In June of 2013, Chase foreclosed on my home of 21.5 years. We were able to stay in the house until May 5, 2014 by suing through the county court system, and getting enough of a settlement to move. Even though we had an agreement with Chase, Fannie Mae threatened to evict us on May 1 anyway. Fannie Mae's attorneys said some very nasty things against me, but Chase's attorneys were able to fend FNMA off and allow us that weekend to move out, as agreed. FNMA argued the house was theirs and whatever agreement I had with Chase was irrelevant.
The fact that Chase foreclosed and the house belongs to FNMA is a legal question I want answered. I'm pretty certain Chase foreclosed illegally because Chase was a servicer, not the investor. Owners have an interest to foreclose, not servicers, but that hasn't stopped a single servicer from foreclosing on anyone. FNMA was the investor, so they should have been the agency to foreclose.
I fought for 4 years to keep my home through a tangled mess of the loan modification processes, in which I was required to default to get a modification. My first modification was granted in 2010, and I was able to make the payments until I got sick in 2011 and lost my job. When I applied for another modification based on my lower income after recovering from my illness, it was ultimately denied because I had defaulted once already. It doesn't matter that I was required to default to get a modification in the first place.
I spent nearly a year sending and resending paperwork for my first modification. Then I spent another 6 months sending and resending paperwork when I applied for my second modification. Then I spent 6 months filing papers with the county court in my wrongful foreclosure suit against Chase.
This 4 year fight cost me more than my home. The time and effort it took cost me valuable time in job hunting, and has nearly cost me my sanity. The amount and duration of the anger I feel is so toxic. I see a psychiatrist and my medications aren't cheap. Neither are my son's. I work part-time as a freelance math and science tutor while I spend most of my waking hours applying for jobs and taking tests for city and state positions. It cost my financial security, and now that I have to rent, I can barely afford to live. My house payment was lower than rent, and we live in a much worse neighborhood in a much smaller place, a duplex.
The duplex is liveable, but not in very good shape, and certainly not in the shape a middle class family would consider acceptable. The dryer vent is clogged (a fire hazard) and the landlord hasn't managed to clean it out after 2 months. The A/C closet isn't sealed and is open to the attic. Hot air comes in during the summer and cold air during the winter, making the electric bill much higher than it should be. Considering the landlord has been promising to fix all this for 2 months, I'm relatively certain it's not going to get done soon, so I'm working with friends to do these two required repairs as soon as we can collect what we need.
This situation is the worst of both worlds, I have to pay rent and I have to fix everything that's wrong with the place myself. The money comes off the rent, but I have to come up with the cash to get supplies and do the work. I plan to lodge a complaint with the Housing Authority because all this is in direct violation of HUD rules. The landlord accepts Section 8 money, so he is bound by HUD rules.
The settlement from Chase didn't last long with deposits, renting a moving van, and buying a few things we absolutely had to have to live in this rental. We have managed to stay in the duplex by doing the maintenance and repair work the landlord would have to pay workers to do. We mow the property and there is a considerable amount of preparation and painting to do as well. The painting won't last much longer, but in south Louisiana, the grass grows very fast, so we still get money off the rent to mow.
In the meantime, I keep applying for jobs and I keep hoping to land one. My 19 year old son does the mowing most of the time. I help when the weather keeps him from getting much done in 1-2 days. He's working on completing his GED, and is job hunting as soon as he gets it. I homeschooled him, so getting a GED gives him the piece of paper employers require to show he finished high school.
College and trade school are off the table for now until we're a lot more financially stable. Borrowing for school is far too dangerous right now, so until we can pay cash for him to go to school, or get grants, he's not going.
It's been both a blessing and a curse that I have a college degree and 30 years of work experience. I'm often over-qualified or have experience in the wrong areas, so I'm eliminated from too many jobs, but once I get one, it will pay a living wage.
I'm working on applying for a Section 8 housing voucher, but no one seems to know how to do that. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to the housing authority homeless prevention office to try and get an application submitted. If they can't take an application, they should know who to contact. I also need to apply for assistance in paying the electric bill.
When I graduated from college and started my professional career, I never dreamed I would ever be in this type of financial situation. This is not how life is supposed to go when you've gone to college, graduated, and worked hard. Now I'm approaching my mid-fifties unemployed to underemployed, praying something finally goes my way and I can work my way out of this mess.
If you're middle class, don't think for one minute that things can't turn on a dime, and your fortunes very quickly change for the worse. I would never have believed it until it happened to me. Now I'm finding out it's happened to at least 4 of my friends, too.
Don't take your financial security for granted. Save and pay off your house as soon as you can. Get out of debt and don't take on any more debt. If you pay off the house, make sure you get the mortgage cancelled. Just because you have a zero balance doesn't mean they can't foreclose if you don't keep making payments until the mortgage is cancelled. They can take your house even if it's paid for.
What I would like as compensation for the hell I've been put through is $250,000 net. That would get us into a home we own in a decent neighborhood and make up for enough of the money I've lost not being able to work full-time for us to get a real start. It by no means makes up for all the money I've lost, but it would put us on the road to a full recovery in a reasonable period of time.