August 7, 2022

Bucks: Angry Homeowners ‘Foreclose’ on Lenders

Owners of a house in Florida have engineered a reverse foreclosure against a bank. That makes two so far this year. Just one more, and it’s officially a trend, right?

Earlier this year, Patrick Rodgers, a “goth and industrial music” event promoter in Philadelphia who bears a slight resemblance to Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” became miffed because his mortgage lender, Wells Fargo, was making him carry what he deemed excessive insurance on his house.

Philadelphia homeowner Patrick Rodgers. Patrick Rodgers, a Philadelphia homeowner.

Using the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act to his advantage, he filed suit and wound up with a sheriff’s notice authorizing the sale of the contents of a Wells Fargo branch. The bank settled before a sale actually occurred, but Mr. Rodgers won a special place in the hearts of beleaguered borrowers everywhere.

Now, a couple in Naples, Fla.,  have “foreclosed” on a Bank of America branch after the bank managed to foreclose on their home — even though they never had a mortgage on it. According to reports in The Naples News, Time and elsewhere, Warren Nyerges and his wife paid $165,000 in cash to buy the house from the bank, and never borrowed against it. But last February, in an apparent case of mistaken home identity, the bank began foreclosure proceedings against them.

The couple hired a lawyer and the bank action was eventually abandoned, but the couple then went to court and got a judgment for about $2,500 in attorney’s fees. When the bank didn’t pay, their lawyer, Todd Allen, showed up at a local bank branch last week with sheriff’s deputies and a moving truck to begin cleaning out the building. Not long after, the bank paid them more than $5,700, to cover the fees and additional costs. In a statement to The Naples News, the bank apologized and said the letters had gone to a local lawyer whose office had gone out of business.

A Bank of America spokeswoman emailed this updated statement: “We are very sorry for our errors and the resulting experience Mr. Nyerges had with Bank of America.  He has been fully paid the amount we owed.  While the matter is now resolved, we’re embarrassed by this chain of events and the trouble this has caused him.  We will improve our process to prevent these errors in the future.”

Mr. Allen’s office said he had been besieged by news media from around the world since the incident last week, and wasn’t immediately available to comment.

What does it mean that homeowners have to resort to publicity stunts to get the attention of their lenders?

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