This morning as I was listening to the radio, I heard the most incredible story of a man who had been pushed too far by a bank and pushed back.
Wayne Nyerges and his wife, Maureen Collier, had bought a beautiful home in Florida. They paid cash for the home, owned it free and clear. But then they get a foreclosure notice from Bank of America.
That’s right, a foreclosure notice on a home that never had a mortgage on it from this homeowner.
With the help of a lawyer, they get Bank of America to back down and realize that the home has no mortgage and therefore cannot be foreclosed on in court. The courts then assess fees on B of A which they do not pay for months on end, allegedly because the notices were being sent to counsel no longer employed by the bank.
Only when Todd Allen, laywer for the Florida couple, has given the branch manager a foreclosure notice do they finally pay attention. Only when the sheriff and movers are waiting to empty the branch office of everything including money in the drawer does B of A pay what they owe.
This is not the first time this has happened. Nor is it the first time it has happened this year.
Patrick Rodgers of Philadelphia did the same thing this past winter to Wells Fargo. In his case, Wells Fargo demanded his home insurance cover not just the market value of his home but more than five times that amount in case the home is ever damaged and needs to replaced as it is.
Here is the kicker – Rodgers pays his mortgage, he work regularly and he is not underwater. His house is still worth what he paid. But because the house is near a historic district and would be difficult to replace at the current market value his mortgage lender, Wells Fargo, demanded more insurance. So Rodgers took them to court and won. He had not been paid as of February of 2011 and at that time held an order for a Sheriff’s sale if he had not been paid by March.
At the beginning of March, Rodgers finally did get payment from Wells Fargo. It took two checks although he did not get his fee back for sending the sheriff out.
What is unsettling is that when I began researching these stories, I came across others who had been unfairly foreclosed upon. I came upon other stories involving Bank of America doing wrong by its customers. I saw comments from people encourgaing the rest of us to only use small town banks or credit unions. There are long lasting effects when people see stories like these two and others who have been unfairly hit by these big banks. Tara-Nicolle Nelson of Time Moneyland puts it like this. “Less trust, more walkaways. More walkaways, more foreclosures. More foreclosures, lower home values.”
I do not want to see that happen in my neighborhood. It is bad enough that there has been at least three homes in foreclosure on my street and all three were empty for a time. It is bad enough that I see it happening on another street near my own. All of us see foreclosures. And all of us hear stories where people are trying to work with the bank but the bank isn’t working with them.
I wonder what the solution might be and I have one. It is crazy and a bit hare-brained. What if the banks – those big banks especially – gave back any incentive money they took from the goverment to ‘stay afloat.’ Remember all that money that President Bush and President Obama gave to those people? Maybe it needs to come back since what they appear to be doing with it is paying out bonuses and having parties but not making the loans they were supposed to do or help people stay afloat on their mortgages like the banks were suppose to do.
I know it is wild. I am not sure these financial institutions could even do it without big problems. But foreclosing on people who are not a mortgage holder, demanding more expensive home insurance or trying to push the government to OK robo-foreclosing is not doing that industry any favors. People are beginning to not trust banks because of their actions and not because they are failing.
Corporate needs to learn this real fast and fix the problems with old-fashioned good customer service before the corporate office becomes an empty shell.