Very useful antidote to the thinking that our financial troubles were caused entirely by "predatory" lenders.
Alpan works through lunch most days, reading files over food from the deli downstairs. Right now, he’s reviewing the case of a grocery-store manager in New Jersey who paid $120,000 for a home whose value then jumped to $220,000. Over the course of a single day, the manager took out five home-equity lines of credit. A week later, with half a million dollars in his pocket, he walked. . . .
One of every four files Alpan reviews contains a hardship letter. Such letters are meant to win the bank’s sympathy, but more often than not, they end up highlighting the lies the borrower once told. “I was selling cars … making $2,100 a month, and they cut my hours,” explained one borrower, though his mortgage-loan application had said he earned $350,000 a year as a regional manager for a Big Three automaker. One hardship letter that went viral around the office began, “I did a lot of coke, and now I can’t afford my mortgage.”