The one word the government uses to imply financial failure, but is financial failure an accurate definition? In my case, no. My darling husband decided two years into buying a home that a mortgage was a really big responsibility, so he ran off to pursue a life of crime instead. He blew all his money, eventually lost his job and filed for bankruptcy. I called my mortgage company one month to make a payment, ( I mean someone has to be responsible right?) and they wouldn’t take my payment. There was some sort of block on the account from his bankruptcy filing.
I will never forget what the customer service lady said to me that day. She said to me I had two choices, but I needed to ask myself a question. Did I want to keep my house or not? Ok, let’s keep it. Yes, that is the right answer. I want to keep my home. Ok, great..then wait for his bankruptcy to complete and send in the payments all at once. Don’t make any payments now. Ok, deal..no payments..got it.
I hadn’t filed bankruptcy, my estranged spouse had. You say don’t pay, I can’t pay…after all the company knows best right? Well apparently bankruptcy takes a reeeaaaally long time, and the mortgage payments “fell behind”. Now I qualified for a loan modification. Oh awesome..the mortgage company was going to lower my payments. Well that was helpful since now I am a one income family. Neat..let’s do that..
I never did get the modification. The law says that a person on the loan remains on the loan whether they pay it or not. Whether they are obligated to pay it or not. The only way to modify the loan was to get the signature of the co-borrower. Make him sign a piece of paper taking his name off the deed..and we are going to cut your payments in half..and you can stay.
So he can file bankruptcy, be totally free and clear of the obligation, never have to make a payment and still OWN the property? And there is nothing you can do about it? Yes, that’s correct. But then if he owns it, then he gets a portion if i sell it? Yes, that’s correct. Uh..but he doesn’t have to pay…Again, yes…that’s correct. Well that hardly seems fair.
After months, literally months like 15 of them, the bankruptcy was finally over. I had lived in my home mortgage free for a year and a half. Now I felt very different about the situation. I had done everything I could during that time to try to get his name off the house. I was trying to save my house, but there was no loophole. If I paid…it became his too. The equity was his even though he hadn’t paid a dime. I never made another mortgage payment.
The notices started coming and the foreclosure started. Now the bank was desperate to work out a deal. There was no deal to work out, you can’t get him off this loan, we cannot make any deals.
Two and a half years later the bank took over ownership of the property and we left. The walls I had painted, the fixtures I picked out, the plants, the stones in the yard, they were decided with love. And now I was leaving over one signature. Everything else was perfect, just needed one signature. A signature I would never get.
I moved just a hop and a step up the road, so I really thought I would be really sad driving past everyday, but as it turns out, it wasn’t so hard. I started to forget my life in my home. It’s been 3 years now, but just last week I noticed the house for the first time in a long time and I was instantly sad.
The porch was falling down. The grass is 3 feet high. The trees have grown wild and out of control. It’s obviously abandoned. Moss is growing on the doors. It just sits there empty. There is mold growing on the inside. The plumbing and electric have been down all 3 years. No one loves my house anymore. It just sits there empty on the side of the road, dying. The bank doesn’t care about it, it’s not worth anything. The monetary value of my home in it’s current state is zero. It’s uninhabitable.
The FDIC claims that one in every 200 homes will be foreclosed on. Investors.com claims that 15% of all homes in America are bank owned. AKA VACANT. With an average of 121 million households in America, that means there are about 18 million vacant homes. 18 MILLION VACANT HOMES. There are only about half a million homeless people. Let that sink in.
How does America compare in homeowner ship with other countries? According to the Financial Services Committee, we rank 17 out of 26 on home-ownership rates as only about 67% of American own homes. Singapore rated the highest at about 89% of their population owning a home.
So how does America compare in foreclosure rates across the globe? Creditslips.org claims the American foreclosure rate in 2009 was approximately 9%, compared to countries like Belgium at 1.69%, Spain at 2.88% and even Bulgaria with their whopping 7.83% still falls short.
We live in a country where we have 9 times more vacant homes than homeless citizens? Why do we allow this to happen? There is only one word. Greed. The bank didn’t love my home. In fact, the bank didn’t even WANT my home. The bank took what was rightfully theirs, a financial transaction. Did I deserve it? Maybe. After all, I didn’t pay a dime for over 2 years, but who am I supposed to protect? The bank, or my family? I think I made the right choice.