell at all. According to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are enough $750,000-plus homes on the market to cover more than 40 months' worth of demand at the current rate of sales. That's four times the rate of oversupply in the housing market as a whole."

That's crazy, right? Enough $750,000-plus homes to cover more than 40 months' worth of demand?! No wonder it has taken us 9+ months. And we thought one month max. Ha. Ha ha. hahahahah. Joke's on us.

HOWEVER... considering the way things are projected to worsen, we count ourselves extremely fortunate to be so close to our short sale actually happening. And we're not taking anything for granted. We can just keep doing what we're doing and approach every challenge with enthusiasm.

-Los Angeles Couple Blogs their Foreclosure - The Huffington Post

-Foreclosure: Now an Upscale Blight - Business Week

-A California Foreclosure Story: Can you be both broke and happy? - Business Week

-National Foreclosure Ticker - Center for Responsible Lending

-Doughnuts in LA: Where to celebrate National Doughnut Day - L.A. Times

Pssssssst! Free doughnuts today (June 5) at Krispy Kreme (no strings attached)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How to Be Happy. Now.

I have a confession to make.

Lately, I've been waiting for all of this to just be over and forgetting to be happy.

My thoughts have looked like this:

-Once this is all over, we'll be happy.
-I just want this to be done.
-I can't take it anymore.
-We should never have bought this house.
-Why was I so stupid?
-I'm just so tired of all of this.
-I just need to save us to make it all better.
-Why has everything gone wrong?!
-We just need to get out of here.
-Once we get out of here, go back to Chicago for a respite, regroup, get back on our feet, everything will be fine.

But what about now? This moment?

These thoughts make me pretty miserable. They're anxiety-causing. They're trouble!

As soon as I dwell on the past and my mistakes, I'm immediately suffering. As soon as I focus on just getting out of this and on with my life, I'm missing my life.

We've been going through this for 9 months, right? What if for 9 months all I thought was, "Everything will be fine once this is over." Well, I would have missed 9 months of life... of living, discovering and creating. I would have sat around waiting for it to be over and might possibly have had a nervous breakdown.

Waiting for it to be over = missing out on life

And that is not okay with me.

When this all began, we agreed to stay 'in the moment,' and see the opportunity in every moment. To get that being happy has nothing to do with the circumstances of your life. If money can't make you happy, then lack of money can't make you sad. Right? Right!

We've learned so much along the way. The biggest triumph for me is really getting that we don't need money and stuff to make us happy. To be complete. We just need each other and a good dose of perspective. Love. And each other. Sharing our fears and hopes, connecting and rising above the morass.

I have to say, this blog keeps me honest. When I hear myself complain or lament our situation, it doesn't take long for me to think:
Hey! You started this blog for a reason. You're committed to being happy in the moment. Remember? In the now. In foreclosure. In default. In debt. Happy. In limbo and in love. In whatever. That's your commitment. That's what you write about. And you know being happy is just as possible as being miserable. You know this. So stop this nasty downward spiral and go do something productive. Give Bob a kiss. Pet the dog. Clean the kitchen. Sit in the sun for a minute. Write a blog post. Call a friend just to say hi. Whatever, but just be happy. Now.

Yesterday Good Karma Housekeeping blogged about "Love in the Time of Foreclosure" and referenced this wonderful quote from Michael J. Fox who said:
“Happiness grows in direct proportion to your acceptance and inverse proportion to your expectations. This is what I have today . . . I don’t have a choice about this, but I have a million other choices. And if I choose well, I’m going to be a happy person.”

I so agree. There's so much that is out of our control, but our happiness is not. It's one thing that is most definitely within our control. Like Michael J. Fox, I believe it is a choice. And I'm choosing happiness.

Now if you'd excuse me, I have a husband to kiss, a dog to pet, a kitchen to clean, possessions to sell, a friend to call just to say hi and sunshine to enjoy...


Do you ever intervene in your unhappy thoughts? If so, what do you do to re-presence yourself to happiness?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fire, Rain and a little Q & A

I see fire and I see rain...

It's a rainy day in L.A. today. I love these days.

We just set the smoke detector off because we started a fire in the fireplace and forgot to open the flue. It smells like a charred campsite in here now. But the fire is lovely. And with the doors open you can feel the chill in the air, smell the fresh rain and hear the pitter patter and the occasional rumble of thunder.

So, gather round, pull up a chair or a cushion, pop a squat by the fire... it's time for some LITTOF Q & A.

Your questions have been so great. Really good. Thank you for asking them! I will do my best to answer.

Here we go...

*The first three questions are from a LITTOF reader who e-mailed us to say that they are in a similar situation (bought in 2006, fell behind in paying the mortgage due to loss of income, tried for a modification w/o success so far) and are wondering what to do next.

Have you spoken to a real estate lawyer at any point in all this?

No. We haven't. Because my mom is a Realtor and has been for 25 years, we felt pretty well-guided by her expertise. Additionally, she put us in touch with a short sale expert who was willing to talk to us about how to approach a short sale. His number one goal was to keep people OUT of foreclosure. We would have loved to have talked to a Real Estate lawyer, but we didn't have the money to spend. Some people say that it's worth spending that money, though. I think you just have to do what feels right for you and is within your means.

Have you considered bankruptcy at all? At least as a way of protecting yourself from getting possibly taxed on the loan/sale price difference later on down the line?

The possibility of being taxed for the amount forgiven in the short sale is a scary one. According to Suze Orman if it's your primary residence, you won't be taxed for the difference. I hope she's right. To be safe, we are actually talking to tax attorneys about this. Well, we were given a list of referrals from people we trust and need to follow up with them this week. We definitely feel like we need guidance in this regard. Once the short sale goes through (all appendages crossed for that!) we still have the rest of the debt to overcome. So we will be looking at the best path for us. We decided to do a short sale when it became clear that no matter how hard we tried, we weren't going to be able to sell the house for what it's worth in this market. It took us many months to finally accept that. Once we did, we chose to go the short sale route so as to lesson the blow to our credit. Foreclosure effects your credit for 7 years. Just like bankruptcy. Our goal has been to avoid that. Once we talk to a tax attorney, we'll know a lot more. Hopefully.

There's this business about a "deed in lieu of foreclosure." Don't really understand that. It seems too good to be true.

Great question! The CFO at my old job suggested we do a DIL. "Deed in Lieu" and I had NO idea what she was talking about. She invests in real estate and said it would be really easy. We could just, essentially, transfer the mortgage to an investor who would in turn rent us the house at a price we could afford. Sounded like a great alternative to short sale and foreclosure. But, it was a totally unknown territory and for that reason, we avoided it. Also because soon after she suggested it, we finally got an offer on the house. So, I'm in the dark about this too. But here's what I can offer.

Obama's MAKING HOME AFFORDABLE plan has been appended to include incentives for the banks to allow Deeds in Lieu of Foreclosures. From the MHA Fact Sheet:

Foreclosure Alternatives for Borrowers Eligible for MHA but Unable to Sustain a Modification:
For eligible borrowers unable to retain their homes through a Home Affordable Modification, MHA will provide incentives to borrowers, servicers and investors to encourage short sales and deeds-in-lieu. Both allow families and servicers to avoid the costly foreclosure process, and to minimize the negative impact of foreclosures on borrowers, financial institutions and communities.

Short Sales/Deeds-In-Lieu Program to Facilitate Foreclosure Alternatives

When a borrower meets the eligibility requirements for a Home Affordable Modification (HAMP) but does not qualify for a modification or cannot maintain payments during the trial period or modification, the servicer may consider a short sale, and if that is unsuccessful, a deed-in-lieu (DIL).

Both a short sale and a DIL provide an opportunity for borrowers and servicers to avoid the foreclosure process. In a short sale, a servicer allows the borrower to sell the property at its current value, even if the sale nets less than the total amount owed on the mortgage. Approval of a short sale requires the borrower to list and actively market the home at its fair value. The sale must be an arms length market transaction with all proceeds (after selling costs) applied to the discounted mortgage payoff. If the borrower actively markets the property but is unable to sell it within the agreed upon time period, a servicer may consider a DIL. With a DIL, the borrower voluntarily transfers ownership of the property to the servicer – provided the title is free and clear.

To view the Making Home Affordable fact sheet as an HTML doc, click here.

*This last question is from our friend and frequent LITTOF reader, Kim:

What is your opinion on owning property, in general? Lawrence and I talked about looking at places, but it's just too risky in my opinion. I have no interest in it right now. All that would have to happen is for me to lose my job and we'd be up shit creek. We're "safe" (relatively) where we are now. I can't see myself ever feeling in control of my anxiety enough to buy...but maybe I don't understand the whole "You gotta take a leap of faith" idea. Would you buy again down the road?

That's a big question. Gosh. Where do I begin? Well, in general my feelings on owning property have been changing a lot lately. We have friends who are trying to buy their first home right now in Los Angeles and I feel like they are buying at the right time for them. They're ready, they're buying in a climate where banks aren't approving you for more than you can afford. They're being smart. For them, I think it's a great thing and I hope they find a house they can stay in and love for a long time.

When we bought our condo we were very smart. Our mortgage was the same as our prior rent! We loved our condo. We loved the neighborhood and it is still today (even in this market) worth more than what we paid for it. It's hard to stop kicking ourselves. We sold it in 2 days for a big profit and took a big leap into this house. That "leap of faith" you speak of.... I regret including it in the equation. Our leap of faith was that the house would increase in value and we would just keep making more money. We relied on that. Naively. Even though we knew better. Even though that's the exact opposite of what we did while in the condo.

Would we own again down the road? I think yes. BUT. Not for a long time. Bob would say, "Only if we could pay cash and own the house outright." So, when would that be? Never, possibly. Unless we win the lottery.

I still look at Real Estate "porn" (MLS listings)... There's definitely something in me that thinks about owning again in the future. But I think, we'll own something like a duplex where we have income coming in to help us with the mortgage. Or, I remember reading a story several years ago about a couple in L.A. that bought a warehouse for a song, converted half of it to a living space and kept the other half as storage that they rented out to a company for enough money to pay their entire mortgage! So... yes, I think we would like to own again in the future. But we'd be so much smarter about it.

By the way, your anxiety about it is understandable. It's crazy out there. It's crazy in here! And there's nothing wrong with renting. We don't all have to own property to be complete human beings.... though sometimes it feels that way.

Great questions. Keep 'em coming! Send them in to:

Monday, June 1, 2009

What to get your spouse on your sixth wedding anniversary?

Yesterday Bob and I celebrated our 6th Wedding Anniversary

We ate, drank, played chess, ran on the sand, napped on the beach, saw dolphins, talked about the future, reminisced about the past, laughed and simply enjoyed each other with no work, planning, packing, selling, stressing for an entire day. It was delightful.

Here's a fun fact. Did you know that IRON is the traditional 6 - year anniversary gift theme? Yep. Iron.

So instead of giving each other gifts this year (it just didn't seem appropriate considering our financial status) we made a short and somewhat uninspired list of iron-related gifts for fun.

-Iron-on patches for your jeans
-An iron
-A curling iron
-"Iron Man" DVD
-Fe (you know, for a charm bracelet. The elemental symbol for iron)
-A wrench
-Golf club
-Iron gym pull-up bar

And my favorite:

"Happy anniversary, honey. I got you some iron pills. For your anemia."

Other ideas? Post 'em here.


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