Valentine's Day Reflection: The Heartbreak of a Short Sale Seller

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In the beginning there's a dream

In 2001 I purchased my first house
with my now ex-husband.  We looked online and in Housing magazines for a few months and made some financial sacrifices (like commuting to work and daycare with one car that was some fun). 

When we found our house it was everything we wanted and it was within our housing budget for a family of three soon to be four on a middle class income.  We closed on the house when I was eight 1/2 months pregnant but didn't move in until after I gave birth to my first son. 

My oldest daughter at the time was four.  It was a perfect house for a young family of four.

There were many young families that lived in our neighborhood and we were close to recreation and a short walk from the grade school.  At 27 years old I felt like I had just purchased a mansion.  My three bedroom house was a dream come true. 

A few months after we bought our house my husband was let go from his job.  Financially I was not prepared for this and foolishly proud  I refused to borrow money from my husband's family and instead spent us into debt on our credit cards- Gas Bill- charge, Food- charge, Gas Bill-charge, you get the picture and soon enough we were sitting in bankruptcy court. 

My husband had gotten a new job by then but we just couldn't seem to stem the hemorraging flow of interest and late payments and meanwhile our lovely real estate taxes were busting through our average middle class roof. 

Holding unto an unrealistic dream

I'll never forget the day I went into bankruptcy court
.  I felt overwhelmingly defeated, ashamed, and embarrassed.  I know the judge must have seen it in my eyes when he told me to try and relax, that life happens and I was not a criminal.  We decided to try and keep our house and they discharged our credit cards that day. 
We held onto our medical debt, my younger son has asthma and had been hospitalized a few times.  I didn't want doctors to see the bankruptcy and start turning us down. 

We left the courthouse not sure whether to smile or cry.  You see we had been fighting on the upswing- refinancing, using debt consolidation companies, borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and by the time we got through those courthouse doors I don't think we really knew what we were fighting for.

Long story short, my husband's dependence on alcohol grew and we separated.  I stayed in the house with my two children and tried to hang on but about six months in and no financial support, a personal relationship with a con artist gone bad and another baby on the way and the life of a once vibrant young woman let herself get torn astray.  I woke up from my broken haze one day (no drugs involved just a depression I didn't recognize) and decided that we had to sell it was time to go. 

Two broken offer to purchase contracts later and the third one stuck and was a charmer.

The bittersweet taste of a dream that's died

My house closed and I moved on with my life
but I can tell you that I was extremely glad that as a Seller I could sign a Power of Attorney.  A few pen strokes on some closing documents and a Power of Attorney and I was selling my dream away.  A really beautiful dream in the beginning that had turned into a nightmare.  Ever since I was a young girl I had a fascination for real estate and having entered the industry at the age of 18 losing my house was completely crushing for me.
It took me more than a few months to get out of that funk and even just a few years I would have been embarrassed to talk about my short sale.  I very much considered it a personal failure. 
I could tell you a whole bunch of things.  How embarrassing it is when your neighbors ask questions or as a mortgage company puts a Yellow Notice on your Front door after you have moved and you are praying that this buyer won't fall through and you are still taking your children to the same school and you have to look into your neighbor's eyes and wonder what they might be thinking about you AND you still have to keep the utilities on until closing and now you have run completely out of money.
Man there were many days I just wanted to crawl under a rock and hide.

Life Goes On if you Let It
I am so glad to have been able to move on and kiss that time goodbye.  Wow I haven't even thought about this in a really long time in such complete raw detail and now I am gettin' a bit teary eyed or maybe that's just a bit of dust in my eye.
We all make mistakes and I choose not to look back in time too often, if at all, at mine.  It's best to forgive yourself and keep on track.  Then I read so many short sale "horror stories" and the disenchantment of the process at hand.  I trust it's very difficult and never fun for the professional...but trust this.  Nobody knows the woes of a short sale seller better than a past short sale seller. 
It's never a situation that you want to be in and it's more humbling than you could ever imagine staring at the brick and mortar of your dream that now just feels like a heap of regrets.

Short sale sellers and delinquent homeowners there is a road beyond where you are at.  Keep your chin up you don't have to feel like a failure.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Life happens. 

This too shall pass.
Valentine's Day Reflection:  The Hearbreak of a Shortsale Seller



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Kim Peasley-Parker
AgentOwned Realty, Heritage Group, Inc. - Sumter, SC
Rebecca- Thank you for sharing your story. I realize how hard it must have been. But by sharing your story, I think you have let a lot of agents realize the gamut of the emotions a seller in a short sale can go through. It is not easy, but you hopefully have made some agents more empathetic to short sale sellers.
Feb 14, 2009 12:44 PM #4
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker
Hi Rebecca - That just shows you that behind your lovely smile and those of so many others lie stories that others would not have wished for themselves. I have been through some rough times in the past too, and I feel it has strengthened me and made me very empathetic with my clients who are suffering. Thanks for sharing your story, and I'm glad that things are going well for you now. Happy Valentines Day!
Feb 14, 2009 12:56 PM #5
William "Bill" and Karen Farragher
EXIT Blue Water Realty, Matawan, NJ 07747 - Matawan, NJ

Rebecca, thank you for being open and honest with everyone.  It takes a really strong person to do that.  As mentioned before, bad things happen to good people, we all have our skeletons in the closet.  Glad to see that you got through it, I know your story will help other. 

Feb 14, 2009 01:26 PM #6
Paul Slaybaugh
Realty Executives - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate

Thank you for this, Rebecca. 

Feb 14, 2009 01:32 PM #7
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Rebecca, I have helped two clients do short sales and both had somewhat similar stories to you.  It was a long process not a short one but they were both thrilled to be able to sell their home rather than take a foreclosure.  Thanks for sharing your story!!

Feb 14, 2009 01:33 PM #8
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Rebecca, I think it takes so much courage for a person to put such a personal story like this out for others to not only see, but maybe learn from you or not feel bad because this happens to people from every walk of life. 

Back in the early 90s I had the old rob Peter to pay Paul scenario going on.  I was single and would walk the floors at night because if my closing didn't happen I was up a creek.  Same as you, I went to credit card hell.  The next thing I knew they were up to my chin.  I was lucky though I paid them off with a second on my house and got reorganized. 

I learned from the last boom in the eightys to be more cautious during this last market. 

You are so strong, sometimes it is the hard things we go through that end up giving us strengths we didn't know we had.


Feb 14, 2009 02:13 PM #9
Monica Bourgeau
Portland, OR
Business Coaching

Wow, you've been through a lot but you're creating a great business and are excellent at what you do. Thanks for sharing your story as it will help others in similar situations.

Feb 14, 2009 02:17 PM #10
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

Thank you all for listening.  I know many have touched my life sharing openly.  I am grateful to be on the other side of the short sale now and I am grateful to have learned that sharing and lending my voice just might reach in a direction that could make a difference.

Feb 14, 2009 02:30 PM #11
Pat Tasker
Shorewest Realtors - Germantown, WI
Your Milwaukee Metro Area Agent (WI)

REbecca, I kept thinking of families in this spot over the can you enjoy the holidays when you have such a dark storm cloud lurking overhead!  Sometimes in this business, we forget or just don't really think about how hard it is on the families in the middle of these situations...

Thanks for sharing such personal helps remind us we are dealing with people, not just numbers!

Feb 14, 2009 03:45 PM #12
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Rebecca I am glad that you were able to recover so well from all of this. That is quite a lot to deal with all in one period of time. I can see you are a survivor and have not let your past drag you down. It's great to know you are headed down the path of success with no turning back!

Feb 14, 2009 10:52 PM #13
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Rebecca, What a tough story that was for you to share, but if it helps even one person feel better about their plight then you have succeeded in your goal for writing it. Thanks for sharing

Feb 14, 2009 11:22 PM #14
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce
How brave of you to share your story Rebecca...there is life after a short sale...and many of our sellers tell us, we have given them the gift of a good night's sleep after the closing...thank you for your courage.
Feb 14, 2009 11:46 PM #15
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

Thank you all for your kind words.  I don't mind sharing to help.

Feb 15, 2009 01:25 AM #16
Liz Toles - Lethbridge, AB
Lethbridge Real Estate

Thanks for sharing!

Feb 15, 2009 04:37 AM #17
Travis Egan | 262.725.1505
Travis Egan -Movement Mortgage, NMLS # 655284 - Lake Geneva, WI
Movement Mortgage NMLS # 39179


I appreciate the way in which you tear yourself open and write with such transparency.  I am humbled and honored to read they eleoquent way in which you express yourself.  I know many wonderful, great people through no fault of their own endured hardship along the way.  Thank you for sharing. 


Travis Egan

Lender, Lake Geneva Real Estate

Walworth State Bank

Feb 15, 2009 06:52 AM #18
Liz Loadholt
Liz Loadholt- AgentOwned Realty- Covering SC - Mount Pleasant, SC
Realtor--Broker-in-charge - Trainer--Relocation Director Covering SC

Rebecca --- Wow ---you never know what goes on 'behind closed doors" ---- thanks for sharing -- you must be really proud of who you have become.

Mama Liz's Signature

Feb 15, 2009 07:02 AM #19
Maria Mastrolonardo
RE/MAX of Naperville - Naperville, IL
Realtor, Naperville, IL Real Estate
Rebecca - Thanks for sharing your heart-felt story. It gives me a better understanding of what short sale sellers are going through.
Feb 15, 2009 09:53 AM #20
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

Thanks for reading.  This is my little post that could.:-)

Feb 15, 2009 12:21 PM #21
Pam Sam
Dear Rebecca, You were a victim of the ignorance our education system allows to happen. You nor your husband were prepaired for the world of credit or finance. You pay for education once, ignorance you pay a lifetime for and the first cousin of ignorance is proverty. So many people take failure as being their fault. How can you succeed when you are not prepaired for the game. Most don't share their experiences and so others fall in the very same trap. I have joined a grassroots movement to educate and facilitate people to make it out of these traps. We are opening internet outlets all over the country. I feel very passionate about this because so many people have shared their woes with me and I am compelled to help. I get such joy in saving people I would do it for free.. but I get paid also! I am in heaven on earth!
Feb 15, 2009 11:03 PM #22
Rebecca Levinson, Real Estate Marketing and Online Advertising Consultant
Real Skillz-Clear Marketing for Your Real Estate Vision - Lake Geneva, WI

Pam- Thank you.  I am more than fine on the other side now but I appreciate what other consumers are going through, even having worked as a professional in a r.e. attorney's office on the closing side of this issue.

Many posts on this professional network deal with the closing issues but very few deal with the consumer angle so I felt it necessary to step in as a consumer.  SUre it doesn't get as much attention as the other posts but it is here for any who wants to look at the issue from the consumer side and for any consumers who just need some encouragement....After all many of them were sold a house in the boom years when "everyone was prospering".

Feb 16, 2009 03:41 AM #23
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