Mortgage Battles Become Personal for Local Homeowners

By | April 2, 2012

(Source: Kathleen Cooper The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. (MCT) — After The News Tribune asked to hear from readers about their experiences with mortgage companies, more than two dozen people called or emailed to share their stories. Here are a few who allowed us to share the challenges they faced during the Great Recession:

Mark Hergert, 51, Spanaway

Hergert and his wife have had at least four different mortgage companies in two years. They did what millions of Americans did at the height of the real estate boom: They pulled the equity out of their home with a mortgage refinance. Values were soaring. Work was plentiful.

“I built the house 17, 18 years ago,” he said. “I had lots of equity so they refinanced.

“We painted the home. Paid debts. We didn’t really buy any new toys,” Hergert said. Then, after a beat: “We paid bills from the toys.”

Their home debt topped out at $340,000, he said. They now owe about $280,000. The house is worth about $230,000. Work dried up for Hergert, a contractor. His wife’s coffee stand folded. Hergert has been trying for a modification for two years. He’s dealt with EMC. Nationstar. Selian. And now, Kondaur Capital. “I built this house. I only owed $64,000 on it,” he said. “Then people started sending me stuff. Hey, God, get some money! Get some money!”

His voice is thick with regret.

Kondaur has told the couple they plan to start foreclosure in another 45 days.

Sheryll Meldrum, 65, Renton

It was save the house, or save the business.

“I can live anywhere but I can’t always move my business,” Meldrum said.

So she and her husband, who taught piano before they bought a vending machine business and some rental properties, let go of the home where they raised seven children. They didn’t want to rely only on Social Security for their retirement. They had strong work ethic and good credit, so they bought four rental houses and two four-plexes as real estate boomed.

“When the economy went, so did those,” she said. They sold some outright; short-sold others; and lost one to foreclosure in the middle of a loan renegotiation that was completed weeks after the home was auctioned.

Their vending business shrunk. All that was left was the family home. The Meldrums tried to save it on their own. After two years of runaround, they saw a housing counselor. “We hadn’t made any payments for two years,” she said. “We couldn’t do it. We like to eat.”

The counselor worked the numbers. “We were so backwards with the house that it just didn’t pencil out. So we made the decision to let it go.” The home was sold at auction Feb. 24.

“The thing that gets me is (the mortgage companies) just don’t listen to what you’re saying at all. If I’d been making payments all along, they might have done it,” she said. “We made some bad decisions too, I guess.”

They bought a mobile home. They work 18 hours a day and employ two people, and business is picking up.

Her husband saw their old home recently. “They’re rehabbing it right now – the people who bought it. My husband said, ‘it’s a shell. It’s not our home any more.’

“You can’t sit around and cry. We’ve done enough of that already. You have to pick up the pieces and go on.”

Bill Leiderbrand, 54, Roy

When he thought he might have to go on strike last fall, Leiderbrand called Wells Fargo to let them know he might be late on his mortgage payment.

“They said, ‘tell us your problems.’ And that’s how this started.” He and his wife had some medical debt, so Wells Fargo put them in for a modification.

“We’re on the eighth month now and I’m no closer to getting it resolved than I was when I started,” he said.

They’re four months behind, but not yet in default. They’re not facing foreclosure. They’re not sure what’s happening. “They tell you that your documents will expire, so now we need them all over again. So you stop what you’re doing, and send them, then it’s too late,” he said.

He went to a Wells Fargo branch in Tacoma. They told him they couldn’t help; only people in offices on the East Coast can.

“I’ve got to get up at 5 a.m. to call them,” he said.

Last week, Leiderbrand stopped at his post office box and found seven letters from Wells Fargo waiting for him. One of them said he didn’t qualify for a modification because he didn’t send in the right documents. His wife called the company. “They say, ‘don’t worry about it.’ Don’t worry about it?” Leiderbrand’s voice hits a pitch. “I’m at my very wit’s end.”

Anita Cloyce, 75, Tacoma

Cloyce’s loan is serviced by Ocwen, the company involved in a News Tribune story last week. She says the company is demanding $4,000 for a “short-sale payoff.”

This implies Ocwen has a buyer who will take the house for less than she owes, and she’s expected to cover the deficit. She’s not sure what’s happening. “Every month it’s a different story,” she said. “I have talked to so many different people. I don’t know what to believe anymore.

“I try to cooperate. But I want to know what I’m doing before I send my money,” she said.

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©2012 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: Kathleen Cooper The News Tribune, Tacoma, Wash. (MCT)

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