Good news in the foreclosure process, I think. I made a call, took some notes, and decided to record it here for myself and others.
Typing up scribbled notes help me read my own writing later. It is a good opportunity to collect my thoughts, create a summary, and let my mind percolate through the possibilities. Here are the notes from my call to the statewide (WA) foreclosure hotline (1-877-894-4663, operated by Parkview Services – a non-profit).
I’m at Step Two of a three step process. (Astonishing, considering how many steps I feel I’ve already passed through.)
Step One: Notice of Default.
(Received by Certified Mail about three months after I stopped paying in full.)
Understandable, considering that they wouldn’t accept partial payments, so I stopped paying because I couldn’t pay the full amount without going broke.
Step Two: Notice of Default. NOT a Notice of Foreclosure despite what the person who taped the sign to my door said, despite what the mortgage person said on the phone and in the big packet they mailed.
(Received by someone taping four pieces of paper to my front door.)
Confusing, because I expected a Notice of Foreclosure, but I am not complaining. But the confusing part was that the first three pages are a Notice of Default, with directions for Seeking Assistance (Parkview), the amount I am in arrears (which always sounds weird), and the timing of a sale that they MAY initiate IF I do nothing. Then the last page is a Foreclosure Loss Mitigation Form, which is not a Foreclosure Notice.
Okay, I won’t do nothing. I’ll do something. I decided to call the number on the sheet. And found myself talking to a very nice woman who calmly asked and answered questions, and provided a good education into my situation.
Allow me to interject my own process. Regardless of their process, I continue to work my backup plans which would bring life back to a financial normality, (while also playing the lottery to open the door to positive financial abnormalities.)
Evidently, there are two official corporations involved: The Investor, Fannie Mae: and The Servicer, Green Tree. That was a surprise. I thought Green Tree had the mortgage because I made my checks out to them. Despite all of the contentious and confusing communications from The Servicer (the capitalization makes them sound like players in a movie), the decision maker is really The Investor. Which makes me wonder why I talked to Green Tree at all, which also corroborates the advice a lot of friends passed along.
There are regular events where homeowners can seek assistance in having The Investor intervene in the process, basically delaying the Steps while they review my situation. There’s one coming up this weekend. (Memorial Day weekend? Hope I can get back in time for Mayfest.) Between now and then I have to fill out about 36 pages of documents so they can review my finances and decide whether to renegotiate my mortgage (I think). They may decide to let the process proceed.
If the housing counselor decides to intervene, they’ll apply for a three part face-to-face mediation, which probably delays the Steps by a couple of months at least.
If the housing counselor decides NOT to intervene, I’ll probably receive Step Three, a Notice of Trustee Sale (so where’s the Notice of Foreclosure?) about June 21st, with a forced house sale of about October 21st, after which I have 20 days to move out.
During all of this, up to within 11 days of the sale, I can come up with the funds and pay everything off. Which means, the house can stay on the market and be bought, I can keep trying to make money through a job or my business, and my portfolio and lottery tickets (which sometimes seem indistinguishable) have more time to help.
Note: This is the first time since I stopped paying the mortgage back in late 2012 that the story I hear from various sources is coming into focus. Until now, this was only one of too many possibilities. Thanks to everyone who added their stories and their research that provided a foundation for today’s understanding.
Through this process, in many side messages, quiet sidewalk conversations, and even during a few dances, I’ve heard stories from too many people privately overwhelmed by this process. I’m not surprised. It isn’t easy to talk about, and few would mention any of this in public. It is a painful process, designed to heighten feelings of shame, and a persistent pressure that invades every day and night. Waking up can be a reminder of the temporary nature of where you slept. In some ways, this is cruel and unusual punishment for what, a breach of contract, a crime, or merely an unfortunate financial choice?
As tough as it is, I know it could be much tougher. Missing a payment doesn’t immediately make someone homeless. I’m sure there are places in the world where that happens. This process is convoluted, and part of that is because of the homeowner protections put in place by the government. Consider that, even if they were to sell my house, I still get to stay in it for another 20 days. This entire process takes a year at a minimum. I am very thankful for that. I am not eligible nor receiving social security, a pension, or unemployment; but, I am receiving time and a place to live – and the chance to make it all right again.
Those who’ve read this blog have seen my fears. You’ve seen how I’ve fallen prey to The Servicer’s tactics, how I’ve been emotionally traumatized, and how I’ve worked at resolving the situation in a myriad of ways. You are stout folks to stick with this story. Thank you for being there.
I’ll continue to provide updates. At least I now feel better because there are fewer unknowns. I can plan for specific dates. I can continue to work my backup plans. I can continue to be optimistic that somehow this will all work out.
I admire and appreciate your ability and willingness to put this all out there. I will send this to others I know who are facing their own decisions, and struggling to get beyond shame and into action. Thanks for being a good role model, Tom. In the continuum of service, this is a Big Thing you are doing.
What a convoluted system it is. If you do go to a hearing you have your blog to show your efforts as well as business records to show you’ve been doing due diligence. And you have friends if the worst does happen. Hang in there one breath at a time.