“It was stressful. We’re like a lot of homeowners (with upside-down loans), and it caused a lot of sleepless nights,” said Tanner. “It was a worry.”
But when she and her husband Mark were approved for a loan modification last October, Tanner was hopeful she would soon be getting a better night’s sleep. And for a while, she did.
“Once we got the loan redone, we thought, ‘Now we can afford to make our payments, and we’ll be OK,’” said Tanner. “Unfortunately, that ended up not being the case.”
According to Tanner, when the loan was redone last year – through Bank of America – unbeknownst to them, their property taxes were factored into the monthly payments along with the mortgage. But because the first payments were rolled into the initial loan re-modification and not due again for another six months, the Tanners were unaware of the situation and continued to pay only their monthly mortgage payment of $2,900.
“We were told the taxes wouldn’t be included in the monthly payment, and we would have been fine with it if they were, but we were specifically told that wasn’t going to be the case,” said Tanner.
So by the time the Tanners were notified by the bank in June that their account was in arrears, they already owed thousands of dollars in back taxes. Today that number – which includes late fees, insurance and back taxes – is up to nearly $20,000. Without some kind of reprieve, the Tanners might lose their home.
“We have basically been in arrears of $4,000 a month, according to the bank,” said Tanner. “We recently received a letter saying that unless we pay up in full, they will begin foreclosure proceedings. Even though we’ve continued to pay our mortgage every month, they (the bank) have said that unless we can pay it all, don’t bother paying anything.”
Tanner said the bank has refused to modify the loan again, and told her that leniency can be granted only if one of the signatories on the loan, not a child, is ill.
“They (the bank) say they are sorry but there is nothing they can do,” said Tanner. “And it’s frustrating because I get a different person every time I call. At this point we’re running out of options, and we have other things we are worrying about.”
But help might be on the way. Oakley City Councilman Jim Frazier and his wife Janet met the Tanners a few weeks ago when they dropped off some gift bags from their organization The Network of Care, which provides food to families of hospitalized children.
“We spoke for quite a while about their son and their (financial) situation, and said we would try to help any way we could,” said Frazier. “So I referred their case to the guys with the horsepower.”
The horsepower turned out to be California State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan. Susanna Schlendorf, district representative for Buchanan’s office, said they are trying to help.
“We are doing everything we can to assist this family,” said Schlendorf. “It’s a tragic situation and we are doing our best to help them.”
On Wednesday, Heather Schiffman of DeSaulnier’s office said they had been in touch with the bank and are hopeful accommodations can be made.
“We were assured that they were going to revisit the Tanner situation to see if they qualified for a loan re-qualification, and if not, they are still willing to work with them,” said Schiffman. “We’re happy to be able to help. The whole story gives me goosebumps every time I talk about it.”
For now, Tanner continues to make the monthly mortgage payment and hope for a positive outcome.
“Every time I go home, I sit down on the couch and look around and hope that we won’t lose our home,” said Tanner, who flies down to UCLA Medical Center next week with Aaron to get him placed on the transplant list. “My boys grew up in this house; it means everything to them. I just wish someone with a heart would hear about this and tell us, ‘Yes, we can help you modify; we can help you fix this.’ Our priority right now is our son and our family. But it would be wonderful to have a house to come home to when all this is over.”
For updates on Aaron Tanner’s condition or a schedule of community fundraisers, visit www.saveabrokenheart.com. For additional information, or ways to help, call Tanner at 925-899-1010.