The morning of Tuesday, June 15, I went to the salon.
I always see the same woman, and in the year or so I've been going we've talked about everything under the sun.
This time, she confided something in me. Something that took courage to bring up. She was having some financial problems because she can't afford her mortgage anymore. The more she told me, the angrier I got. Not at her, but at the bank. She tried to sell her home twice, and the bank refused both offers. Now the bank is foreclosing and holding HER liable for the cost of the home.
How is this possible? They pass up two perfectly good offers and then make HER pay the balance?
I asked her if she tried negotiating the debt or getting a mortgage modification. She said she didn't realize she wasn't sure how and didn't know if it was worth the effort. Bankruptcy seemed easier.
I asked her -- begged her in fact -- to let me help. I told her I'm far from a finance professional, but that maybe having someone on her team, doing a little research and even coming with her to a meeting with her loan officer, or drafting a letter, would make a difference. I told her about the Daily Asker. I suggested she has nothing to lose.
I asked for her email.
That night, I went home and dug around online. I was curious if what the bank did was legal (not in certain states, it seems, but I couldn't see anything about California). And quickly I became absorbed with hundreds of posts against her lender, Chase.
Chase is evil, Chase screwed people over. So many people have tried to sell their homes and Chase has stalled the paperwork or refused the offers, choosing instead to foreclose. Allegedly.
Here are some of those forums.
And here is Chase's loan modification site, since there are two sides to every story.
Anyway, I found a bunch of resources for her -- free legal aid, home owner's help hotlines, and info about debt negotiation -- and emailed her. Here's how I ended the message:
I understand you're exhausted, and this isn't my fight, so if you want to bow out I would totally sympathize. But if you do want to weigh your options, there's a lot more reading material out there, and bottom line: you do have options. If I can help you meet with a bank rep, write a letter, practice a negotiation, contact a journalist (I know people at the U-T and other outlets) or brainstorm, just ask.Take care!
Hoping, really hoping her situation is resolved fairly and correctly.
And, note to self: based what I read in those forums, I've decided that until/unless there is widespread banking reform I will NEVER get a home loan with Chase. Caveat emptor.