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Mistaken Foreclosures on the Rise

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By : Drew Hartanov    99 or more times read
There are many articles about disgruntled homeowners angry about being foreclosed upon, but a smaller group of people have a different problem – they were foreclosed on homes that were up-to-date on payments or owned outright! While this might seem like an isolated story in the “Weird News” section of the paper, “accidental foreclosures” are becoming more and more common as the number of foreclosures nation-wide increases.

Take, for instance, the plight of Charlie and Maria Cardoso, who paid cash to buy their home in full. Five years later, Bank of America initiated foreclosure proceedings. On a home fully owned by people who didn’t have a mortgage with them.

The Cardosos were intending to use their second home in Florida as their retirement home, renting it out in the meantime to tenants. Bank of America seized the home, threw the tenants out and changed the locks. Their personal belongings disappeared.

What’s worse is that a Bank of America real estate agent told Bank of America that they had the wrong house.

To add insult to injury, a Bank of America representative stated "We are reviewing the allegations in the lawsuit, the actual events that led to them and the causes of those events, and will consider any hardship that resulted.” Apparently, according to Bank of America, there is a question as to whether invading someone’s home, throwing out their tenants, destroying their property and humiliating them in their community constitutes causing them hardship.

Property owners are not taking this sitting idly in the streets on their former living room couches. In Las Vegas, a jury just awarded Gerald and Katrina Thitchener $3.4 million for Countrywide Home Loans Inc. “mistakenly foreclosing” their home in 2003. Countrywide was supposed to foreclose on a different condo in the complex where the Thitcheners owned their home. Family photos and Katrina Thitchener’s wedding dress were among the items to be destroyed, along with the other property in the condo.

There was no apology forthcoming from Countrywide, but there was a statement that said, among other things, that Countrywide was “very disappointed with this result” because “an expensive award… is not fair, reasonable or responsible.” One might surmise that the people of Countrywide have never had their homes invaded, their property destroyed and the locks changed.

While mistaken foreclosures are, fortunately, rare, they are becoming more and more common as lenders move to recoup property that has fallen victim to the foreclosures sweeping America. This is another issue that calls attention to the fact that lenders are being allowed far too much power. Homeowners and home buyers need to stand up and fight for their rights as citizens and home owners. Hopefully with successful lawsuits like the Thitcheners’, lenders will be forced to pay more attention to their foreclosure processes.
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