We haven’t had an Open House in a while. We were having them every Sunday through the fall but we got burned out. It didn’t seem to be working and it was a lot of effort and disruption in our lives. The reason we decided to have one yesterday is because we haven’t yet had one since we dropped the price and we would like to get a better offer to submit to the bank.

All the rules are different when it comes to short sales. We are actually allowed to continue accepting offers while the bank reviews our packet. They’ll take the best offer submitted. The cleanest and strongest. This means, best credit, most money down, etc. Our current offer is low and they’re asking for a lot more than usual back in closing costs. This might deter our lender. And we’re doing everything in our power to avoid foreclosure.

We cleaned from 8AM to 11AM non-stop. The house looked amazing when we were finished. Bob was on his hands and knees polishing the hard wood floors. We cleaned places we hadn’t seen in a long time.

It was a great day for the views too. So clear you could see the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The house was stepping it up, it seemed.

The Open House went well. 25 people came through. We’ve had more on previous Open Houses, but in this market that is still solid. According to our Realtor, there was a lot of interest and people were very impressed. This usually the case, so it doesn’t really mean anything and doesn’t always translate into an offer. But we’re hoping it will. Everyone knows the situation. It’s a short sale. The bank is already reviewing one offer, so if you really want the house, you need to submit a good, clean offer.

Now it’s Monday. It’s good to wake up to a clean house.

 
 

So it’s Saturday and it’s beautiful. Blue skies, somewhere in the low 70s, Michigan State is on their way to the Finals. Go Spartans. My mom went there and I grew up cheering for them too.

I’m outside enjoying the day, on the phone with my sister about to get some work done in the vegetable garden when I hear someone at our gate. I look up and see feet. I hear voices. And then the Supra key in action.

Oh crap!

I run inside.

“Bob! Someone’s here! Do we have a showing?!”

He runs interference while I hide inside. The house is a mess. The Open House is Sunday and we haven’t started cleaning yet. If we have a showing, no one told us.

Bob’s talking to the woman. I can’t hear what he’s saying. I’m running around the house frantically putting things away in case he decides to let her in to see the house.

Thankfully he doesn’t.

“What was that all about?”

“She was just gonna come in!!”

Not again. Not another one. This has happened before. This is why we took the lock box off the door. One weekend I had just finished walking naked from the shower to the bedroom to get dressed when an agent opened our FRONT DOOR and tried to parade his clients through our house WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT! Yeah.

So here we were again. Luckily this one was stopped at the gate and we were all fully-clothed. Bob asked her if she had an appointment and she said that yes, and her clients were on their way. He clarified and asked, “No, do you have an appointment with US? Did you call our agent?” Blank stare. He pointed out the fact that on the MLS instructions it say that you must make an appointment 24 hours in advance.

This was her response: “Oh, you still live here?”

No. We just leave our car in the driveway and garden on the weekends and hang out and let our dog run around and sleep here and eat here and work here, but we don’t live here anymore.

YES, WE STILL LIVE HERE. Hello.

So we now we have a sign. It says:

SHOWN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY!!!

DO NOT DISTURB TENANTS!!!

We’ll see if that works.

If it doesn’t, we could always take the advice of one of our friends and add the friendly touch of an NRA sticker to the sign. Hmmm…

 
 

It’s almost time to go home for the weekend when I see the e-mail from our Realtor: National City is still trying to “charge off” our 2nd mortgage.

And it all gets real again. Suddenly there’s a queasiness in my stomach. A tightness in my throat. Shit, shit, shit.

National City is saying that we won’t “take” their calls. What? Every single time we call them we give them our phone number and we haven’t received a single voice mail from them. How is it that we’re not taking their calls? What about the messages we’ve left THEM to discuss the possibility of a charge off?! And what the heck is a charge off again?

A charge off is basically them looking at the money we owe them and charging it ‘off’ like a bad credit card debt. They would report our unpaid mortgage as a loss for tax purposes. It would be on our record as a “bad debt” for 7 years and they could (according to them) come after us for the money in court. It feels like we’re f’d. We were hoping to work this all out through the short sale, but they are not interested.

Now my day is about this. And all the things we’re doing wrong, all the ways we’ve messed up, all the money we owe and all the money we’ve lost. This shouldn’t be happening, right? Why is it? Well, the charge off is happening because we haven’t paid National City in six months. That’s why. And they’re worried they won’t get any money from us. In December we let them know that we were pursuing the short sale. This makes no difference.

National City has given us an ultimatum. We have until Monday at 9PM Eastern to pay them $645.00 to ‘forestall’ the charge off for 30 days… or else. Or else they’re charging it off. Okay. So it’s a threat. We don’t have the $645.00 to keep them at bay. It feels like they’re just trying to shake us down to get whatever they can right now. They’re not interested in any money from the short sale and, they threaten that with the charge off we won’t be able to go forward with the short sale. This might actually not be a lie. They do have a lien against the house and it needs to be released in order the buyers to have clear title. Hmmmm…. throat tightens, stomach churns, head spins. We REALLY need to call that attorney.

It’s been 7 months and it doesn’t get easier. We need to confront all of this head-on and I keep thinking it will get easier each time but it doesn’t. I keep wanting life to be normal. But it’s not. Well, it is. It’s just that our normal is different now than it was before.

So we need to call an attorney, we need to explore the benefits of bankruptcy in regards to our situation, we need to sort this out with National City, we need to call the foreclosure department at Countrywide to make sure they know we have a short sale offer so that they forestall the foreclosure since one department doesn’t know what the other is doing…

And I’m at work. And it’s tax season. And month end. When the heck am I supposed to make all these calls?!

Breathe.

On the way home I call Bob. He calms me down. It’s going to be okay. We’ll figure this all out. He already spoke to our neighbor (who knows all about bankruptcy. He’s getting some information together for us) and did some research on charge-offs. He’ll handle the call with National City on Monday and one of us can call Countrywide then.

Just breathe.

We made it to the weekend.

 
 

SHORT SALE = to sell your house for less than it is worth.

We are in a “short sale” situation at the moment. We have submitted the SHORT offer (short in terms of money) to the bank with our Short Sale Packet for approval.

SHORT SALE PACKET = Letter of hardship, last two months of pay stubs, 2 most recent bank statements and some other stuff

The bank is in the process of reviewing the packet and the offer. This can take up to two months, but things are moving faster in our situation. This is due to the fact that I managed to establish contact with the Office of the President at Countrywide. Things move a bit faster in that office.

The next step is the appraisal. The bank has already contacted us to let us know that will be happening. In a short sale situation you are allowed to submit more than one offer and the lender will go with the highest one. This means that we are still showing the house.

The daily cleaning frenzy continues. I’ve been so busy lately and Bob has really been picking up my slack in the cleaning department. (Thanks, honey!)

We had a showing yesterday and we have another today.

Sunday we’re doing an open house.

While we would love to get a higher offer and one a bit more solid, we’re hoping the bank will move on the submitted short sale offer and just accept it. Because at this point, it doesn’t really matter to us what the sale price is (except that we really don’t want to contribute to declining housing values in our neighborhood) because we’re losing our full investment in the house anyway.

That’s the long and the short of it.

 
 

A friend and reader of LITTOF wrote me recently to share a song. A little bit of times-appropriate music.

This is the chorus from “Danny’s Song” written by Kenny Loggins. I think we all know this song, yes? Let’s sing:

And even though we ain’t got money
I’m so in love with ya, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the mornin’ when I rise
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes
And tell me, everything is gonna be alright

Doesn’t that make you feel better? It works on me. Lately I’ve been curbing my NPR and Air America addiction and choosing music instead. Why? Because listening constantly to news about how awful things are out there does not make me feel better. I keep up on the news, but I don’t need to be surrounded by it constantly. We live in a house that’s a statistic in this crisis. I’m reminded of our foreclosure status on a daily basis. What I really need is some good tunes.

I thought I’d start a list of “Music in the Time of Foreclosure”… songs that speak to “difficult times” and have an inescapable ‘cheering up’ power.

I have only just begun and these are all off the top of my head and in no particular order…

“Here Comes the Sun” – The Beatles (written by George Harrison)
This one is obvious. I love the Beatles.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” – Bob Dylan
Okay, so it’s a break-up song. But there’s hope. Hard times. And hope. It fits. (and it’s a great song.)

“Suite Judy Blue Eyes” – Crosby, Stills & Young (written by Stephen Stills)
I’m including this one because of the pain to hope quotient. Lots of pain with a good dose of hope. It also has one of my favorite lyrics: Don’t let the past remind you of what you aren’t right now.

“Lucky” by Jason Mraz
Okay, yes, I sing this to Bob. Often. Please don’t throw tomatoes at me. Here’s the chorus:

Lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again

“Float On” – Modest Mouse
Makes me want to dance. It’s kind of like this decade’s “Don’t Worry Be Happy”… but a lot more whimsy. Bob pointed out to me that it means it doesn’t matter what happens because we’re all going to die anyway.
“Float On” = die? I don’t know. Maybe.

Bob’s interpretation: Don’t worry, we’re all going to die.
My interpretation: Don’t worry, it’ll all be alright.

The same? Or opposite? I guess that depends too.

So, what songs would you add to the list?

I had a friend tell me once that Ani Difranco’s Dilate album gave her the insight and power to kick her dysfunctional relationship to the curb and carried her through the pain of that break-up to the other side. That’s some powerful music.

So, Music in the Time of Foreclosure. What are we looking for?

Songs that speak to difficult times that have hope and the power to uplift.

– What songs have gotten you through hard times?
– What songs make you feel better about humanity?
– What songs make you smile no matter how depressed you might feel?

Send ’em in! I want to hear!

Leave your song suggestions in the comments section. Pretty please. Thank you!


Pop Music Reflects on Hard Times
Washington Post