The Oct. 24 story headlined "More Lenders Are Trying to Help Owners Avoid Losing Their Homes" by Kenneth R. Harney was too personal for me to ignore.
Five years ago I found myself in a financial dilemma. After 22 years of marriage, I was going through a divorce, and my ex-husband was not contributing to the support of our two teenage children. My employer of 14 years had downsized, leaving me with little option but to accept a lesser position at a 40% salary reduction.
I was having difficulty making my mortgage payment and realized that I had no choice but to sell.
I made my monthly payments by drawing from my savings until I had exhausted all of my reserves. While my mortgage payments were still current, I attempted to contact the lender. For days I left messages on a variety of bank employees' voicemail, few of which were ever returned. I wrote numerous letters but was ultimately told that nothing could be done to assist me. There would be no grace period or forgiveness for a late payment. No options were offered. I was rudely informed that only payments in full would be accepted. The fact that I was trying to sell my home was of no consequence.
I was then advised to stop paying the mortgage in an effort to get the attention of the bank management. Nonpayment on my part only produced computer-generated threats from the lender. I never encountered one bank employee who offered even a temporary solution or suggestion of assistance. The lender began foreclosure proceedings.
Shortly before my children and I were to be evicted, I received an offer to buy my home. Although it was nearly $40,000 less than the original purchase price, the mortgage would be paid in full.
One would have thought that at this point, the bank would have at least been cooperative in finalizing the deal. Instead, they wanted to proceed with the foreclosure and void the pending sale. Is that how a lender helps an owner?
Fortunately, through the cooperation of the Realtors, the escrow time was shortened and the sale was ultimately completed before the foreclosure date.
I am happy to say that my personal situation changed dramatically in the years following this incident. With the help of my family and new husband, I have been able to purchase another home. With the restoration of the economy, I have also secured a position at a salary comparable to my former income level.
I will never set foot in a branch office of this mega-bank again. I truly hope that the title of your article is correct.
LOIS A. PEREL