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Farmington Hills Resident Takes Foreclosure Case to the Web

Melissa Brodsky is creating a community of foreclosure stories on her blog.

In 2008, Melissa and Eric Brodsky worked with Countrywide Financial on a loan modification for their Farmington Hills home. 

Now, Countrywide no longer exists, and neither does the loan modification. For the past three years, the Brodskys have fought with Bank of America, which bought Countrywide in 2008, to keep the house. And Melissa Brodsky, an active and avid user of social media, has taken that battle to the Internet. 

What galls her is that when Bank of America took over the loan, it seemed like everything would work out. 

"They said we won't honor the agreement, but if you qualified for Countrywide's loan modification, you'll qualify for our program," she said. "Then they turned us down – four times." 

"If (Bank of America is) ruining our credit, who's going to give us a lease?"

Through her @rockdrool Twitter account, Melissa contacted a Bank of America representative, who asked her to send her phone number through a direct message, and it would be passed on to someone who could help. That only led to another rejection. 

"Then, all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, we started getting these notices from attorneys," she said. "They found our name in the Legal News."

That's how the Brodskys found out Bank of America had started foreclosure proceedings. The family's five children know what's happening and are afraid of losing their home.

"They're all a little on edge," Melissa said, adding it will be difficult for her large family to find other housing. "If (Bank of America is) ruining our credit, who's going to give us a lease?"

Social media posts reach a wide audience

Angry and frustrated, she has continued blogging and posting with a Twitter hashtag, #BOArally. Her posts have been shared hundreds of times, and she estimates as many as a million people have seen them through popular bloggers like MochaMomma.com, who has her own Bank of America tale to share. 

Bank of America took notice, Melissa said, "and the next thing I know, we're on the desk of the advocate for the (bank) president." 

The Brodskys have begun the process of filling out paperwork again, and they've been told the bank can't make any promises at this point. But no matter what comes, this experience has changed Melissa. She has collected more than 260 signatures on a petition at Change.org and opened up her blog (rockanddrool.com) to others who have foreclosure stories to tell.

"I want to start a non-profit, and I have a ton of bloggers who would get involved," she said. "If everyone donated $1, we could help so many people. What if someone just needs $5,000 to get their mortgage paid or cover moving costs, or put a downpayment on a lease? I don't want people living in their cars because of the banks."

Bank of America's response

Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch contacted Bank of America and received the following response via e-mail from spokesperson Jumana Bauwens:

"The modification agreement in 2008 was contingent on qualification. Based on their income, they did not qualify. We are still working with the Brodskys in hopes of modifying their mortgage and hope to have some new information to provide them next week."

Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 19, 2011 at 09:43 PM
i find it very interesting that BofA claims our modification was contingent based on qualification when we have a loan modification paper in our hand stating the fact that we ENTERED INTO a loan modification between my husband and Countrywide. The paper spells it out. The banks are lying and the rest of us are their scapegoats.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 20, 2011 at 05:24 PM
i forgot to mention that if you are going through the same sort of mod issue that we are going through, you need an attorney. we use ken gross, http://www.thavgross.com. he has been fabulous.
Miriam Breslauer December 20, 2011 at 06:10 PM
In my specific case, the Short Sale would have gotten the bank more money than a Foreclosed property in an area where the property values were constantly diving. I am not saying the bank HAD to accept the Short Sale. Just that it would have been nice if they had told me sooner than a few days before the property was Foreclosed on. They had been leading me on for a year and I had to spend a lot of time finding the proper paperwork, sending it in many times (it kept getting "lost"), and updating the information once per month. My problem is not that my property was Foreclosed on, I knew that might happen the second I stopped payments. My problem was the painful process with little communication from the bank. A positive interraction should have been how to maximize the money the bank got in the process while lowering the damage to my credit history. Instead, the bank got stuck with another property they probably won't be able to sell and I have a Foreclosure on my credit rating. So everyone lost out.
Miriam Breslauer December 20, 2011 at 06:16 PM
As far as the decency to honor my commitments... I became disabled and could no longer climb the stairs in the Foreclosed home (you can only fall down stairs so many times before you give up). I had to move. I attempted to sell it for years at what I had left on my mortgage, but property values were dropping quickly in that time period. I rented the home, but eventually ended up with a renter that didn't pay rent for 9 months and had to get the courts involved. I was using my entire Social Security Disability payment to pay for a home that I couldn't even live in. Even that didn't cover the full amount (I bought the property before I became disabled, working full time, and didn't know I had a disability). Letting go of the property was the only way to stop draining what little I had left of my savings. I do believe in honoring financial commitments, but if you have Cancer do you keep it in your body or have a doctor help you get rid of it. Eventually I realized that my Foreclosed home was a Cancer on my financial health and had to cut it free.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 20, 2011 at 06:17 PM
i JUST read an article about a former Bank of America employee coming forward with the fact that they were told to constantly ask for new paperwork AND to not give ANY modifications. seriously. even if you qualify, you don't qualify.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 20, 2011 at 06:23 PM
MIRIAM! You don't have to make excuses!! There are always going to be devil advocates in every comment thread. It's a common mistake that people make by thinking that those who are being foreclosed upon deserve it because they didn't honor their side of the obligation. The reality is, these doubters don't know our whole stories. So don't worry! What happened to you stinks, no ifs ands or buts.
Miriam Breslauer December 20, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Obviously you don't understand the concept of Risk. Each loan given is a Risk by the bank. A loan's interest rate is based on the amount of Risk the bank is taking in giving you a loan at that amount. A person with a well paying job, excellent credit rating, and asking for a loan they can reasonably pay for is a lower Risk so they get a lower interest rate. A person with a riskier background gets charged a higher interest rate, because the assumption is fewer in that background will be able to pay off the loan. Each loan is a gamble by the bank. The banks made a lot of bad gambles, because they didn't see how their own badly designed loans would cause more people to default on their loans. The banks also didn't seem to understand that those defaults would cause the value of homes to start to plummet. Once the value of the homes plummetted too much, when people had to move to get work they found themselves trapped with houses they couldn't sell. This caused even more defaults, but in these cases defaults in even loans of people who had been "safe" bets. The percentage Risk of people becoming Disabled (as in my case) and having to default on their loan is known and is baked into a standard interest rate. What wasn't baked into the Risk assessment was home value depreciation.
Miriam Breslauer December 20, 2011 at 08:34 PM
I stopped payments on my property because I could no longer afford to do it. Therefore, I knew I was going to lose my property. I had no problem with that. The main problem is what should have been a standard business transaction with the bank to give back the property was a hellish nightmare designed to make the person who had to give back the property feel bad about it. A home is just another asset and sometimes you can't afford to keep all your assets. That reality is cruel enough without the bank trying to give you a guilt trip about it.
Miriam Breslauer December 20, 2011 at 08:41 PM
Stocks are a Risk. There is no such thing as guarenteed returns. I have lost a lot of money in stocks in the last decade. I have been saving 10% of my income since High School and yet I have almost no savings because the various things I have invested in all ended up being bad bets. This includes directly investing in stock in a bank (which ended up going bankrupt and my stock becoming worthless). When I got the bank stock, I signed papers about the high level of risk in that investment. In my personal case, there is no direct bad guy. Indirectly the bad guys were anyone in the system who didn't rate the risk properly, thus causing people to take riskier bets than they thought they were taking, thus causing more financial bleeding than anyone planned on. I am not to blame for becoming disabled, it just happened. It could happen to anyone. Reviewing my financial decisions over time, I could have only made better choices if I had had pre-knowledge that I was disabled and the negative financial impact it would have on my life at a relatively young age. Not something anyone can really predict.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 21, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Terry, to quote you, people "loose" their homes due to banking scams, clerical errors, shady deals and those of us who HAVE jobs or can still afford to pay on our homes, the banks simply won't refinance based on current economic trends. This has nothing to do with ones credit but the mere fact that banks are TAKING ADVANTAGE of people who have income (my husband has had the same job for 20 years) and the banks simply don't give a damn. I'm glad you worked your way through college but your philosophy on the mortgage crisis is not in line with the reality of the brevity of the situation: the majority of americans need credit, can not afford more than 20% down on a home, and expect the banks to live up to their promises. The problem is that the banks are selling us short by screwing with bundled mortgages and watching america crumble financially. Not to mention the fact that their executives are doing just fine. Go Blue!
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 21, 2011 at 06:21 PM
obviously you don't see anyone else's side except for your own skewed version. which is fine, we are all entitled to our own opinions. luckily there are less of you out there than those who see the reality of america's situation. enjoy your holiday.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 21, 2011 at 06:23 PM
COUNTRYWIDE IS BANK OF AMERICA smart guy.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 21, 2011 at 07:28 PM
The article is actually correct. It's your lack of insight and appreciation of tongue in cheek humor that needs some adjustment. You actually 'earned' a diploma from the University of Michigan? Seriously, my husband's high school students are more in tune than you. Maybe you should get back to work (if you actually have a job) instead of trolling.
Joni Hubred-Golden (Editor) December 21, 2011 at 10:50 PM
Countrywide no longer exists as a separate company. In a New York Times article today, a reporter called Countrywide a "unit" of Bank of America. B of A will pay $335 million to settle discrimination charges that were filed against Countrywide: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/business/us-settlement-reported-on-countrywide-lending.html
Miriam Breslauer December 22, 2011 at 07:39 AM
There are many life instances that are very hard to predict. Some of which would have been unreasonable to predict even 10 years ago, when a lot of the housing loans in trouble started being made. 1) A pay and benefit decrease even working in the same job for the same company. This was unheard of prior to a decade ago. Now there are a lot of people working for 80% of what they got a decade ago. That causes a major financial crunch, even for those who carefully plan. 2) Disability at the level you can no longer work and can apply for Social Security Disability. You will get around 1/3 of what you earned when you could work full time. Even for the lucky few with Long Term Disability Insurance, it is still only another 1/3 of your income and the insurance companies go out of their way to disqualify you from the benefit. So assuming the best case scenario when you are Disabled you have to figure out how to live on 2/3 of the income you used to have. 3) Being unemployed for multiple years (due to your job shipped overseas) when you only had savings for 1 year banked or less. Going back to college and having to add college loans to your debt to qualify for the jobs remaining in your region. Only to find upon graduation that those jobs are also no longer available.
Miriam Breslauer December 22, 2011 at 07:47 AM
I am referring to business Risks more than an individual's Risks. The whole point of banking is to take the money from deposits and Risk it on loans for businesses and individuals. The money from the interest on the loans pays for the interest on the deposits and the bank functioning. A certain percentage of the deposit capital must always be available for people to withdraw cash from their accounts. Part of a bank being FDIC insured is that the government guarentees proper banking processes at that bank. Additionally, the government covers up to $100,000 on each account if there is a run on the bank (too many people withdrawling at once). Part of the problem is that the banks in the last decade made incredibly Risky and irresponsible bets. Even worse the Government didn't catch and stop these mistakes before they could ripple through the system.
Miriam Breslauer December 23, 2011 at 08:22 AM
I have heard of PMI which I paid on that loan as insurance against my defaulting. I owned the home long enough before I had no choice but to default that I wasn't required to pay PMI in several years. PMI is a mandatory insurance where the bank would be gauranteed a certain amount if the loan payer defaulted. Terry, on the listed items above, they aren't all my issues. Just the Disability one is something I have personally experienced. However, 1 and 3 are problems that many people I personally know paid $10,000 - $150,000 a year have experienced in the last 10 years. Even people with good paying jobs that haven't been out of work during the last 10 years have been struggling to pay their mortgages/rent because they have had to take such large pay cuts and required to pay more into their benefits so they had increasingly less take home pay.
Curt Armbruster December 23, 2011 at 03:54 PM
Here in the Lansing area, we have Citizens Bank. I was told by a Bank area President, that they have been ordered to purge their loan files. The case I was pleading was for a lady who had made all her payments for 11 years and they refuse to renew her. She made all her payments, she is better off now fnancially than she was when they gave her the original loan, and her property is worth way more than the balance. They originally said they were going to renew her five year renewable 30 year mortagage but then they changed their mind after the renewal date and reported her a delinquent thereby prohibiting her from getting alternate financing. What Citizen's is doing to this woman is criminal. She is attempting to get an attorney, meanwhile they have put her property up for sheriff's sale. It is too bad there isn't someone/somewhere that would step in and protect these innocent victims. Can you imagine make every payment on time and they foreclose/fail to renew? Beware of Citizen's Bank.
Miriam Breslauer December 23, 2011 at 06:41 PM
When I bought my home originally, I could easily afford the property. It was only when my income dropped to 1/3 what I used to make that it became impossible to keep the house. I don't care how good your savings are, no one is capable of keeping up the same standard of living on 1/3 their income. Additionally, due to my Disability my medical costs and medical equipment added a huge cost burden to my finances. I actually did read every page of my mortgage. The bank representatives were bored out of their mind for hours, but they knew I was well within my rights to read it. I had every right to default when I could no longer afford the property. Just like the bank had every right to take back the property when I could no longer pay for the loan. My personal complaint is that the bank made the process more painful than necessary for a simple business transaction. Due to their poor customer service, I bad mouth the banks responsible. I don't want others to have to deal with a business that treats their customers poorly. Chase and LBPS are embarrassments to good banking practices and don't deserve to have anyone ever do business with them again.
Curt Armbruster December 23, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Terry; Read my situation below. Never missed a payment,,,, income and status better than when the loan was first issued to us. The Banks criteria changed and the management's directive changed and they (Citizens) is not renewing some loans even though payments are and always have been current!! We are not talking about OUR changing situation we are talking about CITIZENS BANK'S changing position. What they are doing to people is criminal!!
George Markasian December 27, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Terry, The bottom line is this: A) Banks are not required to lend to anyone that is a credit risk - no one is holding a gun to their heads, and they have the means to verify the accuracy of the information provided them by the applicant - but have made a practice of either ignoring or obfuscating the truth in order to rake in fees and commissions, then selling the soiled goods in bundles to buffaloed investors. To hold them blameless is at best naive. And, B) Banks have had the relatively unfettered freedom to alter their policies, and fees, when they deem it suitable. Lawmakers have gone along for the ride, greased by enormous contributions and lobbying efforts of those very banks. Why then is it so offensive to you that consumers ask for modifications when circumstances change beyond what could be anticipated? The economy (and society at large) are better served with folks being able to stay in the houses they've committed to, and in most cases, modifications still enable the banks to profit handsomely in the process. Instead, they see bigger dollars signs in their eyes from the revenue they can collect in the foreclosure process, while still holding on to the assets. Your stories of living in your car & all are quaint, but we're not talking resilient young college students here, we're talking about families. Your solutions are myopic and insensitive. Your contention that no one really needs credit is ludicrous on it's face. Tell me, did you have cash to buy your house?
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 27, 2011 at 04:32 AM
fyi...we received our modification! http://www.rockanddrool.com/category/battling-the-banks/
Joni Hubred-Golden (Editor) December 27, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Congratulations, Melissa! Great news to start out the new year.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 27, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Terry, wow...what a perfect world you live in. How can you stand it that there are so many of us takers and users in this world?
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 27, 2011 at 03:59 PM
THANK YOU JONI!!! We're super excited.
Miriam Breslauer December 27, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Congratulations. Hope everything works out.
George Markasian December 27, 2011 at 05:04 PM
Oh Terry...what color is the sky in your world....? Also - do you possess a collection of the musings of P.T. Barnum? A "trusted" bank says: "here, we believe you qualify for a mortgage to buy a house...sign here - quickly, now, interest rates could go up any second - and we'll take care of the rest." Loads of people would (and do) jump at that chance. The fact is, the bank is in control of the process, not the consumer, and they bear the ultimate responsibility in granting the loan. If the bank says no, there's no loan. Period. Banks spend millions on advertising, extolling their rates and ease of credit, to entice and cajole consumers to apply for mortgages. Consumers must approach, ask, and be vetted. To blame them for responding to the bank's pitches is to admit that the banks are being dishonest about what they offer. But, in your world, that's OK...it's the consumer that's the sucker. Barnum would LOVE you. With regards to terms and conditions of the mortgage - you've ignored my point. Banks are allowed to tuck the little phrase "the bank reserves the right to alter or change any or all terms and conditions for any reason, at it's discretion", or something to that effect, in most any of their contracts (mortgages, credit cards, etc.). The consumer does not have that luxury. So go ahead, read your contract, and try and cross that little item out before signing (or make ANY changes, for that matter). I'm SURE you'll get the loan.
Melissa Steinberg Brodsky December 27, 2011 at 05:19 PM
Terry, all I see is a person who has nothing better to do with their life than to troll the Farmington Hills Patch and insult people by imposing your...um...views...on everyone. I'm done interacting with you and I hope everyone else within this comment thread is done as well. I learned a long time ago not to feed the trolls and so I'm done feeding you. Have a nice life in your paid in full home and car with funds from your own business.
Joni Hubred-Golden (Editor) December 27, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Keep us posted, I'd love to do a follow up on your personal situation and what you're doing with your blog.
George Markasian December 28, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Congratulations, Terry - you've won the insufferably Smug & Delusional Award for 2011! You seem to see the world as you wish it would be, rather than entertain the reality portion of it. I don't believe your stories for a nanosecond - and don't think anyone else does either, but don't let that stop you from assuaging your feelings of superiority by anonymously trashing others online. If it is beneficial to your mental health, so be it. I, like Melissa and a great many others who've interacted with you, am done wasting time stoking your condescension. Have a nice life knowing you paid (in full) far more for your home than it is worth now...

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