Foreclosure threat leads to hunger strike

One homeowner's drastic measures still might not allow her to keep her home, but she's hoping the national attention will help other troubled borrowers who are in even worse situations.

By Mai Ling at MSN Real Estate Nov 10, 2010 12:33PM

With millions of homeowners facing foreclosure, it's hard to make your voice heard over the masses, especially with so many current and former homeowners wondering if the tactics used to take their homes were fraudulent.

 

But one Baltimore homeowner has found a way to make her message resonate across the nation, and also get her into the office of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley.

 

With her home less than 45 days from foreclosure, Lauren Rymer started a hunger strike Monday outside her state Capitol to protest not just potentially losing her own home, but also the structural problems in the industry. Learn more about her stance in the following video:

 

 

Unlike many homeowners who are facing foreclosure, Rymer has been steadily employed since well before she purchased her home in 2006, and only fell behind on her mortgage payments when her property taxes increased 55% in two years. But similar to many homeowners in default, she was unable to qualify for a loan modification or to refinance her interest-only loan.

She insists she bought within her means and has remained responsible with her spending. From The Huffington Post:

 

Rymer said she doesn't understand why someone with a steady job who didn't splurge can't get a break.

"I bought a small house. I didn't go crazy. I took the best loan that was available to me at the time. It was before the market crashed," she said.

 

However, now that she's gotten the attention of the nation as well as her lender, Maryland's Department of Housing and Community Development, she's also getting closer to a solution, according to Baltimore's WBAL-TV.

 

Although Rymer might not get to stay in the house on which she still owes  more than $200,000, she's hoping she can at least negotiate to avoid foreclosure by handing over the deed in lieu of foreclosure.

But it's not just about her. More importantly, Rymer says she hopes that the national attention her hunger strike receives also leads to more scrutiny of the foreclosure process. As she said in the video above:

 

"I might not be able to save my home at this point, but there are so many other people in this country that are going through the same thing and worse situations, people who have children, people who don't have anywhere to go ... But I really wanted to call attention to it and particularly to get public dialogue going."
 
55Comments
Nov 10, 2010 11:03PM
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Billion dollar government Tax Payer BailOut for executives and their corporations... easily done, no problem, happy to help early.

 

Assistance from same government to prevent forclosure on your home... not so easy, unless your foreclosed on already, and on the brink of financial ruin, Help too late.

 

Does anybody else think this is unacceptable and irrational of our government?

Just because I dont have a golden parachute I have to fall?

We should rise up loudly and not put up with this kind of ill treatment from our own elected government.

 

Nov 11, 2010 5:34AM
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Wow, some of you COMPLETELY missed the pt of this article, not even in the BALLPARK.  She isn't being foreclosed on due to her normal mortgage payment.  She is being foreclosed on because she can't afford her NEW, HIGHER PROPERTY TAXES!  That's the city she's in, not the mortgage company and not her.

Not helping her is that she bought her house at about the worst time possible (2006).  I don't feel bad for people that make bad decisions, but it sounds like she was doing fine, up until the city needed money.  Cities need to realize that they can't balance their budgets on property taxes, when property values have dropped 30% or more.

Nov 10, 2010 5:38PM
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If she had to get an interest-only loan, then she couldn't really afford the house, could she?
Nov 10, 2010 3:23PM
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Intrest only loan! what were you thinking?
Nov 11, 2010 4:36AM
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These banks (ALMOST ALL) gave just anyone a loan from 2000-2007 which basically caused housing prices to go way up.  How were any homeowners that bought in 2005-2007 to know the banks would immediately quit lending?   I'd say the biggest part of the plan was for these large banks to swallow the assets of "thousands" of smaller (FAILED) banks at pennies on the dollar, but the plan really backfired on the larger banks.   In the process of this, they crushed the economy but yet get bailed out by the FED and killing our dollar value in the process. 

 

My brother & his wife were recently behind on their mortgage (4 months) and went into foreclosure due to my brother losing his job.   He was able to get a job working for a contractor at that time, although the bank would not accept anything less than full payment of what was due.   This almost caused them to lose their house they've lived in for 9 years now.   If  these banks are so willing to give out loans, why are they not willing to work with homeowners to help the homeowners rather than just send a foreclosure letter?   Now, at the same time, the bank that gave them the loans  probably also had a cds on the loan (insurance) so it doesn't matter if the homeowner paid or not, the bank still got their money.   If we make the cds illegal & it's actually the bank's money (customers money) on the line, alot of these banks would be more willing to work with consumers rather than just foreclose when someone falls upon hard times.  Needless to say my brother & his wife were able to borrow from family to catch their payments up and have almost all that amount paid back to family.   Hard times happens to everyone at some point in their life!

Nov 10, 2010 7:30PM
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The stock market  is raging,the Fed's giving away money and the government is in asia. This woman  is the face of our nation.  Her situation is the condition of the american consumer. When GM was in trouble we were there.  We are there for the people in the middle east. Bernanke is fighting an uphill battle if he thinks we will do this again.  Whatever happens in the future I have learned my lesson.  I give this woman kudo's for standing up. She gets my vote. "Seriously". Democrat - no, Republican - no, Independent - no, Tea party - no, Our Party - hmmmmm.

Nov 10, 2010 7:27PM
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It is interesting how much contempt people seem to have for homeowners who get interest only loans. Even 30 years loans are basically interest only for the first five years, as all of the so called principal and interest payment is 99% interest payments and 1%  principal. Mortgages are deliberately front loaded so the lender can get as much interest payment as possible in the early years. The house is basically paid for three times over by the time someone stays in the home 30 years. The whole thing is a racket. It made perfect sense for someone to get an interest only loan if they only planned on living in the house 5yrs or less. No one was expecting this crisis when they bought their houses and expected to sell in 5 yrs or refinance. To ridicule people for making what at the time were commonsense decisions because the landscape changed is crazy.

 

Everyone who buys a home is making a gamble. The biggest gamble of all is assuming you will have a job into the future. We are all basing our lives on a job that there is no guarantee we will be able to hold on to. People need to start buying houses the way they should be buying cars.  Save up the money and buy the house cash or don't buy it at all. House prices will then drop to where they should be between 15,000 and 100,000. The money we are putting as a down payment should be enough to buy a house outright. Closing costs are a big rip off too. The people who got homes they could afford, with fixed interest rates and 15 or 30 yr loans may be feeling smug right now but anyone who relies on a paycheck to make that mortgage isn't as smart as they think. You are one pink slip from being in the same situation as every one else.

  

Nov 10, 2010 7:02PM
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what a sad commentary that government misspending is costing this person her home. government at all levels needs to cut spending and live within their means. even here is iowa, certainly not the heart of the forcoslure problems, the taxes on my house went up 15% this year. population in ankeny iowa in not increasing right now, but in a town of 35,000 people, we have a just built a new, second, fire station, a new hi school with construction on another one starting soon, a new police station, etc. The state couldn't fund the schools as much as in the past, so the city just raised the tax levy rate to continue their irresponsible spending!
Nov 10, 2010 5:12PM
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First of all.. I find it a bit alarming that this article as well as issue, is not receiving much notice. It's as if the real estate debacle has lost the interest of the American public.. As a Realtor, as well as a research columnist.. I'm smacked up the side of the head daily by the harsh realities of today's real estate market.

 

And yes, perhaps the interest- only, convertible loan was not the smartest long-term investment vehicle for this home owner.. But that is not the issue at hand.

 

The true issue here, is that the administrations' attempt to " Modify" the housing crises has been all but ineffective.

 

While the default of one's property is not generally the doing of the lender, it should be remembered that the lender in all cases; underwrote the loan documentation, as well as qualified the borrower.

 

The lender was in-fact the enabler of the short-term default..

 

And yes, a qualified borrower that still holds a job, as well as maintains a decent credit score, should qualify for a permanent loan modification.

 

 But then again, we must turn to the law makers' that wrote the text of "affordability" for the answer to the true question..

 

What the hell were they thinking when they left the option of participating in the administration's federally backed modification; up to those financial institutions that manifested as well as enabled the housing bubble to begin with?

Nov 11, 2010 4:28AM
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Never did understand this hunger strike tactic.  You are doing something bad or wrong to me; sooooo I'm going to do something bad to me too!??

 

Yeah, that'll teach 'em!

Nov 10, 2010 6:39PM
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Add to the type of scenarios described in the article and previous comments the many "under water" homeowners across the country.  If the number of foreclosures and short sales continue unabated, the possibility of a double dip recession will became a reality.
Nov 10, 2010 6:38PM
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No, Lucyylu, she didn't buy a home because she wanted to gamble.  Although it's the biggest investment most Americans ever make, and the biggest asset they will ever own, most people do not buy a home as an investment.  They buy it because they want...well, a home that they can live in and will one day own.  It was her bad fortune that the housing market fell apart when it did and that her taxes went up so much.

 

Of course, whether homebuyers like it or not, it is definitely a gamble these days to buy a home.  Actually, ANY investment that relies on a reasonably healthy American economy is a big gamble these days.  Our captains of industry and banking have pillaged and plundered this country so thoroughly that its prospects for recovery are questionable at best.

Nov 10, 2010 5:09PM
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Tax increase 55% in two years! Yikes. I'm no longer seeing a bang for my tax buck either. I'd like to Bang the tax system.
Nov 11, 2010 5:08AM
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I feel for these people who are in this situation, but a hunger strike?  You can argue that the banks should not have approved these loans, that they were over extending the borrower, that they should have taken a closer look at the applicants income and debt.  You know why my house won't be foreclosed on?  Because no matter what the bank told me,I knew what I could and could not handle.  I knew how much of a payment I could handle and kept money aside in savings and bonds for a rainy day.  With a cloudy forecast ahead I am not deterred, I know I can provide for my family because of sound planning and savings.  Look at it like this, just because a crack dealer gives someone a rock, does not mean they have to smoke it.  These people did this to themselves. Maybe it is the consumer that put us in this crunch and the mortgage crisis, sure maybe they had a little shove from the banks but no bank ever forced me to sign for a loan I could not handle. Sorry, just my opinion.
Nov 10, 2010 5:54PM
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I have just contacted the North Carolina Banking commssion about a development loan a partner and I took out. Yes, we are in arrears, but we have paid $138,000 dollars in interest in two years on a million dollar note. This April, the bank offered a 12 month forebearance agreement as opposed to auction. 2 months after the foreclosure, they renegged on the agreement, and at 1:50 on Monday, November 8th, I listened as the Deed of Trust attorney, read 4 pages of material to me and the air in the foyer of the court house, and the bank bought back our million dollar loan for $439,000. Of course they are going to sue us for the difference. I just don't understand how they are the only business who can sell properties at millions and millions of dollars in loses, and stay in business. TEll me, how does that work?

Never mind the forebearance agreement, never mind the fact that my partner and I are in better shape, that I was finishing the subdivision out of my own funds, unaware they were going to auction, that they bought it back $561,000 dollars short of the loan amount, $161,000 dollars short of "their in house" appraisal, and 2,011,000 short of my March 2008 appraisal( as if finished).

Never mind that my loan officer who set this all up, and who was going to get us the rest of the money to finish(my original budget was 1.3m to complete), quit, and in walked the Nazi's and stuck the yellow developer arm band on. Never mind the banks were not supposed to take any more interest payments, after they foreclosed.(illegal)

The banks, who get money on loan fromt he fed, who are being helped or repleneshed, have shown no mercy, have driven the prices of homes and property down further than necessary, creating comps that are far lower than the bubbles prices were high, rather than let them go back to a normal discount of 10-30%, they have chosen 40-80%.

They sucked in all the capital they could by threatening to call loans if people did not put more money down, and then called and foreclosed anyway.

Now, since they have helped no one, since they have ruined values, credit, retirement, and the economy, and are doing everything within there power to keep it so, tell me again why you need to put your money in the bank? Tell me why we need a bank, who charges us % or fees on the money we put in there? Tell me why we need to renew the Fed Reserve charter, since they made it harder still for banks to help us, by sending regulators(civil war carpet baggers and regulators) in to harrass and control banks in the most arrogant, mindless,and careless way possible. Nazi storm troopers, them and the IRS. Americas two terrorist organization.

You see, if they had listened to the guy who did 2 years of market research in a 4 county area, visited every subdivision, sold our last tract in only 4 months, and has the most original and value oriented concept of any of them up here, and loaned us the money to finish, I would have sold 2-3 of the lots before the collapse, and that would have led to me building my own home in there, and that would have led to more sales.

So, in the next revolution, make sure you line the bankers and the fed up on the wall, next to all politicians who think they that this country and its citizens are their slaves.

They should be required to hold every damn loan they made, and like any other business partner, ride this out like the rest of us, make more loans now to good business ventures, and wait to make profits, just like the rest of us.

Nov 10, 2010 6:42PM
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In the next election if everyone that makes less then 100000 dollars a year agrees to vote for the same guy as president. And that guy isnt a democrat or a republiucan . There will be a land slide victory and we will be on our way to taking our country back from the Clintons,Bushes, and madolfs of the world.
Nov 10, 2010 4:52PM
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Unfortunately she didn't overspend, but her local govt apparently did. Thus the steep increase in taxes. Or perhaps it was similar to what happened to us when we first bought our home. It was a new build and the taxes for the second year were based on the taxes from the first year (which only happened to be 6 months worth), so that's all that went into escrow. When tax time rolled around we owed almost $4000 more. Had we not gotten a loan from family, we would have lost our home. One of the many ways you can get screwed in a home loan. It's almost not worth it to own a home anymore.
Nov 11, 2010 5:43AM
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booto,

Believe it or not I discourage this type of behavior. I am a realtor in a resort town and primarily deal with 2nd homes. I have 8 properties currently undercontract and all are shortsales. I am working to get people out of the situation that other realtors have gotten them into. Not one of the properties that I have listed were my previous sales. People are big boys. If they choose to lie to the mortgage company, they can not blame the company when they default

Nov 11, 2010 5:54AM
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It boils down to one thing.  You are an idiot if you buy a home you can't afford.  You can't blame the banks, the fed, the realtor, or anyone else.  YOU are to blame.  It is time people start taking responsibility for their own actions. "Predatory lending and fraudulant tactis to take the home" are catchy buzz terms used to place the blame on someone else.  If you didn't pay your mortgage, you don't get to stay in your home, simple as that.  It sickens me that society has degraded to the point that lawyers and our government have taken up the cause that these people are somehow the victims.  There is something you can do when things happen in life that are unexpected, it's called planning ahead. 
Nov 11, 2010 5:32AM
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As someone who has been going thru the loan modification process since Aug, the grind these banks/servicers put you thru is a stall tactic. 800 credit scores,25%equity in home, refi amount less than120K, just underemployed; as aformer realtor this stinks of just "waiting em out" till something happens in the persons life that can allow the banks to say NYET.

 There is no one that will push these big guys; these people in DC are [powerless

Its no skin off the banks except they make a little less on interest; they even charge a fee to do it(looks like 1.5% of loan)

Today I will be calling and attempting to ask why they need a P&L from a federal employee, or why they need a copy of my divorce decree when I sent one in the initial packet.

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