You know when you run across those feel good moments and you realize why you’re really doing something? Recently, I had one of those moments again, and it made my day.
A couple months ago, I had a client call me. To protect the innocent, let’s call him Joe. The walls were closing in on him, and he had just gotten the Notice of Trustee’s Sale. You know what that means, right? You wake up one morning and that final note is taped to the front door for all the neighbors to see. If you want to try and keep your house now, you can’t avoid the bank anymore.
“No problem Joe. There are still a couple months left,” I tell him. “That’s enough time to get things organized and come up with a game plan.”
I gave him some references, discussed briefly some of the options, and gave him a list of things to do. After our conversation, I kept thinking there are ways around this that allow him to keep the property, but it would require some work on his part. That weekend I ended up driving down to Tacoma on a Saturday morning to join Joe for the initial bankruptcy consultation.
Now, as an agent, I don’t always go to the bankruptcy consultation. Let’s face it, I don’t have a role in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I always try to attend a short sale consultation or other meeting for distressed properties where a real estate point of view is much more valuable, but Chapter 13 is more about debts.
In this instance, Joe requested I be there… I think mainly as moral support. I’ve known Joe for a couple years, but it had been a while since I talked with him. Based on my single conversation that day, he still sounded a little bit in shock… like a deer in headlights kind of response to the situation. When the bank is about to beat down your door, I’m happy to try and offer direction and keep some sanity in the situation. A distressed sale side IS part of my business, and I’ve had years and years of practice with these situations. I know a few tricks and have good resources.
The consultation was pretty straight forward. We went over the situation, tallied up assets, brushed over debts, took a quick glance at the lawsuits, strategized for a game plan and then made a checklist for what was needed to move forward.
As we parted ways, I felt good about the situation. There was a plan now. It was going to be a lot of work and hours of compiling data for Joe, but at least he had a solution.
Then Joe called me again last week. Three months after our first meeting. The week before the bank was going to foreclose on his house and evict his family.
My initial reaction to this call was 1) there are less than 10 days before the auction; 2) I need to get the investors who were going to buy his house at auction that Friday off his back so they don’t start stalking the property and knocking on the door; and 3) Joe had better be praying that less than 10 days is even enough time for bankruptcy to be filed now to stall anything.
I set up a meeting with Joe so he could come to my office and go over, what I thought, was his final pile of paperwork. That same day, I started making calls to all the investors I know who buy these properties at auction and tell them this place isn’t worth their time. It’ll be cancelled next week, so leave it alone. Finally, I make some calls to everyone I can find at the attorney’s office to give them a head’s up this file is going to be done at the last minute and will be an emergency when it hits the door, so please set aside time.
Turns out, Joe wasn’t close to the final pile of paperwork. What I thought was a 30 minute meeting took the whole day. Joe was kind enough to bring me back dinner on one of his trips collecting data. I do appreciate that. As I poured over the documents, the bills, the law suits, paystubs, and everything else involved, I gave him tasks to do and more information to go retrieve, so that he could get this filed and keep his house. Finally, after many people had already left for the day, we finished and got it packaged up and ready for delivery. I wrote down the address and directions for where he needed to go, and sent him on his way again. That was Friday night.
Then on Monday, Joe calls. There is a split second before I pick up the phone where I mentally prepare myself… we didn’t make it, he’s calling to say he’s losing the house. Deep breath. Then I answer and hear “Hey Jen, you really saved my bacon!” Whew! What a relief.
Joe was able to get everything in order to the attorney and have an emergency injunction filed. They set a meeting for the formal document review, and were able to cancel the foreclosure sale from the property. Joe will be able to keep his family and his kids in a house that they worked very hard to get. That makes me feel good.
I guess the lesson here is that everyone can get in over their heads. Life can take a turn and then you are on plan B or plan C… then plan D. If you find yourself or see your friends struggling with plans that get more and more desperate each time, there are options to relieve some of the pain, frustration, stress, and embarrassment.
Each situation is confidential. It’s amazing the number of stories I will take to the grave with me.
This story above may be just one, but it’s 1 out of 121 other families that I have personally helped through a very similar situation in the last few years. When I add it up, that’s over $13 million dollars of debt that I have helped people be freed from. That doesn’t include the countless others that were just a consult or brainstorming session or where another resource was the one they needed instead for their situation instead of me.
Sometimes it’s a business that fails, or medical bills, divorce, death in the family, bankruptcy, or whatever… there is always a solution that is better than putting your head in the sand and trying to ignore it. The only thing I ask.. is maybe have that conversation with me a little more than a week before the auction is scheduled. Unless you want to buy me dinner while we pour through mountains of your confidential and personal paperwork, ha!
It is NEVER TOO EARLY to start with a strategy. Call/text Jen at (206) 293-1005 or send me an email at: Jen@HudsonCREG.com.
Let’s get back on track and build your future together. That’s what we’re all trying to do anyway.