Housing advocates allege foreclosure practices are unfair

Posted October 17, 2011

— Homeowners' rights advocates held a rally at the state capitol today to protest what they say are unfair, predatory, and even illegal practices by banks foreclosing on home mortgages.

Kimberly Richardson spoke at the rally. She’s been trying to get her mortgage modified since she lost her job in 2008. She found a subsequent job, but it pays only half her old salary. 

After three years and many dozens of phone calls, all she has to show for her efforts is a suitcase full of paperwork.

"And then they send you more paperwork on top of what paperwork you’ve already sent," she told WRAL. "Then, if it’s not processed in 30 days, you have to send the same paperwork, if not more paperwork."  

Richardson was told her house would be sold last Monday. But Wells Fargo won’t return her calls. She doesn’t know when or if she and her family will be homeless. She says she's getting the runaround. 

"That’s essentially what it is – pushing papers. And they’re running around in circles, trying to figure out how to get you out of your home," she said, close to tears.  Protestors rally against foreclosure practices Protestors rally against foreclosure practices

Monday’s rally was timed to coincide with state Supreme Court arguments in the case of Dobson v Wells Fargo. The bank is asking the courts to allow it to foreclose on the home of Linda Dobson, even though it can’t produce the original loan paperwork that shows it owns the property. The bank says a photocopy and sworn affadavits are enough to make its case. Rally organizer Michael de los Santos with the Community Reinvestment Association of NC disagrees. 

"They’re not above the law," de los Santos said. "I can’t walk into your house and say 'This is my house, I’m taking it,' if I can’t show I have some sort of ownership in it. Banks shouldn’t be able to do the same thing."

De los Santos says big banks aren’t living up to the promises they made when they took bailout money from the federal government in 2008 and 2009. Nationwide, foreclosures are on the rise, while loan modifications are dwindling.

The protestors planned to deliver petitions for stronger legal oversight of the mortgage industry to Attorney General Roy Cooper. Instead, Cooper came to the rally to pick them up.

"Your voices are being heard," Cooper told the three dozen or so people in the audience. "Financial fraud has been committed on our legal system, and it needs to be made right." 

Cooper is part of a multi-state case against the big five banks, along with the US Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, and the Federal Trade Commission. They’re seeking a settlement for compensation for victims of predatory mortgages, and better nationwide servicing standards for foreclosures.

It may not come in time to help Kimberly Richardson.

"At least give us a chance," Richardson pleaded. "If I’m sending you the paperwork, then there should be a modification somewhere. I’m still working, I’ve still kept a job. It shouldn't take three years."

WRAL contacted Wells Fargo shortly after noon today, seeking details about Richardson's case.

Late this afternoon, Richardson called us to say Wells Fargo contacted her this afternoon. She was told the sale of her home has been delayed by 60 days while the bank tries again to work out a modification. 

"Foreclosure is always an option of last resort," said Wells Fargo spokesman Jason Menke. 

"We have postponed the foreclosure sale on Ms. Richardson's home a number of times in order to allow her time to provide the documentation we need to determine her eligibility for payment assistance," Menke said in a written statement.  "Our hope is to be able to come to a resolution soon, and we continue to work with Ms. Richardson to find a way for her to avoid foreclosure."

In 2010, there were 66,287 foreclosure filings in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.


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  • driverkid3 Oct 19, 2011

    I have never tried to buy a house, and burnt rubber backing away from a family member that asked me to co-sign on a home loan for her. She is notorious for not paying her bills. I don't buy ANYTHING on credit now, haven't in many years. Personal opinion is maybe this will make folks think really hard before they sign up for something that will in all probability cause them some sorrow in the future.

    I still live poor today, but I have what I NEED. There is a lot that I would like to have, but I like to think that I am realistic now instead of a dreamer.

  • Made In USA Oct 18, 2011

    Someone I know went to Suntrust for a mortgage loan on a home, walking in with a FICO credit score of 804. She told me the first thing Suntrust tried to do was to push an ARM loan on her. A FICO score of 804 is only a little from the top of the chart. Why would Suntrust try such a move? Could it be they would make more money? I know so.

  • storchheim Oct 18, 2011

    "It is truly a shame that the worth of many peoples' signatures is so low as displayed in this context." goozleboy

    And it's a shame their behavior drags all homeowners and potential borrowers down into the mud with them. I'll lose all my equity when I sell, thanks to this. And I didn't buy big or default. But if a rising tide lifts all boats, a dropping tide beaches them.

  • mb598 Oct 18, 2011

    How many more years are we going to hear this? People buying houses they could not afford and when they lost their jobs then they start crying to BIG BROTHER. PEOPLE need to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming everyone for their misfortune. Sad to see AMERICANS waning to be Communist!

  • goozleboy Oct 18, 2011

    @ "I would gladly pay more over the life of the loan in order to stay. I would be grateful to just be given a chance to try to save it. I can understand why NCDIXIE1..."

    Sorry for word limit issue...What I was trying to say is that I truly feel sorry for those who have found themselves in a very bad situation due to no fault of their own. I personally don't get offended by an opinion, though, unless the opinion causes me to see the error of my ways. I have trouble believing the majority of people caught in this mess are blamesless.

  • goozleboy Oct 18, 2011

    @ "goozleboy, if you bought with no money down and paid it off anyway, good for you. IMO, the reason to do away with "no money down" loans is that if you fall behind, you have no skin in the game. Say you've paid for a year and then stop, for whatever reason. All you have invested is the monthly payments, and you'd have had to pay rent in order to live somewhere else, so that's kind of a wash. But say your house cost $100k and you have $20k plus the year's worth of payments. Kinda hard to walk away from the $20k, which you may get back if the foreclosure sale fetches $100k. I applaud you, but you're the exception. I also think that "no money down" loans should not be modified, for the same reason."

    I see your point here, but I find it hard to think like the bottom feeders of society, so I wouldn't even consider not paying for my obligations. It is truly a shame that the worth of many peoples' signatures is so low as displayed in this context. A responsible person would see the writing

  • goozleboy Oct 18, 2011

    @ "I would gladly pay more over the life of the loan in order to stay. I would be grateful to just be given a chance to try to save it. I can understand why NCDIXIE1 said those things...it seems that most of the people commenting negatively about the people who are having problems with their mortgage are speaking from the lofty heights of never having had these problems. Many of you are lumping us with cheats and frauds and worse. Most of us are honest, God-fearing, hard working people...well, at least I am. I do not expect something for nothing (and am quite suspicious if it's offered). I saw the best of Wake County when I was homeless and can never really express my gratitude enough. I made my comments because I had hoped that maybe, just for a second, some of these people might be able to say, there but for the grace of God go I. I am having a really hard time financially and will ultimately probably lose my house, but I still feel the grace of God. By the way, anyone hiring?"
    I per

  • goozleboy Oct 18, 2011

    @ "This article is about unfair foreclosure practices. I have a right to express my opinion just like you do. Someone who has never experienced a situation first hand cannot possibly know what another goes through period."
    Who do you think you are to presume so much about people who comment here? I have been through many financial struggles and will continue to go through them until my mortgage is paid in ful...PERIOD! What I refuse to do is set on my *** and whine because the world is unfair...PERIOD! The difference between people like you and people like me is that we get the lemons and make lemonade...we don't whine for government intervention due to our choices...PERIOD! I think you are the product of your own doing...PERIOD! Wishing ill will toward others only proves my points further...PERIOD! Don't like it? I don't rightly give a darn...PERIOD!

  • Sherlock Oct 18, 2011

    Should not have purchased a house you can not afford, do not blame the banks it not their fault, it was the buyer. Banks are in the business to make money and lots of it. The DOJ and Cooper will not stand up to the banks, as the banks are stronger and have more money than the state to fight. Just get the house up and fine another place to live off the government.

  • askme Oct 18, 2011

    Banks were provided with bailout money...most banks have paid back that money with interest!!!