Local News

Mortgage Mixup, Termites Eat Away At Oxford Homeowner

Posted July 30, 2002

— Anyone who has ever closed on a home knows the stack of paperwork involved.

Most people just sign the papers without reading through everything carefully.

After what an Oxford woman went through, she said will never just sign anything again after one wrong number turned her home closing into a credit disaster.

Cyndi Cook bought a home in Oxford with big dreams of remodeling. However, a pile of rotting wood floor planks and support beams are the result of a massive termite infestation.

"This whole beam, all the way up, was termite damaged. It just crumbled in your hands when we took the wall off," she said.

So far, the termite repairs have cost Cook an extra $30,000. However, the termite problem was not why Cook called Five On Your Side.

Cook has an ever bigger problem that involves the Oxford home she bought last year and the home she sold this year in Raleigh.

About a month after closing on the Raleigh home, Cook got a late notice from the mortgage company.

After making some calls, Cook found out that her closing attorney, Ben Clifton, paid off the wrong mortgage. She said Clifton paid off the Oxford house.

"How in the world can he pay off a place in Granville County if he's selling a place in Wake County? I didn't understand it" Cook said.

Somewhere between Cook, her real estate agent and Clifton, Cook's loan numbers got mixed up and were never verified before closing. No one noticed the error while signing the paperwork.

For months, Cook has been trying to clear up the mixup. After paying re-instatement fees, thousands of dollars in added interest and attorney fees, she finally has the situation worked out, but said her credit is ruined.

"I couldn't even get a credit card at this point if I wanted to," Cook said.

Cook wants to get the word out to read all paperwork carefully before signing.

"I'm going to read every fine line even if it takes me two hours," she said.

Clifton said since he was given the wrong account number, he does not feel the situation is his fault, although he admitted his assistant should have checked it.

As for the termite problem, it turns out the company that did the termite inspection for Cook now admits it inspected the wrong house.

The owner of that company told Five On Your Side that his insurance company is working to reach a settlement with Cook.

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