I am a victim of foreclosure. I am in good company, I know. I am in a steadily growing group of people who are silently being torn apart. Maybe not to the naked eye, and maybe unbeknownst to the one who was foreclosed on, but the ramifications of losing one’s home is wrecking havoc in the lives and families of many Americans, and I dare say families across the entire world.
I am your average Joe. I have been married ideas for silent auction for 31 years, have 3 children, have a husband who is a letter carrier and am the proud owner of an entrepreneurial spirit. We decided several years ago to try to get ahead in life and invest in some single family rental properties. The banks were happy to aid us by deciding we were worth the risk, and doing their due diligence, I am sure. They gave us a mortgage on three different houses in our local market. We became partners with Republic Bank. Not sure they view it quite in those terms, but in essence, they provided the avenue which allowed us to step out of the status quo box. We entered into a business deal with Republic Bank. That business deal, a partnership if you will, is called a mortgage.
In 2008, after owning the houses for four years and not making a single dime on them; in fact losing money, we went to the Republic Bank and asked for help. We weren’t there for a hand-out, we weren’t looking for a freebie, we simply asked to renegotiate the terms of the loans, in order to buy some time, gain some equity, create some positive cash flow, and then, down the road, perhaps be able to sell the houses and recoup some of our losses. We were denied.
Admittedly, we made mistakes. We either paid too much for the houses in the first place, or put too much money into the rehab in order for us to realize positive monthly cash flow. Hindsight is indeed 20/20 and the mother of all teachers.
To make a very long story not quite so long, Republic Bank refused to work with us in a way which would benefit us, but offered instead to put a blanket loan on all of our properties. The terms were merely short-term fixes, advantageous only to Republic Bank. We declined their offer and left the bank, with all parties involved knowing it was only a matter of time until we lost those three houses.
Our credit cards were maxed out due to maintenance, repairs and down time in between renters, and unexpected life events. Upon the advice of an attorney, and after much agonizing, we determined we could no longer make the mortgage payments.
In 2010 we did indeed lose the three properties mortgaged by Republic Bank, and since they were coming after all of our assets, we lost the other 2 houses and our personal home as well. Not only that, but before the banks “had possession” and auctioned them on the court house steps, where they themselves “purchased” the houses back from themselves, for the exact amount the letter of the law allows, they predetermined what we would “owe” them and went into one of our bank accounts and “garnished wages” and from that point up until now, continue to take 25% of wages earned by my husband as a garnishment.
I can’t even begin to tell you the vast gamut of thoughts and emotions that went on before, during and after this process occurred. I am becoming more and more aware of how we as a country, as a people, as a group of caring human beings are tiptoeing around the deeper issue of foreclosure like the proverbial pink elephant in the middle of the room.
Granted, people don’t know what to say when you have lost the very foundation of your family’s life. I’ll give you that. And once you are settled into a new place to live, people assume you are okay. Speaking for myself only, I was not okay. Far from it. And all of the things that I tell myself and others tell me to offer some sort of condolences, are only words. Though in my head I know that “It could be worse, we still have our health, we still have each other, things will work out for the best, God is in control, and it’s just stuff”, those things don’t quite reach my heart enough to convince it that this too shall pass and remain but an unpleasant memory. Because as long as Republic Bank continues to take 25% of my husbands wages, it is an everyday event that we live over and over and over.