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Oakwood couple goes public with their struggle to keep their home of 10 years
Bank threatening foreclosure
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Mike Miller and wife Tiffany are currently facing foreclosure on their Oakwood home, which they have lived in for 10 years. They began experiencing financial problems in 2008 when Tiffany had to quit her job due to a severe central nervous disorder. The house, which is owned by Chase Bank, will be sold Dec. 7 if the Millers cannot stop the process. - photo by SARA

OAKWOOD — For most people, home foreclosure and financial distress is a private matter, a personal struggle only discussed with family and close friends.

But for Mike and Tiffany Miller, it is a public battle, one they have displayed on signs, including a 25-foot banner draped across the roof of their Railroad Street home.

Their troubles began after Tiffany was struck by a severe central nervous system disorder and eventually had to quit work. And the recession pummeled Mike, self-employed in the flooring business.

“We were having trouble trying to make it — keeping up with normal living expenses,” he said.
Concerned about making future house payments, Mike called their mortgage holder, Chase.

“We had never missed a payment and they told Mike that in order to help him, he had to be in default,” or behind on payments by three months, Tiffany said.

“That was very difficult for us to do, because it meant our credit would be affected,” she said.

They eventually lapsed on the payments and went into Chase’s home modification loan program. Until a new loan could be worked out, the Millers had to make a temporary payment each month for the next four months.

“Well, we’ve (made) that payment for the past 18 months,” Mike said.
Finally, a modified loan offer came in the mail but the payment was higher than the original one they were making.

“They took what (missed payments) had been accrued in this process and put it in the note and took the note to 20 years instead of 30, and it raised the payment,” Mike said.

“What they did not do was credit any of the (temporary payments),” Tiffany added.

They have not made any payments the past three months. Chase “told us not to ... because we didn’t agree to sign the loan modification agreement,” she said.

Then, the couple got a double dose of bad news on Nov. 2.

The Millers found out Tiffany wouldn’t be able to participate in a research program for her medical condition at Vanderbilt

University in Nashville, Tenn., and that their house — where they have lived for 10 years — was in foreclosure and would be sold on Dec. 7.

“Why is the sign on the house? Because we have raised our children not to tolerate bullying and to always stand up for themselves, and that is what we are doing,” Tiffany said.

“There is nothing I can do about this except what I’ve done. I want people to know we’ve done everything we were told and they’re still taking our house.”

When contacted about the matter, Tom Kelly, a media relations executive with Chase, said, “I am not sure how much information we can share because of privacy issues, but we’ll at least check into (the matter).”

He also deferred to Nancy Norris, a Chase spokeswoman who covers Georgia.

“We have our executive office looking into the case to make sure that everything is being done properly,” Norris said. “The fact is we work with our homeowners one on one and our first choice is always to do some kind of modification. We want to avoid foreclosure any possible way we can.”

If a customer does not qualify for mortgage modification, “we look at alternatives to them exiting the house that would not include foreclosure,” Norris said. “We look at all of that in a process that generally takes more than a year before a foreclosure would even happen.

“A homeowner would have to refuse all other options available to them in order for a foreclosure to happen.”

As for the derogatory signs, Norris wouldn’t offer a particular comment.

“It doesn’t change how we handle the case,” she said.

Come Dec. 7, if all isn’t worked out with Chase, the Millers might be found on the Hall County courthouse steps, “with our little signs and our address on it ... and (a message saying) ‘You are buying a stolen home.’”

“We will not go quietly into the night,” Tiffany said. “It is just not in our personality. It’s not who we are.”

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