Financial 'nightmare' may be just about over for Hagerstown woman
Nancy Shulley leaves the East Irvin Avenue home in Hagerstown that is at the center of her financial nightmare. (By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer / January 12, 2013)
‘A for-real thing’
U.S. Bank is among the 10 lenders whose $8.5 billion settlement with federal banking regulators was announced this past week.
It’s too soon to know for sure whether Shulley is in line to receive the compensation that regulators said eligible borrowers soon will be paid. The payments could range from hundreds of dollars for some borrowers to as much as $125,000 for others.
But what happened to Shulley does seem to fit the profile that regulators have announced. To qualify for payment, a borrower must have been in some stage of foreclosure proceedings in 2009 and/or 2010.
And a person’s loan must have been serviced by any of the 10 lenders who have agreed to the new settlement.
Even more to her credit than those things is that Shulley recalls receiving a letter in the mail that asked her whether she wanted to request an Independent Foreclosure Review of her case.
Indeed, it was just about a year ago that U.S. Bank and the nine other lenders in this past week’s settlement, sent 3.8 million such letters by order of federal regulators investigating alleged problems in how lenders handled millions of loans.
Suspicious of the letter — “you get so much weird stuff that looks to be official” — Shulley kept it “in my drawer at work for a long time ’cause at first, you just think it’s one of those things like an extended warranty for your car or something.”
Finally, one day, “I went online and researched it to see if it was a for-real thing. And then, I did find it was a for-real thing,” she said.
So having a copy of the newspaper’s 2009 story, Shulley said she attached it to the official form requesting the independent foreclosure review and mailed them both to the address given.
Then, this past May, Shulley got another letter. This one, from an independent review administrator in Minnesota, informed her that her request was being reviewed to see whether what had happened concerning the loan on the East Irvin Avenue property “meets eligibility” for consideration.
Furthermore, Shulley said the letter told her that she would be notified within 90 days if it was determined that “you do not meet the eligibility requirements or the information was not about errors.”
So far, she said this past week, she’s heard nothing. That “definitely” leads her to think her case still is under review, she said.
A change in luck?
Hearing now from a news reporter about the settlement and about how it might change her luck, Shulley is cautious.
“I think it’d be wonderful if it was” to happen, she said.
But she isn’t ready to think large yet. After all, since losing her house here, she has become a renter — first in Frederick and now in Hagerstown.
“This whole thing has made me a realist. I mean, it’d be great to have something like this happen, something you see on TV. I think maybe something will happen, but I don’t like to think about it, to count on it.
“Because, just like the house, I counted on them (the lender) doing what they said and they didn’t,” she said of almost being able to sell the house and escape foreclosure. “And then, I feel bad because that woman (who tried to buy the house) didn’t get the house that she wanted.”
And then, there was the bankruptcy that Shulley said she had to file. Through it, she said, she was granted relief from her debts, but dealing with people’s reactions “has actually been one of the most demeaning things” that has happened to her.
Not long ago, she said, she went to a local bank where she has an overdraft account.
“I went in there and the woman (employee) there acted like she didn’t even want to speak to me,” Shulley said. The bank employees “knew about the bankruptcy” and that the overdraft account had been included in the bankruptcy protection, Shulley said.
While trying to talk to the bank employee, Shulley said, “I noticed a picture of her family and I thought about saying, ‘Well, you know, this (bankruptcy) can happen to anybody.’”
Shulley didn’t voice the remark, but she said this past week, everyone’s eyes should have been opened wider by the financial setbacks suffered by many area residents since the recession began.
“Circumstances change and they’re not always great,” she said. “You just have to deal with it best you can.”