Citi Mortgage—don’t foreclose—let me pay my mortgage again.

Via
on Jun 8, 2010
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Citi not accepting Obama Plan.

Would rather foreclose than allow homeowner to pay full mortgage again now that business is back on its feet and doing well after significant transition online in tough economy.

Foreclosures are still at record levels, once again. But no one’s talking.

It might help encourage Citi to allow me to pay my full mortgage again, if you’re inspired to make some noise! Spread the word by posting this to your Wall or tweeting (tweet below in bold). ~ WL.

Citi, help Americans stay in their homes.

A year and a half ago, in the midst of a tanking economy, I took my successful, national magazine online. In so doing, I lost just about all my advertising support. I lost my staff; my offices. I gave up my car. I haven’t traveled, or taken a break, in the nearly two years since.

And I’ve been glad to work hard, and rebuild my business online. I’ve even been, if not happy, fine with counting quarters again (something I hadn’t done since college) as I’ve gone nearly two years without being able to pay myself consistently—instead choosing to return any salary to elephant, and thus keep it alive. At one point, I went three months without being able to use either of my debit cards, for business or personal—both were empty. I’ve survived thanks to a few advertisers, my good health—and elbow grease.

It’s a typical entrepreneur’s story, really—only this one is less about the American Dream than corporate callousness—so far.

You see, I’m making money again. I’m ready and eager to pay my mortgage, in full—no favors needed here. But CitiMortgage, who holds my mortgage, would rather foreclose. Many mortgage companies, presented with a homeowner who’s back on her or his feet, would simply tack what we owe onto the end of the mortgage, plus fines and late fees, and allow said homeowner to save their home.

Not Citi.

My foreclosure date is set for August 18th.

I haven’t talked about it much, until recently. It’s a rather shameful, depressing, stressful thing: losing one’s home.

But recently, my tendency toward transparency got the better of me. I tweeted about it (I have a pretty big, powerful twitter account) and got an immediate response from Citi. Two weeks later, they haven’t done anything helpful, and I still assume they’d just as soon foreclose as allow me to once again pay my mortgage.

But it’s got me thinking: if I’m going to be forced out of the house I’ve invested four years of my mortgage payments into, that I’ve extensively renovated for efficiency, that I hope/d to have a family in, one day—why not go out with a bang, a roar, rather than an ashamed whimper?

So I’ll keep making noise, though this is of course a little painful. If you’d like to support, tweet:

RT @elephantjournal Citi Mortgage not acceptg Obama Plan, wld rathr foreclose at this pt v allow me 2 pay full amnt. Help? RT! #mortgage

I’m in talks to throw a Foreclosure Party “not sponsored by CitiMortgage” at the 1,200 person (if you take out the chairs) iconic Boulder Theater. That’s largely thanks to some friends who have volunteered to throw, and publicize, such a party. I’ll get some mainstream press on it—it’s a hot issue, and a great Denver PR firm, some friends of friends [Duo Marketing & PR, see logo below ~ed] is offering their services. I’ve invited some big speakers (Dr. Deepak Chopra) and bands (Michael Franti) to rock the party. No RSVPs from them, yet, but I’m optimistic.

Finally, when I look back at this in 10 years, whatever happens, I’ll still say this:

When our artists, our entrepreneurs, work themselves hard, don’t eat properly, don’t pay themselves for awhile…well, America is supposed to give her citizens a chance to succeed. We are the land of opportunity. We don’t give handouts. But we do reward hard work. Have we forgotten the American Dream?

PS: Full disclosure: my mortgage with Citi is approx $550,000. It’s a pricey town, especially if you want to live downtown and bike everyday, which saves some dough. I wanted to live where I grew up. If I am able to stay in my eco-renovated 2,000 sq foot home, I’d get a roommate, and two roommates after I renovate my basement. And my business will continue to be based out of here. We’re using the space thoroughly, and our consumption here is minimal…our various electric, water, and gas bills are close to zero—or better—offset by solar, or hardly used. ~ WL


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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

Comments

71 Responses to “Citi Mortgage—don’t foreclose—let me pay my mortgage again.”

  1. integralhack says:

    I hope Citi knocks off the bullshit, Waylon. We're in the process of slowly moving to Bend, Oregon, which may be the worst hit place in the U.S. for foreclosures and short sales. It is depressing to see neighborhoods with almost 25%-50% of homes– many of which are very nice homes–in foreclosure. Sure, I can get a great deal on a home there now, but I don't relish benefiting from another family's pain–especially when this is largely the result of a structural failure on the part of our wonderful capitalist system.

    What's really irritating is that you can't control who you purchase your loan from anymore because mortgage companies are constantly selling loans to one another. It creates all sorts of difficulties for the home buyer, especially when the new mortgage company neglects to pay taxes, apply flood or fire insurance, etc. Been there, done that.

    Keep shouting and I'll RT.

    -Matt

  2. swati jr* says:

    so sorry waylon. this is a big deal!!! keep shouting, even if citi doesn't hear, others will. bless up!

  3. lis.b says:

    Sounds like you got in over your head in the first place or should have put it on the market long ago (at least tried to sell it) instead of letting it get to this point. Why did you put yourself in a $550,000 house when you are a starting out entreprenur? I know Boulder is expensive but seems excessive when you are unsure of your companies financial status as it is in the development stage.

    I realize your point is that Citi sucks and they probably do, but having to hear about your house for the last few years is enough to drive us all crazy and it gets tired having you use the magazine as a forum for you financial and house woes.

    Get realistic instead of idealist and put yourself in a house you can honestly afford.

  4. via FB
    Dorothy Kress Renner
    I do not like this… I'm sorry Way. You've worked so hard and come so far. Bastards.

    Waylon Lewis
    Well, I'll make like a rubber dunky and, after drowning, rise again with a stupid grin on my face.

  5. How are the subscriptions going, it seems to be working… I have my own $ issues as you know, so thank you for sharing. Not that you've really missed me, but not been very active or commentative of late, cos of Plank's own $ & banks n all. Everyone wants something different, unique, honest, we love what you do… but forget this stuff costs money to make happen… I feel your pain and you know I would help more if I could…
    Doreen…

  6. PS, I'm Plank, not Plank Designs… thanks…

  7. Citi Mortgage needs to step up and deliver on this one. Let me know what I can do to help! (Already RT'ed)

  8. lis.b says:

    Your right. I am no fun to be around today. Having one of those days I guess. I am sorry for the tone in my comments. But, hearing that you bought a house in that price range by yourself sounds like an irresponsible decision given that your company was still in the growing stages. You have every right to discuss foreclosures on your site and to bring some personal insight to what the country is going through. It just seems clearly demonstrated that you have had many problems for a long time given the amount of comments over the years about your financial situation. It might be good to realize that you bit off more than you could chew and take some responsiblity for that instead of always blaming everyone else which you tend to do quite easily.

  9. lis.b says:

    You say the magazine was successful at the time of the purchase. But, what was the difference in what you were paying for in rent at the time to what your new mortgage was going to be? And was that a reasonable jump? And could your company handle that increase in payroll to you? That is all I am saying, and given the current state of affairs maybe it might make more sense to be in a more reasonable house in price and size? Good luck to you and I do love elephant just cranky today and not in the mood for the whole house discussion again. But, hey..your site

  10. Greg says:

    Sounds like you need a mediator.

    You have done the correct thing, which is to make a valid offer.

    You have also done the correct thing, which is to multiply your negotiating power through public relations.

    Sounds like you may be negotiating with the wrong person.

    First, you need to confirm that you are negotiating with the correct person.

    Does the person with whom you have been talking have true authority at the deal-making rather than rule-following level? Does the person with whom you are negotiating have something to lose if they mishandle your account?

    Worth figuring out what happens to them if you bring major negative publicity to their institution.

    Where are the executives located? Are the executives aware of the situation?

    Have you asked or researched what is in it for them to foreclose? When you are negotiating, it pays to know what the interests of the party are — so you can address them.

    (For example, you may be getting a "no" because the paper work required to reboot may cause that person more work, or they may really be doing an equity grab and you may have to address the ethics in a public way…. Or the person you are dealing with may have a good buddy real estate broker who makes money on foreclosure sales and who has someone lined up for the property. Dig, dig, dig. )

    Anyway, I think your options are plentiful. Do you have a real estate attorney who can give you a quick half hour tutorial on the in's and out's from a legal viewpoint so you know how to negotiate around the sand bars?

    And definitely get to know the person with whom you are negotiating. …. Lunch is not out of the question. You need information, the more the better. Find friends of friends. Talk to people who went through the foreclosure process with these people. Talk to their attorneys. Go find a friend in Boulder real estate who knows the loan officers …. dig, dig, dig.

  11. Via http://www.facebook.com/waylonhlewis:
    Dorothy KR
    I do not like this… I'm sorry Way. You've worked so hard and come so far. Bastards.

    Waylon Lewis
    Well, I'll make like a rubber ducky and, after drowning, rise again with a frozen grin on my face.

    Jennifer JH
    My heart goes out to you, Waylon, and everyone else faced with this same situation. It's scary how the size of these corporations has lead to such impersonal, heartless & unjust powerhouses.

    Mary F
    Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

    Liz Lewis Joseph
    Wish I could help. I really do…

    Mary F
    Bank of America to Pay $108 Million in Mortgage Abuse Case

    Bank of America has agreed to pay $108 million to settle
    charges by the Federal Trade Commission that the bank's
    Countrywide Financial mortgage subsidiary collected excessive… See More
    fees from struggling homeowners and engaged in other abusive
    practices in the years before the bank acquired Countrywide
    in July 2008. In announcing the settlement on Monday, the
    commission said the payment would be used to reimburse
    homeowners.

    Waylon Lewis
    Aunty, get busy and discover some oil!

  12. Greg says:

    Seriously, Waylon, find a mediator who is familiar with real estate in Boulder. Could help you negotiate. Check out CDR associates (think I have the name right) who have an office up around 100 Arapahoe. They may know of someone who has negotiated mortgage relief.

  13. Rob says:

    Some judges have thrown foreclosures out due to improper documentation of loan. Have someone go through your closing docs, as well as foreclosure docs to see if they have left you a hole. May get free legal advice from someone close to you.

  14. Freda says:

    So let me see if I got this correct; CitiMortage sells you something and lets you pay it off over time. You don’t pay them for a year and then ask them to let you continue to pay what you owe them next month like nothing happened. CitiMortage is in the hole for all the months you should have paid them and you are whining how unfair it is to the Buddhist and yoga community to somehow figure out how to pay off you half-million dollar house. Awesome!

  15. Randall Smith says:

    That's tough. You have a solid idea, an intention. Don't lose sight of it. Something, somehow will work out for you.

  16. Linda says:

    You know, if banks and creditors alike would look at the history over the period of many years versus a slump of only a few shorts months, maybe just maybe the people who build their empires by BORROWING money would have faith in their business to be fair.

    Here is a person who isn't running from his obligations but actually turned it around and is now in the position to pay back in full and the corporation isn't allowing him the option anymore. Probably because one of their own is looking to purchase this STEAL of a home from a POWER OF SALE purchase at what I'm sure is deeply discounted to the purchaser. Most likely to be resold a few short months down the road for fast profit.

    More corporations should look at working with their clientele rather than bailing on them at the first sign of trouble.

  17. Freda says:

    Nellalou – You make him out like some kind of idiot who somehow got duped into taking a mortgage he wouldn’t be able to afford. He’s educated, I think, and am sure he knew how much his payments would be (what is it for $500,000?) I think whatever it is, it's a lot of money for many people who maybe would have thought twice before signing for that amount whether the bank allowed it not. Perhaps I’m the moron to think that people should act responsible and live within their means.

    "I want to live in and have a family in Boulder" Well I'm sure we all want to do something or live somewhere we can't afford but a basic point of maturity is to – go for it – but paying your financial and perhaps, spiritual, obligations while on the path towards it.

  18. Bill Schwartz says:

    Waylon,

    Hang in there.

    Bill

  19. Otis says:

    I know basically how much one can borrow, the ratios, etc. To be able to borrow $550,000 and be reasonably able to qualify and actually pay their monthly obligations (minimally principal, interest, taxes and insurance) means someone had to make well north of six figures a year. That's reasonable, however lenders and borrowers were unscrupulous and unreasonable and this is what it wrought. I have no idea what was told to the lender regarding income nor do I know the lenders ratios in this case, but something was very wrong here.

  20. Dear Friends who are Reading These Commetns,

    Could anyone with some compassion or similar experiences leave a comment, here? I know comments are often/always mean online, but this is really vulnerable for me, just talking about this, and reading some of these comments, the tone is kinda mean. I don't mind criticism, I can learn from it. I appreciate it. But getting kicked by anonymous meanies, it never gets easier.

    Still, it's good for me to be open about it, 'cause it keeps pressure on Citi. I know I made mistakes. But I'm fighting, doing my best, and elephant is back after only a year's transition online, and we're able to be bigger, greener, free to readers, and cover far more.

  21. cac says:

    I have to agree with Dana: <These are a compassionate neo buddhist / yogi's?? wow. HellO.> What's done is done and What Waylon needs is less judgement and more support. It took a lot for him to even share this. I know there are literally millions of ppl going through what he is going through. Nearly all suffer in silence. If you want to call him on the carpet for "going beyond his means" then I suggest you look at your own life. Nearly every American got caught up in the zeitgeist of that time, maybe not in the house they bought but in racking up debt and etc. Average household credit card debt was $9,000 at that time, even before the recession. I don't know, I think some people are just mean. Let he/she who is w/o sin cast the first stone. Why throw eggs at W. in public like that. What is this Puritan Buddhism? Find love and compassion or go read citibank's blog. lovya Waylon.

  22. Deborah Keys says:

    Waylon this is a problem happening to many Americans. Obama made it possible for home owners to get relief by taxpayers bailing them out. Yet very few home owners are getting the relief that has been set up. Greed, Greed and more Greed. Its not your fault. I have a friend who managed to get help with her motrgage I will try to get the info and send it to you. hang in there. Don't give up.

  23. squashcomingup says:

    i can only relate to this as similar to my student loans (pay 1/2 your income or nothing at all!!!, they said- would not accept less, and sorry i couldn't survive on half my income, until i became unemployed, haha)….tough luck….I think i'm still in dumb shock from about 10 years ago that buying a house for 1/2 million has become nearly normal in some areas (i've lived in Boulder, and Palo Alto, and Seattle, but i'm 40 and i don't own a house (and probably never will, until i can find a way to build one for about 20K or something). Could never afford to buy a house where i live now either. Seems like it would be cheaper (& more fun) to build anyway. Honestly I am sorry to hear of this predicament, snafu, etc. and i hope it gets resolved to your satisfaction, but one thing out of this housing crisis that might be good ?? is less inflated housing prices….i mean, 1/2 mill? The last time i was visiting Boulder i was totally overwhelmed by all the new building, and housing prices (i left the city in 98)….just seemed like a bubble that would eventually burst…..

  24. Jess says:

    Citi cancelled a credit card of mine last for which I carried a zero balance and paid in full consistently when it was used because in their words, "I wasn't profitable for them." When I appeal the decision they said they couldn't reverse it because I have too much credit. I had a 10 year relationship with Citi: the first 8 were awesome, the last 2 have been an experiment in poor customer service and bad client relationships.

  25. Jennifer Hunt says:

    It’s interesting to read these responses. It’s a bit upsetting that people are so hung up with your past choices, of which were made to the best of your knowledge given what you knew at the time.

    Please remember, friends, no one, including Waylon, could have foreseen what happened to the economy, what happened to the housing market, and what the effect of the mag going exclusively online.

    Waylon, I think you could have used more helpful responses on what to do moving forward instead of what people seemed to think that you did wrong… since they seem to think that you are omnipotent. I don’t know you personally, but I would assume, as wonderful as you may be, you are still privy to the same temporal laws that the rest of us are. I don’t understand people’s need to focus on what can’t be changed… seems to be a waste of time and energy.

    So, looking ahead… I have nothing to offer but my hopes for the very best outcome. I worked for one of ‘those’ companies for almost 10 years until they decided to refer to us only as numbers and I became aware of situations, much like yours, and how easily they could have been remedied with a little compassion. I wouldn’t expect any compassion on their part, but it wouldn’t hurt to hope. May the outcome be what allows you to move forward with the least amount of suffering :)

  26. Waylon I understand the people who say you should have bought smaller but I'm sure they have alot of should haves too. The main point is what you said, most banks will put the unpaid part on the end and let you continue paying. Keep fighting . I think you will get there. If not there is life after foreclosure as I know from personal experience.

  27. rjz says:

    "Waylon needs less judgment and more support." Sure, OK. I love you Waylon. You're awesome. Your mistakes and economic miscalculations are forgiven. Now, if you would be so kind and loving as to forgive the bank for just doing their job and covering their assets, we'd have a bit more love in the world.

    Honestly, I don't know the whole situation. I can't tell. Did Waylon stop paying and has offered to start again, but too late for the bank's taste? Does he have the 500K now? Without knowing more details, about the only thing I can conculde is that, at least for a period of time, he was in breach of contract. Great, I'm not judging him. Niether is the bank. But facing the music and honoring your promises is also part of life on the middle path.

    I think he'll probably figure this out. It wouldn't be that good for the bank to put it up for foreclosure if he really does have the money, but for all those who want forgiveness…I hope you'll demonstrate some respect for me next time and start living an honest life you can afford. I am getting pretty tired of bailing you out, whether you're a bank or an individual.

  28. I'm pulling for Waylon simply because he's a very good guy and I love Elephant Journal.

  29. d.nono says:

    Wayne, good luck dealing with Citi. From what's been reported recently the foreclosure rate is slowing down given that banks are finally seeing that it's better to have someone in the house, paying anything monthly sum, rather than having it sit empty – I do hope you get to benefit from this trend and can re-negotiate the terms.

    I'm not sure why the naysayers are piping up with their rather un-compassionate comments – it seems to me that you're recognizing your own role in the situation and are willing to do what it takes to make it right.

    I'm really bothered by this assumption (as made by naysayers) WRT folks in your situation that 'you should take your lumps' or 'should've known better', none of us can predict the future and yet most of us engage in long-term pursuits with the best of intentions. Risk is inherent in any pursuit, as you, Wayne, seem to recognize (i.e., experiencing first-hand) and all of us take on risks on a minute-by-minute basis. The smallest of daily factors can impact each of our lives for the better or for the worse.

    So for those of you who feel as though you're snug in your secure positions, housing, families and are openly confident in your pursuits – enough so to criticize another (especially when you have so little information) – all I can say to you is that I hope you learn from Wayne's experience (and from the thousands of others) without having to go through the same process.

    For the record, I'm on the lucky edge of that risk – given the poor economy (stagnating wages, increasing debt obligations) being able to re-finance my mortgage provides my family with the cushion to start saving money again. I count myself lucky and I recognize that I could easily be in a similar situation to you Wayne.

    Again, good luck Wayne.

  30. Lindsey Wolf lindsey says:

    Waylon, your eagerness to learn shines through by your willingness to talk about this in such a public forum. I know you are doing the best you can, like all of us are, and I'll continue to support, always, in the spirit of compassion.

  31. I posted this on my Facebook – hoping to help get the word out for you and to help you save your home….. if Citi doesn't let you pay and stay, perhaps someone who buys it will sell it back to you…. that would be super sweet.
    Best of luck…. remember – Karma – you do good, good will happen. I have a good feeling this will work out just fine for you and you will be able to stay in your home. Thanks for all you do to bring awareness to the readers of ele — about really important topics… I'm proud to be part of the elephant journal family.
    ~Maureen

  32. Dance With The Devil says:

    Wouldn't the more sustainable choice have been to get the loan from a local credit union rather than some multinational corporate bank?? You have to know what you're getting into when you get into bed with the latter.

  33. squashcomingup says:

    just a thought – kind of an aside – ppl did predict the housing crisis – maybe not to the extent that it has played out, but we never predict the worst do we? i left CO in 2000 (partially b/c i couldn't afford to live there…i was living in a studio apt for $375 (Denver), and nice one bedrooms were going for $800. I came back in 2004 to a drastically reduced rents (apts i had coveted were now in my price range). When prices rose so steeply in CO in my last few years there it reminded me of the dot com bubble "bursting" a few years earlier/simultaneously in the Bay Area where i grew up. It just didn't seem sustainable to me. By the time i left there was a crack house selling for almost 400K on the corner which had been a quarter of that the previous year. For those ppl with good credit who always pay their credit cards on time (more power to ya!), unfortunately, the system is now set up so that legally doesn't even do you any good anymore. They will and can sometimes charge you more for paying on time.. I agree, a mediator sounds like a good plan for Waylon. I hope it works out!

  34. Sydney Solis says:

    Very sorry to hear the news. I really feel for you. I've heard the best strategy is to make them "produce the note." They've probably sold it off to a zillion different people via credit default swaps, etc. and can't do it I don't buy the "you made a deal, you should pay, tough it up." This was systematic deception by the big banks on a massive scale. Bank of America one of the biggest frauds. Americans swept up into odious debt, and you know, a la Goldman Sachs, they were betting on making money by having you default. That is the American way these days, my friend. But all this massive deception and usurious lending is coming to and end and the veil is going to be lifted soon. Mainstream media is a pack of lies. The economy isn't improving, it's going down the tubes fast, (read foreign and underground press) but Bernanke and his fools keep propping it up desperately. The greatest depression will swoop down on America very soon. I suggest you write about gardening and knitting and how to start local cottage industries of basic services. Here in Argentina where I am visiting, they've seen it before and are surviving. It will happen to America overnight, like it did here. But don't worry, it's a good thing. Things must change. The American Dream has turned into the American Nightmare, living on funny money and sucking the resources out of the rest of the world for free and destroying the environment to boot. And look at the upside – when you lose everything you gain yourself. And then you have nothing to lose and you will be free. It's all empty anyway, remember? So stop grasping and lamenting. I've been there and I can tell you it's true. Keep up the good faith and good work. And I agree, write about things of more substance than eco-chic, like fighting for education and social good. Anything else is meaningless for what's coming and keeps readers trapped in frivolous consumerism and vapid lives disguised as enlightened living. You are a great guy and don't blame yourself. It's a vampire system out there and you, and I and all of us fell in to the trap. Check out Buenos Aires, cheap rent, cheap food, health care for $100 a month! Run your internet business from here! I'm looking into it, and scouting out other places around the world to help those still in the US manage the collapse!. Boulder prices is a racquet and there really is another world outside its bubble. And once you get outside that bubble, it becomes so very clear. ¡Buena suerte! ¡Viva la Revolución!

  35. yeye yeye says:

    Dear Way :)

    WHO is Citi ??? Very humbly and with all the love i feel for America, I am daring to say that this country's big problem when trying to solve challenging situations is the constant habit to institutionalize life. No responsibility is experienced by the human being, the father, the son, the husband, the wife, the mother, the sister, who behind your case, sits and decides to sign you off your home using the name of Citi while taking your money.

    Who decides to not accept Obama's plan? Why? What is the logic behind it? Where is the sense of it? Who is responsible for this decision?… Get personal…get into the individual consciouness… touch…Who's name is under the signature that will foreclose your home?

    Call Obama ~ get personal ~

    love
    yesi

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