- Personal Finance
The Silver Lining In The Recession Cloud: One Man's Story - Part II
First the travel agent said that he couldn't refund my $1,000 deposit on the cruise. Then, I had to drop the price on my TV and stereo by three grand because they were last year's models and all the new ones came out with some little gizmo that made these old ones obsolete. The auto broker told me that the bottom had dropped out of the Audi market since the recession hit and everyone wanted to get into a Prius. He told me that he could get $18,000 max. When I told him my payout to the bank was $34,500, he replied that it was better to take a bath now than keep making the payments and still be unable to get rid of it.
But at least I should be able to get ten thousand dollars clear from my motorcycle. The kid that showed up to look at it came fully. dressed in leathers, and he had his own helmet. We talked about the bike for a while and it seemed he knew quite a bit about the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14 Monster Energy model and even knew the difference between it and the standard garden variety Ninja ZX-14, so when he asked to take it for a spin, I gave him the keys, quite assured that he knew how to ride well enough and wouldn't drop it or anything.
He definitely was an excellent rider. He turned the bike on, popped it into gear, dropped the clutch and pulled a 100-foot wheelie down the street. I watched him turn the corner and waited for him to come around the other side of the block.
By midnight, I had given up waiting for him to come back. The thing that bugged me the most was that the cop I was giving the stolen vehicle report to, kept trying to suppress a laugh.
After three weeks, the extent of my liquidation was becoming quite clear. The stock was finally sold piecemeal for $4 a share. The money from that disappointing transaction and the ridiculously low amounts I had received from the sale of my other items had barely sufficed to clear my credit cards. You never realize just how high your department store and bank card balances are until you try to pay them all off at once. And when you realize how fast 29-percent interest racks up, it's enough to make you hork. I was so mad that I tore all my credit cards in half and sent them back with a check to pay off the balance in full. I was never again going to pay vigorish for the dubious privilege of using plastic money.
But at least I would have 175 grand in my pocket as soon as I could sell my house. That would be a good chunk of cash. Unfortunately the real estate agent hadn't shown the house to anybody yet, even though there was a sign on the lawn the size of a billboard.
By then, about three months had passed since I listed the place and I was going through what was left of my money as if I had sprayed kerosene on my bank account and lit a match. According to the sales contract I had signed, the realtor guaranteed to purchase my house if they couldn't sell it within 90 days. So I called them up and asked me when I would be getting my check.
"We'll be finalizing the details this week, Sir," the realtor said. "And we'll be sending the check directly to the bank that holds your mortgage."
"That's great," I responded, ecstatic that finally something was going the way I had planned it. "And when do I get my check for the difference?"
"What difference, Sir?" he asked.
"My equity! You're a real estate agent! You should know that! The difference between what you're paying off the mortgage and the $925,000 you're giving me for my house!"
"I'm sorry Sir, but according to the terms of our sale guarantee we're purchasing the property for wholesale price. And in the case of your property, since you're in a zip code that has a higher than average foreclosure rate, that works out to $230,000."
I felt like somebody had shot a cannonball into my gut. "That's over five hundred and twenty thousand dollars short of what I owe on it!" I screamed.
"No, Sir, only $519,624 dollars and 16 cents, according to my calculations on your current payout figure."
"This is fraud! This is illegal! I'm going to sue! You can't do this to people!" I yelled.
"I'm sorry, sir, but this is in complete accordance with the terms of the contract you signed. A deal's a deal!"
By the following week, I received a pleasant letter from the bank asking me to forward a check for the balance owing them, that I had until the end of the month to move out, and that it had been a pleasure doing business with me.
What they didn't know is that the only way for me to get $519,624 was to sell my body to science: 519,624 times over.
So now I had to move out of my house. I had to find an apartment somewhere, and I had to find it by the end of the month.