We’ve written some incredibly sad stories about homeowners trapped in the mortgage meltdown maze, and this one certainly ranks up there among the most depressing. Not just because a man is dead, but because it could have all been prevented more than three years ago.
Back in 2000, the man and his wife purchased a home together in Southern California. They made a 30% down payment and spent the next several years making their payments to the bank on-time and in-person.
They also spent several years dodging suggestions from Wachovia to refinance their mortgage. But five years ago, a Wachovia rep got into their heads with promises of lowering their monthly payments by more than $600 by refinancing using the bank’s new Pick-A-Pay adjustable rate plan.
FYI, that’s the same plan that just cost Wells Fargo $590 million because the folks at Wachovia had a habit of fudging application paperwork. In fact, the story here, the loan officer flat-out lied about the homeowners’ income, almost doubling it on the application without their knowledge.
In addition to those deceptions, the homeowners were told “if an [interest rate] increase should occur it would have a negligible effect on the monthly payments of no more than a few dollars,” and that they “should expect to refinance within the next two years to take advantage of even more favorable interest rates.”
In spite of all this, the couple still made their monthly payments, in person, via cashier’s check.
Then in May 2009, they were told they had missed a payment the month before. The homeowners say they provided proof that they had given a cashier’s check to the teller for April, along with proof that the check had been cashed.
But Wachovia’s collections department continued to demand payment. According to the homeowners, they received 6 to 8 calls each week from the bank.
In early August 2009, they received a notice of intent to foreclose, but when they contacted Wachovia they were told that their account was current and received an apology for the error.
Then later that month, Wachovia sent them a certified letter demanding payment of nearly $3,500. That same week, the bank claimed that the check which the homeowners had already proven had been cashed had actually had a stop-payment put on it.
However, the homeowners didn’t issue the cancellation nor did they get that money back in their account.
While all this was going on, the couple alleged that they received multiple statements from Wachovia for several months. But these weren’t duplicates, say the homeowners; the amounts were different on each statement.
In September 2009, the couple applied for a loan modification. And when they tried to make their payment at the local Wachovia, they were told it could not be accepted because the loan was being reviewed for a modification.
This continued on for several months, with the bank continuing to threaten foreclosure while all the while saying it could not accept payments during the review process.
The couple were put through the usual “we haven’t received all your documents” wringer by Wachovia. Even after the bank, in April 2010, told them it had all the docs, a month later their application was denied because of supposed missing documentation.
“I had the money…I had the money. I had everything to make that work,” the wife tells CBS Los Angeles.
They sold the house in November 2010, but their lawyer was able to get a judge to issue a stay. That eventually fell apart and earlier this month the family was given five days to get out of their house.
So that they would have somewhere to stay, the husband bought a motor home. But even that stopped working as soon as he got it back to their soon-to-be-former house.
The next day, Mother’s Day, the man took his own life in his bedroom.
“He saw there was no more way out and there was no where to go and…he snapped,” explains his wife, who says she has spent all her money fighting the bank.
Wells Fargo offered to let her and her son stay in the house a little longer, following her husband’s death, but she tells CBS it’s a little too late for that.
“I cannot be here anymore with what has happened with that blood bath in there, I can’t,” she says.
A rep for Wells Fargo released the following statement to Consumerist:
Our thoughts are with the friends and family of [the deceased] at this difficult time. The eviction has been postponed and we will continue to work with [his widow]. Despite current reports, we tried repeatedly to find affordable options for the family.
AlterNet has the full story, including a copy of the lawsuit filed by the couple in January of this year. We definitely recommend reading that complaint so you can get see just how messed up this situation was from the start.
Thanks to dragonfire81 for the tip.