Well, I’ve finally reached that point of no return. You know that point, where, after months and months and even years of struggling to be the “exemplary” law abiding good US citizen who pays his bills on time you finally hit the wall.
No, I don’t mean because I’ve been out running. I think I’d have hit the grave if I tried that these days. (Well for now at least). I’m talking about the preverbal straw that breaks the camel’s back. That one last thing that not only sticks in your craw, but makes you turns into a blood thirsty ravenous nocturnal vampire thirsting for the blood of revenge.
I have been working (well let’s say trying to) work as a Realtor in Tampa Bay Florida since 2000, and you know, for the most part, I have loved it. No, I wasn’t like the “cliché’” realtor that just wanted to make a lot of money. Unfortunately, even though my selling skills are exceptionally well developed and I am one of those that can sell sand to the desert nomads, I have never been money motivated. I just love working in Real Estate. I’ve sold many houses, commercial buildings and business’s, so I know the ropes and that it is work. Well it is now; it wasn’t much work until 2006.
Until 2006, it was a free for all, right? Money was flowing like water, and John Doe financed his house in his Dogs name and the banks were happy to do that, at 100% financing. No! Wait! Make that 125% financing. Hell they’d lend you more than Rovers house was worth without questions. Everyone was doing crazy stuff. From falsifying documents, to creating buyers who didn’t have money, to “borrowing” someone else’s credit (not that you needed much back then).
Banks were even putting the “flex” pay mortgage on primary residences, a practice that had been unheard of until then. This lovely instrument was advertised as “low 1.25% interest”. You remember them right? The ads were everywhere, and there was a mortgage company on every corner and mid block flying that banner. I was one of the “idiots” who bought that mortgage vehicle. Yeah I know, don’t say it! “How stupid can you possibly get?” Well let me show you.
I was told my minimum payment would only be $458.00. Wow!! I was incredulous. How did I get so lucky? But then, the interest rate alone on the mortgage was $659. Hmmmmmmmm.
I asked questions. Yes I did! And you know what? Either everyone lied, or really no one knew what the hell that mortgage was, until they started seeing their principle going up and up and up even though they were paying the minimum. Well low and behold eh? Stop the care Einstein; they weren’t paying enough to cover the principle, so guess what? The banks, in their infinite generosity, made sure you stayed in the house and simply added the deficit each month to the principle, causing your outstanding balance to go up and then….guess what happened next? Your payment went up as well, because….
TA DA!!! (Lets put a drum roll here, just for fun) …….. The payment is calculated by taking the APR (annual percentage rate) and multiplying it by the outstanding balance. YIKES!!
But not to worry, the Banks and Lenders are kind and benevolent beings, and they allowed those borrowers to exceed the appraised value at time of purchase up to 25% of the loan amount. Imagine that? If you bought a house in 2006 by 2007 you probably owed 100% or more of the original loan amount.
I caught on a little quicker than some and realized if I struggled to pay the “interest only” payment, my mortgage stayed current, even though I wasn’t making a dint in the principle. Oh well, no biggy right? You don’t pay much on the principle for the first 15 years of a fully amortized loan anyhow. So I continued happily on my way, paying the interest, because, quite frankly, I honestly didn’t care if I never owned the house.
In 2008 however, the banks now realizing they were hosed, and I mean seriously screwed and hosed, started “adjusting” those loans. So now, it wasn’t a “flex” pay anymore, because the interest rate had dropped so low that if you made the minimum payment it wasn’t covering what they thought they should be getting, so the eliminated the “minimum payment” and now you had to pay the fully amortized rate.
Ok, well I adjusted without too much difficulty, because the interest rate had dropped significantly and hence, my mortgage payment was even lower. It had gone down from $1100 a month to $950 and then down to $898, finally settling at $695.03 where it settled for a full year, from November 2009 to November 2010.
While this was all happening with my lovely no longer “flex” mortgage, the economy was taking in massive numbers. It had got hotter than hell in the market place and truly, all Hell had broken loose. I had obtained my mortgage brokers license, not because I wanted so badly to be a mortgage broker, but because in 2005, mortgage brokers would turn their noses up at anything under $200K. (They’d give both arms and legs for ONE now wouldn’t the? yup…good ole karma). I had first time buyers who were buying their first home for $150K or less, and couldn’t get anyone to finance them. You couldn’t talk them out of buying, regardless of how high the interest rate was, and I put mortgages in place that were at 13%! I did try to talk them out of buying but it was a feeding frenzy, everyone wanted the hottest commodity in the USA…REAL ESTATE!!
Then, January 2007 came rolling around. I had just returned from Christmas vacation, booted up the computer, opened my e-mail and went into shock! I sat there, transfixed staring at the screen. What I had suspected and warned people around me would happen, had just started to happen. There it was, top of the list, just arrived, fresh of the Monday morning press. 14 Lenders had declared bankruptcy.
I knew then, this wasn’t’ going to be a slight burp and off we’d go again. Nope! I knew this was the beginning of the end.
By the end of 2007 the writing was very large and black and totally visible to everyone, it was over! Banks and lenders were crashing in their self created destruction, and in the process, people were losing their homes. Foreclosures were forecasted in the millions, and they weren’t kidding. Then came the next obvious crash; EMPLOYMENT and the uncovering of all the fraud that had been taking place in the securities market and Wall Street.
I don’t have to regurgitate all those occurrences to you. I’m sure they are ingrained forever in your memory. You may well have been one of the victims in more areas then one.
So what did I do? Well, being much like a cat, I knew I had to change gears. You couldn’t close a lone to save your soul, and you couldn’t sell a house if you couldn’t get a loan. The banks were broke!
So, I started interviewing. Sales is my career and if you can sell, you’re only unemployed until you sell something right?
On my way back from Tampa, I passed a sign. Some chick in a medical get up, complete with stethoscope poised on a billboard, hair neatly banned, huge perfect white toothed smile, with the caption, “$40 per hour in 6 weeks”.
Stop the train!! Hell if I can earn $40 in 6 weeks, without killing anyone, I want to find out how. I dialed the number…Electrolysis Institute of Tampa picked up and cordially invited me to preview their premises, which I did.
Nestled in a commercial office complex in West Chase, are the Electrolysis Institute of Tampa and Tampa Laser Touch. Of course, they’ve since changed their name to protect the guilty.
I was greeted cordially by a pretty East Indian Girl who gave me a synopsis of what the program was and took me on a grand tour of the premises. Needless to say, I was totally unfamiliar with the continuing education system in the USA. Being a docile Canadian (for the most part) I believed what I was told. Yes indeed brother, $40 per hour was the MINIMUM wage and 40 hours a week was standard. The cost for this the 5 week electrolysis course, and 30 hour laser course was only *another drum roll*, (cough, choke, sputter) $7500.00, but not to worry, you could get a student loan and be fast on your way to repaying it with no problem in less than 8 weeks.
I couldn’t sign up fast enough. Shame on me, I didn’t ask all the right questions and my lawyer cousins have reprimanded me constantly ever since. The truth was you were lucky if you could even get a JOB unless you were an ARNP or a PA or a Doctor! The Dept. of Health and the Electrolysis Society (who represented their own self interests and not their memberships) had deemed that it was ok for an RN to inject medication and dispense controlled substances, but there was no way they could possibly be trusted with burning hair of someone’s body with a Laser! OMG…how dare you think this!!
So, I finished in exactly 8 weeks. A record completion I was told. But let me digress for a moment about the classes.
The owner of this lovely facility was a Russian woman, the teachers were as follows, a Russian (said to have a masters degree in Physics from the Ukraine), the owners brother in law, holding a DDS from Israel, and a lovely gentleman who had worked with at Tampa General, walked around sporting a stethoscope and a lab coat. We all presumed he was a Dr. and he never once corrected that, until one day I asked him what RE meant, which was embroidered on his lab coat following his name. He informed me “Registered Electrologist”. I looked it up on the internet, and basically he had just completed the same course I had, but 6 months earlier, and the best part was, he really wasn’t an RE because he hadn’t yet passed the state exam.
You see, that’s the kicker they didn’t tell you. Misrepresentation or what? You could finish the “course” in 6 to 8 weeks, but you couldn’t possibly be legal to practice. Why? Because the state exam is only twice a year, March and September and because of the cozy relationship between the Electrolysis Society and the Board of Medicine, you had to hold a CCE and CME in order to write the state Exam. However the state was kind enough to allow you to work with a provisional likens if you had you CCE and CME. Awwwww isn’t that just sweet of them? So by this point you’ve paid another $1000 for your licensure!!
Want the real kicker? I bet you’re bored by now right?
The only part that the Board of Medicine concerns them with is the Laser portion. Why? Because THAT’S WHERE THE HIGHEST INCOME IS! The Laser courses however no real curriculum has, and believe me in 30 hours you didn’t even get a chance to turn on the machine. 10 students would be in a treatment room taking turns removing maybe 10 hairs of a body, without ever having turned the machine on or managed the settings. The required hands on portion are only 5 hours. Why you ask? Well here goes….
Because the Laser Portion is only a Continuing Ed Course. It isn’t an actual “state certification”. But guess what? It is the ONLY Continuing Ed course that requires continuing Ed credits, anywhere in the Educational System! Go figure eh?
But I digress; I’ll go on with that with a different blog!
Back to my Bailout.
Ok, where was I? Oh yes. Last week’s turning point!
Firstly, two weeks ago I received notice from the Bank of America that my credit card which had been at 1.99% was now at 20.99%. I had no idea why, so I called the bank. Internal decisions they said. I didn’t use my credit card enough. I pointed out it was MY credit card and I had the right to choose if I used it or not. I told them my story, (I’m not even sure why now) they were totally uninterested. Could care less. They had made an internal decision. So, I said. That’s great! I’ve made an internal business decision as well. I don’t agree with an 18% rate increase so I’m just not going to pay you. I will send you $20 a month if I can afford it. I have been current, paying on time, even more when I can. It seems being paid on time isn’t good enough for you, so you’ve made your decisions and I’ve made mine. I don’t care if it takes me 400 years to pay you off. You can sue my estate after I’m dead, there won’t be anything in it anyhow!
Then, this week, came the proverbial straw. I had written a letter to my lender, well actually the servicer, Intimacy Mortgage Services, requesting they produce the note. I got a letter back from them, and ironically the increase in my mortgage payment on exactly the same day! What a co-incidence eh?
The letter was actually from One West Bank, clearly identifying them as a “collection agency” which stated they would be produce the note, but the fee to me for all the documents encompassed in the mortgage would be $65.00. Imagine that! $65 to print off something from MERS.
I haven’t paid them!
The Mortgage document indicated that my interest rate was down to 3.5% from 4.007%, the index was down to 3.603% from .7580%, the margin had remained unchanged at 3.25% but, my payment had increased from $505.50 to $616.25, which totally baffled me. So, I did what anyone would do, I called them assuming they’d made an error.
Well no I was told there was no error. My mortgage was set to recast and now even though the interest payment was lower, and the index was lower, my payment would increase by $112.!!! I was livid!!
So, I very politely said, well I’ve made a business decision as well. I’m recasting my budget and from now on the mortgage doesn’t fit in my budget. I don’t want the house. I’m 60 years old and it’s too much work for me anyhow. I would sell it, but since you’ve destroyed the market with all your foreclosures I’d have to come up with $70K to close which is literally impossible.
They made some bogus offer to modify the note, drop the interest to 2% and add the outstanding balance to balloon in 25 years when the loan matures. I couldn’t help but laugh at this scenario and pointed out to the nice lady trying to do a horrible job, that by then I would be 85 years old if I was alive and the best they would get for their balloon payment would be the methane gas from my decomposing body!
I was informed I would ruin my credit. Which really had me laughing, literally in stitches? I simply replied that my stellar credit score was not doing me a damn bit of good anyways. What they had forgotten was CASH is king, not credit. You pay credit with CASH so I was electing to keep my cash and opting to not bother giving them one more red cent. I told her that from here on my mortgage would be in default and they could foreclose if they wanted to, I honestly did not care.
I then read everything on the site about defaulting on credit and mortgages. Ironically the “attorney” sites warn you about possibly being sued, and having all your earthly good confiscated (which doesn’t bother me since I don’t have any). But the “user” sites and blogs tell you nothing will happen. The creditors will call and harass you, so change your phone number. You’ll get nasty letters, your credit will tank and in 3 years you’ll get new credit cards anyhow because, guess what? Banks only make money when they lend money!! And if you don’t have all this incredulous debt to pay, you have CASH to save, and now YOU are king.
We consumers have adopted the attitude that we NEED the Banks. However with the recent turn of We are in a power and paradigm shift, who knows what, will happen.
Stay tuned to this crazy blog of mine and watches as my progressive battle with the Big Boys!