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'An endless déjà vu of hell'

A year ago, Rob Waters asked his mortgage lender for reduced payments because he'd been laid off.

The Concord man, who is 47 and the divorced father of two sons, made his career in the jewelry industry and has the upbeat nature of a salesman. In January 2009, the downturn claimed his job with a high-end SouthPark store. He landed another with a jewelry shop in Rock Hill, but at less than half his previous pay.

In October, Bank of America gave Waters a trial modification, reducing his payment by more than 40 percent, to $774.

In late March, he received a letter from the bank, acknowledging receipt of his documents and his request for a modification. That month, he was laid off again. He quickly landed a part-time job with a chain jeweler, and he's collecting unemployment.

In April, he made his sixth trial payment, according to check copies he provided the Observer. Trials are supposed to last three months, typically ending with either a long-term modification or rejection.

Later in April, the bank told him he was denied because he hadn't provided documents. That was about a month after the letter saying his information had been received. The bank suggested he re-apply.

"This is like an endless déjà vu of hell," Waters said.

He bought his house in 1999 for $187,000 with a 10 percent down payment. Amid sleepless nights and bouts of worry, he's been tempted to just let his house go. But it's not his way.

He's reapplied for a modification. Without it, he's probably facing foreclosure.

The bank has told him it might take up to 45 days to review his new application.

"I'm thinking, 'Ha, ha,'" he said. "I've been through all this before."