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This is Dispatches from the Displaced, where homeowners who face foreclosure share their stories in their own words. According to a report from the Center for Responsible Lending, the number of foreclosures in 2009 has just passed the 1,000,000 mark, and millions more are in limbo, waiting for short sales to be approved by foot-dragging banks or to find out if they qualify for assistance under President Obama's Making Home Affordable relief program -- and many who feel the pinch don't.
Stephanie and Bob Walker have chronicled their experience with mortgage default and pending foreclosure on their blog, Love in the Time of Foreclosure. Their house has been on the market for nine months, since Bob lost his job. Since then, the Walkers have had to deal with the emotional rollercoaster that is foreclosure:
Nine months ago is when this all began. That's when Bob lost his job and we knew without a back-up plan for his income, we were in trouble. Neither of us wanted to sell the house. Everything was unknown... and the fear and anxiety was definitely worse then than it is now. What the hell would happen to us? Well, we didn't know then, but many of our 'worst case scenarios' would come to pass. The house didn't sell at full price and instead sat on the market through many reductions for over 7 months where it still sits. We didn't get jobs right away. It took me 3 months and Bob 4 months. Our bank account rested in negative territory for a couple of weeks at the lowest point. And we're now selling the house in short sale with the hope of avoiding foreclosure.
Having gone through all of that I can honestly say that the fear of losing everything is definitely worse than actually losing everything. Once you're in it... you realize it's not that bad. You tap into resources you never knew you had. You surprise yourself. You realize you can handle it. Anything that comes your way. And when you turn the worst case scenario into the greatest opportunity, you give yourself a lot more room to breathe.
At one of the tensest points, Countrywide, the Walkers' mortgage company, set a sale date for the foreclosure -- even though they were still waiting to be approved for a short sale:
Here's what Bob just figured out. February 16th, 2009 our house went into foreclosure without a sale date. June 6, 2009 is exactly 3 months and 3 weeks from February 16th. By law, they have to wait at least 3 months and 3 weeks. They are foreclosing at the earliest possible date. This, I have to say, is a surprise.
...The short sale has been approved by both Countrywide and National City. Why would Countrywide approve a short sale and foreclose instead? At this very moment, Countrywide is considering two offers on our house. We just got a third offer today that we'll be submitting to them for consideration. Three different parties are trying to buy our house at this very moment. Why would they set a foreclosure date in the face of all of this? Well, perhaps it's a case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.
...This is what I know: we have 3 offers. 2 are already at the bank under consideration. The people who submitted these offers really want our house. Our Realtor is telling us not to worry. That the short sale will come together and this date of foreclosure will all be moot. None of it will matter. I want to believe this.
Another thing I know: it will all work out. I don't know how. I just know. In the meantime, we will do everything we have to do to make sure this short sale comes together. Foreclosures don't benefit anyone.
June 9th (the auction date), by the way, is 10 days after our 6 year wedding anniversary.
As of just a few days ago, things have been looking up for Stephanie and Bob: their short sale has been approved by both their first and second mortgage companies, and they are on track to avoid a foreclosure.
Are you facing foreclosure, or have you already lost your home? Share a story of how the housing crisis has affected you by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And sign up here to receive updates about our foreclosure project.
Find out more about Dispatches from the Displaced, HuffPost's Eyes&Ears series of reader-submitted foreclosure stories.