Where do I sign up?

Bush Officials Urge Swift Action on Rescue Powers
NYTimes.com

Bush seeks $700B for debt bailout
CNN

Economists: Financial bailout necessary
MSNBC

“People who go broke in a big way never miss any meals. It is the poor jerk who is shy half a slug who must tighten his belt. ” The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

Where were all of these helpful people two years ago when we needed a bailout?  We are classic “victims”, if that is the correct word, of the Mortgage Mess.

We had a nice house.  It wasn’t showy or very big, but it was ours.  Well, MOSTLY ours.  To quote a song by the late, great Jerry Reed “That me and the finance company own”.  “Owned” is the correct verb. 

Like (m)any other chump(s) in the late 90’s I tried to keep it as nice as possible, while enhancing the resale value.  New siding and windows came first.  It was really first-rate viny siding, and very good double-paned windows.  The contractor even knew a banker looking to make this kind of home improvement 2nd mortgage loan.  The plan was we were to get the work done, and then she was supposed to help us get a new mortgage at a lower rate for the whole amount.  That was the plan.  However:

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
(The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!)   Robert Burns, To a Mouse (Poem, November, 1785)

Next there were the termites they discovered while replacing the patio door. I’d never seen a termite before, but there was little doubt in my mind what those stupid little white ants were. Hello, exterminator.

After the loan went through and the work was done, I couldn’t find the loan officer. The offices where they had been were empty. This was not a fly-by-night operation. This was a real bank and a banker of some standing in the community.

So anyway there we are with a nice looking house and two mortgages. We should have sold it then, without the loan officer, but this was at a time when the local military base was undergoing a downsizing, with the major unit moving to Europe. Schools built to accommodate the families of soldiers and support personnel were closed, and houses didn’t move in that market. By 1993, we had filed bankruptcy.

After The Floods of 1993, the ground started moving at an accelerated rate. We escaped the water, but the false-stability of the ground was disturbed. First the foundation cracked. If you are unfamiliar with Kansas geology and building practices, imagine if you will houses built on the old flood plain of a river, down stream from the dam constructed to control the flooding but outside of the levees. “Geology” actually implies rock. “Sandy Clay” is a better description. Houses built upon slabs of concrete on land that calling it “unstable” is a gross misnomer. Water line breaks were routine, and to find a house without a cracked foundation and wonky walls was a rarity.

It got so bad we could see light coming in beneath the south wall in the master bedroom. The floors were like a rolling plain beneath the carpeting from all of the cracks. So another mortgage was necessary to get at least the south end of the house lifted. Then part of the ceiling started to collapse because of all the foundation movement.

My wife started talking about gasoline and matches. I started hoping for a tornado- less suspicious. They had discovered a small geologic fault running beneath the dam by this time, and everyone had earthquake insurance added onto their policy. I tried to convince my agent to consider that it all MAY have started with a small earthquake, but he thought I was kidding.

We had to wait until after 2000 to get his done, until the bankruptcy had been completely discharged, but eventually

we got the one end of the house done. I thought it was odd that the mortgage officer that we went through kept adding onto our income until it “fit”, but he assured me that this was a common practice, coming to an “average” income level for our area.

So once again we limped along for several years, in hopes of getting yet another refinancing to fix the other end of the house. I should have looked skyward for inspiration – I might have seen the leaks in the roof. Another refinance, only not for what we had planned. THIS guy told me he knew of an appraiser that “if he didn’t see it, it wasn’t real” so he urged me to smooth out and/or otherwise cover up the undulating floors. That way the house would appraise for more and we could get more of a mortgage. We got a nice chunk of change, but not enough to do the rest of the foundation as well.

Finally we felt we were in a position to finish the foundation work. Someone started building multi-story houses along a nearby street, and property values skyrocketed. We thought with the increase in value we might finally be able to get the foundation done and sell this house. We were in the process of preparing for this when we discovered that the termites had not really left. No the hungry little… devils had come up behind a book shelf we had on the eastern wall, making many of our books hors d’oeuvres before proceeding on to the main structure. We couldn’t even interest anyone in the house as a potential “flip” with this combination of problems. We couldn’t afford it, we couldn’t fix it and we couldn’t even sell it. So we lost it.

One would think I should have been suspicious of all of these clowns and their machinations, and on one level I suppose I was. But I kept thinking eventually we’d sell the house, and everything would work out.

So why am I asking about OUR bailout? What excuse do these financiers have? They hoped it would continue for ever, and everyone would wind up happy, rich and comfortable. The minute things got tough for them, they start crying for the government to help them. Nobody rode to our aid. We received no such compassion & understanding from them. I read about loan officers from these companies living in their cars and losing their condos, some living in their cars, and I say “wah!”

One mortgage company referred us to a debt assistance company. We had submitted all of our information to this outfit and they had sent it to them. So what did it accomplish? When I called to see what we could work out, they hadn’t even opened the packet. The representative had no idea what I was talking about, and just continued to demand payment.

Bailout?  Don’t those building have windows?  Feel free.

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One thought on “Where do I sign up?

  1. Pingback: Catharsis « Gladdad’s Weblog

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