This morning at the courthouse steps, Fred West’s condo is slated to be sold in a foreclosure auction. West is the homeowner walking away from his mortgage who began sharing his story with us last week.
West paid $250,000 for his condo in 2005. By last year, when he was ordered to take furlough days and a pay cut at his job as a computer technician at UCSD, he discovered his condo was worth less than half of what he’d paid.
“I won’t live long enough to get my value back,” he said.
But he didn’t want to just walk away — he wanted to do something to stem some of the losses for the bank. Last summer, he started the short sale process, where distressed homeowners ask their lenders for permission to sell for less than they owe on their mortgage.
His bank came back and told him the short sale couldn’t go forward. You’re still up to date on payments, they told him.
“I was like, ‘Fine, I can remedy this problem right away,’” West said.
So he stopped making payments last September. He found a buyer who was willing to pay $110,000 for the condo, and who was patient enough to wait for months while West kept getting calls from his bank that he needed to submit more paperwork. For months he went back and forth with the bank, not hearing anything for weeks on end only to call and discover someone had closed his file for some reason, or sent him to collections.
In January, the bank said he should submit another batch of paperwork. In February, the lender for his first mortgage said his short sale had been approved tentatively, but that he needed to get an OK from the lender of his second mortgage before April 17.
Now it was that second bank’s turn — automated phone systems telling him his short sale had been denied, weeks between calls back. Finally, West spoke with a representative who said the denial had come because of an error in paperwork by a bank worker.
West then thought the paperwork issue was settled but the deadline for the first lender’s approval of the short sale came and went. He still had no word from the second lender. The buyer who’d been willing to pay $110,000 for West’s condo was no longer interested, nine months after she’d made the offer.
At the beginning of May, West moved out of his condo.
“I just don’t care anymore,” he said.
Last week, West spoke with a representative from his bank, who asked if he’d like to bring his payments up-to-date:
I finally told them I moved out, and that I knew the Trustee Sale was Tuesday. The Customer Service representative made a note, and thanked me for my time. That was it.
This morning, he said he’s not sure if the condo will actually go to auction today. These courthouse step auctions are notoriously fickle; banks postpone sales at a moment’s notice.
This is part of the waiting game for homeowners who are walking away. Until the bank formally repossesses his condo, West is still on the hook for homeowners association payments, still the technical owner of a home he’s not living in anymore.
I haven’t found any way to track down what is going on today. Short of going down there and sitting with everyone to find out whether it was postponed or sold. Unfortunately I’ve got several projects on my plate at work, so I’m waiting to hear from the bank, or I’m sure I’ll get a letter in the mail. Well that’s my hope.
I’ll keep you posted as soon as I find out what happens this morning.
— KELLY BENNETT