In January, 2010, Mary Walden was having trouble sleeping. Whenever she managed to doze off, she would wake up again soon after, exhausted and out of breath. Although she didn't know it, she was suffering from a severe form of sleep apnea, and she was lucky if she could piece together an hour of sleep a night.
Each morning, Mary drove an hour to her job as a pharmacist. The long commute, coupled with her lack of sleep, began to affect her work performance, and after an argument with her employer, she was fired. Nearly thirty years after she went to school to become a pharmacist, Mary was out of work, and she had nowhere to turn.
"That's all I know how to do," she explained, "is be a pharmacist."
Unable to find another job, Mary tried to get by on her social security payments, but the money was never enough. She was forced to dip into her retirement accounts, which had already taken a huge hit after the 2008 recession, plummeting from a high of $180,000 to around $90,000. After years of using her retirement savings to make her mortgage payments, the money was nearly exhausted, and Mary knew something had to give.
"I had to do something to get an affordable house payment," she said. That's when she found Ditech.
Paired with Ditech home loan specialist Paul Udink, Mary began researching her options. Paul told her about the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which was set up in 2009 to help people like Mary reduce their mortgage payments. Working with Paul was a breeze, Mary explained. He never pressured her, never rushed her, and never judged her for having trouble paying her bills.
"It just clicked with him," she said. "I wish I could pick lottery numbers as well as I picked Paul. It was effortless, really. He always answered his phone. If he wasn't there, he'd call me back after one or two minutes. I just felt so special!"
Mary has been living in the same house since 2002: a charming four bedroom with a screen porch, on a cul-de-sac in a nice, quiet neighborhood. It was built by parents whose son was a classically-trained pianist, and who designed it to have perfect acoustics. The house is full of little details that Mary appreciates, like how every sink is a different color. She made the down payment on the house with life insurance money inherited after her parents' deaths, and couldn't bear to say goodbye.
"I just didn't want to lose this house," she said. "Part of the money was from my dad."
Paul made sure she didn't have to let go. He helped her enroll in the HARP program, dropping her monthly mortgage payment from $1,851 to $1,400—a significant monthly cost reduction for a person on a fixed-income.
"That's a huge, huge difference," Mary exclaimed. "Love it, love it."
Mary’s mortgage payments started in November, and the timing enabled her to pay off her outstanding debts. Now, for the first time in years, she feels like she's getting ahead. Her two sons live with her, and they like to cook dinner together. Recently, they made prime rib to celebrate.
"I was just so relieved," she said. "Four hundred and fifty dollars is a lot of money, and it'll go a long way. I had to dig into my retirement. Now, I can breathe."