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A Story Of Foreclosure – Not The Post You Dream Of Writing

Sign Of The Times - Foreclosure

I’ve never wanted to say this.

Last week, I lost my home of three years. Despite my best efforts, on Tuesday January 5th, 2010, my house appeared on the Bexar County Courthouse steps and was sold for less than I paid for it. As you can imagine, I was quite upset about it, but I must admit I’m handling it much better than I suspected I would. I can hear some readers out there thinking “why would you tell us this – why would you put it out there for the world to see?” I thought long and hard about whether or not to turn this into a blog post. In the end, I remembered my point and focus in The Stigliano Chronicles – to talk about my real estate experiences from the perspective of a new agent. This mandate, given to me by Benn and Lani back in 2008, has always been my focus and will be, even after I’ve been in this business longer than Bill Lublin (he was born with a license, wasn’t he?). It’s not always easy to write these posts as I do sometimes forget some of the stress and strain of being a new agent, but I do always try to think back to myself in 2008 and add in the knowledge I’ve gleaning since.

As a new agent, I was told time and time again to be prepared to have some very lean months. I was told everything from two months to two years. In retrospect, 2008 wasn’t exactly the best time to leave my career as a musician (that often paid very well and when it didn’t, at least allowed me to squeak by) and join the Realtor® ranks, but I had chosen to do so for a multitude of my own reasons. I had a plan for my life and wanted to follow it, instead of spending time regretting it. Because of my relationship with the band, I had been able to save up quite a bit in a savings account, so I was prepared for the so called “building of my business.”

It wasn’t easy to build a business in 2008. While many of the seasoned agents I knew were struggling, I was just trying to figure it all out and get involved where I could. I certainly didn’t make a fortune that year. Instead, I slowly ate through my savings, trying to hang on to what I had as tight as I could. As the bank accounts dwindled, my royalties from the band also dried up. Although we continued to generate royalties, I was in a position where I was paying back the band’s corporate accounts (as we had borrowed against royalties during our own lean times). With little coming in other than my wife’s salary, we conserved everywhere we could and were doing fine until 2009, when we began to get behind occasionally. We would get a month behind and pay two, get three months behind and pay one, get two months behind and catch up. It was a constant cycle of getting behind and getting back to even.

Late in the year, I lost two transactions. Both were to simple causes (and not a case of the client dumping me), but nonetheless, that was two commissions I could have used. At the same time, my wife left her job (to save her sanity) and was unable to get work for two months. I got a bit more behind than I had expected and in turn, the mortgage company made their move and began the foreclosure process in late November. In an effort to “do the right thing,” I spoke with the lender and the lawyers and worked on my “loss mitigation package” to get into their hands.

We should have been a dream case.

Looking through my hardship letter, it was pretty clear to see what got us from Point A to Point B. No wild spending sprees, no million dollar home, no boats…even our car was modest (we actually traded in our BMW for a Honda when we moved here). We just hit an unfortunate set of circumstances and were making ground on them, but not fast enough. This year looks to be a great year for me as a real estate agent (in my past six months at my new brokerage I was named “Mr. Zero-To-Sixty in Thirty Days” because of the complete turn around in my business compared to the first half of the year with my old brokerage). My wife got a temporary job after two months of looking day in and day out and that job is now turning to a permanent position – one with with a nice raise. We could pull out of this with some help from the lender.

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Unfortunately, we were like so many others in the middle of a foreclosure, working uphill against a lender who was flooded with tons of people just like us. Although they tried to escalate my case to get a decision before the auction, we never got a chance to have them review the package.

As you can imagine, my wife and I are upset. What upsets me the most? Losing the deck on which we had some fabulous BBQs with great friends. Not being able to finish the projects that I wanted to do to the house. Knowing that I won’t have my neighbors anymore. The idea that we’ll probably move to a smaller space. Are any of those going to kill me or stop me? Of course not. In fact, my wife and I have managed to put a positive spin on it all and in some way are looking forward to a new place to live (we typically move once every three years).

So where’s the new agent tie-in?

There’s actually two sides of this as far as a “lesson” goes. First, for the new agent just getting started in the business – please, plan ahead and then double your plan. You may have success right out of the starting gate. I know a girl who took a phone duty call her first day and sold a $500K house to that caller. Not a bad start to the business. I also know plenty of agents who have been in business longer than I have who are still striving to get their feet moving. Real estate is not a piece of cake. It’s hard work and sometimes, no matter how hard you work, you still won’t get anything for it. Being prepared to make sacrifices and having a cushion to fall back on will serve you well. Even if you get that $500K buyer on day one, keep your plan in place.

The second thing I want to stress is not just for new agents – it’s for all agents. The concept I want to stress? Compassion. The people you work with all have stories. They have their reasons, their beliefs, and their hopes and dreams. Be mindful and compassionate towards those stories. Take the time to get to know your client, you never know how much they might be just like you or be in need of your help. If you’re working short sales and foreclosures, be even more compassionate. If ever there was a time in a person’s life when they needed someone to lean on – this is most certainly it. The flood of emotions, the anger, the frustration, the depression…they’re all powerful emotions that can literally freeze your clients in their tracks. Try to be understanding and helpful. Reach out to them and let them know you’re not just looking for the next commission check. Do this through your actions, not your 100-page bio telling them how you “care for your clients.”

The outcome?

My wife and I are resilient. We’ll work hard for the next few years and try to pay off some of our other debt with the money we’ll save. We’ll enjoy a new home in a new part of town and make new friends. We’ll continue our lives and not dwell in the past. We will survive and come out the other side better than ever. And I will have a new lesson under my belt that will help me understand my clients better than ever before.

photo courtesy of respres (probably one of the most referenced photos about foreclosure I’ve ever seen)

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Benjamin Bach

    January 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

    How to win: get knocked down 4 times, get up 5 times.

    Thank you for sharing. I know you and your wife will look back on this in a few years as a valuable part of your journey. The lows give us context for the soaring highs to come…

  2. LesleyLambert

    January 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Matt, I applaud you for sharing this. I know how difficult this is, I have been there, too. Here is my post about my situation a couple of years ago:

    I, too, spend my time sharing these stories to urge real estate professionals to remember to be compassionate and empathetic. These situations are never good, but it pays to remember that it can (and does) happen to anyone.

    Big hugs to you and your wife and please reach out if you need to talk with someone who understands firsthand how it feels.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    January 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I should note that this might help explain the absence of The Stigliano Chronicles lately. A huge thanks goes out to Lani and Benn for not just being understanding while I wasn’t writing, but for being my friends and being supportive. Not many knew about what I was going through, but I did let them know (I didn’t want them to think I had fallen off the face of the earth) and they acted more as family than owners of a site I contribute to. I will always champion them and say great things about them, but this time I think it’s important for the readers to know what these two provide the community. They’re not just here for business. They have stood by many of us in difficult times and we’ve stood by them. Now go ahead and try to tell me social media doesn’t work.

    • Benn Rosales

      January 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm

      Matt, it’s people that matter, and not many will admit it, but they’re struggling right along with you, including us- hell, I’m looking at an added $1,500 in recurring medical care as it stands now in a flat economy in the dead of winter. We’re not sure how, but we know we’ll be okay, we just keep working, and praying.

      We’ve been rich and we’ve been poor, and we’ll be both again and again, life is funny that way, but one thing is for sure, you just keep getting smarter/wiser as you go along.

      We see the space from a very unique vantage point and know lots of folks including a few once top producers hiding cars from banks to a couple short selling their own homes, one of which is a family home of 20 years- you’re certainly not the only one.

      All I can say is that I pray you’re okay, safe and warm and if you need something, that you’ll ask, and that other agents that are struggling shouldn’t feel ashamed or beaten, it’s freakin rough out there, the question remains though, what will you do about it- this is what really matters…

  4. Dale Chumbley

    January 11, 2010 at 11:21 am


    My heart goes out to you (and the millions of others in same or similar situations). Thank you for your candidness. I’m sure you took a fair amount of time crafting this post. I so appreciate you and the friendship that has been forged. I look forward to getting to spend some f2f time with you very soon.

    I’m glad you & your wife have such a positive outlook on this. You will ROCK 2010 & beyond!

    All my best,

    DJ Dale ;?)

  5. Houstonblogger

    January 11, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Well, I say kudos to you for sharing your story and being able to make a positive out of a major life-changing situation. You are strong, resilient, and quite impressive. As a new agent myself, you gave me quite a bit to think about and I think sharing your story was a huge help. I know it was to me. Good luck to you and your family. **hugs**

  6. Jason Farris

    January 11, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Tremendously well told story Matt. I think its fantastic that you wrote and posted this.

    A scene from the movie Rocky Balboa comes to mind; Rocky is outside talking to his son…
    “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hit, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you are because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”

    Here is the youtube link

    Keep up the good fight Matt! I hope many blessings come your way.

    Jason @Fresyes Farris

  7. BawldGuy

    January 11, 2010 at 11:33 am

    My prayers for you and your wife. Your wife’s sanity is invaluable. Losing a home is far easier to endure than losing a good woman. I empathize with you guys, as I went through this as a young man myself. It’s a trip we ultimately take ourselves, regardless of outside support.

    Your ‘man-up’ attitude is refreshing to say the least. You have my admiration.

  8. Els

    January 11, 2010 at 11:34 am

    Sharing this painful process with us must have been truly difficult. Your emergence from ‘the other side’ shows that of what you are made. Those who participate in real estate have the opportunity to effect others on a very personal level. Your recognition of compassion, and the challenge that we all exercise the same, is a excellant way to start our journey of 2010.

  9. Ann Cummings

    January 11, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Hi Matt,

    Your courage in putting this out here for all to read is very evident, and you and your wife will come back, and you’ll come back stronger than before for having gone through this. The fact that you wrote this and shared it is proof of that.

    There but for the grace of God go many REALTORS, some have had this happen already, some are facing it now, and may your post be of some help to them – to know that they’re not alone and that they will bounce back, no matter what they’re feeling right now and/or down the road. I have not gone through this myself but I have friends and clients who have, and my heart has broken for each of them. I have also seen them recover and carry on from there. Many of them have said they’ve felt immense relief that it’s all behind them.

    Our homes are so much to each one of us – emotions, memories, love, cherished times – and you will rebuild those and build new ones. You are strong and are well-respected, and you now have experiences that will help you grow and be even better at what you do – difficult times, emotional times – all make us stronger better people, if we’re lucky, and I can already tell you’re one of those that are just that.

    Hugs to you and your wife, and much admiration for sharing your story,

  10. Matt Stigliano

    January 11, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Benjamin – I wrote a post here on AgentGenius about failure before – I actually encourage failure in my life. If not, I’ll never learn much. Of course, no one wants to get knocked down in this way, but it happened and I’ll learn and keep moving on.

    Dale – You know, I kind of hoped that by writing this, someone out there might read it and say “hey, he’s just like me.” Foreclosure is an awful time. I’ve spent days feeling sick to the bottom of my stomach and with my head full of so much doubt, fear, and disgust that there were times when I thought I might have lost my mind. It literally can freeze you in your tracks and make you so ineffective at making the decisions you need to make to correct (or at least deal with) the situation. As for you, the same applies here. I look forward to (finally) meeting this year and have loved getting to know you (and Bridget). I believe you’re out there traveling right at this moment, so you stopping by to comment means a lot. Have a great time at Inman and tell everyone I said hello!

    Houstonblogger – As a new agent, I hope you’ll take the lesson to heart. Compassion to those that are going through this and preparedness for yourself. Starting in real estate is mind-numbingly hard, but if you take advantage of all that is out there (especially relationships formed via social media and places like AgentGenius), you’ll be amazed at how much quicker you can get through the start up process. I credit a lot of my success to having guides in the form of many of the writers here. Best of luck to you as you start your real estate career.

  11. Vicki Lloyd

    January 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Matt –

    Thank you for sharing this painful experience. As others have said, you will recover and prosper, and be able to put it behind you. “There, but for the Grace of God” many people will be able to relate to this post. I came very close to losing my house in 1996 and it really did make me much more compasionate to homeowners going through similar situations. It has also made me very careful in my advice to my buyers about stretching to buy more house than they can easily support.

    Keep working, keep writing! You’re in it for the long run and you will survive and prosper!

  12. Matt Stigliano

    January 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    BawldGuy – Losing her would be unacceptable and devastating. A house? Eh, there’s more than one house out there that could make me happy. The job she had was not good for her and even though we both knew it couldn’t come at a worse time, she had to leave before the job chewed her up from the inside. I applauded her bravery for leaving even though I feared her finding a new job…I knew she would, it was just a matter of when and with all the job news out there, things obviously didn’t look great. As for my “man-up attitude” – I most certainly can credit you with some of that. You’re no holds barred take on life, real estate, and investing has always been something I admired. You’ve got the guts to say what others only wish they could and for me, this post was something of a similar nature.

    Els – You’re dead on with your comment that “Those who participate in real estate have the opportunity to effect others on a very personal level.” Whether it’s good times or bad, we do often build a very personal connection with our clients. I’ve always felt a certain amount of compassion for those who struggle with foreclosure, but I must admit, this definitely sheds a new light on those consumers who have gone through or are just going through it. Even when thinking that “giving up” was the best idea, I never did and even though my attempt to save the house was ultimately unsuccessful, I am proud of not throwing in the towel.

    Ann – I don’t doubt that we will come back, we’ve been pretty resilient in the past. When I was still in the music industry our financial world was more up and down than a Realtor® could ever conceive of. It wasn’t always easy, but we always made it. When times were good they were always great. I credit my wife for more than she’ll ever know or understand. She’s always been a huge supporter of mine, even when my decisions didn’t seem to make perfect sense. I’m truly lucky to have met her randomly in London one night. She was like no one I had met before and year after year proves why she isn’t like anyone else.

    I do hope that the post will help an agent or two realize that they’re not alone. It sucks to feel like you are. I also hope it will help a consumer or two. For the same reasons. We all know there’s plenty of people in both worlds struggling, but to have a feeling of “me too” is always a good starting point.

    This home, despite its often annoying points, will surely be missed. The memories will certainly revolve around the friendships we built here as a couple with no friends or family in a new city. I hope that the next owner will enjoy it as much as I have (and hopefully they’ll be able to get the backyard to turn to green grass as I was pretty unsuccessful at that).

  13. Marney Kirk

    January 11, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Matt, you are incredible. Just amazing. I mean it!
    To share your story of such hardship, and be able to see beyond it to something positive is something we all could stand to learn from. This is helpful for our buyers who don’t understand what sellers are going through, and the sellers who don’t understand what they themselves are going through.
    Most of all, yes, we the agents need to remember the stories, and to have compassion, and to be there for our clients. They need us more than ever to be that shoulder, that friend, and yes, that professional.
    Thank you for sharing, Matt.
    I look forward to seeing your story of recovery and success!
    Marney Kirk

  14. Craig Frooninckx

    January 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Good stuff, and very impressive that you have the courage to do the right thing and to share that with the world. Just that alone tells me that you and your wife will make it out of this. And I’m also glad that you found a lesson in this so that you won’t be destind to repeat it. Good luck and keep us posted!

  15. Matt Stigliano

    January 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Vicki – “Stretching” is something I will never recommend a client do. I will have them take a look at their “top end” but will never encourage them to hit it. If they want to stay lower (and many clients have become much more aware of staying below their max), I cheer them on. If they’re not comfortable with a price, we don’t want to go there – even if they could.

    Craig – I can’t claim “courage” on this post, but rather a personal mission to talk openly about real estate and my life in it. You can thank AgentGenius for that – they (the writers and the site) have helped make me interested in the idea that you can share with the world and learn from it every time you write a single post.

    Everyone – Just wanted to say thanks for the kind words and well wishes. It’s always helpful to feel supported. During the first few minutes of posting this, I felt seriously nervous and talked to Lani about it. It’s not an easy thing to be open and forthcoming with, but I felt the need to do it. I’ve actually felt very emotional today as I’ve been reading the comments and tweets about this post and messages to me and my wife. A good kind of emotional. A local here in San Antonio sent out a tweet almost immediately about it and reading it, there was a feeling of “it’s all going to be okay.” It also made me believe (as if I didn’t already) even more in the power of social media to form true, lasting connections.

  16. Alan May

    January 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Matthew – I had no idea (of course) that any of this was going on… you’ve done very well, in keeping it to yourself (I likely would have done the same).

    Times are tough.. and new agents MUST be prepared to have a couple of lean years. My heart goes out to you and your long-suffering wife (her suffering has nothing to do with your financial position), and I give you huge kudos for being willing to share this very important story.

    Hang in there… Alan’s axiom is “this too, shall pass”… and you’ll soon find yourself on the other side, with a huge weight lifted from your shoulders. New decks can be built, friends can be phoned, fortunes recovered.

    Please let me know how I can help.

  17. Jason Crouch

    January 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Matt – I applaud you for sharing this. Three of my closest friends lost their homes this past year, and without other resources, my wife and I would likely have been in the same boat. I bet things will seem clearer to you now that this is behind you. I also appreciate the fact that you made this a lesson in compassion. Please let me know if I can ever be of help, and I’m certain that we will be meeting in person this year!

  18. Elaine Hanson

    January 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Matt, thanks for sharing your story. You have the attitude that will let you move on. The sweet way you talk about your wife says that you have a relationship that is stronger than any crisis.
    Here’s to your next stage in life – your new digs and all the new friends you have yet to meet. Cheers, baby!

  19. Jim Lee

    January 11, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, that’s hard to deal with I’m sure. I’m struggling right now with some personal issues not related to foreclosure but painful nevertheless.

    My faith, my belief in myself, and the love of a special friend have been invaluable to help me along.

    There will be better times ahead I know, for you, your family, and most all of us. I hope we can meet up somewhere, someday when this is all a distant memory. You sound like the kind of person I would be proud to call a friend.

  20. Doug Lazovick

    January 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm


    Thanks for sharing this story…I’m sure it wasn’t easy to do.

    A wise man once told me all you need in life is a roof (obviously any roof, whether yours or not) over your head and your health. Those are the important things in life, everything else is gravy.

    I know that this will just be a little bump in the road on your travels and that great things lie ahead for you and your family. Good luck and hope to see you again sooner than later.


  21. Maureen Fusco

    January 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    You have amazing courage. But some things really need to be said to wake up the folks with their heads in the sand. Tens of thousands are facing the same dangers you have chronicled and it’s going to get worse. Yet, tens of thousands more continue to paint rainbows and ignore reality.

    Your story is important and I hope you realize that you have touched many.

    January 11, 2010

    You did the right things, followed the rules, and, still, got stuck in a killing situation. I read your Tweets and know that the effort you put into your business should have guaranteed smooth sailing. In normal times, it would have.

    I’ve personally felt the sting of this real estate meltdown (Barnegat, NJ property) and terrible loss of considerable retirement investment. Things have changed big-time in my elder-needs household.

    It’s good to hear that finances are mending. I sincerely hope that San Antonio’s market outdoes other areas. I’ll keep you in my prayers and thoughts.

  22. Curtis Van Carter

    January 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    After 25 years of being in this business, it is often too easy to forget why we do this, for our clients. Thanks for reminding me so thoughtfully. I wish it was less painful for your reminder. All the best to you and to the prosperity yet to come.

  23. Brandie Young

    January 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Matt,

    Anything supportive I could say has been said quite eloquently from a number of folks above. I am sad to add you to a too-long list of friends in the same situation. I wish I had magic words. The fact is this effing sucks. Big time.

    That said, here’s to hoping this is the low point, and you will regroup, recover and thrive.

    With much respect,


  24. Kaye Thomas

    January 11, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I’m saddened about your story. Back in the dark ages when I was doing new agent training I always stressed the fact that our business can have a lot of ups and downs even for experienced agents. You have to have substantial financial backup no matter how long you have been in business. It doesn’t matter whether the economy is in flux or great shape, transactions can fall out for a variety of reasons. Choosing a career in real estate can be very rewarding both financially and emotionally. It is such a great feeling when you help a client find just the right home. It can also present a lot of challenges for agents because nothing is ever a sure thing until the check has been cashed and is in the bank.

  25. Bob Stahl

    January 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing your personal story, Matt. I work with a lot of bank-owned property, as well as homeowners looking to do a short sale as a way out of a hard situation like yours. This Great Recession has been really tough. Here’s to better days (and months, and years) ahead.

  26. Mark Brian

    January 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I think it is an excellent idea to share this tough story about yourself. Part of the new social aspect of being a real estate agent is sharing your personal story, telling people who you are, where you come from, what life is about to you.

    I wish nothing but the best for you in the future. Keep at it!

  27. Nanette Labastida

    January 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    yeah – thanks for sharing this – it’s important to know that this really could happen to anyone.
    I have also been in the boat of royalties drying up…(many moons ago when i was married to my rockstar husband) and had we not sold our house just in time and for barely a hare more than we paid, we too would have been in the same sitch – despite also not being crazy rock star spenders.
    i love your message of compassion – that is what it’s all about, good to keep that in perspective
    and from following you on twitter – i know you are a great agent and will have continued success!

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

      Nanette – Nice to hear that someone else understand the ups and downs of rockstardom. So many people thought it was an easy road, but in reality the paycheck is even more unreliable than in real estate! Thanks for the kind words, although I’m only replying now, all the comments were a huge help to me.

  28. Julie Emery

    January 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Matt, I love your courage and optimism and your transparency. Some of us are “lucky” enough to learn how unimportant all the stuff in our lives are. (I had a hurricane help me with that lesson!) These are tough times and I wish we were all more supportive of each other and felt less pressure to say that business is great all the time! By the way, I’m preaching to myself here. It’s been a rough couple of years!! Thanks for your story and I wish you success in all the ways that really count!

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      Julie – I can’t imagine being wiped out by a hurricane or other disaster. At least the natural ones are completely out of your control, the hard part with foreclosure is that it’s hard to admit when it is out of control.

  29. Doug Francis

    January 11, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    And I thought that I was stressed out! Jeepers… and keep your wife!

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      Doug – There’s no way I’m letting her go. She’s been a powerhouse during all of this and more than half the reason I was able to deal with it. She’s strong and a great loving person – I couldn’t ask for anyone better.

  30. Dan Connolly

    January 11, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Matt, Like many others in this thread, I applaud your courage in sharing this and wish you all the success in the coming year.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Dan – Success will come this year, of that I’m sure. I feel very positive about my real estate career these days and I’m making the moves that will help me do just that. Thanks for the talk over email as I well – I believe I still owe you a reply.

  31. Sheila Moran

    January 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm


    You have made amazing strides in the past 6 months. I KNOW there will only be good things coming your way. The dues are paid, it’s your turn to shine !

    2010 HERE WE COME!

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:28 pm

      Sheila – I know I spend a lot of time telling people how great of an influence you’ve been on me, but let me say it here – THANK YOU. You have been instrumental in getting me where I want to be and you’re not just a broker, but a friend. You always have time for me – even when you’re rushing off to do some work and that is a huge deal to me. You, your family, and our office are all great people who really care and I’m impressed with how you’ve chosen to run your brokerage, something I’m proud to be a part of. I suspect there are a few brokers out there that could learn a thing or two from you. Thanks again for giving me a shot.

  32. Lisa Heindel

    January 11, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    This had to be very difficult for you to share with everyone, but there is something cathartic about just getting it all out there and off of your shoulders. Back in the mid 80s my husband and I lost our home as well after a failed venture as record store owners (something about that rock n roll that makes money disappear ::wink::) I was devastated – it was our first home and we watched it being built from the ground up. But, I look back all of these years later and that experience is just one of the not so great events that shaped who we are today. We lived through it, we didn’t go homeless, our children didn’t go hungry and we picked ourselves up and got back in the game.

    My best to you and your wife – you are rich beyond belief when you have a loving and supportive spouse.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      Lisa – My biggest financial losses in life came from investments in rock and roll. I started a label at one point and had two bands self-destruct soon after recording. Seems like music is a pretty bad choice for many. We’re both using it as a “lesson learned.” We’re already settling in and things are going well.

  33. Jeanna Martinez

    January 11, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Matt – I commented on AR but I thought I would comment over here too. I think, like every one else here that you have shown courage and an amazing attitude with this post. It is so hard to talk about personal struggles (goodenss know I have had some whoppers during the past several years!) I think you are going to blow the socks off 2010 and I can’t wait to see what it has in store!!

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

      Jeanna – I think I told you before – I’m NOT going to do well this year…WE’RE going to do well.

  34. Bruce Lemieux

    January 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Matt, you’ve done a great – and brave – thing by sharing this. This is an important story that will help many of us be better at what we do when helping families through such difficult times. Thank you.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Bruce – Thank you. I do hope that more agents will reflect on the impact they can have on a homeowner during a time like this.

  35. Carin Arrigo-Zimmer

    January 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm


    Action = compassion. You’re post and comments here is a testament of humanity. Thank you for sharing.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

      Carin – Thank you for reading. The response to this post was overwhelming (as you can tell, I’m still catching up on responses) and I appreciate everyone’s kind words and that they didn’t miss my point either.

  36. Ken Brand

    January 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Compassion. Passion. Resolve and Resurrection.

    It’s a journey bro. You laugh, you cry, you celebrate, you mourn, you smile, you face-plant and you FLY. The thing is, inevitably, because you’re you, you rise:-)

    You’re a man Matt.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      Ken – Thanks for your follow up post. Your comment on how you visualize us flying in a plane was brilliant and a perfect example of your writing style. Loved it!

  37. aMY L cavENDER

    January 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Matt – your post has been on my mind all day. Thank you for being “the one” to share your story. We all need a refresher course on Compassion every once in awhile. This is actually a topic I emailed Lani about writing but hadn’t found the guts yet to write. Kind of my “if I ignore it will go away” attitude. Thank you for putting in to words what so many people are/have/will go through.

    • Matt Stigliano

      January 25, 2010 at 2:53 pm

      Amy – I say go ahead and write it – the more stories, news, and quality information out there that can help people through, the better. We hear the numbers, but putting a personal touch on the information can have way more impact that any generic news report about foreclosure.

  38. Kristina Cusick

    January 11, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I admire your bravery and transparency in sharing this story. I know this is a difficult time for you and your wife. There is almost something comforting about sharing our troubles. Earlier this spring my husband was laid off from his job of 15 years. This prompted me to start blogging. Yes, this very personal story was my blog debut! The outpouring of care from our community was overwhelming to me. You speak about compassion and I couldn’t agree more. I think that we have been led down these paths so that we can help those in similar situations…with compassion and understand like no one else knows. Prayers and hugs for you and your wife.

  39. Joe Loomer

    January 12, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Matt – Adversity paints us all with a different brush. Your self potrait is masterpiece.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  40. Broker Bryant

    January 12, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Matt. As difficult as I’m sure this period in your life was it was…..just a house. We sold several of our properties in late 2007 and early 2008 in anticipation of things getting worse. All required bringing big chunks of change to the closing table. If it weren’t for my timing we too may have had to deal with foreclosure.

    We went from living in a huge house with acreage and an lake to a small rental house.
    We are now renters. And…..I LOVE it!!!

    One of the extra surprises was that our son got out of the marine Corp after 14 years and was able to rent a house directly across the street from us bringing 4 of our grand children with him. he is now working with me and we are all making plans about were we want to live. I now have the freedom to pick up and go when I want to.

    So……nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just stuff and doesn’t define who we are as people.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  41. Paula Henry

    January 12, 2010 at 9:06 am

    Matt –
    You poignantly captured the essence of being real. Of course I would expect nothing less from you. Standing tall in the face of life’s storms is what separates the great from the average. You, my friend, stand tall!

    Wishing you and your wife the very best 2010. Hugs!!

  42. MIssy Caulk

    January 12, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Matt, you are not alone. So many Realtors and Lenders have lost their homes in Ann Arbor. One of the builders I use to represent, lost millions and is now loosing his 8M home. So many sad stories out there. I know he will recover.
    Abraham Lincoln lost 2 elections and Michael Jordon didn’t make his basketball team. They overcame and became great.
    You my friend are courageous and will move on.
    Life is not in the possessions we have but of the quality of the relationships we possess.

    I was just thinking how blogging here and on Activerain, has endured you to so many people. I know in the blogosphere we talk about transparency….(I have come to hate the word) but you give a fresh meaning to it.

    Matt, I love ya….and it is just a house, plenty more out there.

  43. Marki D. Lemons

    January 12, 2010 at 12:32 pm


    Thank you for being courageous to tell your story. Your strength will help numerous REALTORS through their ordeal of dealing with foreclosure.

  44. The Harriman Team

    January 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Matt, thanks so much for posting this and reminding me of the power of the human spirit. It’s not how many times you’re knocked down, it’s how many times you get back up that counts. My wife and I have been knocked down a lot over the years and we’re about to get knocked down again, but like you, we’ll get back up and be better than ever. We refuse to lose!

    Bless you and your wife and we’ll keep you in our thoughts.

  45. Keith Lutz

    January 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. Could not have been easy, but as you can see there are plenty of casualties among all of us. Thank God it is not your health and just a house.

  46. Matt Stigliano

    January 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I wonder if I should always write about the bad stuff so I get this many comments? Seriously, just kidding and having a laugh at my own expense. Thanks everyone, I know I got a bit behind with responses, but trust me, I’m going to respond to every last one of you. I appreciate you all taking the time out of your day to stop in and leave your thoughts and I love all the wishes and thoughts being thrown our way. Go ahead and question the “relationships” you form online…I dare you to contest the fact that real friendships can’t be formed via social media.

    Marney – I think one of the things I’m learning most is a bit of patience. I’ve always had some, but not nearly enough. It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride at times and although you try to make it as positive as possible, there most certainly are moments where everything feels pretty freaking negative. I think the frustration is the hardest to cope with. The feeling of just wanting to scream and kick and throw a bit of a tantrum like you were a kid again (back when there was no such thing as a mortgage payment – ahhhhhhh). As I said, in the end, I actually think there is a very positive side to this.

    Alan – Most things pass with time and a bit of good old fashioned laughter. I’ve got one of them already, I just need some of the other. Making positives out of negatives is what I’m best at.

    Jason – The day I found out the home was actually sold at auction I was actually relieved in some ways. The not knowing, fear, dread, and anticipation were the worst. I spoke to the broker who will be managing the property after I vacate and (I might even write a post about him) we have things sorted as to my leave date and all. Hopefully, they’ll be no surprises.

    Elaine – Thanks. I’ll be awaiting refreshments and a very bossy packaging manager named Mana at about 8am Saturday.

    Jim – Foreclosure is definitely not the only struggle in life and I hope yours gets better. There are so many quotes about being knocked down and fighting your way back that you could fill the internet with 1/2 of them I suspect, but I definitely know that every negative has a positive. It’s usually not visible, but makes it self clearer with time. Hopefully, we will get to meet someday in the not too distant future.

    Doug (or David as I like to call you, haha) – Thanks man. I have to say you were one of the surprise meetings of my year. Stranger walks up in a bar, introduces himself, and immediately becomes someone I can call a friend. Most of the others that weekend I already “knew” so they had an advantage on you. Roof and health. I’ll take those as the only things I need – oh and maybe a bit of food once in awhile. I don’t like to be hungry.

    Maureen – Thank you. The best side to the “in any other market” side of things is that I have never known any other market. For me, this is a normal market. When markets are cooking along, I’ll probably be like a little kid with eyes wide with wonderment at all that is going on! I knew what I was getting into despite the market (although I expected it to be a bit easier) and took that challenge head on with excitement.

    Curtis – It makes my day to think that anyone might walk away from this post with something to think about or feeling a little more for their clients (friends or family too). I’d go through a thousand painful lessons to know I could do that once in awhile. Ok, maybe not a thousand, but I do enjoy finding a little lesson in these sorts of things – helps me through them too.

    Brandie – You said one of the most supportive things I can think of: “…this effing sucks.” Damn right it does and your plain spoken way of putting put a smile on my face. Believe me, I’ve said worse in the past few weeks regarding foreclosure. Thanks for the kind real words.

    Kaye – No matter how many times someone reminds an agent of the old “don’t count your chickens before they hatch,” I see it everyday. Not just in agents I know, but in myself. It seems to be a natural thing to do as stupid as it may seem. I try not to, but there have been times where if a transaction fell through, I would have been in much worse shape. One of the hardest things for a new agent to grasp is “how long will it take.” The reason they can’t get their heads around it is because there is no clear answer. As I mentioned, you could be that lucky one who hits a big transaction right up front or you could be toiling your butt off and not getting the transactions yet. There is a slight sliver of luck involved in real estate, at least I believe there is.

    Bob – Working with bank-owned properties I hope you show those former homeowners a bit of compassion as you ask them to leave. As I told Jason above, the agent (who is a broker here in town and took my call personally – I expected to get an assistant) who is going to manage my former home was pleasant, helpful, and a generally nice guy to talk to. We even had a few laughs in that conversation. I’m sure I’m one of the happier people he’s had to deal with, so that always makes it easier, but I certainly appreciate his way of handling things.

    Mark – What can I say other than “you nailed it.” I think it’s important to show “who I am” as much as you do. I probably wouldn’t have chosen the rerockstar moniker unless I wanted to invite people into my life somewhat.

    Ok, I’m done for a bit, need to go pack some stuff up. I’ll speak to the rest of you later.

  47. Roberta Murphy

    January 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm


    You are one gutsy writer and one very resilient Realtor. Years ago, we had our home turned inside out by an earthquake–with no insurance. As I shoveled broken pieces of our life into trash cans with a snow shovel, my mantra was that wise saying from Sophia Loren:

    “Don’t cry over things that can’t cry over you.”

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is one that should serve you and your clients well in life. Kudos to both you and your wife!

  48. Julie Emery

    January 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I love the Sophia Loren quote! After Hurricane Andrew my sister sent me a card. The quote on the front said: “My barn having burned to the ground, I can see the stars.” I don’t know why, but I found great comfort in that. The Sophia Loren quote would have been great too!

  49. Marcia Hicks

    January 12, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    I applaud you for telling your story.I have no doubt you will help others who are suffering see there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My wish is, that if you have encouraged just one person to reach out for help than you have told your story for all the right reasons! I too started in this business in 2008. My passion is helping others and the reason behind why I went out and got my CDPE designation.You are 100% right that we all need to have compassion and understanding,especially in light of what is happening to our industry. We as Realtors all have a chance to help and be a shoulder for someone to lean on. If I have learned one really important thing since starting in this business it is that it isn’t always about the money, it’s about helping others!

    My best you and your family!

    Marcia Hicks

  50. Jeremy Hart

    January 12, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    What can be said that hasn’t been said already? Matt – thanks for sharing this. I’m once again impressed by your character.

  51. Lauren Nemeschansky

    January 14, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Hi Matt,
    My prayers are with you an your family. I was just looking for some information about blogging when your story caught me by surprise. It is important for us as realtors to be reminded in this economic downturn that it is real people with real lives that are turning to us for help and supportive and we should treat every single one of them as we ourselves would want to be treated because none of us is immune to misfortune and bad luck.
    Thank you for that wake up and reminder.

  52. Janie Coffey

    January 14, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Matt great post. I went through a very similar situation and am still picking up the pieces and while I thought about blogging about it, I didn’t have the courage to. Hats off to you my friend. From someone who is maybe a year or so ahead of you on the recovery track, you have a lot of good stuff to look forward to. The dark cloud removed, a fresh start, new and wiser views of the world, yourself family and friends and an increased value on your health, relationships and time. Kudos to you my friend!

  53. Susie Blackmon

    January 17, 2010 at 3:48 am

    You are very intelligent, remarkable and admirable, even without considering the strength you exude spilling your guts out about a personal matter, which ‘ain’t easy.’ I’m sure not going to attempt to impart wisdom ~ I gave up a great job in Hawaii as a Controller to move somewhere brand new to get my RE license in 2007 ~ not exactly a stroke of genius, especially with no trust fund. Soon there will be no retirement fund!

    However, I can tell you how much I admire you. I send much love.

  54. Michael Bertoldi

    January 25, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing Matt. I can relate to your struggles as I just got married in June, laid off in September, and now we’re about 8 weeks expecting. I think sharing our struggles isn’t about pitty, but about letting us know that we aren’t alone. Heck, there are people out there who have it worse than us. But it’s ok to share with your community and it’s ok for us all to sort of have eachothers back.

    Let’s pray, work hard, and have faith that 2010 could be a great year.

    Also, glad to read your posts in general as I’m a marketing guy with an interest in real estate. So much that I’m working toward my license now. Keep up the good work man!

  55. Karla

    October 15, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Thank you for your courage to post this. I have been trying to sell my house for the past four years and with baby number two just a couple months from arrival, we are looking foreclosure straight in the face.

    We have run out of options, but feel extremely torn on making the final decision to let the house become just that – a house. A house from our past that included a lot of events and circumstances far outside our control. The guilt is overwhelming, but the debt and constant financial worry is paralyzing.

    Thank you for your supportive words from the other side. We certainly know what you have been through and hope that you are being blessed.

    Karla and family

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