Bank Allows Profits to Trump Humanity in Foreclosure Case
Virtually everyone in America today knows someone who was affected by the mortgage crisis. As such, there is seemingly no shortage of stories of how banks, operating with no moral compass, trounced the rights and interests of homeowners nationwide.
However, few foreclosure defense cases illustrate the depths of this depravity better than that of 62-year-old Marsha Kilgore. The California woman died of breast cancer just a few months after Wells Fargo foreclosed on her home. The bank had recently reneged on a promise to offer her a loan modification after she had fallen victim to a World Savings “pick-a-payment” loan scam years earlier.
Kilgore, a real estate agent, had purchased her modest condo in the Fresno area back in 1991, taking out a $66,000 loan to do so. By the time she died, she would owe $177,000 on the property.
It started back in 2005. That was the year she was forced to start working after a breast cancer diagnosis. Her disease worsened and the following year, her doctors ordered a double masectomy.
Her disability payments meant she had enough to get by, but she was constantly low on cash. It was then, according to The Fresno Bee, that she decided to refinance her home. Prior to that, she had made regular mortgage payments for 16 years.
As a real estate agent, she knew to steer clear of risky adjustable-rate mortgages with low payments and little income verification. However, she inadvertently ended up in one of those deals anyway.
She was ill on the day she signed paperwork agreeing to a deal from the now-defunct World Savings (later purchased by Wells Fargo) that offered low payments for a limited period of time. Her attorney says agents led her to believe the deal was a fixed-rate loan. However, the very next day, when her mother reviewed the paperwork, she realized it was in fact an adjustable rate deal. She called the next day to request her signature be rescinded. The bank refused.
The pick-a-payment deal meant that her payments were reduced to about $660 in 2006. However, they climbed steadily to more than $1,000 by last Christmas and were scheduled to exceed more than $1,750 by 2016.
Court records show that not only did the bank misrepresent the deal, they included numerous false statements in the documents. For example, the value of her condo as well as her income were inflated.
Kilgore would later join a class action against Wells Fargo, the result of which was a promised home loan modification. However, that never happened for her – and countless others. After being instructed by the bank, per the settlement, to miss three mortgage payments in order for the loan modification process to be kick-started, the bank instead turned around and proceeded with foreclosure action. Just months before she lost her battle with breast cancer, she was left homeless.
For Kilgore, this was more than a simple injustice. It was a matter of life or death. That’s because in addition to her cancer, Kilgore had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Her lawyer was later quoted as saying she required oxygen to be able to breathe. However, the electricity required to run the equipment was expensive. Medicare helped to cover a portion of it – but only if she possessed a permanent address.
From there, she evicted, bouncing between the homes of friends and sleeping in her car. Her health declined rapidly from that point. Within three months, she was admitted to the hospital with a severe case of asthma. She never recovered.
While the pick-a-payment class action settlement against Wells Fargo has so far resulted in 145,000 home loan modifications, that’s only about a third of the total. It’s unclear how may others have been left in situations similar to what Kilgore endured.
What we do know is that banks can’t be counted upon to act with common sense and basic humanity even in the most extreme circumstances. That’s why securing an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer is so critical.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.