Save Money in this Sunday's paper


No job, no loan aid, she has no choice but to sell home

Stella M. Hopkins
Save Your Home
A continuing series by The Charlotte Observer.

Nancy White put her Indian Trail home of 10 years on the market last weekend after losing a yearlong battle to reduce her mortgage payment.

"I can't hold on any longer," said White, who lived in the Union County neighborhood a total of 27 years.

White, 58, with two grown sons, lost her job in a dental services office in December 2008. She's managed to stay current on her monthly payment of $827, which takes about half her unemployment income.

In February 2009, she applied for a modification from Bank of America. Thirteen months later, she was denied, because her unemployment is close to running out. Of course, that might not have been the case - if her request had been acted on faster. Changes to the federal foreclosure-prevention program might have helped her. The new plan calls for up to six months of reduced mortgage payments. That could have helped White conserve cash. But after that temporary reduction, she wouldn't qualify for a long-term modification under the new rules because unemployment income no longer counts.

White recalls being reluctant to take on a larger mortgage late in 2007, when she and her husband refinanced and cashed out about $22,000 to pay off bills. The new loan, at 6.25 percent, was with Countrywide, which Bank of America bought in 2008.

The following summer, the couple split up, after 37 years of marriage. Soon after, her mother died, and a few months later her job of nine years ended.

"Finally, I get to a point where I think I'll be OK, and the bottom falls out," White said of those bleak months.

She very much wanted to stay current on her payments, to protect the credit record she rebuilt. Her cost-cutting measures included moving in with her father.

Bank of America recently suggested a temporary payment reduction, but White doesn't see her job situation improving anytime soon. She doesn't want to tap her 401(k) nest egg to make payments on a home she can no longer afford.

Her house is listed for nearly $25,000 less than its tax value.

"I hope I can at least sell it for what I owe," she said. "That's another gamble."

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