Spring has been kind to homeowners so far, with mortgage delinquencies at their lowest rate since the housing crisis hit. But for consumers like Oriane Rousseau, the battle against banks and lenders still wages on.
Russeau and her husband, Norman, thought the worst had come when Wells Fargo slapped a 5-day eviction notice the front door of her Los Angeles home.
It was Mother’s Day, and as soon as Norman saw the letter, he told his wife he could see no other way out. Then he walked into the bedroom they shared for 13 years and shot himself, she told CBS 2.
“[My husband] was fighting tooth and nail, everything that he could do,” Oriane said.
From the story she told CBS, it sounds like the couple was yet another victim of dual-tracking – when one arm of a lender works with homeowners to modify their loan while another starts the foreclosure process simultaneously.
After the foreclosure crisis hit in 2008, the Russeaus were left with an adjustable rate mortgage they couldn’t afford. Over the next few years, they went back and forth with the bank and applied for a loan modification.
“The unfortunate part is (the process) is not always transparent to the consumer,” Rick Allen of Mortgage Marvel told Business Insider. “The consumer assumes that if they’re working on the modification then the (foreclosure) process has stopped.”
That wasn’t the case for the Russeaus, who kept receiving notices they’d fallen behind on their payments. They ignored them, like many homeowners are advised to do while applying for a loan modification.
Unfortunately, the foreclosure came before their loan was ever modified and the bank put the home up for sale in 2010. A lawyer helped them delay the sale but by last weekend, the final eviction notice arrived.
Wells Fargo agreed to delay the eviction after Rousseau’s husband’s death, but she left anyway. A spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
“I cannot be here anymore with what has happened with that blood bath in there, I can’t,” Oriane told CBS.
Dual tracking has been on lawmaker’s mile-long list of lender issues to address for ages and part of this year’s $25 billion mortgage settlement includes new mandates that will hopefully bring an end to the practice in 40 states.
In the meantime, the onus is on consumers to make sure both sides of their lender are communicating while they await loan modifications.
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