January 4, 2014
I’m sharing the following for two reasons:
1) It may help followers of Jesus to develop a little more understanding of what following Him looks like. It won’t always be easy and there may be very tough questions/decisions along the way.
2) It may lead folks to join us in praying for this matter. We are praying for a miracle (and I use that term in the strictest of senses).
Since arriving at our new ministry assignment, Kim and I have freely talked about her health concerns and how we are faring. We have not talked about our house predicament because, honestly, it’s a little embarrassing. Kim and I have prided ourselves in our credibility and our credit rating. (When we bought our car earlier last year, they ran both of our credit reports and we both had scores of over 800!). We have always been intentional in making good financial decisions and have faithfully paid off debts and honored contracts we’ve made.
Yet, when we sensed God’s calling upon our lives to leave Florida and begin ministering in Kentucky, we knew that being relieved of our Florida house would take a miracle of God. I’m no Moses but I suspect my thoughts and feelings were akin to Moses’ when he led the Israelites out of Egypt and into a wilderness where there was no guarantee of food or water. It would have been sheer madness to do such a thing if he were not thoroughly convinced that God had led him to do so.
|Sandhill cranes in our front yard|
When we purchased our house in Florida at the beginning of the summer of 2006, the housing market immediately tanked. Houses lost enormous value and ours was not an exception. It wasn’t until we moved to Kentucky and our bank assessed our home’s value that we realized it was worth half of what we owe.
To keep the house wasn’t an option. When we moved and Kim quit her job, we lost quite a bit of income. Paying rent and a mortgage each month long-term was impossible. Further, renting the house would mean that we would have to add hundreds of dollars to what we received in rent just to make the monthly payment. That, too, was a financial impossibility. All of this was compounded by the fact that we ran up a lot of medical debt within the last 6 months to take care of Kim’s health concerns. So, to honor the agreement we had with our bank as long as possible, we paid the mortgage payments as long as we could. We had also asked the bank to allow a short sale. They agreed.
Essentially, a short sale means that the bank comes back to the table to discuss the sale of a house below the amount that is owed. They agree to sell the house at market value and write off the balance. The bank certainly doesn’t have to participate if they don’t want to. There is no coercion involved.
|An orange tree in our side yard|
In our case, USBank agreed to a short sale with us. A buyer was found this past summer and he submitted his offer to the bank. After waiting for about 2 months, the bank finally counter-offered and set the value of the house at a price at which they were willing to sell. The buyer backed out even though he had previously said he was willing to go up to the amount the bank asked for.
Our house quickly went back on the market and another buyer was found. This time, the buyer made a cash offer for the exact amount the bank had previously set. We waited and waited, and waited without hearing anything from the bank. Finally, we heard that we had to restart the short sale process since the time limit (whatever the bank had set) had expired. No kidding! The bank had drug their feet!
So, we resubmitted everything and restarted the process. The cash buyer was patient and willing to wait out the process. Yet, once again, the bank drug their feet. Correspondence with the bank only found that the bank was taking their time and would get with us when they were ready.
As I was out running today, I received an e-mail from our realtor. She said that the cash-offer buyer wanted out. She was tired of waiting. No wonder! It’s been about 3 months since she put her bid in with no word from the bank.
So, we’re back to square one but this time, we’ve not been able to make our mortgage payments for 4 months so it may not end pretty. We may have to restart the process all over again and the bank may decide they are no longer willing to participate in a short sale. Not good!
I have been praying for a miracle but as of yet, nothing has happened. God has been so gracious to us in regard to Kim’s health but our house in Florida is proving to be a severe thorn in the flesh. We would love for this to end quickly and in a way that is amicable to all parties involved. Apparently, only time will tell.
Well, last year (June 2014), God moved on our behalf and the bank took our house back – instead of us going into foreclosure. They allowed us to do a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. That simply means that they took the house back but acknowledged that we worked with them through the process.
While the bank could have held us responsible for the difference between what we owed and what the house sold for/appraised for, they didn’t. They forgave us of a massive amount of money! They turned around and sold the house for about $90,000 less than what we owed so that gives you an idea of what we were forgiven.
Yet, we weren’t out of the woods … not by a long shot. Uncle Sam still had a say. Why? Because that $90,000(+/-) was considered capital gains and he would naturally want his fair share. That would have been an ENORMOUS tax burden.
Well, God worked on our behalf again! We heard from our CPA yesterday who said that Congress retroactively reinstated a Mortgage Relief Act for tax year 2014. That means that we owe absolutely nothing in taxes on our house!
I would love to say that Kim and I trusted God through this long, tedious process but that would be a lie. The truth is that our faith was like a roller-coaster throughout this ordeal. There were times that we prayed and knew our God could resolve the problem but then there were other times that we wondered if He was even listening to our cries.
We don’t have any equity with which to purchase a new house and we’re also paying a small amount each month for the new roof we put on our (former) Florida home in 2012. Yet, that’s nothing compared to the incredible miracle that God worked on our behalf. We’ll take that deal any day of the week! And we know that the same God who took care of our Florida house reserves the right to do anything He pleases as we move into the future.
God is awesome!