Woman's home saved from foreclosure

August 15, 2008 7:29:21 PM PDT
The number of people facing foreclosure in the U.S. is at an all time high. For the past six months, 7 on your side's Michael Finney has been following the struggles of a Fremont family fighting to save their home, and he has good news to report.

"We're relieved, really relieved that the end is almost near," said Marie from Fremont.

For Marie, life is on the verge or returning to normal. After months of digging through documents, making phone calls and leaning on friends, her prayers are being answered.

"It was you who did it for me. It was you and I wanted to thank you, and I wanted to hear it from you, because I knew that if you knew it was true," said Marie.

And we're able to confirm it. Wachovia had called 7 On Your Side to tell us the same thing -- the bank had reversed its decision and said it would adjust the terms of Marie's loan and end foreclosure proceedings.

That's quite a turnaround from a few weeks earlier when a letter arrived informing her request for a loan modification had been denied.

Marie got into trouble when she refinanced with a pick a pay or negative amortized loan. The loans are structured so that if borrowers only makes a minimum payment, their loan balance increases even after making that payment.

The mother of two lives with Parkinson's disease.

When 7 On Your Side talked to her last month, she could barely talk about what had happened.

"No, I don't want to talk about my emotions," said Marie in July, 2008.

She was clearly discouraged, but not ready to give up the fight, that's something housing counselors admire.

"If you hear no from one person, definitely push it and if that person can't help you, then please do continue to ask questions and ask questions," said Katrina Vizinau from the Community Housing Development Corporation.

Marie's story of ups and downs personifies just how difficult it is to get a loan modification.

"Loan modifications don't come easy. Foreclosure is a much more common outcome for borrowers, which is very distressing," said Kevin Stein from the California Reinvestment Coalition.

Statistics released by the state show the number of loan modifications granted in California increased from 6,000 in January to more than 10,000 in June.

This after the Schwarzenegger Administration urged lenders back in November to work with borrowers to modify their loans.

The trend is positive, but the number of modifications is small compared to the number of homes entering foreclosure -- more than 121,000 homes in California last quarter. That's an increase of 124 percent over the year before.

"There's no silver bullet, there's no magic wand that anyone can wave over this crisis. We are plotting through step by step and I am pleased to see that we have been making progress," said Commissioner from the Department of Corporations Preston DeFauchard.

Wachovia announced earlier this summer it would no longer offer negative amortized mortgages.

The bank also agreed to give Marie a modification after it says it reviewed additional information.

"I truly believe it was you. It was you calling them, Channel 7 On Your Side calling them, got them to look at it and look at it seriously and to affect the change," said Marie.

We have more good news: We called The California Retirement System, CALPERS, and asked them to speed up its decision on whether to grant Marie disability retirement. This week, her disability was approved. She'll be getting up to $1,300 a month for life. The benefit will be retroactive all the way back to January 1998, when doctors believe her symptoms of Parkinson's began appearing.


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