Patricia Nell Warren

Anatomy of a Short Sale; or, My Personal Red Flag on the LGBT Mortgage Crisis

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | May 23, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: bank foreclosure, lending industry, LGBT private debt, mortgage, short sales, subprime loans

While the world has been going to hell in a hand basket, I've been moving. Hence my month-long hiatus from Bilerico posting. On April 30, after weeks of packing personal and business effects, escrow closed on the short sale of the West L.A. house where my business partner and I had operated Wildcat Press for 14 years. While Tyler and his partner moved to a nearby apartment, I moved to a private-home rental in Glendale, in the San Fernando Valley. We will continue operating the LLC from two separate, smaller offices, and have already resumed business as usual.

As I packed, I was unable to boo-hoo about our personal fate. The fact is, we have lots of company. Millions, in fact. For two years now, a nationwide fiscal massacre has been underway, as the lending industry refuses to help most homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. President Obama and his soft-on-big-business administration are letting the lending industry get away with murder (as did President Bush and HIS soft-on-big-business administration)

Through it all, I've wondered how many other LGBT people have been put through the mortgage meatgrinder. Meaning a short sale -- or that scary alternative, foreclosure and a sheriff's sale. It's eerie to see that the LGBT media and activist orgs have so little to say about this important subject. Why don't they pay more attention? After all, the mortgage meltdown affects not only our LGBT personal welfare, but also our collective LGBT ability to create vibrant local demographics -- to run strong community businesses and (most important) support vital political causes.

By 2008, thanks to lender greed, fully 80 percent of all U.S. mortgages were the blood-sucking sub-prime adjustable-rate (ARM) variety. Lenders knew exactly what they were doing. Many homeowners had been desperate to make up for decreasing income and cover rising costs of living, education, healthcare, running a small business. They rushed to re-fi so they could use some or all of their equity for these purposes. Taking advantage of this desperation, lenders steered many borrowers to ARM loans. Then, as the rising rates (including ours) bumped that monthly payment upwards, horrified homeowners began to find themselves unable to pay it. That was when the roof started to fall in.

Latest figures from the Mortgage Bankers Assn.: 14.4 percent of American homeowner/borrowers are now delinquent or in foreclosure on their mortgage.

It's hard to find 2010 figures on exactly how many people have mortgages, but U.S. statistics for 2005 show 48,394,000 home loans on the books. So today's figures might be closer to 50 million. At the massacre rate of 14.4 %, that is probably more than 7 million mortgages hitting the wall. But to get the real gritty human effect, we have to remember that each imploding mortgage affects more than one person. It hits a whole family, or a couple, or a single professional with a small business, not to mention a local community supported by the taxes that the homeowner pays -- all of which are being jolted by the deadly after-shocks from each default crash.

Surely we LGBT people form an identifiable percentage of this 7-million disaster-stricken base. If we posit the traditional 10 percent, that means that 700,000 of us could in dire straits on home debt. Even 5 percent means that 350,000 of us -- a small army -- are out of luck right now.

Meanwhile, LGBT activist organizations are wondering why political contributions are sharply down in the last couple of years. Well, no wonder.

How Loan Modifications Work...and Don't Work

When homeowners start scrambling to fix their personal mortgage crisis, they are always astonished when a lender refuses to accept partial payments. I certainly was. Even the bloodsucking credit-card companies have no problem working out a payment plan with you. Sometimes they take only 15 minutes on the phone to do this. But when it comes to real estate, the deck is stacked differently.

Next, the homeowner wistfully believes all the advertising propaganda on TV. The ads allege that our government and the lenders are now ready to help homeowners and rescue our country. To achieve that, they have created "programs" for loan modifications. Even the news anchors talk about the "programs." For a few weeks, I believed the propaganda myself. After all, I voted for Obama. And I grew up in the aftermath of the Great Depression, when people had voted another Democratic President into office in hopes that Roosevelt would create programs to help many Americans economically.

So the hopeful homeowner slogs through various rounds of application for a loan modification. What you hope for is a fixed rate, a reduced monthly payment -- perhaps even a reduction of principal. Eventually Tyler and I piled up enough paperwork to cram an entire file box.

But in the end, the homeowner is informed -- by a cursory letter sent snail mail -- that his or her LM application has been turned down. The fact is -- the lender has done the arithmetic and knows that they will make more money on your loan by seizing your house. So its underwriters look down at you from their lofty, unassailable, anonymous, non-accountable Olympian heights, and they say no.

In dealing with our lender, we never got assigned to a case manager till late in the game, when we complained that our case was being mismanaged -- one application had been turned down because of our alleged failure to provide requested documents. Yet we HAD supplied the documents before the deadline and knew that the lender's representative's acknowledgment of doc receipt was surely recorded.. So we screamed for a re-review, and got it. Even so, we never got to talk to the underwriters directly. Most of the time, we found ouselves talking to a flunky wearing a headset -- a different one every time we called -- who sat in a little cubicle and stared at our file on a computer screen, and was uninformed about our case.

Throughout the whole process, we got a close-up look at how obviously disorganized and slipshod these big corporations are. Different departments clearly weren't communicating with each other. Paperwork was lost. Vital information supplied by a homeowner could be ignored. Yet these are the big businesses to whom our government entrusts the nation's fiscal fortunes.

In the end, my business partner and I read the fine print, and figured out what the media and the lender weren't telling us -- that many American homeowners don't even qualify for the now-famous "programs."

Most of the programs apply to low-income homeowners who have Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans. Even with these loans, the lenders are picky about requirements, so it's hard to quality. Later came Obama's much-heralded HAMP program...but the ceiling for HAMP is loans totalling $729,000. So... if you have a home loan bigger than $729K -- and many Americans do -- the White House and the federal government is telling you to go fuck yourself.

Indeed, the lending industry and the major media have created an urban myth about homeowners with those larger-than-HAMP loans, hoping to ensure that nobody will sympathize with them. They allege that people with bigger loans were just greedy and looking for a handout -- that they signed onto a high-risk loan in order to get a house they couldn't afford. Little is said about homeowners like us who bought their homes years ago and afforded them for many years. My business partner and I never missed a single mortgage payment for 12 years. All of us saw the value of our homes triple over 10 or 15 years, and finally were compelled to re-fi in order to finance something needed in our lives. In our case, it was to raise new financing for our business. Others who re-fi'ed did so for equally valid reasons: perhaps to pay for a kid's college education, or handle unexpected medical bills.

So my business partner and I found ourselves being processed as a "regular in-house loan modification.". And lenders aren't granting many of those.

How many Americans are actually being helped by these programs? In other words, how many actually get through the tortuous process of a "trial modification," which can last for six months, before being green-lighted for a "permanent modification?" Not very many. By December 2009, only 31,382 borrowers had run the gauntlet to get permanent status, out of more than 700,000 who had applied. This shocking figure comes right from the Treasury Department.

In other words -- out of 7 million mortgages hitting the wall, only 31,382 people have really been helped so far. And sometimes they found themselves modified to a larger monthly payment, not a smaller one.

I'm not impressed.

To put it another way -- the President for whom I voted has hung me and my business partner out to dry -- along with 7 million other people. His administration has given billions of dollars to these big corporations, but has not compelled them to do the right thing by us. So the lenders know they are free to ride rough-shod over the top of us.

How a Short Sale Works

From that point on, we were launching a frantic search for a reliable L.A. realtor who specializes in short sales.

A short sale, we had learned, is preferable to foreclosure. Sure, you lose any shreds of equity you might still have in the property. You hand over the keys and walk away without a penny (though some lenders will give you "moving money" to make sure you don't vengefully trash the place on the way out). But the lender agrees to accept the lower-than-market sale price as full payment of the loan. So a short sale puts less of a black splat on your credit record than a foreclosure does.

To make a short sale water-tight, you must also get the lender to agree not to sue you later for the unpaid balance. If the property was your primary residence, you may qualify for an exemption on paying income tax on the balance. (Yes, Virginia, the government might regard the unpaid balance as 'income" to you.) We realized that we needed a competent lawyer's help to negotiate the short-sale process.

Eventually we settled on a local realtor firm whose staff included a sharp lawyer. The firm specialized in short sales in Los Angeles County, and had no consumer complaints against them on record. L.A. County is the hardest-hit area in California. In April alone, the month that our short sale went through, our county had 3,245 repossessed properties being sold at auction. Even Hollywood celebrities are losing their homes.

I wondered how many of those 3245 foreclosures were Angeleno LGBTs like us.

The realtor firm did a great job, making this painful process as painless as possible. We would pay them no fee -- all the fees would be paid by the lender. The first thing they did was get our lender to agree to stop the clock on foreclosure, meaning that the sheriff's sale was formally postponed.

The property values in our neighborhood had slumped somewhat -- our house had lost perhaps $400,000 in appraised value in the last couple of years. But the market there hadn't sunk as badly as it did in other parts of L.A. County. So even in "as is" condition, without cosmetic fix-ups and staging, our building got attention -- families with children were very interested in its 4 bedrooms and 4 baths. Indeed, the lender's executive in charge of L.A. County short sales saw the lingering value of our place. And a buyer came along whose offer was not too far under current market.

So our lender agreed to the sale, and threw in some moving money to boot.

Otherwise we would have become L.A. County's foreclosure # 3246 of the month. On April 30th, we packed the last of our stuff and turned over the keys.

The Long-Term View

How do I view this disturbing experience as not just an ex-homeowner, but as an author and historian?

I'm old enough to remember a time when most LGBT people didn't dare to be "out" about home ownership -- except in the rare urban enclave where acceptance had already been cautiously established. In fact, two men or two women didn't necessarily feel safe about openly living together as a couple in a house or condo. They pretended that they were just "roommates." For us, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" includes not only the right to be ourselves, the right to marry, to be safe at school and work and serve our country in uniform, and the right to decent healthcare, but also the right to openly own or rent a home.

Without the financial and economic health of its members, the so-called "gay community" can't sustain itself politically. Having a home to call your own is at the core of LGBT rights -- the very foundation of our independence and pride. The "American dream" supposedly includes home ownership. If that's true, then the LGBT home is part of our personal American dream.

Do I think that Obama and his administration have let our community down on the civil-rights front so far? Definitely. But they've also let us down on the fiscal front as well.

So why the strange silence from most LGBT media and LGBT activist institutions on the financial bullets that some of us are taking? I've never understood it. One of the few serious articles on the subject I've found is in EDGE Philadelphia.

It is now being admitted, in the business press, that African Americans are having a harder time getting loan modifications than whites. Dare we wonder if anybody out there is being turned down for an LM because the lender knows they're gay, or transgendered?

While the United States is racked with controversy over terrorism, the Gulf oil spill, and the Tea Party's emergence, this silent massacre of millions of home ownerships -- and the lingering after-effects of how people are "punished" by long-time bad credit -- may affect the country far more deeply. The American Dream is definitely disappearing in a nationwide blizzard of loan-modification paperwork. And with it are blowing away many Democratic homeowner votes that might otherwise have supported Obama in 2010.


My previous posts on this subject:

The LGBT share of America's humonguous private debt.

"Is the Wall Street Crisis a Gay Issue?"


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I don't think the "world is going to Hell in a hand-basket," but it's clear that some people sure tried to live beyond their means.

John R. Selig | May 23, 2010 5:44 PM

What an absolutely mean spirited judgmental comment Andrew. Shame on you!

Am I the only one that is saddened that the publishing world in general and for LGBT writers and publishers in particular has collapsed so badly that one of the very best writers in our community and her business partner have not been able to generate enough income to hold onto their home?

Yes, Patricia and Tyler refinanced their home to keep their business going. But the obscene banking practices were most definitely a rope around their necks.

Do homeowners faced with foreclosures bare responsibility for their plights? Yes they bare some. But the banks and their slick sales people bare at least the same amount if not more of the blame. To make matters worse the lending institutions hold out false hope to struggling homeowners with no intention of providing any assistance. Our government poured unprecedented cash into the banking industry. What have they done with it? Certainly the average American has seen no benefit and the huge salaries and bonuses of those responsible for the banking system's collapse continue.

Andrew, you've missed your calling. You would make an excellent spokesperson for the Log Cabin Republicans. In fact, the next time Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh are on vacation you would make an first rate choice to host for them while they are away.

I don't know you but I would feel safe in making the assumption that both Patricia Nell Warren and Tyler St. Mark have each made more of a contribution to the LGBT community and the nation as a whole in one year than you have during your entire lifetime.

One of the greatest writers, activists, historians and humanitarians in our community deserves far more respect and compassion than you have shown her. I feel fortunate that I don't know you.

The title of the Post suggests "LGBT Mortgage Crisis." Untrue. Patricia then goes on to suggest several conspiracy theories.

She lost her home. Thousands of people lost their homes. It has a been a difficult time for many, but it isn't "the end of the world."

While some blog commenters have outstayed their welcome.

R. L. Solomon | May 23, 2010 7:26 PM

One of the greatest misconceptions about many Americans confronting home foreclosure is that they were trying to "live beyond their means" as Andrew suggests. This ignorance, unfortunately, is greatly exploited by mortgage brokers, lenders, and banks while those very institutions eagerly help themselves to federal bail-out programs (and NOT passing this relief onto their mortgage holders). Patricia is an example of a responsible mortgage holder who paid her mortgage faithfully and on time for 14 years until faced with both a huge decline in both the publishing industry and America’s economy. Patricia had no control of either of these events and hardly “lived beyond her means” as Andrew suggests. She did over the years, however, donate thousands of dollars worth of her books and other property to libraries, educational institutions, and worthy causes worldwide not to mention the countless personal appearances and articles she has contributed to organizations and publications who could not afford to pay her. She also donated countless hours as a volunteer teacher for disenfranchised gay students in Los Angeles and served as a LAUSD commissioner without pay. I’m sure Ms. Warren does not desire or require sympathy and did not write her commentary for that purpose. It likely took great courage for her to present her own story in this commentary so that we all might understand what MANY gays and lesbians are facing at this time and I thank her most earnestly.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 23, 2010 10:39 PM

In the process of doing a refinance to a fixed rate mortgage a dear couple to me were asked if they would like an extra 30,000.00 loan on the house they originally paid $90,000.00 for at their closing.

These two gay guys said: "No thanks, just the fixed rate and a mop up of some credit card debt." They are sitting pretty, work very hard and live comfortably well.

While living in Palm Beach County Florida where NPR was reporting 20% increases in home values year on year I asked a question that bothered some people:

"Does this mean we are all rich or that our dollar has just gone broke?"

A Lesbian couple who lived within a block of us sold their house for double what they had paid for it in one week end. They had bought it only four years before and moved on to South Carolina. So sadly there are a lot of winners, losers and break evens at all levels of this disgrace.

Patricia remains a winner by any definition. Her courage in relating this unfair tale bespeaks her personal bravery and her consistent need to teach from experience, warn and love all of us despite our imperfections. Now, if you have not read them go out and obtain her books.

The above Warren article was forwarded to me because I've been working on a modification for over 24 months. When I originally went to refinance (and qualified) I was hit with a huge prepayment penalty. When I qualified for the original mortgage I was dealing with, what I found out to be, a less than honorable broker and greedy real estate agent. I foolishly didn't get my own lawyer and used someone they secured.

When the prepayment penalty period expired shortly thereafter I went to refinance and in the process lost my job but continue to meet my mortgage payments with odd jobs. I needed to reduce my mortgage interest rate say by 2% or to 5%. This would make things very manageable. After almost two years of letters to the Banks BOD and being assigned to staffers I've been told I still don't qualify as I don't have a study job in spite of the fact I have not defaulted on my payments.

When I asked how they calculated the facts and on what type of mortgage the information was based I was not supplied that crucial information by this large banking giant. I was kind of informed that I was dealing with a person who did not really know about mortgages but was acting as a counselor assigned to me by the bank to help me until I found a job. The catch is that in their suggested solution all the reduced payment offered would balloon back to the original amount due upon securing employment (a lump sum).

I also received an express mail package containing a paper to sign calling for a possible short sale. If anyone reads the fine points on this you lose, the tax payer loses and the banks cash in. When I confronted the bank's staffer assigned to me she denied that any such request was being made and wanted to see the paper work allegedly sent to me by the bank.

Obviously, I'm still in limbo but after reading the Warren article I found it's a valuable lesson for all of us on how every day, hard working, and law abiding Americans are being duped and mislead into thinking some of our legislators and financial institutions are really working to help us through this national financial crisis. Oh, I did write to both banking committee chairmen in D.C. complaining but to date no answer.... proving, once again, Beltway silence is golden.

My mortgage balloons in 2011 and who know what will happened to the property I’ve owned since 1985 and how I will be dealt with by the institution that the taxpayers of this country helped out with a bail out, a bail out used as expansion leverage not seemingly to help cases like mine.

It is sad that people are losing there homes regardless of what they did but, homes are not ATM'S. You can try to justify re-finance any way you want. I have seen people even before this last bubble remove equity from there homes and then end up with problems. THIS IS A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ISSUE NOT A GOVERNMENT OR BANK ISSUE.

I imagine that Andrew might have a more realistic view of reality if he would experience a major health "event" draining his savings, followed by unemployment of say, 2 1/2 out 5 years. I wasn't over-extended 5 years ago but you can bet I am now. The arrogance of people who have yet to know a financial setback is only compounded by their ignorance of the hard reality other people have known.

Me thinks that based on Andrew's past statements and his obvious disregard of the fact that people are sometimes affected by circumstances BEYOND their control, he should cancel his membership in the Log Cabin Republicans and turn off FUX "news". I can recognize conservative dogma a mile away.

"By 2008, thanks to lender greed, fully 80 percent of all U.S. mortgages were the blood-sucking sub-prime adjustable-rate (ARM) variety."

Where, oh where, did you get that statistic? I find it awfully hard to swallow.

And, of that 80%, only 14.4% are facing foreclosure right now? That speaks pretty well about the 65.6% who've been able to handle their abusive, sub-prime, hateful, mean and nasty mortgage loans.

"The fact is -- the lender has done the arithmetic and knows that they will make more money on your loan by seizing your house." Okay...consider that the housing markets have taken an extraordinary tumble from their heights, and home values are precipitously lower than would be desirable. Just for the heck of it, say I'm a mortgage company and I take a house back. In all likelihood, the home is worth far less than the outstanding debt. To sell, the price will need to be even less than the value so as to attract a buyer. How does that make me any money on the deal?

I thought "greek" was an old diatribe aimed at anal sexual activity...now I learn that it's underwriters who must bear the epithet of Olympian. Hmmm...very interesting...

Of course, talking to a "flunky" will be exasperating to anyone, particularly if that flunky as a headset.

I read this original piece without being attentive to the author. I don't feel it makes a difference what someone's background is - if they are incorrect, they're incorrect. Now, I'm not an apologist for the mortgage industry. There are many ills that abound, and there have been far too many schemers, crooks and maladjusted salespeople who've preyed upon buyers and homeowners. At the same time, I firmly believe that consumers must take pains to assert themselves and protect themselves.

The case in which A-Jay "foolishly" didn't get his own legal representation is probably the most egregious way in which an individual errs in the mortgage process. Never should a borrower enter into a real estate transaction without legal representation - a lawyer that the person is familiar with and comfortable with. That's no guarantee of perfect representation, but it's a far cry from the scams perpetrated by unscrupulous lenders.

We in the public have a long way to go before we'll be able to claim that we've done our own homework. A modicum of homework would have saved thousands of folk from the mortgage crisis.

My heart goes out to those who've struggled, losing a home after hardships have threatened their livelihoods and their very homelives. I've got my own problems, but I've been fortunate enough to obtain and retain sufficient education in the financial realm so as not to be enslaved to those who'd do me in.

As for the response of our community to these times, I have to agree. There needs to be a greater rally in the glbt press (elsewhere, too) to call attention to what's taking place and search for new solutions.

Equalitynow | May 24, 2010 1:17 PM

Having gone through the meatgrinder when a perfect storm of job loss, natural disaster and disabilities hit us, I can relate to this short sale story, and appreciate the author for telling her saga. How sad. The blame the victim (living beyond ones means) narrative has masked the failures and deceits of government and the banks alike. Why the silence in the LGBT press?
I suspect because it's bad for business. If your ad rates are dependent on claims of circulation to
wealthy gays( also a lie), with disposible income, it hardly makes sense to publish stories about queers who have been shoved under water on thier mortgages. Shame also plays a role, as who wants to come out as financially at risk? The taboo is almost as bad as it is for being LGBT.
Thanks for this account. It helps. As an attorney told me, this system is only set up
to subsidize corporations too big to fail. The rest of us are on our own in America, and LGBT even more so.

This is NOT an LGBT issue.

Patricia and Tyler CHOSE to refinance their home to support their business endeavors. THEY did that. Nobody forced them to do it.

To then spin the unfortunate loss of their home into a conspiracy is just plain silly.

I respect Patrica and Tyler for taking a risk, I also understand that THEY took the risk - they must also pay for it. People take risks because of the potential of a greater return. Win some, lose some. That's life.

John Rutledge | May 24, 2010 10:08 PM

My partner and I bought our house in 2006. It is now worth about half what we paid for it. The ARM readjusts next spring. We thought we were only going to be here a short time so took the cheaper ARM. There are millions of individual stories out there. We do not need to prejudge and label everyone together. There is a word for that. Bilerico is a stand against it.
Most people who bought their homes in the last few years now own homes worth far less than they paid for them. This is not being irresponsible, it is a statement of fact.
I feel the 'irresponsible' talkers are sadly lacking connection with community. I hear 'I got mine, you screwed up, don't ask me for anything.' How sad. We all get to choose who are in this world. We choose what we bring to any situation. Some bring understanding, compassion and love. Others slam their doors.

Your comments is very thoughtful. Markets change. Home values fluctuate. That doesn't mean there is a conspiracy or an "LGBT Mortgage Crisis."

Tyler and Patricia took a risk in order to invest in their business. They weighed the risks and made that decision. It unfortunately didn't work as they had hoped or planned. That's what risk is and that's why there is generally a reward for those who take risks. The reward replaces any guarantee, perceived or real.

You can try to suggest that my observations are mean, or prejudice or that I am worried about what "I got" and not what others have. You are correct when you suggest we all bring something - I bring honesty, objective honesty. Being honest allows us to improve and do a better job. That helps everyone.

Tyler St. Mark | May 25, 2010 4:30 PM

My name has been mentioned several times by you, Andrew, so now it’s my turn:

If you look at the history of your contrary and mostly nasty replies to Patricia's commentaries, you clearly appear to have a big bug up your butt with just about everything she posts. Normally, it's Patricia's job to deal with this (it comes with her blogging) but mention my name and you get to deal with me.

First off, Andrew, you don't know what the hell you're talking about and I doubt you have ever owned a home or held a mortgage. Your comments reflect a complete ignorance our situation and, indeed, the mortgage crisis of countless millions of others at this time.

Second, we weren’t looking for charity or even a bail-out like the lenders themselves. We were seeking a modification of our existing loan which means the lender(s) still got their money—-just over a longer period of time and with a little less icing on their cake!

Third, lawyers all over America have filed and are preparing cases against predatory, illegal, and unethical lending practices perpetrating by many in mortgage community nationwide that were and still are driven by unadulterated greed. This is a fact; do your homework. Do you honestly think the greed and corruption that has brought this country to its economic knees is only on Wall Street? Hell, screwing the unwary and hapless citizen has become a major corporate pastime in America like baseball or boating.

Our own attorneys found numerous improprieties and irregularities in our loan--things even the more astute borrower would not know to catch. However, unless we joined a class action suit (there are few out there) we would have to sue the mortgage firm ourselves which, duh, is not likely for obvious reasons. Mortgage companies, of course, know this and they have deep pockets thanks to diligent and faithful mortgage payers like us who were never late with a payment for 14 years and now, of course, they've got Uncle Sam!

Fouth, Andrew, we did not “choose” to refi our home in order to “invest” in our business or “gamble” on a greater return-—it was the only option we had left given our circumstances and we didn’t expect to lose almost half a million dollars in equity in the process! Did you even read her commentary, Andrew, or did you just stick your hand in your pants with the prospect that you could challenge Patricia Nell Warren yet again?

As to the “conspiracy” you claim she is alleging, you’re the only one who used that word or drew that conclusion but, hey, let’s go there. I absolutely believe there is a “conspiracy” by the collective mortgage community to avoid all responsibility for their immoral and illegal actions of the past while, at the same time, taking every Federal bail-out dollar they can beg, borrow, or steal from Uncle Sam. It is common knowledge that few homeowners in crisis have benefited from the Federal bail-out money handed to these evil greedy corporate vultures who have exploited it to their own voracious benefit.

Further, many mortgage companies have made it virtually impossible to properly submit, much less qualify, for the numerous programs our government has helped them subsidize. Our mortgage company would only accept documents by fax (often 50 pages at a time), would not assign one person to our loan application (we got a new agent every time we called), and kept losing the documents we faxed them over and over. Then, after abruptly closing our file for “insufficient documents,” they would encourage us to apply for yet another new loan modification program. Further, they advised us to do and then not to do things which they clearly knew (or should have known) would jeopardize our loan modification application. This is the truth and there are millions of people out there who can confirm exactly what I am saying. Conspiracy? Perhaps not in the “grassy knoll” or “Area 51” way but you snidely imply, Andrew, but you can bet your gay ass there is indeed a “conspiracy” going on in all of this--and I have no doubt that one of those class action suits I mentioned will eventually prevail while proving it. Then you’ll have yet another reason to challenge Patricia in your own arbitrary, arrogant and ignorant way.

And lastly, this IS most certainly a GLBT issue because, in spite of your ignorance, many in our community are scared and suffering in silence because they fear that having lost their homes, jobs, and assets is like losing their youth and looks—-nobody will like or respect them anymore. And given that many in our community can be very superficial, it’s a reasonable fear.

Fortunately, some of us were in the battlefield and at the front lines of activism for years and we have damn well paid our self-esteem dues. So, we suffer no identity crisis in such matters; we just have to suffer people who hide behind online monikers and apparently have nothing better to do but take cheap shots and deliberately draw the wrong conclusions simply to be argumentative

As we used to say in the 70’s, Andrew, don’t go away mad, just go away!

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Tyler St. Mark | May 25, 2010 11:41 PM

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Ahem.

Lest I allow my zealotry full reign without cover of law, I feel compelled to ask:

May I?

Oh, please please please...

I haven't Dyss'd anyone fully and properly in a while.

And yet no one wants to ban these practices now. It's so great having a government run by mini-Rand Pauls.

John R. Selig | May 25, 2010 11:35 PM

AndrewW, you seem extremely mean and hateful in your comments to Patricia Nell Warren and now Tyler St. Mark. I have no idea what is motivating your disdain but to attack two extremely good, giving people have done so much for our community when they are down is heartless, and cruel and speaks volumes about the kind of person you must be. I sense true glee in your heart about their losing their home and to be honest it makes me extremely uncomfortable.

I have known both Patricia and Tyler for nearly fifteen years and they are both two of the dearest friends I have been fortunate to have in my life. I salute your success as a real estate tycoon. The current goings on in the real estate market are different from anything I have experienced since purchasing my first home over 30 years ago. Friends of mine who are realtors (both residential and commercial) and honest loan brokers have said that they have never seen anything like the current state of the industry during their careers.

I sent Patricia’s column to many friends including my accountant who is family with mainly an LGBT clientele. He tried to refinance his home last year, not because he needed access to the equity, but because he wanted to turn his 30-year mortgage into a 15 year mortgage on what he had remaining on his debt so he could pay it off faster. He has excellent credit and the rates he could receive made financial sense. What he experienced from the banks was a total shock to him. The national lender he first contacted tried to force him to take more money than he needed. When he decided to go with a better option through his credit union. His loan officer at the bank called him with a veiled threat that he could be "blacklisted" among lenders if he didn't take the deal they offered. He filed a complaint with their VP for the mortgage branch, and never heard back a word from them.

The banking industry has been out of control with the mortgage instruments that they have issued and unqualified borrowers to whom they have issued loans. As these loans were being issued over the past 5-10 years I have been incredulous that the loans have been allowed. Yes many borrowers took out mortgages that were beyond their means. Yet, the industry, which has been unregulated, convinced borrowers that they could afford their mortgages.

The banking industry drove our country into the deepest recession since the Great Depression and our tax dollars bailed them out. The hundreds of billions of dollars the banks received have not benefited borrowers who have been devastated by their practices. Banks should have been required to exhibit fiduciary responsibility in not making unsound loans. Many bank loans were made without requiring documentation of income, net worth, debt or ability to repay allowing borrowers to get in way over their heads. Loan officers didn’t describe the terms of the loans and in many cases lied about the terms.

Homeowners are always well served by seeking council from their attorneys, which is common practice in many states but in others, such as my state of Texas, using attorneys for closings is almost unheard of even for very expensive properties. Many real estate attorneys have taken advantage of clients giving them unsound advice and also bilking them for fees while providing incorrect advice. There have been articles concerning lawsuits against such attorneys in the media.

Gay people losing their homes are hit particularly hard. So many of us don’t have family that we can turn to so our homes really are our only refuge. For many there are not parents, siblings or children to turn to for emotional and yes financial support that many in the straight community take for granted.

Your viscous attacks against Patricia Nell Warren and now Tyler St. Mark are out of line and beyond civility. It is obvious that you bare some sort of personal vendetta against Patricia. Patricia wrote her blog entry not to seek sympathy but to call attention to a problem that is affecting millions of Americans in general and many LGBT people in particular. You claim that Patricia was equating the loss of their home to “the world going to hell in a hand basket “when Patricia was explaining her absence as a blogger for a month as the world was going to hell in a hand basket through major problems like the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf. Patricia wrote her blog, not seeking personal pity but as a means of educating readers of The Bilerico Project of the intricacy of the problems facing so many Americans at the moment.

Patricia so often shares her insight into an amazing array of challenges facing people around the world. This time she dealt with an issue closer to home. Both Patricia and Tyler decided to share their own story for the greater good. The combination of wrath and personal enjoyment of their peril strikes me as rather odd and, excuse me, a cross between sick and evil. It seems that you are enjoying their personal misfortune. They deserve it in your mind. Tell me, do AIDS patients deserve to die because after all many had sex with multiple partners over the years. Why show them compassion? How about people who die from cancer because they smoked or folks who had cancer because they followed poor diets or those of us that weight more than we should who have heart attacks and strokes. We deserve it too. In fact, why provide medical care that is covered by insurance? Many people in our country are suffering right now. Those of us who are more fortunate should exhibit compassion and offer a helping hand rather than blaming the less fortunate for their lot in life.

One wonders what is driving your disdain? You mentioned “The Front Runner.” Patricia and Tyler didn’t have the rights to the film twenty years ago when you supposedly made your offer. Patricia has given selflessly to the LGBT community for nearly forty years most often with no personal gain for her efforts. Tyler has also given selflessly.

I can see absolutely no positive purpose for your attacks on my dearest friends, which I take quite personally. Bil Browning is a far more forgiving moderator than I would be. I would ban a person such as you from further postings whose sole purpose seems to be to defame such a kind, giving, and gifted treasure as Patricia Nell Warren.

One of the things I like least about the LGBT community is the need for some people to build their own self worth by dragging other people down. I sometimes believe that if the LGBT community didn’t have so many enemies that we would destroy each other.

Personally I believe that you owe both Patricia and Tyler a personal apology. At the very least, I for one request that you leave Patricia Nell Warren alone and not bother posting comments on future posts that she shares on Bilerico. Find some other use for your vitriol.

Gee whiz John. Do you really expect me to believe this outpouring of sympathy for Patricia and Tyler?

You remarks suggest i have attacked them - how? You join them in blaming "banks" and "greed." If that's what you believe - they are "victims" just relay that message, but don't suggest i "attacked" them or lack any sympathy for people who have faced difficult times. That is untrue.

When any one of us is faced we difficulty we have a choice - blame someone else or honestly figure out what went wrong. Patricia and Tyler took a risk. They must have taken that risk because of the potential reward. I do not agree that they were unaware of the terms and conditions of their mortgage. I think everyone in America knows home values go up AND down.

I have already expressed that it is sad that they have had difficulties. But, it beyond sad that they simply choose to blame everyone else and refuse to take responsibility. I actually think they would find assistance (even investment) by accepting responsibility.

It is childish to refer to my remarks as "vitriol." If I was rude or inaccurate I would accept responsibility. I wasn't. Please learn to understand the difference.

John R. Selig | May 26, 2010 12:52 AM

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

I just TOSsed 5 or 6 comments for personal attacks and being off topic.

Enough. I'm looking at you, Andrew. You're just making personal allegations now and you're not adding to any sort of discussion as much as trying to belittle the contributor.

We've moderated several of your comments now, so you have one last chance before you go to moderated comments.

My comments, much the same as two others, disputed the factual content and conclusions of Patricia's article.

This is not up for discussion, Andrew. Our terms of service plainly states:

You may not post or transmit any message which is libelous, defamatory or which discloses private or personal matters concerning any person.

And as you can see from the quoted text in your deleted comments, personal attacks simply aren't allowed.

That's the end of it. Any further squabbles about whether or not you should have been TOSsed will be deleted as off topic.

Tom Brown | May 30, 2010 7:12 AM

Thanks, Patricia, for giving a human face to this mess. The notion that lenders were hoodwinked by greedy, irresponsible borrowers is a cruel joke. Lenders invented low-doc and no-doc mortgages, zero-interest ARMs, etc. etc. No one held a gun to their head. When I shopped for a small $10,000 home-equity line of credit a few years ago, I was amazed how my bank, Wachovia, tried to pressure me into signing up for $20,000 instead. Finally, in disgust, I literally walked across the street to my credit union that gave me the $10,000 line with no arm-twisting. The failure by Obama and Geithner to clean up this banking mess will almost surely cost them a second term.

Yikes, I just tuned in this morning to the above blogs. I am shocked that a person who blogs on Bilerico would evoke such linear opinions.
Opinions in my reality are words without consideration of present, future and past. I wonder what this person's life is currently, ouch.

Patricia was safe enough to share her personal experiences as well as her research. She did not say anywhere in her mentoring, kick me to the curb.

I am one of Patricia's many special friends. She is my Best Friend. In other words, her sacrifice of volunteering (do you hear me volunteering) time, intellect, research, humanity, activism, honesty, spirituality, etc. is lifelong. She is authentic in so many dimensions.

I know as long as there is a platform for the few
like Patricia, the 'end of the world' may eventually reconcile.

I love you Patricia.

John - I hold hands with you and others in really hearing our community friend and leader. Thank you.