Everyday I get telephone calls from people who are desperate and confused and looking for help. They are afraid they are losing their homes. They have mortgages they cannot afford. They had no idea what they were getting into a few years back when the market was “hot” and they purchased or refinanced their home; they had no idea that the rates would adjust and that they would have to make payments that are double and triple the amount of their initial payment. And, they have no idea today how they are going to pay their mortgages.
Many of these people are not the kind who refinanced and purchased Escalades or trips to Hawaii. The story is well known by now. They faced illness and used the money for unanticipated medical expenses, or they used the money to defray expenses after they lost their jobs, or they suffered a divorce or death in the family and now they simply can not afford to pay the mortgage any more. For example: a couple in their 70’s who are now retired and living on fixed incomes (social security and a modest savings) recently saw their mortgage payment triple. Now that the market has crashed and they are upside down with payments they can’t afford, they are faced with losing all they worked for their entire lives, and, at the tender age of 75, homelessness.
What’s disgusting is to see the same culprits who got them into this mess in the first place (the unscrupulous real estate agents and mortgage brokers), switching hats and scheming and dealing to take advantage of them on the way down. That’s usually where I come in. I’m suddenly involved in helping people deal with the-people-who-are-trying-to-help-gone-bad. If you had asked me if I ever thought I would be doing this work a few years back, I would have never believed you. But this is one way that I find the practice of law to be extremely gratifying.
A few years ago, when Pacific Street Films enlisted my aid in producing “Follow the Money,” I was surprised to discover learn about this story before it broke and became national news. It was a hard sell getting people to invest in the making of a documentary which was ahead of what merely 6 months later turned out to be a huge curve.