Monday, October 13, 2008

Bad mortgage - whose fault?

Sounds like she was mortgage-free in '97, when she was 78 years old. At this time she had lived in the same house for 26 years.

Then, for some reason she took out a mortgage . Who gives a 30 year mortgage to a 78 year old??? Obviously she was not working. Was she going to pay it back with her social security?

Why would she take it out in the first place? Was she hoodwinked into taking it by an unscrupulous mortgage broker? This might be the real story. What bank or mortgage company gave the loan?

Why would she refinance 'several times' since then ? Again, perhaps a high pressure mortgage salesperson was involved?

And what did she do with the tens of thousands of dollars she received?

She may be worthy of sympathy if she was badgered into these loans by unscrupulous salespeople. Then again perhaps she was a somewhat willing participant in the scam.

Widow puts face on home crisis

Shoots herself in foreclosure

Monday, October 13, 2008

Buzz up!

AKRON, Ohio | By the time deputies came to escort Addie Polk out of her home of 38 years, the 90-year-old had taken out her life insurance policy and placed it next to her pocketbook and keys in the neatly kept house.

She shot herself in the chest Oct. 1 before she could be taken away from the foreclosed house, which was worth less than its mortgage from the day she took out the loan.

A congressman called her the face of a national tragedy, the housing crisis that has affected millions of Americans. Neighbors were stunned and said they had no idea the widow had been about to lose her two-story home.

As she recovered, Mrs. Polk sounded a bit regretful. "She said that was a crazy thing to do," said neighbor Robert Dillon, 62, who visited her at the hospital.

Mrs. Polk's cause was taken up by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat, and fueled blogs on reckless lending practices rampant during the housing boom. Mortgage finance company Fannie Mae dropped the foreclosure, forgave her mortgage and said she could remain in the home.

"You have to shoot yourself to get help," said a neighbor, Hannah Garrett, 76.

The Summit County Sheriff's Department concluded that Mrs. Polk shot herself over the foreclosure, Lt. Kandy Fatheree said. A revolver was inches from her, and the house was locked.

Mr. Dillon heard the gunfire Oct. 1, climbed through Mrs. Polk's upstairs bathroom window and found her lying in bed bleeding.

Mrs. Polk was recovering at Akron General Medical Center, and did not respond to a mailed Associated Press request for an interview. The hospital would not release information about her condition.

Mr. Dillon hadn't been aware of Mrs. Polk's financial situation but said she had indicated she couldn't afford roof or porch repairs.

Mrs. Polk's blue-collar neighborhood, overlooking a duck pond and a noisy highway near Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s world headquarters, is a mix of renovated and worn-out houses. Unlike some hard-hit areas, no for-sale signs were dotted along the brick street on a recent day.

Neighbors said Mrs. Polk, who has no children, drives herself to church services and goes out to dinner with friends on Sundays.

"She didn't act like she was under stress," Mrs. Garrett said.

Mrs. Polk took out a mortgage in 1997 and refinanced several times after that, court and property records showed. She took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 four years ago when the house was appraised at $31,230. That move put her in a position that, according to Deutsche Bank, up to 40 percent of borrowers, or 20 million households nationwide, could face within 12 to 18 months: Suddenly Mrs. Polk owed more on her house than it was worth.

While many households ran into that problem when once-soaring house prices declined, there was no bubble on LaCroix Avenue, located in a city whose population dropped 4 percent since 2000 amid declining manufacturing.

Fannie Mae, which had assumed the Countrywide Home Loan mortgage on Mrs. Polk's home, thinks a reversal of the foreclosure was appropriate given the circumstances, a Fannie Mae spokesman said. Fannie Mae filed the foreclosure on Sept. 6, 2007.

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