Today's the day: April Fool's Day. This time, though, the joke's on CitiMortgage and Green Tree.
I bought my townhouse back in January 2005 for $400,000 in what seemed to be an up and coming community in Vallejo. In retrospect, I was dead wrong. At the time, however, it remained the most "affordable" place in the Bay Area. I was able to commute to San Francisco via Ferry. The weather's nice, and it's 25 minutes to the Napa Valley. It really seemed like an ideal purchase.
Now don't get me wrong. I was very nervous that clearly the market was seriously inflated. I had a good income and the only thing I could afford if I wanted to have my payments under 30% was a city mired in violence struggling to break out of its shell? For $400K, however, I couldn't get anything save a garage space if I looked in Oakland, Berkeley, or Emeryville. I didn't even bother looking in San Francisco. And here I got this beautiful 1800 square foot loft with a private backyard with somewhat of a view and a garage? Where do I sign up?
In hindsight, I'm glad I had no down payment. The bubble burst and it very quickly became apparent that a lot of my neighbors clearly were not able to afford their homes. Meanwhile, it came to light that the city was in serious deficit and they declared bankruptcy in 2008. Crime is up. Prostitution is rampant. The neighborhood's getting seriously dangerous. And last year, I became a parent.
Long story short: my neighbor just went through a Trustee Sale, another unit is sitting trying to short sale at $150,000. Meanwhile I still owe $345,000 on an Interest-Only first mortgage loan that resets at the end of 2012. I have a $65,000 second mortgage with a balloon payment scheduled for 2022. Sadly, I refinanced so both loans are now recourse. Still, having toyed with the idea of walking away for 12 months and made the decision 2 months ago, today's the day I miss my first mortgage payments. Oddly enough, it feels somewhat liberating.
Based on my research here on this wonderful site, I decided to do a preemptive strike and am sending both CitiMortgage and Green Tree cease & desist letters forcing them to communicate with me by postal mail only. We'll see if that works and keeps my phone from blowing up.
I'll keep you posted on this thread as my walk unfolds.