Due to the segment that was aired on Nightline July 4. 2012 we are experiencing high call volumes and an overwhelming number of emails from homeowners asking for our assistance.
If you are trying to contact us please be sure to let us know if you have a sale date on your home by including that in your phone message or typing it into the subject line of your email.
Please be patient. We will do our best to get in touch with everyone who has contact us.
Eleven months after Brandie Barbiere stopped paying the mortgage on her Milliken, Colo., home, her husband found out when he returned from work to see their possessions piled on the front lawn. As a sheriff’s deputy supervised the Oct. 5, 2011, eviction, he confronted his wife and wrestled with his anger. A few minutes later he spotted photographer John Moore. “Who the hell are you?” the husband exclaimed.
“I said I was very sorry this was happening and that I was taking some pictures to show what people all around the country were going through,” Moore recalled. “And he let me stay.”
Moore is one of a small cadre of photographers who have set out to record the life-altering event of a foreclosure, which sometimes is climaxed by an eviction lasting at most two hours. Moore’s pictures and those of 10 other photographers (see slideshow below) form a new exhibit, “Foreclosed: Documents from the American Housing Crisis,” at the Alice Austen House on New York City’s Staten Island, which held its opening reception earlier this month.
Since 2009, Moore has photographed hundreds of evictions in Colorado. “Everybody had a different story,” he said. “Some people had lost their jobs and could no longer make their mortgage payments.”
Barbiere’s foreclosure was triggered by the shrinking of her child care business. Other homeowners had assumed balloon mortgages whose rates readjusted to levels they could not afford. And then there’s Tracy Munch, whom Moore photographed on Feb. 2, 2009, in Colorado’s Adams County. Although she paid her rent faithfully, Moore said, her family was evicted because her landlord had stopped paying the mortgage.
Moore immersed himself in the world of foreclosures after a three-year posting for Getty Images in Islamabad. He returned to a United States besieged by recession and wanted to chronicle one of the causes: the bursting of the real estate bubble. “The struggle was trying to get access to the actual moment when people were being evicted from their homes,” he said.
Now it turns out some lenders haven’t merely been unhelpful; their actions have pushed some borrowers over the foreclosure cliff. Lenders have been imposing exorbitant insurance policies on homeowners whose regular coverage lapses or is deemed insufficient. The policies, standard homeowner’s insurance or extra coverage for wind damage, say, for Florida residents, typically cost five to 10 times what owners were previously paying, tipping many into foreclosure.
The situation has caught the attention of state regulators and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is considering rules to help homeowners avoid unwarranted “force- placed insurance.” The U.S. ought to go further and limit commissions, fine any company that knowingly overcharges a homeowner and require banks to seek competitive bids for force- placed insurance policies. Because insurance is not regulated at the federal level, states also need to play a stronger role in bringing down rates.
We are happy to report that Susan Leonard’s improper foreclosure has been rescinded by Bank of America. Thanks to all who supported Susan by signing our Change.org petition and thanks to Bank of America for doing the right thing.
In a quiet office in downtown Charlotte, N.C., dozens of Wells Fargo’s foreclosure foot soldiers sit in cubicles cranking out documents the bank relies on to seize its share of the thousands of homes lost to foreclosure every week.
They stare at computer screens and prepare sworn affidavits that are used by lenders in courts across the country to seize homes. Paid $30,700 to start, these legal process specialists, the title that goes with the job, swear an oath under penalty of perjury that they’re corporate vice presidents. They’re peppered with e-mails from managers to meet daily quotas of at least 10 or 11 files day.
If they fall short, they face a verbal warning. Then written. Two written warnings could cost them the paycheck that supports a family. As more than one source for this story told msnbc.com, “I can’t afford to lose this job.”
Pressured to meet daily production quotas, they are likely making mistakes that inadvertently could toss a family out of its home and onto the street, according to these workers.
State and federal prosecutors, in a recent settlement with five banks that included Wells Fargo, agreed. The joint state and federal settlement spelled out how the document procedures at the five banks resulted in “loss of homes due to improper, unlawful or undocumented foreclosures,” according to the complaint.
“These are mistakes that could cost someone their home,” a Wells Fargo document preparer told msnbc.com.
Here are some of the most common complaints about mortgage servicers we hear from homeowners:
Eligible homeowners denied for Hamp modifications because of sloppy handling of documents by the servicer.
Servicers pushing homeowners into less than affordable “in house” modifications when they clearly qualify for the more affordable government Hamp program.
Foreclosing while in review for a modification.
Misapplying trial modification payments or processing incorrectly so the homeowner is disqualified for a Hamp modification.
Misapplying mortgage payments so the homeowner is deemed in default.
Processing escrow accounts incorrectly.
Declaring homes vacant (when they are in fact occupied by the homeowner) which disqualifies them for HAMP.
Granting 3 month trial modification, but the bank insists that the homeowner continue to make the trial payments for months or years, leading them to believe they will receive permanent loan modification documents in the mail, but they never arrive.
Servicers abrubtly refuse payments or send payments back to the homeowner when they have been participating in an extended trial modification plan, then informing them they are denied for modification.
Requesting loan modification and financial documents repeatedly and telling the homeowner they were never received.
Improperly calculating the homeowner’s income to disqualify them for a loan modification.
Discriminating against minorities and single women.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking mortgage complaints. If you are having issues with your mortgage servicer we encourage you to file a complaint at www.consumerfinance.gov. It is our hope that the CFPB will see the patterns of abuse as more complaints are submitted by homeowners.