Well, that certainly didn’t go according to plan. Housing limbo continues. Today was the long awaited and comically delayed mediation meeting with the mortgage company. Finally, I’ve got enough work to make enough money to pay my mortgage, but would they agree? The arithmetic suggested they should say yes; but, the process has been irrational enough that any answer was possible. So, what happened? Something none of us in the room expected. Puzzle this one out. My account is closed and I’ll get more time to prove I can make my payments. If those two sound contradictory, congratulate yourself on your cognitive ability.
Thanks to the wonders of blogging, I don’t have to belabor everyone with the entire history of my personal mortgage crisis. Between tags, keywords, and categories (check: mortgage) you should be able to step back through the story. For those not comfortable doing such things, here’s the quickest version. I stopped paying my mortgage about a year ago because my investments were almost totally depleted. Since then the discussion with the mortgage company has been – illustrative of business tactics I’ve never witnessed before. Fortunately, Washington State makes counselors available, and they’ve maneuvered me into the mediation process that forestalls the foreclosure process, hopefully long enough for me to find or make enough money to pay a modified mortgage. Today was supposed to be that meeting.
Skipping the suspense, there was yet another classic miscommunication. I was there. My counselor was there. The mediator was there. The mortgage company’s lawyer was there. The mortgage company wasn’t. A half hour of phone calls later we learned that the mortgage company had “closed out the account” less than a week ago, and therefore there was no one assigned to my case. Evidently they didn’t tell anyone, not even their own lawyer.
For those following the folly, you may notice a trend. This is the meeting that was held because the previous meeting was convened without informing me, which invalidated that meeting. That meeting was held because the previous meeting had two different meeting times. My counselor and I were told to show up in the morning. Everyone else was told to show up in the afternoon. Hard to have a discussion that way.
So there I sat, somewhat aware of the standard foreclosure process thanks to my counselor and a bit of research, and confused because I’d never heard of an account being closed. Was that one step closer to foreclosure? Evidently not. Is it encouraging? No. Is it reversible? Evidently, though I still don’t know how it gets reversed and by who.
What I was pleased about was the professional manner of everyone in the room. They agreed that the mortgage company would like to have three months of profit and loss statements, and several months of bank statements substantiating my income. The only way to do that is to give me more time. We already have the October data. We’re almost through November. Add in December, wait for checks to post, and submit a new package by early January and there may be no need for mediation – assuming the mortgage company re-opens the account, somehow. But hey, since we were all in the room, and we were all looking ahead, we decided to schedule yet another meeting (which costs me $200, and that’s okay.) Next best date is early March, just in case.
One consequence of having a scheduled mediation date is that the mortgage company can’t proceed with foreclosure while mediation is in progress. Effectively, my situation doesn’t change. I continue working hard, as I’d planned to anyway. My incentives for working on the house are somewhat contrary, so I’ll work on what I want or need to. Eventually, the mortgage company will present me with a bill or an option or a deal or who knows what other surprises they may present. Even though I think I have enough money in my account to make a payment, I don’t know what number to write on the check. A couple of months ago they sent me a letter stating that the offers they’d made were to be ignored because the payment calculations were incorrect and that they’d send me updated payment requirements – which I haven’t received.
The process works within a well-defined legal system, but considering what we learned in the meeting about the account being closed, I keep in mind that some bureaucratic machinery may yet be churning its away to posting a foreclosure notice on my door. Even if it is invalid, I’ll probably react emotionally, the real estate market may react, and interrupting the process will take time.
On the larger scale, the housing and mortgage crisis look unstable. On an individual basis, it isn’t much clearer. I feel sorry for anyone going through this who isn’t aware that counselors may be available, and that isn’t comfortable with finances, and that isn’t experienced in business negotiations. My anxiety level rises whenever I deal with my mortgage shortfall, and I have admirable support. What’s it like for someone without experience, education, or help?
Believe it or not, I’ve simplified the morning’s events. To adequately describe that one hour meeting would probably take all day. That’s one reason for this blog post. Calling all of my supportive friends and trying to answer every question would be a full time job. Step one is reminding people that this is a process that surprises and confuses the professionals that deal with it every day. Hopefully, this synopsis lays a good foundation, and provides some reassurance to others in similar situations.
My situation is one of the simplest: single guy, one house, one mortgage, and a beginning credit rating of about 800, now severely reduced. And yet, as the meeting closed, the mediator pointed out that the name Trimbath is a cause for entertainment in their office. Whether that is through meeting mishaps or some other story, I’m happy to give folks a reason to smile amidst the chaos – as long as I get to keep my house out of foreclosure.