Growing up in a real estate household, I was an early bloomer. I bought my first house at 19. It was a 2-1, built in the 1940s. Being so young, I didn’t have enough credit to get traditional financing, so I bought it with a Contract for Deed—a vehicle that is now illegal in Texas because of abuses by unscrupulous lenders.
Everything was going great until one day I did what many people do. I lost my job and couldn’t make the payments on my little house. I tried to make partial payments, and the contract holder accepted the first two. When I found work again, he refused to accept anymore payments and foreclosed on the house.
Luckily, I had an “unfair” advantage. My mom was a Realtor®, and she knew a good real estate lawyer. The contract holder was surprised to see me in court and even more surprised to see I had a lawyer. Most of the people in my situation apparently just walked away from the house.
The judge (justice of the peace, actually) ruled in my favor because I had the money to catch up the back payments plus interest. My lawyer didn’t even have to speak. The contract holder protested, “I don’t want the money. I want the house back! It’s worth more now than when I sold it to him.” The JP picked up his gavel to say something else, but the contract holder’s wife pushed him away from the bench, telling her husband, “Shut up, Harry. We lost.”
Even though almost 40 years have past and Contract for Deeds are now illegal in Texas—as are lease purchase options of any substantial duration… Even though we had the Crash of 2008 and the resultant Dodd-Frank legislation is in place…predatory lending still goes on.
While I’ve been working to save the credit of the homeowners I’ve seen banks do everything in their power—from repeatedly “losing” paperwork to intentionally dragging out the process for months—to force houses into foreclosure. It still makes me as angry as it did the time I almost lost my own house. I understand the home owners’ frustration and sense of powerlessness. I really want to help in the only way I can, by trying to salvage what’s left of their credit. I have more than one tool at my disposal to help, and I feel really frustrated every time I see a big bank take a fellow human being’s house away.
That’s why I work so hard to stop every foreclosure I can.
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