In December 2009 a senior residential loan officer at a local bank spent an hour with me. He told me right from the get-go his bank was not going to loan me a penny, then he looked at the magazine article and the book and my assets and really listened. He said it would be unethical of him to grant me a loan; I could never pay it. I had to get out from under this and move on. He went on to say he had on his desk four conforming loans for people who were well-qualified and had more assets on hand than the amounts they wished to borrow but even those loans were stuck, sitting with the OCC awaiting approval, and that if he was having a hard time getting these loans approved, my non-conforming loan didn’t have a prayer. He told me my only option was HAMP. He said he’d had to turn down a local policeman who’d been laid off and was collecting unemployment; that man was ultimately able to obtain a loan modification at a 2% interest for a forty-year term. I listened, thanked him for taking the time to speak with me and vowed to myself that if I was ever again in a position to do business with a bank, his small local bank would be first on the list.
I went home to look at the website http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/modification_eligibility.html and saw the $ cap of $729,750. Okay, a reach, but maybe this could work. Yes, I owed more than $729,750.00 but I could drain my retirement savings and bring the loan amount due down to hit that number. I’d be penniless but it was still worth doing if I could get a loan modification. I called my investment adviser and told him to tee up for liquidating my retirement savings and then I called back his sharp mortgage broker friend and laid out my plans. He listened carefully and asked where the $729,750. 00 number was coming from. I told him it was on the makinghomeaffordable.gov web site. He informed me that HAMP qualifying numbers are location-based and vary by county; the Cape May County, NJ maximum $ amount was $487,500.00. I could liquidate my retirement savings and my assets and still not bring the loan balance down enough to hit that number. HAMP was not going to work for me.