I've been meaning to share this story for a long time, and now is the time. Last summer, something amazing happened: After months of wondering and waiting, the Obama Plan (Making Homes Affordable Plan) finally came through for me, and I was able to keep my condo!
In the late fall of 2009 I realized that I would have trouble keeping up with my house payments. My daughter was off to college in Canada and no longer living at home, and it was time to do something different with the place we had called home for three years.
First, I decided to put my condo up on the market. However, within a short time, I realized that my property was not going to sell easily. In fact, after a few months on the market, I realized that it was probably not going to sell at all -- not unless I wanted to have a short sale, not my cup of tea, especially because I had put 20% down on the place just three+ years ago.
One day, about that time, my neighbor Gayle sat me down and had a serious chat with me. She said that it was not a good idea for me to try to sell my home just now because a few years down the road, it could sell for much more money. She strongly urged me to look into the Obama Plan because some of her girlfriends had been able to get their mortgages reduced by as much as half.
I had started looking into refinancing my home through the Obama Plan awhile back, but had gotten the impression that my mortgage would go up, not down. As a result of my conversation with Gayle, the next morning I once again got to work contacting my bank. This time it went like clock-work: I "passed" the five questions that they ask you preliminarily, and within a couple of months my bank had me on a temporary mortgage amount that was about half of my regular mortgage rate. In fact, they even allowed me a "free" month -- February, my birthday month! I was elated; it was looking like I could keep my home after all.
Then, after a few months, the game-playing began. Although I had sent my bank all the paperwork they were requesting, or at least I thought so, I would get Fed-Ex envelopes in the mail stating that my paperwork was "incomplete." And there was never any specific indications as to what paperwork was missing. So I did some guesswork. I also called my bank to try to get direction on how to proceed. I got very discouraged, as sometimes I would spend long periods on the phone, only to be told there was no way anyone could help me. I found out that I had a "negotiator" working on my case, but oddly enough, I was not given access to this negotiator. What kind of Negotiator is that? There was also one day in which I spent an entire hour -- my entire lunch break -- on the phone. I talked to four different people at my bank, including one in India(!), but alas, no one could help me. Talk about feeling manipulated... I remember wondering about all those employees at my bank who were spending their hours "deflecting" people to other staff in the bank!
Finally, I got a notice in the mail in August saying that I had been denied the Making Homes Affordable Program -- due to incomplete paperwork. I was furious and not sure what to do. A few days later, my bank sent me a statement with all the fees and monies I owed them because I'd only been paying the lesser amount for my mortgage that they had approved during the past six months. Wow, talk about adding insult to injury.
I just didn't take any action for awhile, letting myself cool off and ignoring the entire debacle. Then, around Labor Day, a miracle began to take place. My daughter had been having issues with her visa application at the UK Border Agency in LA. She'd been accepted to school in Scotland and we were busy preparing to travel there. Due to not being able to contact the Border UK Visa Agency, we had to forgo our planned trip to Glasgow, a terrible disappointment for both of us. However, I happened to be in touch with one of my fairy godmothers in Alaska who suggested that I contact my state senators and representatives. What a brilliant idea; I hadn't thought of that. I put in a call and/or email to all three -- Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Jay Inslee at the time.
Patty Murray's office called us back 8AM on Tuesday. They said that they could help and that we should fill out the confidentiality form via their website. By that mid-afternoon, my daughter heard from the LA UK Border Agency; not only did she have a visa but she was told that it would be overnighted to her! Then, an hour or so later, I heard from Maria Cantwell's office. I thought to myself, If they can help with dealing with the border, perhaps they could help me with my housing issue with my bank? So I asked Maria's office person and she told me that they did have someone who specialized in housing issues and how I could get my name in with her. I started the application process with Cantwell's office.
Meanwhile, I happened to know a bank manager at a local branch. I walked in one day to give her an update on what was going on. She was having such a challenging day at her bank that she began to weep. She shared with me how frustrating it was for her often being caught in the middle between her bank and her customers. Later in our conversation she suggested that I go to the top: She gave me the number of the bank's headquarters in N. Carolina.
I called N. Carolina, and the next thing I knew, I had one kind banker who was willing to look into matters on my behalf. Needless to say, this was music to my ears -- certainly a new tune from what I'd been hearing. Then, within a few weeks, everything seemed to be resolving.
One day, I went back to my condo one more time to work on clearing my belongings out, and there was a FedEx envelope from my bank. I wasn't sure whether this was going to be good news or bad news. But when I opened the envelope, there was an agreement awaiting my signature that I'd been hoping for: A continuation of where we had left off with the Making Homes Affordable Program!
The moral of the story? Never give up! And it just might be worth your while to get the established political system to help you deal with the corporate system if you need some assistance along the way.
Blessed Peace and Abundance, Dancing heart~~~~