Trains, Courthouses, and Exhaustion Beyond Coffee

metra-rail-train

This morning we took the little one and hopped the train and went downtown.

We really had no idea what we were in for.

Armed with a messenger bag full of tax returns, paperwork, and electronics for the preschooler (that, seriously, you know she never touched, right?) we trekked off on our train adventure.

Lucky for us, most of the rush hour passengers are gone by the time we got there for our 8:11am train. We were able to score seats across from each other and the little one sat on our laps – trading off whenever she got a little bored – during the journey. I knew we were keeping her indoor voice going strong when people leaving the train stopped to tell me how adorable she was. She ate it up and always said, “Thank you.” which made them melt.

She’s going to be dangerous, this one.

We got off the train at Millennium Station and decided we were going to try and get to our destination via the Pedway, so we wouldn’t have to spend extra money on a taxi.

Since we aren’t moles, we totally got turned around and walked for like five blocks underground before starting to get freaked out and feeling like maybe we’d never see daylight again. We saw a staircase that said Washington Street and were like, “Sunlight! Yea! It can’t be worse out there than it is down here!”  Also, I might have been having a problem with my very friendly daughter talking to every single homeless person underground. I didn’t stop her because they’re human and deserving of interaction because it has to be hard being invisible while hundreds of people swarm by. It still made me mildly uncomfortable, though, in the same way it would if she were talking to pretty much anyone else in the Pedway. She just happened to engage with the people who were sitting (more on her level) talking to the crowd (she’s really responsive) or playing music (because that’s pretty cool). Basically, she was interacting with the most social people in the city and while I wasn’t about to stop her we had an appointment and I couldn’t let her get sucked into a half hour conversation with anyone.

The Helper and the Lawyer

The first place we went was to Legal Aid across from the Daley Center. They were super nice and we went upstairs and filled out some forms and were introduced to a very nice lady (who shall remain nameless for privacy purposes) who collected and scanned all the documents we brought while telling us her life story. Okay, not her life story.

She told us about her condo. She lived at her condo for 17 years and then she lost her job. After she fell for a couple scams and finally got help, she ended up with a new 30-year mortgage and a payment that was higher than before. So after 17 years, she has made less than no headway. She decided she wanted to work for a company that made sure that didn’t happen to other people.

I’m not sure why, but this did not leave me feeling either inspired or hopeful. It left me sad. We filled out many more forms, found out that we were supposed to bring in 2012 W-2 forms but everything else was scanned and accounted for.

Our next stop was to talk to the lawyer.

She was in her twenties if she was a day. I mean, this girl was young. Not only was she young but she was at Legal Aid (that means pro bono) wearing some of the most expensive clothing I have ever seen. Cream colored cable knit sweater, black tights, and gold ballet flats. She was business causal in a way that I have only seen in catalogs. She was also very direct and on point.

She walked us through what happened up until we got there, what will happen next, and gave us a timeline.

She said two things that caught me off guard:

1. She flat out asked me what I wanted. When I asked her to be a little more specific, she said, “I want to know if your goal is to stay in your home or stay in your home as long as possible until you are foreclosed on.” Oh! “I can tell you that?” Yep. So I told her I was on the fence. Staying would be easier but I’m not going to be in a situation where I pay more just for the privilege of not having to move.

2. She told me if the car was sold outright for less than it was worth, the mortgage company could legally come after me for the difference. I asked, “I thought with FHA that didn’t happen.” She said it did. Mr. Brickie asked, “Isn’t that what mortgage insurance is for?” She said, “I don’t know how mortgage insurance works, I’m trying to inform you of your rights and responsibilities.

So I was confused because every resource and every lawyer and even people who ask questions on the Dave Ramsey show hear that if you have an FHA loan, no one comes after you for the difference.

She handed me a piece of paper to take over to the Daley Center and submit at the clerk’s office.

I asked if I could ask her one little question. Her mouth said yes but dang if her eyes said no. I ignored the eyes and asked, “Has anyone ever chosen to keep their home for a reason that was not emotional? Is it ever a better decision financially – from what you have seen – to fight for and keep the house?”

It took ten minutes but she finally got to the point and said, “No. The reasons are always emotional. Well, that and your credit rating but even with that your credit rating is hurt almost as much by a short sale or a deed-in-lieu than a full-on foreclosure.”

Well, crap.

To the Daley Center

daley-picasso

Yes, he IS looking at you. In case you were wondering. That’s our famous Daley Center Picasso. Or, “The Horsey” to pretty much any kid on earth.

On our way in Mr. Brickie has a minor meltdown because it’s a courthouse in Chicago and we have cell phones and headphones and the LeapPad and he’s thinking we’re never getting past security. I completely ignore him because I’m too practical to engage in that kind of paranoid, right? I walk up to the nearest security person (police officer?) and ask if cell phones and everything else will be a problem getting through security. I even showed her my FitBit (I’m pretty sure she’s going to buy one now, you are very welcome Fitbit company) to make sure it’s not going to make me look suspicious.

Everything was fine and we sailed through security.

The lawyer gave us a sheet with floors and room numbers so we knew right where to go. The first place was on the 28th floor and we now know that DD freaks out on elevators. The More you Know™ right? We turned in our fee waiver and the judge signed it. We took the whole shebang down to the filing room and got everything turned in.

Next Steps

We got back to the train station with a little less than a half hour until our 1:30pm train left. DD ate the cake pop I bought her at some Starbucks along the way. I’m not usually a food reward kind of mom, but she was as perfect as a four year old could possibly be all day. Polite, engaging, friendly … if she had wanted a pony instead of a cake pop I might have tried to make it happen. I was so proud of her.

We have another copy of the answer to the foreclosure and I just have to mail it to the  law office handling the foreclosure for our mortgage company.

If we don’t choose to keep the house, that piece of paper is going to give us an extra 4-6 months of being in the house on top of what we already have. If we do choose to keep the house, it lets us become more financially solvent so we can pay mortgage payments. A complete win-win.

You might be wondering why I haven’t already mailed that piece of paper since I’ve been on the ball this whole time. Funny story…I sat down after I got home and immediately fell asleep. Not a quick nap, either. I woke up with my mouth hanging open with drool all over the place. I was exhausted!

I wanted to update you first, so I wrote this as soon as I woke up. After I hit “Publish” I’m going to fill out an envelope and go mail that letter to the lawyer.

Tomorrow? The follow up phone call with NACA. We have two companies we are going to use to get us through this mess. That’s two better than zero, for sure.

Also, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the emails, comments, posts, and notes with warm wishes. Knowing I’m not all alone in the world makes this so much easier to deal with.

Really….thank you.

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