The ARM of Sorrow

Over the last few years, many families (including mine) financed their houses with an adjustable rate mortgage or as I like to call it, the ARM of Sorrow (okay… I just made that up.) If you fall into this category, people may ask you why you would take on a mortgage you might not be able to afford after the interest rate increased. There are a few reasons you might have done this. The main reason is that you were probably under the impression (influenced by your lender) that you could refinance at a lower rate before your ARM adjusted. At the time you purchased the house, you might not have qualified for a conventional, low interest mortgage for several reasons (one being less than perfect credit, which may improve over time.) Then the time comes to refinance your mortgage – and you can’t! Why? There are many reasons:

1. Your house is no longer worth what you owe on it. You bought the house for $150,000 in 2005, and now it is only worth $125,000. There is no longer enough equity to get a loan for $150,000 – but of course, you still owe that much.
2. Your house is no longer worth what you owe on it because you pulled out some equity that was once there, but isn’t anymore. For whatever reason (pay off other debts, buy a car at a low interest rate, make home improvements) you might have taken out an equity loan or line of credit on the house. If you bought the house for $150,000 and took out a $20,000 equity loan, this brings the total amount owed up to $170,000. If the house is worth less than $170,000 (which is likely due to the rampant decline in property values) no bank will refinance it..
3. You no longer make as much as you used to. Unemployment rates across Michigan (and many other states) are astronomical, and there’s a chance that it’s affecting your line of work. You may have had your hours reduced, taken a pay cut, or have lost your job altogether. Because of this, there’s a good chance that the banks do not like the amount of debt you have in relation to how much money you make (called “debt to income ratio”), and will not refinance your mortgage.
4. Life happened. Maybe you had an illness or death in your family. Maybe your car was involved in an accident, and you had to get a new one in order to get to work. Maybe there was an urgent and major repair that needed to be done to the house. Sometimes, no amount of scrimping and saving can get you back on track.
5. You didn’t know the facts. Maybe you, like many of our sellers, weren’t completely informed about what was going to happen. Many of our sellers didn’t know just how high their interest rates were going to skyrocket once their ARMs adjusted. Increasing a $150,000 mortgage from 6% to 11% adds an additional $530 a month to a house payment!

If you are one of the many people who are facing a Michigan foreclosure because of an “ARM of Sorrow” and have realized that you can no longer keep the house, give Emily a call at 269-685-5921. We can help you out. We take a very complicated task – getting your bank to accept less money than you owe – and we make it very simple for you. Of course, it’s still hard on us, but that’s our job… and we’re good at it!


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