I Lost My Home, Like Hundreds of Thousands of Others

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3 AUG 2011 – Three and a half years ago, I asked for a divorce.  I knew it was going to be a very difficult financial transition; I just had no idea how difficult.  Within three months of my ex moving out, I had left my position as an executive recruiter, gas prices were over $5 a gallon and I was in deep doo-doo.  Serious doo-doo.  I had been writing and working seriously in social media.  I decided to start my own consultancy and make a go at being self-employed.  I had a few jobs here and there but nothing substantial or long-lasting.  My house payment was $3,100 a month.

Working with Countrywide

I worked with my mortgage holder, Countrywide, to try and come to an understanding of some kind.  I knew I was not the only one in this situation, the bottom was dropping out all over the globe.  Within three months, four houses on my street were in foreclosure.  I didn’t know what I was going to do.  Several family members offered us a place to stay but I just didn’t want to give up, so I kept at it.  I kept consulting, I kept writing, and I kept talking to Countrywide, which soon became Bank of America.  Problem:  every time I talked to someone it was someone different and they had no record of my previous conversations with bank employees.  They even set up a special branch close to my home specifically for homeowners in trouble.  You had to make an appointment and there were never the same employees there – they apparently had a revolving backdoor, too.  It was like starting the process all over again, every time I walked through the door.

Making Enough to Cover the Mortgage

That first year, I managed to gross $22,000.  The second, just over $6000.  That’s right $6000.  But, soon, my consulting client base was growing- I was starting to get back on track, my writing was being noticed, and as a result, I was offered a job with a recruitment vendor.  When I negotiated a hardship refinance, Bank of America came back to me with an offer making my monthly payment $3200, this would include all my back payments.  My new job was 1.5 hours away and the bank refused to consider my commuting costs as part of my monthly bills.  In order for me to stay in my home, the one I had clung to for so many years, I would just need to come up with about $4000 a month, in car and home.

I made an appointment and went in to the “specially set up B of A branch near my home.”  I sat across the desk from a nameless 20-something and with tears in my eyes, and after reviewing every shred of evidence and paperwork asked him sincerely what I should do…  He leaned forward and told me, “Find a new place to live.”   I was devastated.  I sat in my car in that parking lot for an hour, too weak to turn the key in the ignition.  I was a statistic, a cruel statistic of a greedy lending system, of divorce, of single parenthood, of a wretched economy – and I didn’t want to be.  I wanted to do my part, I wanted to pay my way…

Starting Over & Surviving

But destiny in the form of a new job – a new life was gently taking my hand and leading me down a new street and my bank was giving me a shove.  A wonderful place came up for rent just fifteen minutes from my work, taking fourteen hours off my weekly commute.  That was one year ago – last month, finally, I received notice that B of A had foreclosed on my home, the home they told me to leave. And last week, “because the company charged me excessive fees and unlawful practices occurred in the servicing of my loan,” the Federal Trade Commission sent me a settlement check for $177.

$177.

I am human and fallible, like hundreds of thousands of others.
Perseverance.  Tenacity.  Persistence.   Determination.

Survival.  It wasn’t a choice.


Rayanne Thorn, @ray_anne was the Marketing Director for the online recruiting software company, Broadbean Technology until 2013 when she joined Technomedia as the VP- Product Marketing & Strategy.  She continues to write and is the proud mother of four residing in Laguna Beach, California, and a contributor for Blogging4Jobs.  Connect with her on LinkedIn. 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. What a horrendous but uplifting story of survival. It is hard to swallow how callous and calculating a non-human business entity like a bank can be even when it is filled with humans. I am glad to hear you survived and are now prospering on your own terms!

    Reply
    • Thanks Marty. It was a trying time and I was filled with shame…. even though I knew I wasn’t alone – the news and online reports everyday showed me that. I accept responsibility and I did want to make it right, but the colliding “bad” worlds forbade it; it was time to move forward, instead of slipping down a hill with nothing for me to grab on to…

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  2. I’m inspired too and am a firm believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sometimes it’s good to know that we are humans who are all living and learning. That is no excuse for companies and their lack of emotion not wanting to help someone who was proud and wanted to do things right.

    JMM

    Reply
    • JMM-
      Thanks for sharing your space with me and allowing me to purge. The hardest lesson for me to learn was that I was fallible, I was human… I appreciate your comments and support!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  3. Thanks for putting your experience down into words. 3 years ago after a break up with my fiance, I had to foreclose on my home. Like you… it was (sadly) easier to walk away than to work with the bank. I re-located to another state and 2 days after my move, was laid off along with many others at my company. In a new state, on unemployment for the first time in my life and having to support myself and my son… I was determined to stay in my chosen industry and find the success I’d once had. Now… I’m back doing what I love, RENTING a lovely home (no home-ownership for me again), and thankful for the entire experience. There is truth in the old saying “When life brings you lemons, make lemonade”.

    Reply
    • CLG-
      I wish you nothing but the absolute best! I lift my glass of “lemonade” in your honor!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
    • Sam-
      It was not such an easy story to share – It means so much that you commented!
      Thanks so much!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  4. Thank you for opening up about your very personal experience. Unfortunately it is an all too familiar story and hit very close to home……home, which is surely where the heart is and not four walls and a roof! My husband and I and our 2 children are renting a beautiful home in a lovely neighborhood for far less than our mortgage. A mortgage that we could no longer pay while my husband was out of work for over a year. A mortgage on a house that is now sitting vacant because we too were told to leave while the clogged foreclosure court waits to process the paperwork (average foreclosure in NJ take 944 days!!). In the meantime, I say, “Amen CLG”, no home-ownership unless you can pay cash or obtain a private mortgage. I will never again put a bank in charge of my family’s future.

    Reply
    • Beth-
      My home sits empty still… It was over 1000 days before the process was complete… Interestingly enough, they still send me payment requests – to the tune of $98K –
      The right hand has no idea what the left is doing. Sad. Thanks for your own bravery!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  5. I took lost my home to Countrywide, $220k sold for 145k And took a job commuting 1hr.

    Great to see you have picked up. Looking for any help with recruiting partners and finding to candidates

    Reply
  6. Rayanne, I applaud your courage in talking about this.

    Most people don’t know that my house is currently in foreclosure. I also went through a divorce about 4 years ago and got to “keep” the house but then I lost my job of 5 years. My take home pay as a recruiter was mostly commission, so starting a new job meant taking a pay cut of $40K a year (at least). I managed to get a new job fairly quickly, but I got behind on my mortgage by 1 payment. Then I got laid off 6 months later. I got further and further behind on the mortgage and my lender refused to work with me. I sent them partial payments, every dollar I could manage, and they sent the checks back to me. That was when I decided that I could play hardball too.

    They filed foreclosure. I hired an attorney. 2 1/2 years later I’m still living in my home while my attorney picks apart all the flaws and errors in the bank’s paperwork. I still don’t know if I’ll get to keep my home and there is a weight I carry around with that uncertainty. Things aren’t as desperate for me financially as they were back when this all happened but the fact remains, my house is in foreclosure. Thank you for making me feel like this “shame” isn’t.

    Reply
    • Wow, ImJustaGoyle… Hang in there. I had several attorneys contact me, I was tired though – I wanted it to be over and to be able to move on. Please keep me posted, I would love to hear how it all turns out.

      No one, except close friends, knew about my situation either — my head shook constantly in shame…
      It has been freeing to share my story here and uplifting to hear others’ stories. Thanks for your courage!

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
      • I’ll keep you posted. :) During that tumultuous time is when we launched JobShouts! So everything really does happen for a reason. :)

        Reply
        • That is the truth! It was during that time that I found happiness in work and peace in my life… Crazy how that works…

          Ray_anne |
          Reply
  7. Rayanne, that was a brave, honest, and triumphant story. Thanks for sharing it. The past few years have been a real trip, but people like you who persisted in developing their craft and profession through the whole kaboom are so much stronger for it. I think kaboom is more of a sound than a noun, but you get my point. ;)

    Reply
    • Hey Miles– :-)

      I didn’t think it was particularly brave until I was ready to click the publish button. I was scared but tired of the scarlet F on my heart. Kaboom is about right – an explosion sucks all the oxygen up for a brief moment. That’s how it felt – but now I can breathe. I do get your point…

      Thanks for your comment….

      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  8. Wow! Thank you for sharing that story! I’m sure lots of people can relate to feeling ashamed, but this is the reality we live in these days. It sounds like things are looking up for you, though. Hopefully all of your tough days are behind you!

    Reply
    • Hi Breanne-
      Tough days are definitely behind me… Thank you. The best part is that I know I did my best, I know I wanted to work with the bank, I left forwarding contact information and they had my private cell number – which was never used - not once. Sadly, the fact that it is reality didn’t and doesn’t make it easier. The best thing is that I learned about me and of what I am made, of what is truly important in my life, and I survived. Thank you for reading and commenting – I was afraid, really afraid to tell such a “shameful” story…
      Holding my head up again,
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  9. Rayanne-

    $177, are you kidding me???

    It saddens me to see how our financial system has robbed so many Americans.

    You are a true inspiration. What I enjoyed most about this post is the fact that you never gave up on your passion (writing) when you could have easily have done that.

    Reply
    • Hey Chris—
      At one point in 2006, my home appraised for $625,000 – granted, that was inflated Southern California “worth” and that was part of the problem.
      I was shocked by the check and its meager amount – I hadn’t even signed up for any lawsuits, though offers came in daily. And thankfully, I do not feel robbed, I feel like my home provided me shelter for a couple years when I had nothing else.
      And there was no way I could have given up writing, it had become my lifeline, my sanity, and importantly, a chance!
      Thanks so much Chris!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
    • Thanks so much, Craig – I honestly don’t believe I could quit writing if I tried!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  10. Rayanne,

    So sorry to hear you were going through all that. It’s strange that we feel so shameful when tough things are happening and once it’s over…we move on. So glad you are settled into your comfy rental and if you need a shoulder while raising 4 kids – I have big ones. :)

    Brenda Le |
    Reply
    • Thanks Brenda – interestingly enough, the shame cleared right up when the FTC confirmed illegal and unethical practices by finding AGAINST Countrywide. Plus writing about it, really helped my psyche. So many people have come out of the woodwork to share either similar stories or merely offer support…

      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  11. I bought the whole thing… the american dream. On time everytime for nine years . It felt so awesome to leave the house behind. No regrets!

    matthew |
    Reply
    • Matthew-
      I think the American Dream still exists… It just isn’t the same for every American. Certainly being in a HUGE amount of debt for a LONG time is NOT my idea of an American Dream. Glad to be where I am now,a new beginning…
      Enjoy!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  12. Thank you for a great story. Very honest, with passion and giving people hope to never give up and be strong!

    You rock!

    Tat

    Reply
    • Thanks Tatyana!
      Soul bearing can be very good – especially if you expect nothing. It hurt deeply, but from pain comes triumph. “what doesn’t kill you…”
      Thanks for the support this week!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  13. Hello Folks,

    Sometimes I am ashamed of how desensitized we have become as a society as a whole and then every now and again I am amazed at the resilience of the human spirit. I am Canadian and although our banking system is in much better shape we still are heavily connected. With the reduction of the credit rating and all the political postering our markets have crashed. For the second time since 08 I have lost more than half my retirement savings. I know it it is all on paper and will come back, obviously much slower than it went. But as this rate I will be rolling myself to the office in a wheel chair at the age of 100+ trying to make a living.

    I feel for all ou you and know that one way or another we are friends and neighbours and in the same boat. We need to support each other, give a kind word of encouragement and trust that it will get better.

    I wish you all peace and that by supporting each other we somehow remember what actually makes us who we are. It isn’t money or things but our ability to survive, love, support and thrive in difficult times.

    Reply
    • Kyii-
      You are so right. It has been tough, but I am often reminded of my mother saying, “This will make you stronger..” It is so important to keep perspective and your words “remember what actually makes us who we are” are so true.
      Thanks for your thoughts!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  14. It’s a story that can only be told after the fact. Yes, it’s more than difficult to re-open the wound that’s healed. But the sharing of a bit of the trauma, the human side of it, helps others to realize they are not alone and etching the story in Life’s tablet for the first time. It also helps to share the story so that others can feel uplifted and that they WILL survive this and the other storms that Life brings us. And it also helps to see a person with a great deal of discretion, intelligence, and a sunny disposition who came out on the other end of the test of Life.

    Brava!

    Reply
    • Yvonne-

      Just now saw your reply here. Thanks for chiming in. The only thing we can speak of is our experience and while my experience has been extremely difficult and, at times, very sad, it has also been good. Good because lessons were taught and lessons were learned.
      We just need to get getting up and dusting ourselves off.
      Thanks again for your comment!
      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  15. I’ve been feeling extremely stupid for sticking with self-employed consulting, trying to find work (from home) in spite of clawing my way back to full strength and still, like you did, discovering things simply are still not going well. I told a new friend a couple of weeks ago, “Maybe I’m just too stupid to know it’s time to give up and try something else.” Your story also inspired me.

    Reply
  16. Rayanne,

    I was on the blog like I normally am at this late hour and noticed that your blog post made it to the top 10 most trafficked posts in the last 12 months. Bravo. I truly believe that our honesty can help others learn and be inspired. I’m glad you are my friend and blogging partner in crime. I’m so glad that we roomed together at SXSW and we had that call early last year. It’s the highlight of my blogging career.

    JMM

    Reply
  17. Jessica-

    As proven by our webinar today, we make a good team. And I am, glad – as well- that we roomed together. I love this chapter!
    Highlight? Indeed! What a ride. Thanks for asking me to join Blogging4Jobs. I just say that I have never regretted my move to B4J , only celebrated it!

    -Rayanne

    Ray_anne |
    Reply
  18. Similar thing happened to my sister. I’m really starting to think that anything that is even near what we call the ‘American Dream’ can’t ever happen to a woman on her own.

    Divorce has devastated most women I know, but the men seem to bounce back more easily. They are devastated as well but to the extent women are. A man can go back to being okay on his own; for a woman-it just seems harder.

    Anyway, for both men and women it’s nearly impossible for anyone to buy a home without a second income and even then you are not safe–one lay off notice to either partner and it’s a done deal in a world that doesn’t believe in jobs for life anymore. How is anyone supposed to plan for anything, let alone buying a home, in this type of system/economy?

    I find it interesting that many immigrants who come here have a hard time of it too but they just have to save up a decade or so and they can outright buy a home of their own in their prospective countries. That could never happen for the average American, that’s for sure.

    Shell |
    Reply
    • Hey Shell-

      Thanks for commenting here. I have heard similar stories from many. It has been a difficult time for anyone who was barely making it before or who banked their future or standard of living on two incomes.

      The dream that has taken over the “American Dream” of owning a home and having a retirement waiting for me is simply finding happiness in how I live now. I have waited a long time to just “be happy” and I can tell you this, though it was hard and sometimes painful, it was worth wait.

      While owning a home is completely over-rated, happiness is not!

      I wish you and your sister the best as we, the world, continue to fight our way out of a turbulent time…

      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  19. Even almost a year later you blow me away. Thank you, Rayanne for being a rock. Seriously, I am so thankful to have found a forever friend and can’t wait to see you in a little over a week again!

    JMM

    Reply
    • Thank YOU, for allowing me to be a part of the Blogging4Jobs team. It has been a great year and I look forward to the next 20!

      -Rayanne

      Ray_anne |
      Reply
  20. Thank you for this. I have been going through the exact same scenario for almost two years now. Self-employed, work has dramatically fallen off, trying to work with the bank was/has been a nightmare/exercise in futility, savings exhausted, have been struggling to hold on and, on top of everything else, am living across the street from The Neighbor From Hell, who (apparently) has openly said that she “will do whatever it takes to make (me) move”. Her latest move is to file for a Temporary Restraining Order, based on *entirely made up charges*. Granted, she will not be able to produce any proof, and the order will most likely be dismissed but, in the meantime, the ongoing harassment from her has raised living here to a whole other level of stress.

    The emotional roller coaster has been extreme. I used to love my house; loved living on my little street. But the unrelenting struggle and stress has made me insomniac, deeply depressed, at times suicidal, and has resulted in what the doctors call “fibromyalgia”, and what I *know* is “psychosomatic reaction to unrelenting bs”.

    In the last year, 3 houses on our block went to foreclosure. Lately, I’ve begun wondering what I’m fighting so hard to keep. I don’t know where I would go/move to, but I’m beginning to think ANYWHERE has to be better than this. There is a part of me that wants to toss the keys on the counter of the nearest Wells Fargo, and just walk away from all of it.

    At the same time, giving up seems like such a “quitter move”. I suspect you know what I mean.

    I still don’t know what I will do. But it helps tremendously to know that you did it, and have come out better on the other side.

    Reply
    • Alex-

      Thanks for commenting… I know, trust me, I know what you are going through. It was a very difficult decision to make, but the insanity stopped and I got my life back. It was extremely painful – I had tried so hard to keep the house, to work with the bank, to do it right. There was nothing I could do.

      Know that you are not alone! I have received so many messages regarding this post from individuals and families who suffered the same fate as I. It does help to know you aren’t the only one…

      Take care and good luck!

      -Rayanne

      Reply
  21. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I’m hoping to present something
    again and help others like you helped me.

    Reply
  22. Great read Rayanne. It’s an impressive feat you pulled off that is extremely inspirational. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks Sonny!
      It’s been very hard, but I just keep going…
      My advice to anyone who needs it: Never Give Up!

      -Rayanne

      Reply
  23. I feel much better nothing that i can let go of the shame i felt from losing my home. Missing one payment sent me into bankruptcy. I struggle for years on a disability income trying to make to payments…and still lost my home. I could no longer make two payments. After prayer one day, i felt this calm and peacefully feeling, call my lawyer and told him if they want this house, let them have it and i came out of bankruptcy. This was December 2010 the house is still empty. It breaks my heart to see my home in its present condition. Of course, there is a lot more details to this story, this is the short version. Last week I got an email from a female in the company, I have spoken to in the past concerning payments wanting me to get in touch with her.

    Reply
    • NO worries, Sharon – I understood…

      It has been a difficult time for so many. It always helps to know that you are not alone!
      Sorry to hear about your issues and hope that this latest attempt to connect with you has good news attached to it!

      Sending good thoughts always!

      -Rayanne

      Reply
  24. Very interesting journey. I’ve read your stuff for years. Glad to see you come out on the other end happy and successful.

    John Sloan |
    Reply

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