Every morning at 6 a.m., Brenda Duchemin kneels down on two plush throw pillows in front of a carved teak shrine in her Diamond Bar home and chants.
In front of a cluster of oranges, a small teacup and a golden lotus flower on the shrine, the slight 53-year-old tries to expel the negative images: the two homes she and her husband, Mohammad Ashraf, lost to foreclosure auctions last month, the bankruptcy petition they were forced to file in 2009, and their ongoing battle to stay in their spacious and airy home, which is furnished with soft blankets, leather couches and Elvis commemorative plates on the walls.
Daily chanting helps her karma, Duchemin says, which is currently not in such a good state.
"We don't know what we did in a past life to bring this out," she said, a slight Boston accent tinting her speech. "I must have been a horrendous person down the line."
The couple bought their Diamond Bar house for $550,000 in 2006, hoping to finance the purchase by selling their town home in Brea -- a sale that never materialized, they say, because of the housing crash. The year before, they'd also bought a $340,000 home in Las Vegas as a retirement property, which they rented to a tenant until last year. At the time of the purchases, their only sources of income were workers' compensation insurance payments and Social Security, but that wasn't a problem for the lender.
I am really sorry they have health problems, but when you are living on worker's comp and Social Security, is it really a good idea to buy a new home before selling your old one when you need to rely on its sale and buying a retirement property at the same time? Look at the numbers - you're living on little income but you commit to nearly $1 million in mortgages.
While the lender might have been willing to give them a loan, it still required the buyers to look at their personal finances and decide whether it was a good idea. Rely on common sense - not karma.