I Can See Clearly Now

Did you see this bit of news this week?

The Obama administration on Tuesday will launch its most ambitious effort at reducing mortgage balances for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth.

Officials say between 500,000 and 1.5 million so-called underwater loans could be modified through the program, the first initiative to target homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but are at risk of default because they have no equity in their homes. Some experts are warning, however, that the same knots that tied up prior initiatives could do so again.

Yes, you read that correctly. More and more Americans who did not require (nor ask for) help from the federal government to lower their house payments are getting kicked to the curb, President Obama proposes yet another measure to help keep people who cannot afford their homes, in them.

So let’s see if I understand this correctly.

A family (like mine) who works hard, pays all their bills, applies for a refinance without government assistance, and does everything “right”, is served notice that the bank is calling the note and foreclosing on their home.

Yet, a broker helped some moron buy a house he couldn’t afford so the government takes steps (earlier this year) to “modify” that loan into a lower interest rate, and now, since the value of all homes are still falling, they are going to work with him to write off the amount he is underwater?

Now I know what I did wrong. I never begged the government to pay all my bills and to take care of me. That’s why we’re losing our house. It’s all so clear now.

23 Days Of Angst

The past 23 days, since I discovered the “ploy” being used by the mortgage company to rip our home out from under us, have been some of the most stressful days in my entire life.

The first couple days were filled with calls to the mortgage company “trying to work it out”. The next week was spent contacting attorneys in our area to see if we could stop the fiasco before it reached the point of no return. The mortgage company responded almost immediately and proved there would be no “working it out” in our future.

Eleven days into the ordeal, we started a serious search for a new home. It took a while to find a few places that were (a) large enough, (b) affordable enough, and (c) self-sustainable (from a farming sense).

The first place we found was a beautiful old home on 16 acres of land. It was on the market as part of an estate sale. The deal fell through because we only had agreement from 5 of the 7 siblings. We were sad when we lost that one, because we really, really, wanted it. It had been a family home for almost 100 years, and we we wanted to continue that tradition. Instead, greed has set in and that family will sit back and argue with each other until that beautiful home falls to the ground.

Our second choice was just around the corner from the first one, and it had 13 acres. The house was smaller but some remodel work had already been done. It had new electrical and plumbing through the entire house, but there was something “not right” with that place. Call it a feeling, call it a hunch, whatever you call it, the deal was off after we made a few calls and did some more research.

The third place we found was spectacular. It was at the high end of our budget on almost 6 acres. The previous owner (who has since sold to his company as part of a relocation package) showed us the entire property. We were stunned. We were in love. Then the company that now owns the property would not work with us, at all. They obviously didn’t want to sell the property, not to us anyway.

It was now the 22nd, and by this point we were getting desperate. We were hoping to find a place before the first of the month and it didn’t look like we were going to make our self-imposed deadline.

We found our fourth choice “out in the country”. Seven acres of the most beautiful land you have ever seen, with a 100 year old farmhouse that was riddled with termites and God knows what else. The ceiling sagged, the floors creaked, and we were desperately trying to convince ourselves that we could “fix that”.

We had almost resigned ourselves to make an offer on the “fixer upper” when we found a simple little house, just down the road from our church. Literally. The house is a half a mile from our church. It only has 2 acres of land, but we quickly decided that we could grow a self-sustainable garden, with chickens, on 2 acres. We called the real estate agent so we could look at the house. It is so nice. Plenty of room for everyone, with plenty of room for my chickens and artichokes. WooHoo!

So, after 23 days of intense emotions and stress, and 23 uncomfortable nights, waking up wondering where we were going to end up, we found the place we wanted to live. We submitted an offer through our agent, and around 6pm tonight we received word that the seller has accepted our offer. How cool is that?

 

With the stress of finding a place behind us, the focus now shifts on the remaining 40 days we have to move. Something tells me the packing part of this plan isn’t going to be anywhere as stressful as the finding a place to live part.

Revealing The Plan

A lot of people sent me a link to an article they found online.

Could a Legal Technicality Prevent Banks from Having the Right to Foreclose on 62 Million Homes?

Unfortunately, our mortgage was not one of those “risky” ones, nor one that was modified with government dollars in one of those now infamous bailout packages.

Mortgages bundled into securities were a favorite investment of speculators at the height of the financial bubble leading up to the crash of 2008. The securities changed hands frequently, and the companies profiting from mortgage payments were often not the same parties that negotiated the loans. At the heart of this disconnect was the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a company that serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, allowing properties to change hands without the necessity of recording each transfer.

How ironic would it be if our mortgage was tied into this mess as well? Like I said, our mortgage wasn’t one of those that were “bundled, sold, and re-sold”. We’ve always had the same mortgage company, and as far as I know, this doesn’t apply to us.

We’re still in a holding pattern, but we’re hoping things settle out by the end of the week. There is nothing more stressful than not knowing the plan. I’ve never been good with patience, but I sure am learning through this entire ordeal. We’re remaining strong in our faith, and once He reveals the plan to us, we gladly walk down that path.

Our Refuge In The Storm?

After double checking our list of properties yesterday morning, we put a call into the real estate agent. Four of the properties were very attractive, within our price range, and very suitable to our plans for a small sustainable family farm.

We waited several hours but the agent never called us back, so we drove out to look at a few of them by ourselves. When we arrived at our “favorite” choice, we called the listed agent (whose sign was in the front yard) and asked if they could show us the property.

We spent quite a bit of time with the agent, who filled us in on just about every piece of information we may have ever wanted to know about the house and the land.

Although the house needs quite a bit of TLC, the property could work out very well for us in the long term. We decided to sleep on it.

This morning, we spoke with our real estate agent. We asked her to show us another property, and then told her we would like to see that other one again.

We met her at the first property at 2:30 today. We were not ready for what awaited us. In fact, this is the first property that all of us have liked unanimously. We were given a guided tour of the property by the owner, and there is no doubt that this is the perfect property for us.

Every other property we have seen could have been “made perfect”, but this one would be perfect from day one.

We are meeting with the real estate agent in the morning, and we will be making a formal offer for the property.

Eighteen days after finding out our world was crashing down around us, it seems we may have found a refuge in the storm. Say those prayers, because this could really be the one.

Following The Correct Path

Last night was a rough night. As I mentioned before we had serious reservations about our “second choice” but this morning we knew, for sure, it was the right decision.

I did a couple online inquiries on the property owners, and let’s just say it’s probably a very good thing that we walked away from that one.

I made a few phone calls this afternoon about some additional properties, and I ended up speaking with a real estate agent who is local to our area. She had several ideas about properties that might be available with the type of offer we are in a position to make.

We drove from Roopville to Rome looking at properties this afternoon, and when we returned, I had three emails from the agent waiting for me with listings for us to consider.

We’ll be calling her in the morning to line up four of them, and we are quite optimistic about our chances now.

Thanks for the prayers, as we have no doubt that God had heard them and is guiding us down the correct path.

It’s All Part Of God’s Plan

This afternoon we took another look at our “second choice” property.

Soon after we found the first house, we happened across the second one, and we thought it would be an awesome “alternative” at the time.

We spoke to the owner’s father, who had performed most of the renovation work on the house, and after a long discussion at the property we decided to pursue a deal.

Things looked bright. The property is over 13 acres in size, the old farmhouse is quaint, but could make an attractive home with a little TLC. At first we felt “sold” on the idea, but then we received the lease agreement and the purchase option paperwork.

While the lease agreement seemed to be a standard run of the mill type lease agreement (probably downloaded from some place online), and it seemed to lack any of the provisions we had discussed with the owner previously.

Throughout this evening, I have had a very uneasy feeling about this property, and after discussing it with the wife, we have decided to pass on this one.

It doesn’t make sense to put a lot of money down on a place that we have no purchase guarantee down the road. There were no provisions for us to “get out” of the deal if we found something wrong with the house, and there were so many restrictions in the lease agreement that I felt strangled sitting here 35 miles away from the property.

We have no doubt that God has a plan for us, and we have placed our faith in God that the will lead us in the right direction. Preferably soon!