The Fax Of Shame: How It Really Feels To Lose Your Home

C. and her husband are a young couple who moved into their first house just a few years ago. Unable to manage their mortgage payments, they asked their lender, PNC Mortgage, for help. The bank offered them a monthly payment $500 higher than the mortgage they couldn’t pay in the first place. Their house has sat empty and on the real estate market since January, waiting for a buyer to come along for a short sale. One did, and the nightmare is almost over. Or it would be, if PNC would just stop calling the couple and any relative whose phone number they can find, almost every day.

The last year has been a difficult/trying time as my husband and I struggled to keep our finances afloat. After charging credit cards and depleting our savings, it was inevitable that we’d become like so many Americans out there by losing our home.

We tried to play the game with our mortgage company – PNC Mortgage. Their mortgage assistance options came back with a rate of $500 MORE than our original mortgage payment and we were unable to catch up with the back payments owed. And it was with sad hearts and defeat that we opted to list our house for sale on Christmas Eve and signed paperwork on New Years Eve to downsize from a 1505 sq ft house to a 995 sq ft apartment.

With a smaller living facility came life changes — our furniture was definitely too big to take with us, and we made the choice to liquidate our Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel furniture through Craigslist and take whatever money we made and start fresh with the latest finds from IKEA. We packed up as much as we could and over three days at the end of January we started our next great adventure.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking almost daily calls since our first missed payment in May 2011 from PNC Mortgage about the missing payments or “efforts” to work out something to save our property. The calls are pretty frequent and the worst part is that they don’t just call you. They call any relative that has a phone – mother, father, aunt, brother… and most of these numbers are unlisted, so really it’s a wonder how they find these things out.

And often the departments within the mortgage company don’t know what other departments are doing. You can get ping-ponged between departments six or seven times on a call before you get to one person who appears to know something – and two days later find out that they really had no idea at all. I’ve had to send in tax returns 9 or 10 times at 85 pages each, along with letters of hardship and bank statements. It’s humiliating – every day I’d do this at work I felt like I was doing the walk of shame and a part of my soul died inside.

This has continued for just about a year. And just when I think things are finally coming to a close, that our short sale offer is under review and things are progressing along nicely, I was greeted by this on my front door.

Below is a picture of my actual front door. And clearly that lock is not a standard lock. It turns out the Mortgage Company changed the locks on me WITHOUT NOTICE and I cannot enter my property. Yes, the property is vacant and Yes, we don’t live there and haven’t since January… but it’s really hard to make sure that everything is fine/dandy in your property when you can’t even enter your own home. Furthermore, potential buyers can’t walk through the property because that’s not a standard lockbox. Now keep in mind that I’m still making the HOA payments, yet I can’t enter my property and use all of the resources that my $276 are paying for. Just seems… odd?

door.jpg

Also – check out that snazzy lock. Congratulations to PNC Mortgage to pick a lock that looks least like an actual front door lock.

The point of this is to say the following: I am more than just a loan number. I am a person. I’m a person who is about to have her credit messed with for around 4-7 years because this economy is awful and my husband’s industry went belly up and he lost his job. We’ve since recovered, but this industry’s poor lending practices and inability to help me save my house has resulted in me losing my dream and safety net. I have $35 in my bank account until next payday (two weeks) and I can’t save enough to build my nest egg back up because you require me to still pay my HOA bill, yet I can’t enter my own property?

It doesn’t have to be this bad. The bank is clearly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by calling so often, and should be stopped. Unfortunately, calling family members is perfectly legal.

RELATED:
How To Protect Yourself Against Aggressive Debt Collectors

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. clippy2.0 says:

    Burn it down, collect insurance, sue the bank for preventing you from entering to property to extinguish the fire!

    • usernameandp says:

      +1

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      You must be from West Virginia too.

    • jimbo831 says:

      You forgot step 3: Go to jail for arson and insurance fraud.

    • SexCpotatoes says:

      Actually, not that I advocate or would ever do so, but Arson is really, really hard to get convicted for. They literally have to catch you coming out of the residence with gas can and matches in hand.

      Only 1 out of 100 suspected arsons ever result in criminal charges.

      Only 1 out of those 100 arson cases that even makes it to court results in a conviction.

      But insurance policies will usually refuse to pay out if any arson is suspected, and YOU are responsible for proving you couldn’t possibly have done it. Or hired someone to do it.

      Don’t play with fire, kids.

      *I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice

  2. WaywardSoul says:

    Calling family members and relatives like this is a violation of the The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Get a lawyer and collect for each violation.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      As the original creditor they are supposed to abide by the FDCPA, but the law is missing it’s teeth. Now if it were a collection agency I would agree.

      • jimbo831 says:

        That is actually not true and quite the opposite. As the original creditor, they are NOT bound by the rules under the FDCPA. Now, some states have state laws extending the FDCPA to original creditors, but the federal law does not.

    • jimbo831 says:

      No, it is not. I would suggest you reread the FDCPA. It clearly states that it applies to “debt collectors” which are defined as companies who buy debts for the purpose of collecting. In this case, PNC is what the FDCPA refers to as the “original creditor” and as such is not in the least bit subject to the rules under the FDCPA.

      I’m not debating whether or not this is okay, but it is most definitely not an FDCPA violation.

    • BurtReynolds says:

      I’d hope it would be. If my brother wasn’t paying his mortgage, it doesn’t mean I should be harassed by the bank.

      • jimbo831 says:

        You don’t need to be. All you need to do is tell them that you do not want them to continue calling you and they will stop. If they don’t, you send them a cease and desist letter. If they still call you, you can sue them.

  3. dragonfire81 says:

    I can’t speak to all of this, but I would file in small claims court or otherwise take legal action against PNC for calling your relatives about your debt. That is very much illegal.

    • jimbo831 says:

      No, it is not illegal. First off, the FDCPA which handles these rules does not govern PNC in this case as the “original creditor” and not a “debt collector.” Second, even a debt collector is allowed to call any friends, family, or neighbors to ask if they know where/when/how they can get in touch with you. They can’t tell that person that they are calling about a debt specifically, but the OP never said they did this. They probably just asked her family where she was and asked them to have her call them. That is very much legal.

  4. Big Cheese Make Hair Go Boom says:

    First off PNC seems to be both incompetent and for some reason enjoys violating the FDCPA.

    I can understand their plight, economy takes a dump, it sucks…but I know OP is going to be flamed hard here for owning Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel furniture…one would draw the conclusion that if OP was willing to purchase such expensive furniture, what other things was OP spending her money on that she was otherwise not saving?

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      The article states that they fell on hard times. Presumably, when the husband’s industry was doing well, they could afford the furniture and the mortgage. I don’t have a problem with them owning C&B furniture. I do, however, take issue with the backhanded jabs “latest finds from IKEA.” I sit on an IKEA couch and I sleep on an IKEA bed and, if you’re not jumping on the furniture or otherwise abusing your property, it’s just fine. It’s in no way inferior to C&B furniture and it costs a pretty penny less.

  5. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    They have taken possession, bill them for the hoa.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I was wondering about that too — Their credit is wrecked and they don’t live there any more, why pay the HOA bill? At this point, it’s the bank’s problem if the HOA puts a lien on the property. Their credit is already shot, so one more derogatory on their credit report isn’t going to make a difference.

      • RipCanO'Flarp. says:

        We rent out our condo (can’t sell it) if we stopped paying our HOA they can put an additional lien on the property and it would snag up the sale. Don’t know if that’s why the OP is still paying the dues but for our hoa they have a tremendous amount of power and will auction your property right out from under you if you stop paying.

        • pythonspam says:

          Yet another reason why mandatory HOA’s (on single family detached homes) are evil.
          People who get on the boards get power hungry and start making up rules “for the good of the subdivision”.
          I can understand the need if you are in a condo or duplex with common maintainance and service costs, but otherwise, no.

          • sponica says:

            if there weren’t HOAs in my town, nobody could afford to live here…the town got to the point where it wasn’t going to put in any more roads or sewer connections. if HOAs didn’t come in, houses here would cost 2 to 3 times as much as they do (and they’re already expensive)

            • BurtReynolds says:

              That is what developers are for, and local governments who establish comprehensive plans and evaluates land plans and rezoning requests.

              If development is being approved without any regard to supporting infrastructure, requiring HOAs to step in and fill the gap, then you need a new government.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Can’t. HOA’s go by whose name is on the title.

  6. milrtime83 says:

    I’m curious why the poster felt the need to mention their (I’m assuming somewhat expensive) “Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel furniture “…

    • lain1k says:

      I wondered about that too. It came across as a bit snobbish. “We lost our home and have been harassed by our mortgage company. We even had to sell our expensive furniture and shop at IKEA!”

      • kobresia says:

        Being bad with money is probably why they’re in their predicament. A huge part of the mortgage meltdown was people living well beyond their means, on credit.

        Selling overpriced furniture at a substantial loss and buying all-new slightly cheaper furniture is kind of stupid and underscores the problem. IKEA is cheap, but not that cheap, so the difference in price means they probably spent more to replace their furniture than just keep it.

        It would sound like more of a plight if they had sold the expensive furniture and “bought replacement furniture at Goodwill” or “scoured the Free section on Craigslist for replacement furniture”.

        • RedOryx says:

          Yeah, I’m a little confused on the selling on Craigslist to buy new furniture bit. Tell get something to sell on Craigslist it usually has to be a pretty big discount. Even with something like Pottery Barn, people aren’t going to want to pay anything close to full price and while IKEA is certainly cheaper than PB or C&B, like you said, it’s not that cheap on its own. My dining room table is from there and it wasn’t cheap.

          They said their furniture is too big for their new place but, I mean, really? All of it is too big? You can’t just sell *some* of the furniture and keep the rest and use the money to help pay bills or whatever? I really don’t feel much sympathy with the name dropping because buying new furniture seems rather excessive for a couple in financial trouble. Like, if you’re willing to sell your own furniture through Craigslist why didn’t you try *buying* furniture that way?

          • eturowski says:

            Ew! Just because of bedbugs alone – I would have no problems selling my furniture on Craigslist, but I won’t buy _anything_ porous or fabric-based on there (not even knitting supplies) due to the potential for surprise visitors.

            • kobresia says:

              Plus, think of all the farts that people have made into upholstered furniture! I think of that sometimes & giggle, especially when I fart into my end users’ office chairs. Yeah, really mature, I know.

              Though seriously, when there’s not a bedbug epidemic in the region and the stuff isn’t stained with bodily fluids or anything, I wouldn’t see a problem at all getting stuff off CL.

    • KatieNeptune says:

      For me it meant that things were good, and if they have money and want to spend it on whatever they want, they can, and then when things went sour they were willing to let go of their luxuries and downsize. I’d much rather have a Pottery Barn couch than an Ikea couch. And if you wouldn’t, that’s okay, you probably want to spend your money elsewhere. That’s the thing about money – you can spend it however YOU want to spend it. AND before we jump to conclusions that they were spending more than they were making – we don’t know all of those details, for all we know they paid for the high-priced furnishings on their high-interest credit card, or maybe they received a pottery barn or crate and barrel couch as a wedding or housewarming gift from family, or yadda yadda. We can’t jump to those conclusions.

      To me, C sounds like she is accepting responsibility for the situation and trying to figure out what her rights are. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you deserve to be treated like a criminal.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Did we read the same post? She is not taking responsibility. She is whining and blaming the bank because they won’t let her live in her house for less money than she willingly agreed to pay them. She only sold her furniture because she had to. She sounds like a whiny entitled baby. Some people just need to suck it up and move on. I’ve had to do that before, and while it’s no fun, it isn’t the end of the world. You do what you can, get back on your feet, and try to learn from your mistakes.

    • elephantattack says:

      Crate and barrel is so unnecessarily expensive I can’t even believe it. I walked through there once, saw a couch I liked, that was in my budget. Then after looking at the tag a bit closer, the couch was in three parts and only the ONE PIECE was in my price range. Note that this didn’t even seem to be a sectional.

    • coffee100 says:

      Yep, they said Pottery Barn. They deserved to be thrown into the street. Can’t blame the bank now.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Me too. Maybe they should have socked the money they spent on that expensive furniture into savings and they might have been better off. And, since when is it the banks job to keep someone in a house that they can’t pay for? If she was charging bills and house payments and only had $35 in the bank AFTER selling her furniture, sounds like they would have needed more than a little help with the mortgage. It’s not up to the bank to foot the bill when people can’t live up to their end of a signed legal agreement.

      Shit happens. They couldn’t pay the mortgage they promised to pay (it doesn’t even sound like they came close to being able to pay it.) Corporations are not in the business of giving out welfare and free handouts. The only fair option was for them to relinquish the house they could not afford and move out. Their credit being screwed isn’t the end of the world either. It will get better, and they will get over it. Hopefully they will learn the lesson to always live below your means, have a great deal of savings before you ever purchase a house again, and purchase way less than what you can afford in case something happens. Being one paycheck away from disaster is never a good idea.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    sorry, I re-read this but I’m still confused.

    She couldn’t pay. Moved out to an apartment. I’m guessing house still for sale. continue to pay for HOA…. about to finish selling the house, went back to check up on it and it’s locked…

    Why did she moved out? can’t she stay until the bank kick her out?

    And if they did kick her out, why did she still have to pay the HOA? It seems like the $276 could be useful to her.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “Why did she moved out? can’t she stay until the bank kick her out?”

      I imagine it’s better to move out on your own accord than to come home one day and find new locks and all of your stuff stacked up on the sidewalk.

      From the sounds of it, she knew she was on borrowed time. It’s probably better to have an apartment and peace of mind, than to live in a house with everything boxed up, knowing you were about to be kicked out at any time, with no place to go.

    • winstonthorne says:

      I’m guessing she moved out because it’s way easier to sell a vacant home, and she wanted time to liquidate/downsize her stuff. When the shire reeve comes knocking, they don’t exactly give you time to move properly.

  8. cosmic.charlie says:

    Why are you paying the HOA still? Stop paying it and let them put a lien on the house, it isn’t your problem anymore. Take the hit on your credit. Start saving and you will be able to get a house in another couple of years.

    • EdnasEdibles says:

      Most short sale advice is to continue paying your HOA. Banks won’t pay it and your HOA could easily sue you for that lost money and put a stop to the sale. Almost all of the advice I read on short sales says to continue to pay your HOA or condo fees until the short sale is final and a new owner moves in and assumes the payments. Otherwise you could be at closing and have everything stopped because your HOA president wants the back payments and the bank is refusing to pay.

  9. brinks says:

    After reading this, I’m almost glad to know that I’ll never make enough to be a homeowner.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Poverty: It Does Have a Bright Side

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I’m poor as hell and I’m a homeowner. It was cheaper than renting. Really.

      Now I’m stuck and jobless. I’m praying for a tornado.

  10. Major Tom Coming Home says:

    Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Ikea…. I wonder if they were behind on their mortgage when they were having their shopping spree buying overpriced pressed wood furniture made in Indonesia.

    • ferozadh says:

      Affluent two-income family without a kid could probably afford all of those things and more.

      • MrEvil says:

        This ^^^. not having children gives you TONS of disposable income even when you’re single. When you get married and have no kids there’s even MORE disposable income. My sister and her husband are a two income household and the only thing they’re making payments on is their house. They have three cars and two motorcycles, all bought with cash. They even rent out one of their extra bedrooms to one of my sister’s friends.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        If they were so affluent, then they should have had a nice big emergency fund saved up before they spent the cash on that furniture. Six months of salary saved can easily be stretched out to a year or more when rationed out very conservatively and combined with unemployment. A house full of expensive furniture, if paid for in cash, can easily add up to 6 months salary, if not more. They failed to plan for an emergency, That is the real issue here. I really wouldn’t have a problem with it if she weren’t being so whiny and blaming the bank.

  11. Snape says:

    Is this the first PNC siting on consumerist? They are starting to become a really big bank.

  12. winstonthorne says:

    This really sucks – I genuinely feel for C. and her husband, and hope they’ll bounce back soon.

    They’ll probably catch a lot of heat on this site for losing control of their finances, but the fact that they’re still paying their HOA fees indicates that they have strong ethics when it comes to their obligations, and are trying to do the right thing.

    The bank, on the other hand, is clearly crap – violating FDCPA (that’s a Federal law, for the record – try publicly breaking a Federal law yourself and see what happens); nonsensical higher payment on the loan mod; locking homeowners out (possibly illegal in this circumstance but not enough info to tell); not paying the HOA (if the lockout is legal, the bank has foreclosed and now owns the property – the HOA is their obligation).

  13. Such an Interesting Monster says:

    I’m trying to muster sympathy here…but failing. Perhaps it’s the Crate and Barrel reference. Perhaps it’s the “woe, pity me” attitude. Or maybe the overall sense of cluelessness.

    • Major Tom Coming Home says:

      +1. I feel worse for the relatives being harassed.

    • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

      ++1

    • tdogg241 says:

      Or you could rtfa: Her husband lost his job.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        While I can appreciate the struggle of losing a job, it doesn’t sway my feelings. I mean, how horrible her life must be, and how much of a hardship it is to go from really really overpriced trendy furniture to just really overpriced trendy furniture, or going from 1505 sq feet to 995 sq ft, which is still larger than my 850 sq ft apartment.

        How she manages to sleep at night and finds the strength to brave the day in such squalor is beyond my meager comprehension skills.

  14. bikeoid says:

    > They call any relative that has a phone – mother, father, aunt, brother… and most of these numbers are unlisted, so really it’s a wonder how they find these things out.

    If you type that information into Facebook, VOILA – the bill collectors can get it all.

    • sponica says:

      well I don’t know what mortgage applications are like, but I had to provide two contacts when I borrowed student loans…

      and with that wench Sallie Mae, she will conveniently add any phone number you call from to your account unless you continuously decline…

  15. Rick Sphinx says:

    If you are haveing trouble keeping you home. Do not deal with the bank alone, get help. In Virginia Beach, contact http://www.vbcdc.org, they can help you work with your bank. Plus, when the bank see’s they are helping you, they are less likely to screw you. So find a housing councilor in your area (it is free), to assist you. Ours took 1-1/2 years to complete, and we got our interest/payments lowered, and kept our home. I know we would not have with out their help, plus you don’t feel alone in the process. With that said, when your in the process, you need to be diligent, cross every T, dot every i. We had to do several months of trial payments, you get no bill, or notice, you have to be on top of it any pay. When the trial is over, and you have not heard back, call and also send in that payment anyway. And send a cashiers check every month, in a USPS Priority mail with tracking. Print out the tracking and delivery confirmation every month. You don’t want the bank to be able to say, we did not get the check on-time, or at all. Keep all records of everything. Be proactive. Keep in contact with your bank, on what to do next. But keep making those “trial” payments, every month, even after the trial payments, even if you have no payment book. We sent ours with a letter “we have no payment book, we were on trial payments, please accept this payment of $x for the month of X, etc. We sent this letter every month with cashiers check that we did not know ‘what to do exactly’, but did’t want a single month to go by without making a payment. And if someone at the bank tells you to do something, get it in writing!

  16. Not Given says:

    Doesn’t the FDCPA only apply to collectors, not the original lender?

    • homehome says:

      Is the number their calling on their account? Because if it is, then no it’s not violating any act.

  17. Lyn Torden says:

    This one is definitely a bankruptcy case … Chapter 7.

    • Rick Sphinx says:

      Keep in mind, you can file Chapter 7, and possibly keep your home. We did, see above comment (about housing councilors). Get in touch with a bankruptcy attorney, usually have a free consultation. We filed chapter 7 on all our credit cards, leased car, and 1 car we had a loan on. But you have allowances to keep your personal belongings, furniture, beds, etc., the banks don’t want that stuff.

  18. lvixen says:

    They should be taken to task for the unlawful actions they are taking. I felt really badly for them until I hit the “Crate and Barrel part”. Yeah, that was rather snotty. I personally don’t have an issue with Ikea stuff. If you don’t like Ikea, go to the Salvation Army. If you are losing your house, I think having to get rid of your “too large” furniture is saying enough. No name dropping necessary.

    • ferozadh says:

      I think the OP wanted to convey the sense that they are not poor, despite it all. Because being poor is not cool. And look we’re still shopping at IKEA so not that uncool. lol I agree though don’t brand-name-drop when you’re trying for sympathy.

  19. RockerGal says:

    Sorry but I always believed in not buying anything you can’t afford, and am having a really hard time feeling for the OP. (situations like that brought us into this mess..)

    The thing that struck me was.. that she keep mentioning the property as HERS. I am sorry but the way I see it you gave up rights to that property when you stopped paying the mortgage.

    Paying the HOA fees is your duty since you decided to move in an area where you pay that sort of stupid fee.

    anyhow those were just MHO

    • coffee100 says:

      Filing loan applications with the income section blank and selling crap labeled “investment” got us into this mess. People were offered free money and houses and they accepted them.

      In every single one of these threads there’s some hometowner rooting for the bank.

      • RockerGal says:

        hey If I wanted to I can go max out all my cards and go get some ridiculous luxury car. yes I can get the thing, but that does not mean that I can afford it! Basic math and common sense here…

        I am not rooting for the bank, but I do wish that people would realize that just because someone offers you “too good to be true” deal, … it usually is…

    • who? says:

      Apparently consumerist posters, unlike the rest of the population, never, ever get laid off…

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        I’m sure plenty of us do, we just don’t sit around whining about it, blaming others and name dropping about our furniture. I don’t find it a bit sad that the bank wouldn’t give her a free ride. I find it sad that we live in such an entitled culture that people feel like that others should go to extremes to help them save a piece of property that they can’t pay for, and that technically isn’t even their’s since they haven’t paid for it completely (or even close to it.) not to mention that she is blaming the bank. Did they hold a gun to her head and force her into a contract? I doubt it. People can’t take advantage of you unless you allow it. The reality is that too many people like her wanted to get into a home that they signed whatever they had to to get it because they didn’t want to wait or research, or whatever.

        • coffee100 says:

          > I’m sure plenty of us do, we just don’t sit around whining about it, blaming others and name dropping about our furniture.

          You’re such a hero. You’re the Frodo Baggins of the recession. Brings a tear to me eye.

          > find it sad that we live in such an entitled culture that people feel

          …they deserve to live under a roof. Get your face ALL THE WAY DOWN IN THAT SEWAGE! THIS AIN’T YOUR DADDY’S AMERICA NO MORE!

          > Did they hold a gun to her head and force her into a contract?

          No. They probably offered her $30,000 in cash plus financing of 100% of the home value tied to a teaser rate that reset in two years with profuse promises the house would appreciate in value so they could refinance and keep all the money.

          Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just #%*&#% up your worldview starring every American family as a pack of scheming liars hell-bent on stuffing their pockets with Mr. Potter’s hard-earned bank deposits?

          > The reality is that too many people like her wanted to get into a home that they signed whatever they had to

          Those poor bankers. Experts in derivatives and high finance. Swindled in a neighborhood bank branch by mom and her loving husband.

          Just out of curiosity, what color is the sky in your world?

    • Geekybiker says:

      The property is hers. In a very real and legal sense. Until they officially foreclose or sell the property they have all the rights and duties you have while paying your mortgage.

  20. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    Why go broke and lose your savings and safety net paying debt when you know you’re in an impossible situation? If it’s clear you’re going to lose your house, stop paying, save your money for the rainy days ahead. Your credit is going to be ruined anyway, so why keep paying with money you’re going to need to live on?

    If you’re in this situation, cut your losses. Put your savings/wealth/safety net somewhere they can’t get to it. Stop paying on debt as soon as you realize it’ll never be enough.

  21. Green Beer Day says:

    This is the new domino falling for many upper-middle income families. Too bad the original mortgage relief efforts were focused on helping the helpless. I see this all around me with young couples trying to sell once they start struggling – for whatever reason. Can’t sell a home because you can’t find a buyer and when you do, the home appraisal comes back low and the bank won’t finance the loan. The whole thing sucks for all involved.

    Imagine if you’re a teacher and this happens to you? Your own pension fund likely has a majority of its stock in banks. They are fighting to get you the most money when you retire while at the same time padlocking the door on your home.

  22. backwerds says:

    At first glance you want to cry out poor them and damn you PNC but then you feel a lot of mixed emotions.
    1. Why mention where your furniture is from?
    2. If you were in need of money, is it really a smart idea to sell your “expensive furniture” at a steep discount only to then purchase new furniture? (I have no clue on the market for a worn in sofa vs brand new Ikea)
    3. The lock on the door is just something the bank had. Sorry they didn’t accessorize the door with the latest in fancy deadbolts.
    4. If I’m reading the last paragraph correctly, the OP blamed the “poor lending practices” as if this wasn’t a two-way street. I take it as they were living beyond their means and got a really nice house without have the financial resources to back up a purchase.
    5. The moment you stopped paying your mortgage, the house no longer became your property. The HOA fee is something you signed up for independently when you originally purchased the house. Essentially, you have two contracts, 1 with the bank and 1 with the HOA. You have already forfeited the house to the bank; and now you have the option of either paying the HOA and preventing them from suing you or putting a lien on the place or you can run the risk and stop paying that fee. The contract you entered with the HOA is completely independent from the bank’s contract with you. (And I’m not sure why the OP isn’t just talking to the HOA to see if there is a way to get out of those payments or at least reduce them)

    • coffee100 says:

      1. Clearly they should be forced into homelessness by daring to mention Crate and Barrel.
      2. Clearly they should live in empty rooms because they were in financial need.
      3. Do you write your own material?
      4. Two-way street? Hey jackass, could you please list the top ten homeowners responsible for the derivatives market from 2006 to 2009?
      5. Do you get some kind of pleasure from watching HOAs and banks use legal process to destroy families and homes?

      I’m continually surprised by how much Americans have grown to hate other Americans.

      • PunditGuy says:

        I’m not happy seeing anyone lose a house, but until you’ve finished paying it off it isn’t your house. It’s collateral on a loan.

        I don’t understand what you think the alternative should be. Should people be able to stop paying their mortgage if they have a good reason? Any reason? Job loss seems like a good reason, but what if I quit my job?

        This has nothing to do with derivatives — this is a couple who entered into a financial transaction and through circumstances became unable to meet their part of the deal. When you can’t meet your part of the deal, the consequences are spelled out in the legal documents.

        • coffee100 says:

          > Should people be able to stop paying their mortgage if they have a good reason?

          Big companies do it all the time. It’s called Chapter 11.

          > This has nothing to do with derivatives

          It has everything to do with derivatives.

          • PunditGuy says:

            So declare bankruptcy. It’s an option. It has consequences as well, and they’re spelled out.

            And no, it’s not about the derivatives, unless you’re linking them to the dip in the economy that caused some issue in the husband’s industry that led to his layoff. Holy butterfly effect. He could have lost his job for any reason. Does everyone who suffered in the economy in the last three years get a pass on their mortgages because the banks were at the heart of the matter?

            If you don’t pay your mortgage, the house gets taken away.

            • who? says:

              How derivatives affected the economy and the mortgage industry:

              Step 1) Banks loan money to people who want to buy houses. They make a little money from this. They keep the loans in their portfolios, and collect the money from the homeowner directly over the course of 30 years, so they’re careful about who they loan to.

              Step 2) Someone figures out that if lending standards are…ummm….standardized…then the home loans can be bought and sold on the open market. Banks can make more loans, because they can immediately sell the loan and get the cash, in order to make the next loan.
              Fannie Mae starts making big money. Loans are bundled up in groups, and sold on the open market.

              Step 3) Banks are making so much money selling loans that everyone else wants to get involved, too. So investment companies start creating all kinds of financial products so that investors can loan the money and collect payments through a 3rd party. These are the derivatives of which we speak.

              Step 4) Now that everybody and their brother is in the game, there’s so much loan money sloshing around that there is way more money to be lent than there are viable customers. Interest rates have gone through the floor because there’s so much money around. So the companies lending money figure out that if they want to keep the gravy train going, they have to lend to other, less traditional markets. Less traditional markets have the questionable advantage of being riskier, so the loans can charge more interest and fees. Of course, since all the loans are bundled up and any one investor only owns a small part of any particular loan, if any one loan goes belly up, it’s no big deal. Now the investors are making *big* money, and more and more money is sloshing around, looking for people to take more and more questionable loans. People who would never have qualified before can now get loans at attractive rates, and they do, which drives the price of housing up. At this point, my tennis pro, who makes a few dollars working part time teaching old ladies to play tennis, bought a $300k condo. Once my tennis pro had a condo, there was nobody left to loan money to.

              Step 5) Lehman goes bankrupt under the weight of all these bad mortgages, taking most of the rest of the financial industry with it. Hank Poulson and co. spend a weekend in a Wall St. bunker trying to figure out how to bail out the banks without actually bailing out the banks. All lending in this country (not just mortgages) halts for several months. With no money in the system, people can’t get mortgages anymore, so the housing market collapses. Companies that depend on loan money for their day to day operations start to fail, too. As a result of this, OP’s husband gets laid off from his job.

              This is how derivatives are involved.

              • PunditGuy says:

                Dude, I believe all of that. It doesn’t change the impracticality of what you’re asking for — everyone who suffered any setback in the last three years can take a mulligan on their mortgage. That won’t work.

        • who? says:

          Actually, my house *is* my house, even if the loan isn’t paid off yet. The deed is sitting in my safe deposit box. I’ve signed a contract with the bank that says that if I don’t meet my loan obligations, they can take ownership, but it’s my house until that point.

          • PunditGuy says:

            > if I don’t meet my loan obligations, they can take ownership

            Which contradicts “it’s collateral on a loan” how, exactly?

      • backwerds says:

        1. There is a vast difference between saying you owned furniture versus name-dropping. Crate and Barrel would imply some sort of higher status. It’s not necessary, just an observation. If the OP had mentioned that they used to write checks out of their Prada Checkbook but had to sell it and purchased one at Khols, it’s the same thing.

        2. I’m not saying they need to live in a household with no furniture. But if you’re going from a furnished household to an apartment; those furnishings could also come with. It was more a question on if selling used furniture to purchase/assemble new furniture was actually a real solution versus treading water.

        3. You’re an idiot.

        4. Two-way street implies joint responsibilities; ie the banks are just as responsible for the integrity of the loan as well as the parties who purchased the loan. Reading the story as is; you can imply that they were living in a nice home, furnished well and then the husband lost his job due to industry turmoil and this process started. From that, we can imply that they were tight budgeted without adequate financial resources in case something happened, also known as living beyond their means. Did a lot of shady stuff happen with banks and approving loans for people, yes. Was a lot of that illegal, yes. But when you sign a loan or any sort of contract, you’re also approving and saying you’ll be responsible for your side of a deal.

        5. Again, you’re an idiot.

        This has absolutely nothing to do with Americans hating Americans. By that idiotic logic, it would be unpatriotic if I protested people being fiscally responsible for their own lives. Hell, if I wanted to salute America, I might as well purchase a house and not have a financially sound alternative in case shit happens and I can’t afford the house and then hope and pray to whatever deity you want to worship that I get laid off.

        I’ve grown tired of the sob stories of people who have financial hardships but don’t take responsibility for their own share of the blame.

        • coffee100 says:

          > Crate and Barrel would imply some sort of higher status.

          Well, don’t cry now.

          > Did a lot of shady stuff happen with banks and approving loans for people, yes. Was a lot of that illegal, yes.

          And then we just flippantly throw it aside and go back to blaming the Crate and Barrel family. It’s so much easier than trying to understand something hard like approving a loan with a blank space under “income” and then selling it to a pension fund as an investment.

          > I’ve grown tired of the sob stories of people who have financial hardships but don’t take responsibility for their own share of the blame.

          I’ve grown tired of the salacious wide-eyed delight taken in the suffering of my fellow citizens and neighbors, and the zest with which blame is heaped on them. We could have paid off every mortgage in this country twice with the giveaway.

          You have a real nice day.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        They aren’t homeless.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Could you possibly be any more dramatic? Why would leaving your home to move into an apartment you can afford destroy your family? If something like that can destroy your family, then you have way bigger problems than losing your house. And, home is wherever your family is. One of the problems is that people define their lives by stupid possessions like houses, cars, and Crate and Barrel furniture.

        We were forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills (and have always been insured.) We sucked it up. We filed bankruptcy, sold our house, and moved in with my parents for a couple of years until we could get back on our feet. We moved into an apartment when we could afford it and simplified our lives. It’s been a few years, but we have made the choice to stay in our apartment and live below our means. when my salary doubles next year, we will continue to live the way we live now. We are happier than we have ever been. Our credit is fine now too. We lived through it. Nothing was destroyed. We took it in stride, thanked God we had food on the table and each other and just dealt with it.

        • coffee100 says:

          > Why would leaving your home to move into an apartment you can afford destroy your family?

          Why would financial problems affect your family? You’re on crack.

  23. Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

    What I don’t understand is the new lock on the door. Nowhere in the summary does it say the house had been legally foreclosed upon. If PNC has not foreclosed upon the house nor have they given Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure to PNC, they still own the house. They may be behind, but they own it.

    IF that lock was placed there by PNC without either of the above taking place, isn’t that an unlawful taking? Isn’t this what BOA was doing?

    • cmac says:

      Generally, it’s not unlawful if the property has been abandoned. It’s generally in the loan docs that if the mortgage abandons the property, the bank can secure the property.

    • DieBretter says:

      Just a quick FYI. Some states do not require foreclosure proceedings to advance through the courts. Doing it this way is called a “non-judicial foreclosure”. And generally, if you don’t read the letters or pay heed to them, this can happen. Further, once a house is foreclosed, there generally needs to be an eviction attempt filed. My take on this is that the OP received all these things and just let it be.

  24. memnuts says:

    I couldn’t agree more. If you have the money to buy new stuff do it, but to sell it all off and then go buy new especially from Ikea makes no sense to me. It will always be cheaper in the long and short term to make what you have work as unideally as it may be than to sell and replace what you have sold. I feel for the woman but financialy she is a few bottles short of a six pack.

    And for gods sake stop any and all payments on the property for anything HOA or otherwise. Once you go into the shortsale process it becomes the banks problem not your. Your credit is already garbage because you are probably late on others financial obligations

  25. timkd says:

    I had the same problem with my house… we tried to do a short-sale because we didn’t want to just abrogate our responsibility. We worked with the bank sending them the same stuff over and over again… every time we got close to anything they would say the file was transferred to someone else and that they had 30 days to respond… SO MANY hours of work wasted. We had buyers lined up ready to buy the house, but finally one day they changed all the locks. My real estate agent who was helping us was pissed, he said they couldn’t do that, and he had the locks changed back…. it was all for naught, though, because despite our repeated attempts to get them to agree to a short sale, they eventually just decided to foreclose on the house. This was almost 2 years ago, and I believe the house is still vacant! If they had followed their own policies and procedures the house would have been occupied and generating income for them! I asked my real estate agent friend why are they doing this, it isn’t good for us OR them… he said because of the bailout, the more “toxic assets” they had, the more benefits they were able to get from the government, so the mortgage companies had no real incentive at all to actually successfully work out a good deal with the homeowners.

  26. godai says:

    Anyone else wonder when a fax was going to be mentioned in the story at all?

  27. Pagan wants a +1 button says:

    I would have avoided the brand-name furniture references, but being forced to sell something nice you worked hard for is painful.

    This doesn’t sound legal in any way, but at the very least, I’d check to see what the HOA can actually do if the OP defaults. If all they can do is put a lien on the property, let them. If they can do other things that will make the OP’s life harder, I’d talk to them and see if there is anything that can be worked out. Show them the shiny new lock and ask how you’re supposed to be abiding by the covenants when you can’t even open the door.

    • sponica says:

      I think if they’re trying to short sell the property, it’s easier to do without an HOA lien

  28. r-nice says:

    The email seems a bit dramatic but it sounds like a real crappy situation to have to go through. I hope her and her husband are able to get back on track.

  29. 310Drew says:

    1. Stop paying your HOA. Your credit is damaged already. Unless you feel you have some moral obligation you owe them nothing.

    2. The changing of the locks on the house is common. When someone is behind on their mortgage the banks/lender do this thing called an occupancy check. You don’t know about it, but they pay someone to drive by your property and take photos every so often ( most cases monthly). If the notice no one is there, that gets reported back to your lender. The lender then sends another person out to the house to snoop around, and if it is empty they call it abandoned and secure it by changing the locks.

    That is all in your mortgage, most people never read it though.

    • kobresia says:

      Good info.

      Maybe as far as an occupancy check goes, it would’ve been good to leave the furniture with the house rather than liquidating it cheap on CL, and use “furnished house” to sweeten the deal on the short sale.

  30. elephantattack says:

    The house I just bought had a lock quite similar to the one in the picture. Some goofy box locked on to the supra. Don’t know what it was for, the realtor was never able to open it.

  31. We Have a Piper Down says:

    I can’t muster much sympathy after the name dropping. We shop at IKEA voluntarily and we love it. Don’t insult people who shop there and not C&B because we don’t care about flaunting name brands around.

    And be glad you have somewhere to go. Not a lot of people do after taking a hit like that. Some people lose their jobs and then there homes and they have nowhere to go. Stop paying the HOA. Your credit is screwed. Tell them, in writing to stop calling. If you haven’t been paying, you are going to lose it if the short sale doesn’t go through. Just accept it and move on.

  32. CubeRat says:

    I wonder if PCN is attempting to comply with the new mortgage standards that consumer groups and the government are trying to establish. That is, we heard so many stories of the banks not contacting mortgage holders. It sounds like either the OP has applied for several programs so a lot of people are trying to contact her AND PNC doesn’t have effective employee training (for detailing customer contacts/attempt) or effective tracking systems.

    Now, my issues with the OP. You had a 1500+ sq ft home, and you are complaining about having to move to a 995 sq ft apartment. Boo hoo, two adults in a 995 sq ft living space is not crowded. I know of many families with children who have homes this size. Don’t buy a new place until you have a 20% down AND have a 6 mo emergency fund.

    OP had to sell overpriced junk from C&B/PB and buy from IKEA. How about buying from a second hand store and save even more money, and replace it with stuff you like better later. The fact that you are unable to pay your mortgage but need to go out and buy more furniture makes me think your budget isn’t in very good shape yet, even without paying a mortgage.

    Now, what could you possibly have in your taxes that requires 85pages? My suggestion to everyone is that you get a pdf copy of your stuff and e-mail it in or e-fax it into your mortgage company.

    I don’t think you mean to, but you sound like a spoiled, entitled child that is not ready to own a home.

  33. Rocket80 says:

    Wow. As if we needed another reason to hate on HOA’s.

  34. mbd says:

    > The bank is clearly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by calling so often, and should be stopped.

    Actually they are not violating the FDCPA, which applies to debt collectors who are not employed directly by the original debt grantor. While I am sure there are laws relating to harassment, the banks internal collection department is subject to the FDCPA.

    • mbd says:

      the banks internal collection department is subject to the FDCPA.[/i]

      Should read is not subject to the FDCPA. Sometimes my fingers type quicker than my brain thinks.

  35. hmburgers says:

    I had some trouble continuing to read after: “…made the choice to liquidate our Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel furniture through Craigslist and take whatever money we made and start fresh with the latest finds from IKEA”

    Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel? First thing that comes to mind when I hear that + financial troubles is someone who cannot control their spending… Also why did you need to buy new from Ikea? Why not buy something small from Craig’s List? Or nothing at all and stick it out with the bare minimum for a while?

    This also bothers me:
    “The last year has been a difficult/trying time as my husband and I struggled to keep our finances afloat. After charging credit cards and depleting our savings, it was inevitable that we’d become like so many Americans out there by losing our home.”

    The last sentence… but saying “like so many Americans” you are rationalizing your problem to yourself–‘see, it’s not just me, so many other Americans also have this problem!’… I don’t disagree with the statement, but I think it’s a sign you don’t see your predicament as preventable and directly related to the decisions you and your husband made.

    You may be a victim of circumstance, but I don’t see any of those circumstances listed here? Why were you struggling? Job loss? Medical issues? Family trouble?

    That said, those calls they make should be to you and you only… not family. The bank also shouldn’t have changed the locks on you if you’re in the short sale process–is there something missing from the story? Did they request access at some point? Are you certain you were foreclosed on and you just don’t realize it?

    That lock is a knob lock BTW, it’s a fairly typical “front door lock”, you just don’t usually see it in the position that a deadbolt would be located.

    Good luck, keep your spending down and your stick on the ice.

    • axolotl says:

      Thank you, Internet Psychologist!
      How much do you charge for your services?

    • LadyTL says:

      If you had actually read the entire article instead of stopping to snark, maybe you would have seen at the end her talking about how her husband lost his job.

  36. CrazyEyed says:

    Having worked for a multitude of banks, servicers, mortgage companies and legal offices I can say this…

    When the OP called originally to work out something they didnt differenciate between getting a modificaiton and getting a workout. A workout is an option to catch up which means you would have to pay extra each month to catch up on your payments. PNC should have been clear to the OP which option they were evaluating her for. If she wanted a mod, there is a whole different step which involves getting bank and investor approval and signing modificaiton paperwork if the investor agrees. Sometimes a mod involves making a few good faith payments (as a trial) to ensure they are still capabale of paying their mortgage if a mod is done. I’m assuming she couldn’t get either done so she was offered the opportunity to do a short sale as a last resort.

    Now with a short sale, you can still live in the house or choose to move out while a realitor shows your home. Having the home secured such as what was done here is standard for mortgage companies as they have to protect the investment when its confirmed the owner has vacated the property. To hold value and to prevent vandalism, the lender/servicer has to secure the property and its perfectly legal if you simply read the standard language in your mortgage. I use to work in short sales and this happened all the time. The Realtor can call PNC and have the key overnighted or have the passcode given to retrieve the key if its secured within the lock. As for the paperwork, tax returns etc, many documents like paystubs go out of date after a month and each investor or mortgage insurance company has its own guidelines. And since every mortgage company doesn’t have departments working side by side, they could have a short sale department in California, while their workout department is in New York. Even if the system was perfect, OP’s would be screaming bloody murder.

    Most of this is standard and I do truely feel a lot of compassion for homeowners who are stuck in a rut or who are having trouble. But from the sounds of it, the OP wasn’t very good at managing money by buying overpriced furniture. I’m not saying the OP is entirely to blame as PNC is netorious for horrible treatment of customers. In fact, I have some relatives who have dealt with the very same issues from PNC but unless you are in the mortgage business, then its very difficult to grasp what is protocol and what is not. And many people mistake their treatment or experiences as extrordinary when it’s pretty standard. I don’t know about you or I, but when shit hits the fan, everything appears to be this horrible injustice.

    As for the collections phone calls, any bank or servicer can continue to call the homeowner until the debt has been paid. Calling friends family and relatives is legal, only if the collector is using those phone calls as a way to find out how to contact the homeowner, provided they don’t disclose the reasons for calling the homeowner (which would be to collect a debt). Every employee who works for a bank or collections agency has to read and agree upon receiving information regarding Fair Debt Collecting so no laws have been violated unless debt collectors are disclosing the reasons for their calls. The OP could have simply sent a cease and desist. It’s a shitty circumstance to be in, but we can’t be trained to think that the homeowners have been dealt a bad deck of cards in every single story we read here.

  37. cheezeit says:

    § 804. Acquisition of location information
    Any debt collector communicating with any person other than the consumer for the purpose of acquiring location information about the consumer shall—
    (1) identify himself, state that he is confirming or correcting location information concerning the consumer, and, only if expressly requested, identify his employer;
    (2) not state that such consumer owes any debt;
    (3) not communicate with any such person more than once unless requested to do so by such person or unless the debt collector reasonably believes that the earlier response of such person is erroneous or incomplete and that such person now has correct or complete location information;

    • jimbo831 says:

      You missed the most important part of the law you posted: it says “debt collector”. PNC is not a debt collector which is defined by the FDCPA as a company whose primary business is collecting debts. PNC is an original creditor and thus excluded by this law.

  38. jimbo831 says:

    I don’t understand all the people complaining about PNC violating the FDCPA. It is obvious nobody here actually knows the FDCPA. In case you didn’t, the DC part stands for “debt collector” which is defined as a business whose “principal purpose” is the collection of debts. It has been clearly established by the law and the courts that PNC bank in this case is not in business to collect debts. They are instead what is called the “original creditor” and not at all the type of business this legislation was written for. The FDCPA pretty clearly defines this and excludes original creditors from this legislation. If you don’t believe me, read it for yourself:

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

  39. dangermike says:

    “Yes, the property is vacant and Yes, we don’t live there and haven’t since January… but it’s really hard to make sure that everything is fine/dandy in your property when you can’t even enter your own home. “

    It’s not your home. It’s the banks house. Whatever the circumstances, that’s what happens when you stop paying a mortgage.

    “Also – check out that snazzy lock. Congratulations to PNC Mortgage to pick a lock that looks least like an actual front door lock.”

    That’s not a door lock. That’s a lock box. It contains the key to the actual door lock so that real estate agents can show the house you’ve vacated to prospective buyers.

    • jimbo831 says:

      I think they are referring to the deadbolt. Look at it closely. It is clearly a different color than the handle and there is a lighter area of wood around it, so the old lock was probably much bigger. It looks out of place and looks like crap. I’m sure they just have a ton of the same locks sitting around though, it’s not like they went to Home Depot to pick up one that matched.

  40. StopGougingMeThere! says:

    I lost my job 18 months ago and my wife and I knew immediately that we couldn’t afford to keep our house so we decided to move out of state to start over. We attempted to sell our home ourselves but the market was horrible and after 3 months we called the bank to see if we could try a short sale but in the end we decided to complete a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure as what we owed and what the house was worth was about equal thanks to the tanked market. We could do this since we weren’t behind in our mortgage and while it sucks that we have nothing to show for the 12 years of hard work we put into the home I sleep well at night knowing I no longer have the huge mortgage payment we could only afford if I was still working. We were living within our means but unfortunately those means changed. Reading this story however, it sounds like they got clobbered by an ARM they weren’t smart enough to understand and I really have little sympathy for them. I let a $225k 2700 sq.ft. house go, sold my 2009 Pontiac, and went to be a renter of an 1100 sq.ft house and now drive a 1999 Jeep. Oh yeah, and we took our $3000 dining room set that barely fits our dining room BECAUSE IT WAS PAID FOR! Sorry, I have no sympathy for these people for not living within their means.

  41. Mrs. w/1 child says:

    Why continue to pay the HOA fee? There is no way for the Association to recover money you don’t have and your credit is already totaled.

    Also, you should have started with ikea furniture and paid off your house before hitting pottery barn. The living room sets cost as much as decent used cars. Put that in savings and you may have bought (literally) yourself enough time foe your husband to find a new job.

  42. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Could you possibly be any more dramatic? Why would leaving your home to move into an apartment you can afford destroy your family? If something like that can destroy your family, then you have way bigger problems than losing your house. And, home is wherever your family is. One of the problems is that people define their lives by stupid possessions like houses, cars, and Crate and Barrel furniture.

    We were forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills (and have always been insured.) We sucked it up. We filed bankruptcy, sold our house, and moved in with my parents for a couple of years until we could get back on our feet. We moved into an apartment when we could afford it and simplified our lives. It’s been a few years, but we have made the choice to stay in our apartment and live below our means. when my salary doubles next year, we will continue to live the way we live now. We are happier than we have ever been. Our credit is fine now too. We lived through it. Nothing was destroyed. We took it in stride, thanked God we had food on the table and each other and just dealt with it.

  43. stlbud says:

    I was “the relative” for another incident. Wells Fargo was calling every day and nothing I did would get them to stop. So I got even by changing my voice mail. –

    “This is name’s phone. Please leave a message. If you are from Wells Fargo, you have the wrong number. Stop harassing me.”

    Everyone who called for two months got the message. Everyone I know, knows to stay far away from Wells Fargo. :-)