One Man's Account of Acting Like Steve Carrell to Try to Save His Father's Foreclosed Home from the Auction Block
The scene-by-scene after the jump.
The reader's account:
First, let me wish you a Happy New Year--feliz ano nuevo, senor (apologies for lack of enyays). May seem odd for a person such as myself, who is pretty cynical after getting slammed by the system, to offer well wishes for health and good fortune. But that's just how I roll.
In all seriousness, things went badly. My father lost his home. I basically e-mailed a bunch of news outlets--both television and print--to try to get enough people to show up at the foreclosure sale to scare off the potential buyers. It just didn't coalesce, and I had to act alone.
Let me give you a description of what happened without the benefit of watching an iPhone-captured video on Youtube. The auction is just a loosely assembled group of people who mill around the auction place, which in this case is in front of the Civic Center in Orange. The people look like more like they are ready for Poker After Dark, with their dark sunglasses, hoodies pulled down over their heads and hands cupped over their mouths as they mumble into their cell phones. A bald, thirty-ish guy with a goatee and dark sunglasses picks up a grip of paperwork and does the whole "Hear ye" bit as the people quickly form a circle around him. Everyone is super-geared-up but it doesn't seem to faze the auctioneer. He reads off addresses of homes that had sales postponed first, then homes for which the sale was being held for the time being.
My father's was the last address read off of the ones being held up. A few people mumble into their phones and two of them leave and don't come back. I've never been through this before, so I ask how long it will be until he (the auctioneer) hears something back. This auctioneer guy has the kind of cocky but understated attitude of someone who has done this many times and couldn't care less. He tells me that he doesn't know: "An hour, two hours . . . Whenever they call me back on this cell."
I go to my car, parked right out in front and call the lender (CitiMortgage), NACA (they have been trying furiously to help get the sale postponed), the investor (Freddie Mac) and the mortgage holder (Cal-Western Reconveyance, whom the auctioneer works for) trying to get the sale postponed so there is more time to work with the lender to negotiate a loan modification. I also get a call from Vikki Vargas, NBC's OC bureau chief (NBC was one of the outlets I e-mailed), and she is telling me she is close by and asks what is going on at that moment. The auctioneer is starting back up so I tell her I apologize, but I have to get going.
The auctioneer reads off the address before I get there, so I ask him what the address is again and he says, "[Weekly note: removed to protect the reader's privacy]." I ask why he has that address. He then proceeds, "This property is for sale." I look straight at him and tell him, "No, it's not." We only go two rounds with that back-and-forth since he is there to sell a property, and I sense that he has run into this sort of thing before.
But I can't sit by and throw up my hands in defeat just yet. So I yell at all of the people, one by one, that "The house is not for sale!" I then do the Steve Carrell bit from Bruce Almighty (Mr. Carrell was a helluva lot funnier) and shout out random numbers to throw off the auctioneer and bidders. I obviously do a horrible job because through all my nonsense, I hear the word "sold."
My head droops, and I feel like the biggest schmuck on the planet. The guy that won (all I could make out was the last name: Gonzales) asks me if I am the homeowner, and I tell him that I am one of them. He tells me that he thought I was one of the bidders, and he also looks pretty freaked-out by my antics. He then says, "You know . . . it's difficult for us, too." I look at him like a co-worker that just ate my lunch out of the refrigerator because it didn't have a name on it. I tell him, obviously pissed-off, that "I am sorry if I don't agree, but I just lost a home, and I can't get my head around how buying someone else's home as an investment property is difficult!" I cool down a bit and realize that I still need help. I tell Mr. Gonzales that "My father is disabled [which he is], and we need time. So, I would appreciate it if you could work with me." He says, "No problem."
Ms. Vargas shows up according to Murphy's Law, after everything is said and done. She proceeds to interview me for about 15 minutes, and Mr. Gonzales bails in the meantime without giving me any contact information. Five days later, my father receives a three-day notice, but I'm pretty sure it is a fake since he is now bombarded by people promising to help him stay in the home for many months or to be able to get the home back. . . . For a fee, of course.
And that is where we now stand. The whole ordeal before this was seriously the stuff conspiracy theories are made of, but that story is way too long. I will say, though, that most everything reported in the news is false, and that the people losing their homes are exactly the people whom the government programs were supposedly designed to help. It's REALLY bad.
Well, that's my story. If anything, maybe it gives you a better picture of stuff that goes on many times every day. Thank you for your interest and your time, sir.