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I suspect most kossacks have read about The Obama Administration's $26 billion mortgage settlement with the big banks. Under this historic settlement, many hurting homeowners will receive interest rate adjustments,   or principal writedowns. There will also be cash payments to people who lost their homes and some money will go to the states to fund legal and consumer protection programs.

Well, I benefited from the Obama Administration settlement!  I bought my first home in December 2007. I'm underwater, so I couldn't refinance at today's low interest rates. Under the settlement, Wells Fargo gave me an interest rate reduction to 4.25%. My payment goes down $115 a month starting May 1st!

Thank You President Obama!  That's why I'm a Democrat!  That's why I vote a 100% Democratic ticket. That's because I understand without a doubt no Republican would have helped me. I understand without a doubt that no Republican president would have passed the Affordable Care Act. I understand without a doubt that under any Republican Administration, Osama Bin Laden would be alive, GM would be dead, and a million more Americans unemployed. I understand without a doubt that no Republican president will increase the minimuim wage, combat climate change, or appoint people to the SCOTUS who will preserve Roe v Wade. The Republican Party has nothing to offer anybody but the top few. And if you take a long term view, they don't have anything to offer the top 5% either. That's why their entire strategy has been to prevent President Obama from passing anything and passing voter ID laws.  

No - the Republican Party is going to nominate Mr. 1% himself. Mr. Romney's business and political record establishes he isn't in anything for anybody but himself. Workers don't matter. People don't matter. Only his business and political career mattered. That's why he flip flops. Mitt Romney stands for nothing but himself.  

But back my situation. As I said, I bought my first home in December 2007. I got a first time home buyer loan through Wells Fargo.

I had never considered buying a home before. I assumed I couldn't afford it. But one day I learned there were lower priced townhomes. I decided I wanted to build equity and one day own my own home so I didn't have loan or rent payments. Wasn't that  how most people got ahead financially?

But it didn't work that way for me. Shortly after I moved in, both home values and interest rates and began to plunge. In the months and years ahead, there were many  foreclosures around me. I knew the stories behind a few. If a person got married or lost their job or had some other substantial life change, they couldn't sell it and pay off the loan. They had to walk away. That just exacerbated the slide.

I went from feeling I was doing a good thing, to feeling very depressed and ashamed about my home. I didn't want anyone to know that I'd bought just before the crash. I wouldn't spend any money on any improvements unless I absolutely had no choice. I heard neighbors express similar feelings. Even if people had the money saved, they wouldn't spend any of it on their home because they just felt too damn lousy about it. Before, people felt they would both have a nicer home and they would increase the value. No more. That hurt the economy.

My home loan was what is called a "portfolio loan."  I understood that to mean Wells Fargo would keep the loan on its books. They wouldn't sell it to investors. And for that reason, I didn't have to pay PMI or private mortgage insurance which reduced the loan payments.

I'm not a loan officer and I'm no expert on home loans so I'm explaining things best I can. But I was never eligible for previous programs such as HARP because I didn't have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan. Maybe someone can explain why the first program, HARP, required a person to have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan?  Was that because these are federal agencies and loan modifications wouldn't cost investors any money??

Then I heard under the Obama Administration's $26 billion bank settlement, people who were underwater but didn't have Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans could refinance at today's low rates. So in February, I went into a Wells Fargo branch and talked to a loan officer. He thought I would qualify, but told me the program started March 1st and not all the details were out yet. He said a person couldn't do this through a retail branch. He said to call the 1-800 number listed on my monthly statement anytime after March 1st.

So on March 5th I called. The loan officer or customer service rep on the phone told me I qualified for the new program, but I had to go through a special office and gave me another Wells Fargo phone number. I just had to answer a few questions (loan number, income, what I estimated my home to be worth now). I had to fax them my W-2 and my last pay stub. The loan officer I talked to told me the whole process would take 20-30 days but she would stay in touch with me through the whole process. She did exactly that contacting me to tell me she got my fax, and when I called with a question she called back within 24 hours as promised. And 2 weeks later she called me to tell me I was getting an interest rate adjustment down to 4.25%, but everything else would stay the same. My payments would go down $115. There were no fees or points or anything!

The people at the Wells Fargo call center who handle these were so polite and positive it reminded me our battle is against the executives, not the people who work there.

I found the whole process to be very simple and hassle free. And it sure changed how I feel about my home. I used to drive by apartment buildings and feel depressed wishing like hell I still lived in one. I don't feel that way nearly as much anymore.

I feel well enough to make a couple improvements I just wouldn't make. For example, I've wanted to put in a new replacement window. That's now done. I got a Simonton 5500 vinyl window. Also, I have to replace the big closet bypass doors or leave it off track. My cat Cleo hates closed doors. There's this big 8 foot wide closet with two 4 foot bypass closet doors. That's where the furnace, water heater, water softener, and washer/dryer are. Well, if I'd close the doors Cleo would squeeze in between the bypass doors and she busted the part that keeps the door on the track. Yes, she managed to squeeze through the small space to get in and out. I had someone look at it who told me the doors are original and too old so you can't get the parts and I'd have to replace the doors. If I get new bypass doors, I'm going to leave one side open all the time so that doesn't happen.

This is Cleo enjoying her "Pootie Pad" that I bought from Sara R She's going to take the pootie pad with her to the Vet on May 26th when she has a dental cleaning.

I hesitated to write this diary for a few reasons. First, I did a search and almost all if not all the diaries written about the bank settlement were negative. I also hesitated because I'm fully aware this help was too late for many people including some kossacks. I know many people lost their homes and I don't want to cause anyone any pain by writing a diary. I don't know the details behind the negotiations but I know programs take time and often votes. I also understand the settlement won't help everyone. To date, I think just the five biggest lenders signed on. But I'm very grateful it helped me.

Also, I understand there are kossacks who may be interested in whether they benefit from the bank settlement. I'm no expert on who is eligible and who isn't. My suggestion would be to call your lender. I did find this on Wells Fargo's web site listing the criteria to qualify. but that's for current Wells Fargo borrowers. Also, notice it says those who qualify will receive letters between April and August. But I was eager so I contacted them first.

In closing, Thank You President Obama!  That's why I'm a Democrat!  No Republican president would have ever done this for me! Obama/Biden 2012!!!!!  And cheers to a Democratic House and Senate!!!

Originally posted to joedemocrat on Sun Apr 22, 2012 at 07:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by I Vote for Democrats and The Federation.

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