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November 2015
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I am the 99%

I just got an email from Elizabeth Warren’s campaign about President Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This gives me hope that we can change this deeply broken system.

I am a native English speaker with a Master’s Degree. I am employed as a software engineer at Stanford University. Clearly, I have some advantages in my favor and I know how to use my brain effectively in many situations. And yet I signed a mortgage I could not understand because I trusted people who seemed nice to explain it to me and look out for my best interests. That was a terrible mistake that I’m paying for heavily right now.

I am one of the people whose home is in foreclosure. The stress of not being able to keep up with my house payments caused me tremendous grief, irreparable damage to my marriage, plenty of stress-related damage to my body, and has left some deep emotional scars that I am just starting to learn how to heal.

Let’s heal this country. Let’s elect people who give a damn about other people. Elect Elizabeth Warren:


Comment from David
Time: July 2, 2012, 10:52 am

Honest question (it might sound sarcastic, but its not…I’m really trying to understand): what is so hard about understanding a mortgage? You are borrowing money to buy a house. Your payment each month is $xxxx.

Comment from bess
Time: July 2, 2012, 11:37 am

Hi, David.

You’re describing the most basic straightforward kind of mortgage, and if everyone had stuck to mortgages like that we wouldn’t be in this giant financial mess. However, we wanted to buy and renovate a house that was in terrible shape. No plumbing, electricity, heat, etc. Our hearts were in the right place — fixing up an abandoned historic property in downtown Charlottesville would be better for the environment, great for the community, wouldn’t contribute to urban sprawl, we would be re-using lots of existing construction materials… lots of good reasons to do this!

However, we didn’t have a lot of money. No problem! We found out about renovation mortgages, where you borrow the purchase price of the house plus enough for the renovation. However the “plus enough for the renovation” amount was tied up in a poorly documented process that left us vulnerable to fraudulent contractors, with no legal recourse. It was a terrible contract that we should never have signed. We ended up making payments on a loan whose proceeds we could not receive without a counter-signature from our contractor, who abandoned us for a more lucrative job soon after our renovation started (and the contract had no provision for replacing the contractor!). So we had payments that assumed a full renovation, but most of that renovation money stayed at the bank because our contractor wasn’t doing the work, and in the meantime we couldn’t live in the house. We ended up doing much of the work ourselves, but WE couldn’t be paid for that work, only HE could be, because of the way the contract was written. There was much more to the story, not the least of which was the total refusal of the bank to even discuss the situation with us.

Basically, this was one of the many poorly thought out mortgages that banks were offering at the height of the bubble. We thought we were smart, we thought we had done our homework. We did not understand the situation we were in until it was too late.

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