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LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Iris Martin is not a banker, real estate lawyer or mortgage broker. She is a former psychotherapist specializing in transformative psychology.
Martin, who worked in the White House with former U.S. president Bill Clinton and was a member of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's finance committee, said when she first read about the mortgage foreclosure crisis last year, she saw an opportunity for people to take charge of a bad situation and, by doing so, transform themselves.
So Martin has written a book, "Mortgage Wars," which tells people how to fight back against predatory lenders looking to foreclose. She documents legal cases in which others have fought and won their homes' titles free and clear.
Martin admits that not everybody can prevail against a lender, but she passionately argues that many people can if they know how.
She spoke to Reuters about the book and how to cope with foreclosure.
Q: How does a self-described former psychotherapist who spent 30 years specializing in transformational psychology get involved in the real estate market?
A: "I was reading about what was happening to homeowners, and no one was screaming about the psychological damage being done ... I started talking to people who were going through foreclosure and the emotion was a combination of terror, self-hatred, anxiety. It's equal to divorce and can lead to a complete breakdown of the family, or worse, because it deals with people's basic need for safety and security."
Q: You say, "when I started reading about," when was that?
A: "A year ago, exactly. I went online and found a case, Andrews v. Chevy Chase Bank, which is in the book. The judge rescinded Andrews loan, and now they have their house free and clear ... Doing this can take the form of being current on a mortgage but knowing your payment will adjust upward, so you offensively attack your lender. Or, it can be stopping a foreclosure sale by filing a quiet title action if you don't get time for a loan modification."
Q: What's the best psychological advice you can give to someone coping with a foreclosure?
A: "Doing nothing is the worst possible psychological thing you can do ... So, you have to get off your butt and do two things: psychologically, calm down and understand there is absolutely light at end of tunnel and operationally, get in this process and take control of the situation."
Q: Would you describe it as a self-help book?
A: "Yes. There are a lot of books out about foreclosure, but none of them tell a homeowner how to keep your home, go to court, what the laws are and how the laws are on your side."
Q: And how can this process "transform" people? Or does it truly transform them if they fight back?
A: "Absolutely it does. We're talking about basic psychology. The biggest psychological investment you will make to a material object is to your home and when you combine that with your family, your entire identity is wrapped up in what happens when you go home."
Q: So, it's transformative because it gives people a sense of self-empowerment?
A: "It's taking on big brother. It's taking on authority figures. It's carving your way through a hopelessly confused legal system. It's claiming what is yours. It's your home."
Q: The central question, which you mention, is that people need to first determine if their loan and mortgage securitization was done properly and legally.
A: "I don't want to mislead people who have no predatory (lending) claim into believing they do ... There is a process to go through to find if you've been victimized. You need to get your loan audited, you need to go online and find (Securities and Exchange Commission) filings of your lender.
Editing by Patricia Reaney