Friday, July 29, 2011

...remembrances of things past

I normally don't post pictures that show clear shots of faces, but since I'm not going to name anyone pictured, I don't think anyone will mind.

Remembering music made, laughter shared and a bond ordained in heaven and forged in joy... or to paraphrase Shakespeare...
"... he[or she] who sheds his blood[makes music] with me will be my brother[sister]...
and those who were here, will stand taller when this day is mentioned..."

[I did warn you that I was paraphrasing... OK... rewriting... but the sentiment is the same...]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

...good news... and not-so-good news

Any homeowner has dealt with this situation... that your home, being in most cases the most expensive investment you'll ever make, will appreciate and depreciate in value, as the economy ebbs and flows. Since mid 2004, things have been unbelievably unpredictable. By the middle of 2005, my small house had a market value of over $400 K... I paid $85K for it in 1988... it is less than 1200 s.ft., but is in a "really good area". An area known for stable turnover and considered one of the "best" in Mudville. So I refinanced to get out from under an adjustable rate mortgage with a bank that has since gone broke. I was very conservative in my choice of mortgage[30 yr fixed, 6.87%, strong lender] and I didn't "max out" my value, 'cause it made me nervous.

Fast forward to the present,where I am in Chapter 13, discharging several credit cards and the home equity LOC at $84K & 8% over the next 32 months. I was able to keep my home by going the Chapter 13 route. Without it, I would have lost my home to foreclosure and eventually been forced into bankruptcy anyway. I had hoped to be able to modify my 1st mortgage, but I no longer qualify as I am not dead, totally disabled or in foreclosure. This has left me in a very tight financial situation with no savings to fall back on and making each property tax payment an obstacle to overcome, so the notice I received in the mail last week was "good news".

My property values had been
listed as $240K for the last
couple of years.
The only problem was that
at least a year ago, the
"market value" was $120K...

and due to the inflated value,
my property taxes were
about $750, two times a year...
and due to the fact the the state,
county and city are BROKE....
the chances for tax relief by way
of reassessment, seemed dim...

So when I received a new assessment for $120 K in the mail, it was Christmas in July.
Of course, I don't know how this affects my tax bill yet, but it should be lower.
My concern now is if I have to call the police or firemen to come to my home that I can now better afford to keep, will anyone show up in a timely manner... ?

Friday, July 1, 2011 news is good news...really ?

One would think that any legal proceedings such as being accepted into Bankruptcy would rate at least a letter from the court acknowledging said state.

Apparently not...

When someone files for bankruptcy, they are required to go through 2 credit counseling sessions online, [not unlike traffic school...], paying a fee & earning "certificates".
[I will not discuss at length, the total lack of value of this kind of punitive busywork, especially at the point in the credit life of the debtor where bankruptcy is the only option, except to say that it reminded me of making misbehaving students write "sentences". Traffic School is actually a far better & more useful experience.]

The first course was done and filed before my paperwork could begin.

On April 4, before my case was filed, I was required to complete the second course & submit my certificate to the lawyers to be filed with my case. I arranged to have a copy of my certificate e-mailed to the lawyer and I called to confirm that they received it. On April 19, I received a request from the court to submit my credit counseling certificate [form 23]. Informing me that if they did not have it on file by my court date, [May 4], my case would be dropped and it would be expensive to re-instate.

I called the lawyer, who assured me that they had filed the certificate and that, "they always send out that form. Just ignore it"... so I did.

time passed...

The "meeting with creditors", aka court date [May 4] came & went. I sat at home waiting... for some notice that my case was accepted into bankruptcy. The 45 day period expired and the only notice I received was a receipt for my 1st payment to the Trustee. [By my court date, I had made 2. Today, I'm mailing #4 of 36. I am actually "ahead" since this payment isn't due until 7/25/11, but it takes about half of my Social Security check for each payment, which must be by money order. I've found an Smart store that has only a $.79 charge for an m.o. under $500 and in order to make sure that I can always get the payment in on time, I have to do it this way.]

But I digress...

On June 19, the court sent me another "form 23", with similar warnings as to the dire consequences for "non-compliance"...

Of course it was late on a Friday afternoon when I opened the letter, so I called the lawyer, explained the situation and received some surprising information.

"Oh, no news is good news from the court... they only contact you if there is a problem with your case... we filed your certificate... just fill-out the form 23 and send us a copy... we'll take care of it..."

Which I did...

On Monday, the lawyers left a voice mail. They had contacted the court and discovered that there was some sort of "glitch" with the computer and quite a few people had received "form 23" notices in error. The court had found the problem and had acknowledged the receipt of my certificates, so all was well...


It would have been really nice to have received a letter from the court, notifying me of the acceptance of my Chapter 13 petition. The sense of relief at the completion of a pretty stressful and terrifying few years would have been welcome.
As it is, I still feel like I'm waiting,  "for the other shoe to fall",  but I suppose that I just have to trust that the worst is behind me and move on.

The HUD counselor just called to "check-up" on my situation.We had put the mortgage modification on hold during the bankruptcy filing period. It seem that the banks are now making it much harder to modify based on "imminent default", which was my qualification. Now, to qualify, one of the mortgage holders has to die, suffer total disability or be months behind on their mortgage. Since I'm not dead, not totally disabled and current on my mortgage, I no longer qualify. This just means that things will remain very tight financially unless I get some sort of extra money each month. But, things have worked out so far... so I'll just continue to trust that God will provide all my needs.