photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

We're Not Worthy

I grew up in a simpler time.

A skin-of-my-teeth child of the 50's, we lived a pretty stereotypical life- dad worked at the same place from his late 20's (after his 4 years in the Navy) till the day he retired, mom stayed home to raise us till we were both in school all day long and she then picked up a part-time job so she'd be home when we got there every day.

Our family consisted of dad, mom, myself, and my brother.

Mom and dad rented a little bungalow surrounded by trees in a quiet neighborhood- we could see the elementary school from our front window- one of my earliest memories is asking my mom why the flag was "not all the way to the top" and she explained through tears that someone had shot and killed President Kennedy.

After they saved enough money, my parents took the ultimate plunge- Home Ownership- and purchased a newer (but not new) house in a less treed (but still quiet) neighborhood. Our lot was 40ft by 120ft, and the house consisted of a small eat-in kitchen, a small living room (mom's spinet piano took up a good quarter of the room), 3 tiny bedrooms and 1 bathroom.

Although the elementary school was a different one, we could still see it from our front porch.

I guess I shouldn'tve used the past tense about our house since mom and dad still live there 38 years later.

That's how things were done in our parents' day, and in THEIR parents' day. People got and stayed married, had 2 children- a boy and a girl, worked for the same company till they got their gold watch and a cake-filled sendoff, saved up, bought a house, and lived there till the end credits rolled.

So it's a surprise, and not a good one, for our generation to find ourselves changing jobs every few years, changing spouses at least once, moving long distances at the insistence of employment or matrimony, and generally not having the deep roots of our recent ancestors.

Jobs are no longer something secure, marriage is no longer "till death us do part", and houses are investments instead of homes. Everything is "A Journey" implying that we keep moving, keep searching, never quite managing to get There.

Only one thing has remained the same, stayed solidly unmoving, unbending and impregnable- The Credit Score.

The Credit Score is an antiquated gauge of judging a person's credit-worthiness.

There are the Big Three reporting agencies who tally up every good and bad bit of your credit history and those numbers are added together and averaged and in a whole lot of lending institutions will determine if your application even gets glanced at, or if it gets shit-canned out of hand.

I worked in the financial industry for a few years- first as a bank teller, and then at a private loan company, and I've always thought the Credit Score was sketchy at best. There are alot of mistakes on them, for starters. You'd think that something this crucial would have a little more care taken to the accuracy of the reports.

But you'd be wrong.

I can't remember a single report that I pulled that was 100% correct.

And here's the hilarious part.

It takes a slew of phone calls, a ream of letters, and a notarized blessing from god to take off the mistakes.

And it'll take months to do so.

Here's why this is today's topic.

We're trying to build a house. A very tiny simple house on land that's 1/2 paid for so plenty of equity there. We can afford to do it. We have everything lined up to do it. Although our original plan was to go sans bank and build it ourselves, recent events have dictated that someone else build the house and we pay it off as quickly as we can.

The lady at the bank nodded and added things up and smiled.

Then she pulled the credit reports.

There are medical bills on there with outstanding balances- but they're not supposed to look at those.

There are 2 items there that have been wrongly reported.

I called both companies and they verified that we are not, in fact, deadbeats, and that they like us just fine. But I'll have to go through "Credit Reporting Dispute" to get the report changed, which (as stated above) is messy and onerous and will take several MONTHS to accomplish.

This is a small local bank, and the one who deals exclusively with our builder, so my hope is that they'll take the telephone verification at face value and proceed As If.

Otherwise, we're momentarily screwed through no fault of our own.

I'm hearing from alot of bankers that "It's almost impossible to get a construction loan right now".

Why? The banks got all that bail-out money, right? Where did THAT go? Oh. Wait. I already mentioned where that went, it went to all those brand new bank buildings cropping up everywhere with the empty parking lots since they WON'T GIVE ANYONE ANY MONEY.

I'm hearing from alot of bankers that they "can't even look at someone unless their credit score is over 750. Ours right now is hovering around 600- and that's with us at the same residence and employment for over 15 years, ONE car note,and ONE credit card. I cannot conceive that in today's high mobility-high debt load-high unemployment-high foreclosure society that very many people can manage over 750 anymore.

I've always said that "Banks only loan to people who don't really need it", and that seems even more true now.

So we'll stay with the small local banks, and cross our fingers, and hope they can see past The Credit Score, and into our characters and history.

But we won't hold our breath.

1 comment:

  1. I hate the whole credit thing. I don't even have a clue what my score is. I haven't financed or used a credit card in 10 years, but I am sure my credit is a nightmare.