FIRST, Please try to relax and take a deep breath, I know it can be a scary thought especially when you don't know what may or may not happen to you and your family. I've done a lot of research and been through this myself. I wish I had a relative or friend who could have walked me through the process and relieved me from the stress and sleepless nights of NOT KNOWING MY FORECLOSURE OPTIONS to keeping my home. I felt powerless, under informed, ignored by my mortgage company, challenged by my bank's bureaucracy and frustrated with dead-end "so-called" loan modification bank representatives. I felt I had no one I could trust or turn to, because let's face it...NO ONE within your circle of friends will admit to being behind in their house (mortgage) payments. Maybe it's pride, maybe it's admitting guilt, fault, mismanagement of household income or the feeling of failure. No matter what YOU are feeling, there are thousands of people in the same situation. And I was one of them!
As one of my daughter's friends was being dropped off to spend the night, her father and my husband got to talking and discovered that they were both in sales for different companies in very different industries. The conversation quickly turned to how many times they had each received pay cuts to their commissions during the housing crisis and how most of our friends had encountered at least three pay cuts over the last two years. As the conversation continued, the most shocking comment made by this father was that six of his closest friends were all in home foreclosure at that very moment. We both lived in a thriving community with middle to upper class income. How could this be happening? It makes you stop and think; how did so many people get to this point, and what can any one do to help struggling homeowners during this massive wave of house foreclosures?
And then a few months later, the foreclosure tsunami had engulfed our family too.
I wish someone would have been brave enough to share their experience with me. I searched online until I had exhausted every lead that would answer my questions about my family's uncertain fate - during the foreclosure process. I guess some things you have to learn for yourself if others aren't willing to share their own story. But that's also the reason I'm telling my story, to dispel some of the myths and fears associated with the foreclosure process.
One night after a business meeting, my husband came home and told me about a man he had met that happened to be in the same situation we had recently faced. This couple owned their own company, lived comfortably as a middle-class family with two children, a pet and a few family toys; then one day, the bottom dropped out from under them. While at a business event, the man began to open up to my husband about his situation and his feeling of regret, fear of losing his home, anger over the loss in company profits and the threat of selling a business he had built over the last 8 yrs.
BINGO!! We had a winner...another family facing the same situation we had been faced with when the economy crashed. We had just been through everything this man and his family were about to embark on. We had just finalized our bankruptcy AFTER reviewing and exhausting ALL our options to save a company we had built. I told my husband I felt horrible that they were facing the same stresses we had been put through and wished someone would have walked us through the bankruptcy and foreclosure process so I knew there was still...
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL!
How could I possibly help this couple? What was I looking for when our family was faced with the inevitable? I came up with the only answer that would have made sense to me!! Find someone who had gone through foreclosure or bankruptcy and have them tell me everything that happened so I could prepare my family, avoid mistakes someone else may have made, and create the best possible scenario based on all the information I could gather.
That's when I had an idea..."I don't know these people, and they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hearing our personal story; they certainly aren't going to judge me for my past"...so what's stopping me from sharing everything I've learned with them? If I were them, I would have loved to talk to someone...ANYONE...who had already been through the process and could answer some of my bankruptcy and foreclosure questions. Someone who would calm my fears.
The next day we called and arranged to meet the man and his wife for lunch in a relatively private restaurant. We didn't tell the couple why we wanted to meet with them...only that we wanted to take them to lunch. The initial conversation was just getting to know each other as I had never met the couple; later in the conversation, my husband cautiously brought up the fact that he had learned of their recent dilemma and that we understood their situation as we had been faced with the same financial crisis. It was at that point that I began to explain my feelings of regret and failure over starting a corporation from the ground up and how I too had to face the fact that we were losing it right out from under our feet; how I felt that I had not only let my family down, but my investors, my community and my employees.
We had tried to sell the business for more than a year but every offer came in for less than what was owed. The thought of bankruptcy -- though FAR from my prideful mindset -- was getting ever closer to reality. To sum up the lunch meeting, we continued to share in detail our journey. We explained that we wished someone had been willing to talk openly with us about their experience with bankruptcy and foreclosure; if for no other reason, to reduce the amount of stress we had put on our selves from NOT KNOWING OUR POTENTIAL FATE. The wife, now in tears, grabbed my hand and said they couldn't thank us enough for sharing our story. They had been so overwhelmed with the thought of losing their home, the fear of facing foreclosure and the affects of bankruptcy on their credit report that it was preventing them from sleeping. This couple that I had only met two hours ago hugged me like I was family and thanked us again for sharing what seemed -- for us -- a painful and private admission.
As we drove home, I told my husband, "in spite of my own fear in admitting the challenges we had undergone, I felt better than ever for sharing our story with someone who truly needed the help". This is where my new found pride comes from...humbly embracing my circumstances to help others who may be facing home foreclosure or bankruptcy.
I know the fear, shame and feelings of humiliation that go along with thinking the bank is going to walk in any minute and ask you to put a sign on the door, "Business CLOSED effective immediately"! or a fire blazing red, "Bank-Owned" property sign announcing to my friends and neighbors that I too had lost my home to foreclosure. The thought of those signs and being labeled as a failure was more than I could bear. That's when I decided to do something about it. I couldn't stop the business from closing it was too late for that but I could put up a fight for my home and learn how to stop foreclosure.
In most cases...it doesn't happen right away so BREATHE!!! I can also appreciate the fear of thinking the bank is going to send you a letter that says "you must VACATE YOUR HOME IMMEDIATELY!! Again in most cases, it won't even happen within three months...so BREATHE!!! You have time to make arrangements with your bank. They don't want your home; it's a financial liability to them...they would rather work with you and have you keep it.
I'm an over planner, I don't like surprises; I researched beyond what sometimes even seems normal. I like to know what's happening, when it's going to happen and how do I best protect myself from anything that might try to catch me off guard BUT...
I WASN'T PLANNING FOR AN ECONOMIC CATASTROPHE or a HOUSING CRISIS!
That's when I dug through every available source over the course of several weeks and months, applied twice for home loan modifications and was turned down until my third attempt several months later was approved. That was the best feeling in the world...the news that my family was going to be able to keep the home we had lived in for more than 14 years and my kids could stay with the friends they had grown up with. It wasn't until shortly after our journey through the foreclosure process that I came up with the idea of a FORECLOSURE CRASH COURSE. That's what families and struggling homeowners really needed -- a way to find out how to move through the process and get all the answers in ONE place. I wish I didn't have to go through the agony of spending weeks and months to try and learn some of the most basic concepts, uncover the many options available to help you save your home OR discover the hidden secrets to save my home from foreclosure. I wanted someone to lay it all out for me and tell me all my options so I could weigh the pros and cons. I guess I expected by lender to provide that or a foreclosure consultant to emerge for guidance but that never happened. What happened to all the mortgage consultants who were banging down my door during the housing bubble more than willing to lay out all these grand options for getting loans, refinancing, offering 2nd and 3rd mortgages. Why weren't they using their expertise to help me save my home? I guess they gotten eaten up by the foreclosure tsunami too!
If you're interested in finding out how to save your home from foreclosure - like I did! You can find it at howtosavehomefromforeclosure.net and watch my 20 minute foreclosure video.
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