Our furnace is broken—shot, kaput—no good. Rob calls to see if we can get financed to get it replaced. He hangs up the phone, and hesitates before he tells me.
“We don’t qualify…”
No loan, no furnace. This news isn’t a shock. Truth be told, it doesn’t surprise me at all. We know. We’ve pushed our luck, and our credit, about as far as they can possibly go—there is simply nowhere else to push them. We’re talking about the furnace, but that is just today’s illustration of how far we are in over our heads.
Deferred maintenance is the culprit with the furnace. Because we were always broke, we never had the funds for regular service calls. Failure to have regular service calls yields higher cost failures of systems down the road. Deferred maintenance is not your friend.
Trust me—scrounge that hundred bucks together now to get your heating/cooling system serviced by a pro, so that you don’t wait four years to get around to it to learn that you need an entirely new furnace lest your family be asphyxiated by the carbon monoxide the system is currently belching into your home due to a cracked heat exchanger.
Since the mortgage jacked up another $500 a month, we’ve fallen behind on those payments. Only a month, but we’re still behind. If we buy a new furnace, that will eat this month’s mortgage payment, because we still, in our forties, live paycheck to paycheck. Then we’re behind by two months. With no prospects for making up the difference anytime soon. And it’s October: Winter is coming.
The worst part is? We know we are to blame. We take full responsibility for biting off more than we could chew at the beginning of this fiasco. Back in ’04, when we gleefully signed on to that 80/20 loan package , we were sure that it would be easily refinanced in a year or two, thanks to a robust housing market. We bought way too much house. We were so optimistic. And fool-hardy. And wrong. We were just so wrong.
We’ve been down this road before. We’ve been on the receiving end of certified letters threatening foreclosure (sometimes even pinned down to a date), and we’ve managed to obtain 401k loans, then hardship withdrawals, to bring us current. Not once. Not twice. THREE times. The 401k well? Has run dry.
So here we sit, knowing that the time will come when the banks are going to take our house. Yes, that was a plural banks. You know that 80/20 loan package we signed, punch drunk on optimism? Sold to two different servicers. No longer a package, we have two loan notes that now total over $310,000 and a house worth $235,000, if we’re lucky. That makes a deed in lieu of foreclosure out of the question, along with a short sale. Now, that’s a doozy of a hangover, huh?
We haven’t been foreclosed upon yet—we’re still living here. Heck, the kids have no idea, really, except that we get a lot of “Toll-Free” calls to the land-line. Rob and I? We reckon we know how this story ends; we just don’t know what the journey itself will hold. This time there’s no 401k to save the house. There’s nothing to save it. And, to be truthful, we’re more than ready to holler “Uncle”, anyway.
Join me as I blog each week about the evolving story of my families tour of duty through the battlefield that is foreclosure in today’s economy. It’s a story that belongs not just to my family, but families all over the United States.