Saving Our Ohio Home from Foreclosure

Aug 4, 2014

(Editor's Note: "Home" is shaped by individual circumstance and generational view. In this three-part series, a free-thinking Millennial (born between the early 1980s and 2000), rebounding Gen-Xer (born from the early 1960s to early 1980s) and determined Boomer (born following WWII through the early 1960s) share stories from the recession that helped define how they live today.)

My Home View: Part 3 of 3

Hard working. High Income. Edging Toward Retirement.— Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends on Boomers.

Maury M., now 52, worked hard for many years to rise through the ranks of a large Fortune 500 East Coast-based conglomerate. When he accepted a role in a new division in Central Ohio, he relocated his family to head up the business region. But in 2009, at the height of the recession, this Boomer's fortunes suddenly changed. The division was downsized and Maury, the family's main breadwinner, was laid off.

With two kids in school, the family decided to stay in Ohio, scraping by on his wife's steady income and Maury's periodic contract jobs. The decision is not uncommon: A 2010 survey by AARP found that nearly nine in ten Baby Boomers prefer to remain in their current residences for as long as possible.

"It was challenging to pay the mortgage and our other bills, but we were getting by," he recalls.

Falling Behind

But in 2013, the family got behind on a couple of mortgage payments, and their relationship with their mortgage company started to deteriorate.

Instead of speaking to a collections representative, they were transferred to the loss mitigation department and assigned a single point of contact, a move that should have worked in their favor. "The problem was that we'd call and get her voice mail, I'd have to wait for a return call and then in many cases, would be asked to produce documentation I had already submitted."

Adding to the miscommunication, each time Maury resubmitted documentation, the bank's review period time clock would restart. "We were getting really frustrated and, at the same time, the wheels of foreclosure were turning," explains Maury.

Maury found a full-time contract job and soon had enough money for the mortgage payments. However, each payment sent to the bank during the review period was returned. "It was very frustrating…and I started to realize how serious the situation was becoming," Maury says.

Ebb and Flow

A project manager and business analyst by trade, Maury created a flow chart of all the moving parts—the actions by the mortgage company, the court filings, and actions by the sheriff's department. He spent hours each day calling various parties to find out his options. He even kept detailed daily phone logs of who he called and what they said would happen next.

"Everyone was just doing their job and was in fact trying to help me save my home, we were just in a bad spot," he notes. Maury realized all the moving parts were moving to one conclusion—foreclosure.

Finding Help

Luckily, Maury visited this website, and contacted a Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center to ask about a loan modification.

A modification is an agreement between the homeowner and their mortgage company to permanently change the terms of the mortgage agreement (like the interest rate or length of the mortgage term) to lower the monthly payment and make it more affordable.

Maury was offered a trial period plan, the first step toward a modification. During the trial period plan, Maury made three on-time monthly payments at the lower rate. After those payments were made, the mortgage company agreed to make the modification permanent.

'Worth the Effort'

Today, things are back on track financially for this family, but for other homeowners facing foreclosure Maury has some parting words: "Take responsibility for your situation and if you can still afford your home, be willing to work hard every day to fight for it."

"Saving our home was worth the effort."

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