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An Open Letter from Steve Harney

Today’s blog is going to be different than my normal posts. Usually I give you a story in the news and my insights on the subject. Today I am going to talk about me, because I think my story can help others avoid making mistakes regarding their home.

There are many families struggling to make their mortgage payments every month in this country. Some have already fallen 30, 60 or 90 days behind. They have no way of catching up and are not sure what their next step should be. I know their challenge, as I too have been there.

In 1990, I ran into major financial difficulties. I couldn’t afford to pay my bills. I was married and had two young sons. My home was approaching foreclosure. I didn’t know what to do and I was afraid to talk to anyone about my troubles. I was too embarrassed. I was depressed and ready to give up. Foreclosure seemed to be the only option.

Thank god I had my friend Michael. He, like I, was in real estate. He realized I was struggling and sat me down and forced me to tell him the truth about my circumstances. He patiently explained to me that a foreclosure would probably prevent me from purchasing another home for over 5 years. He told me that if I let the house go to foreclosure, the bank could force me to pay the difference between what I owed them and what they sold the house for.

He put me on a plan to sell the home (it was a short sale before people had heard of short sales). He helped me find a decent rental and started me back on the track of building good credit.

I won’t lie to you. The next two years were not easy. Things changed pretty dramatically for us. My family of four was forced to live in an apartment one quarter the size of the home we left.

But in the end, Michael was right. I re-established my credit. Three years later we bought a larger home in a nicer neighborhood. We came back strong and both my boys have now graduated from college. The struggles of 15 years ago are nothing but a distant memory.

If you are struggling like I did and if it seems like your world is spinning out of control because of finances – DON’T GIVE UP! Find a good real estate professional and tell them the truth. Let them know the depth of your challenges. And then, together, make a plan. Perhaps you are eligible for modification. Perhaps a short sale can be the answer.

If you put together a plan, you can control your destiny. Things may be difficult for a while but before you know it, you will be past it.

Why have I shared my story?  Because I feel it may help others through this tough time. If you know of someone who may benefit from reading this letter, please feel free to share it with them as I have shared it with you.

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14 replies
  1. Dave Schultz
    Dave Schultz says:


    Your message drives home that our job as a Realtor is now more than ever one of being a consultant with compassion. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. James Russell
    James Russell says:

    Great advice from someone who’s seen the other side.
    Today more than ever, it’s important that people chose the trusted services of a licensed Real Estate Agent/Broker. Check them out, make sure they have the level of experience required to tackle the problem. Our clients depend on us to serve them to the best or our ability. (And to know where those abilities end and when we should refer them to someone more qualified, if necessary!)
    Today’s challenges only make us stronger. By taking responsibilty and making the right choices, these Home Owners can save themselves a lot of long term credit destruction by openly and honestly addressing the problem today!
    I continue to motiivate my clients with the do it now attuitude!
    I hope others work as diligently to help these folks as we do.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. Brad Andersen
    Brad Andersen says:

    There are many people in all communities in need of help and understanding. Our market is dominated by homes in the million dollar range, yet I know of several people who are facing financial problems. One is a banker and the other a Realtor. Both thought they knew everthing there was to know about our industry. Things change. I think we have all learned a valuable lesson. Hopefully, we will all plan better next time.

  4. David Huss @ Allen Tate, Realtors
    David Huss @ Allen Tate, Realtors says:

    Super letter Steve! I met with a lady yesterday who has seen work hours cut back, upside down on her mortgage and a pending job transfer. We talked about all of the options and none were positive. In the end, she made a decision on a path to follow. I know she can do it. She worked on her credit for years to put herself in a position to purchase a home. I know she can conquer this challenge as well. I read your letter and could not wait to send it to her. I hope you don’t mind if I use your thoughts and combine with her story to write my blog. Thanks!

  5. Connie Hintze
    Connie Hintze says:

    Dear Steve,
    Thank you and as always your words will help thousands of people. I think the people are starting to feel we are more then a realtor we are people that care about the person sitting at the table with us.
    Have a wonderful day.
    Best regards,

  6. Chris Capitelli
    Chris Capitelli says:

    Stevie, Thanks for publishing this. I too have walked in your shoes and am Happy to say that I am on the road to recovery!! I started my walk with God several months ago and can honestly say that he has changed me and my familys life!!!

  7. Leslie
    Leslie says:

    I met with a lady today who I am sending your story. Too many troubles and too personal to write about here, but I want her to know that she’s not alone. Unfortunately I can’t reveal stories of other friends and neighbors in difficult circumstances, so thanks for giving me an example to show that she and her family can work their way out of this.

  8. Mike Staver
    Mike Staver says:

    You are a good man Steve Harney! Authenticity always works. Thanks for your authentic message of hope and restoration. So often people assume that those of us that share counsel have not suffered.


  9. Donna Tidwell
    Donna Tidwell says:

    Thank you once again Steve. We know we can depend upon you to tell it to us straight. You are making a serious difference in the Real Estate world.
    Following your advise my team are all being trained as CDPE so that we will be better preparred to help trouble homeowners. Keep up the good work.

    We can’t wait to see you in McDonough, GA!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] is more information on the HAFA program to help short sale sellers; plus areal life story from a person who actually went through a short […]

  2. […] can read Steve’s Letter by clicking on the […]

  3. […] receiving an overwhelming response to Friday’s post, I realized two things. First, more people than I thought are willing to admit that they need help […]

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