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Racquet Club of Concord sold before foreclosure auction

A buyer has purchased the Racquet Club of Concord, staying a foreclosure auction that had been scheduled for yesterday morning.

The Nelson family built the health club on Garvins Falls Road in 1972. In a voicemail Tuesday, Debbie Nelson said Charles Magardy has officially bought the Racquet Club. He signed the papers Tuesday night, she said. The change was recorded at the Merrimack County Registry of Deeds yesterday morning.

“We are very happy to see him buy the facility,” Nelson said in her voicemail. “So this is good.”

Nelson did not return a call for further comment. Neither did Magardy, whose LinkedIn profile notes he is the president and CEO at Mabardy Oil Inc. and a corporator at the Provident Bank.

“He needs to get moving,” Nelson said Tuesday. “He takes over tomorrow morning.”

The Nelsons and Magardy completed the sale just hours before it was scheduled for auction. The mortgage holder was Michael Benton of Executive Health and Sports Club. Benton was also set to buy the property, until the Nelsons walked away from that deal earlier this year.

Benton told the Monitor this month that the Nelsons had not been making mortgage payments on the club, and he had to pay outstanding taxes in order to stop the city from seizing the property. If the Nelsons had not found a buyer by yesterday morning, the Racquet Club would have been auctioned off at 10 a.m.

Instead, Magardy stepped in. The 72,000-square-foot building was listed at $1.8 million in May, though it is unclear how much Magardy paid and what his plans are for the long-standing club.

“He’s really excited to take over,” Nelson said in her voicemail.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Article source:

Hutcheson hospital faces foreclosure as Erlanger moves to collect unpaid debt

The Hutcheson Medical Center building in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.

What’s next?

U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy will hear arguments at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Rome, Ga., about whether to grant a temporary restraining order to block the planned foreclosure sale of Hutcheson next Tuesday.

Three years after Erlanger Health System promised to revive Hutcheson Medical Center with a $20 million loan and new management, Chattanooga’s biggest hospital has severed its management and talks with Hutcheson and plans to foreclose on the Fort Oglethorpe hospital on Tuesday to try to recover its unpaid debt.

But Hutcheson and its senior lender, Regions Bank, claim such a sale of a public hospital is not allowed in Georgia and will ask a federal judge in Rome, Ga., on Friday to stop the planned sale of Hutcheson assets.

Farrell Hayes, the president of Hutcheson who took over management of the hospital from Erlanger last November, said he had hoped to arrange a plan to repay the Erlanger debt along with other hospital obligations. But talks with Erlanger officials stopped a month ago when Erlanger initiated a foreclosure action against Hutcheson.

“Hutcheson belongs to the citizens of Walker, Catoosa and Dade counties, and we cannot understand why a big Chattanooga hospital would go to such lengths to try and put a community hospital out of business,” Hayes said. “But until and unless there is a court order to the contrary, Hutcheson will continue to do what it has done for the past 62 years, which is to provide quality, local health care to the citizens of Northwest Georgia.”

Hayes said he still sees a need for a hospital to serve Northwest Georgia and is even eager to restore services such as labor and delivery that Hutcheson had to cut out due to its recent operating losses.

But Erlanger contends that Hutcheson, which terminated its management agreement with Erlanger last year, still owes more than $20 million to Erlanger and may no longer be viable as a free-standing hospital.

Representatives of the two public hospitals met and tried to negotiate a repayment plan during June, but talks broke off earlier this month.

The three counties that own the hospital and secured the debt declined an Erlanger offer last month to waive a foreclosure requirement for debt recovery, Erlanger attorney Karen Bragman said in a 26-page court filing this week.

“Erlanger made plan it had no burning inclination to proceed with foreclosure,” Bragman said. “Unfortunately, neither the counties nor (Hutcheson hospital) have signaled an inclination to accept Erlanger’s offer.”

Hayes said he still hopes there can be a negotiated settlement to avoid a costly and image-damaging foreclosure and legal fight over the hospital.

But Erlanger spokesman Pat Charles said Erlanger has tried to keep the hospital operating while the debt is repaid without success and Erlanger’s last offer to Hutcheson was rejected.

“Despite protracted, vigorous efforts, the debtor and its guarantors were never able to make any settlement offer that would have provided Erlanger with any material or timely repayment of its indebtedness,” she said. “Based on this history, Erlanger is not optimistic about the chance of settlement.”

Hutcheson has struggled to pay its debts in recent years as physicians and patients have shifted to other hospitals. Hutcheson sold its majority interest in Battlefield Imaging for $5.2 million in early July to help the hospital refinance its debt and pay its employees and debtors, including a $650,000 line of credit previously provided by Walker County.

But Hutcheson remains $60 million in debt, including more than $20 million still owed to Erlanger for a 2011 loan that was supposed to recapitalize and strengthen Hutcheson.

Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, an attorney hired by Hutcheson, claims that it is Erlanger that owes money to Hutcheson because Erlanger did more to damage the Fort Oglethorpe hospital during its management tenure than it lent or helped the hospital. Barnes claims Erlanger mismanaged Hutcheson to boost its own hospital business.

“In just over 18 months, with Erlanger and its leadership fully in charge of all Hutcheson’s operations and expenditures, Erlanger exhausted the entire $20 million line of credit (plus another $550,000 promissory note executed on May 3, 2013 to pay staff) while refusing to properly staff Hutcheson with physicians and executive officers and generally taking this opportunity to funnel potentially profitable patients across state lines to its own hospital back in Chattanooga,” Barnes said in a legal filing last week.

The foreclosure, if it occurs, doesn’t mean that Hutcheson hospital would shut down. The purchaser at any foreclosure sale would likely want to keep the hospital running to maintain a revenue stream and the value of the property, although a new owner could sell off some equipment or try to change the way the hospital operates.

But Erlanger’s chief administrative officer, Gregg Gentry, said in a court hearing that he doesn’t think the Fort Oglethorpe hospital can continue to operate for much longer.

“Erlanger has worked diligently to keep Hutcheson open, but genuinely believes that there is little chance for the hospital to survive,” Gentry said.

Beyond the initial $20 million loan, Erlanger lent another $550,000 last year to help the hospital meet its payroll and Regions Bank also loaned millions of dollars over and above the bond financing to keep Hutcheson operating, Gentry said.

Walker, Catoosa and Dade counties are financially obligated to repay Erlanger for the $20 million loan even if the hospital fails, Gentry said. The intergovernmental agreement that provided the loans to Hutcheson includes provisions that property taxes would have to be raised, if necessary, to repay the Erlanger loan.

Beyond the financial bleeding at Hutcheson, the hospital’s unpaid debts are also hurting the fiscal health of the three counties that own the public hospital.

The bond rating agency Standard and Poor’s recently downgraded Walker County’s general obligation bonds by four notches to BBB-plus “based on the county’s weak liquidity stemming from the loans it guarantees that are subject to immediate acceleration (at Hutcheson hospital).”

The lower bond rating means Walker County will have to pay a higher rate of interest when it goes to the bond market for future borrowings.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 757-6340.

Article source:

Disabled Auto Accident Victim Avoids Foreclosure with Pre-Settlement Lawsuit …

When someone is seriously injured in an auto accident, extensive medical care, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and medical equipment or assistant care may be required long after the incident has occurred. Catastrophic injuries can lead to permanent disability. Waiting for an auto accident lawsuit to settle can take a long time, putting a significant financial strain on the victim and family members. For those in this situation, pre-settlement funding can be a lifeline.

A recent case funded by Lawsuit Financial explains pre-settlement funding and how it works. Shirley and her husband had everything going for them. They had just completed college, gotten married, landed jobs and bought their first home. On her way to work one morning, Shirley was broadsided by the driver of an SUV who ran a red light. Shirley is now permanently disabled. The couple needed both incomes to afford their home and now face significant medical expenses. Although Shirley and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit, their attorney anticipates that the case might not settle for at least six months, if not longer. To avoid losing their new home, the couple applied for a lawsuit cash advance. Within a day of receiving their application, Lawsuit Financial wired $4,000 into their bank account. With our assistance, Shirley and her husband were able to avoid foreclosure.

If you are waiting for a personal injury settlement without enough income to pay the bills, a pre-settlement cash advance may be able to help protect your valuable assets. Funding is provided solely on case merit. There are no upfront fees, no monthly payments and no risk; our clients pay when their case is won. In the unfortunate event that you lose the case, you are not obliged to repay the cash advance.

The process begins with a one-page funding application. After contacting your attorney for case documentation, our underwriters will review your case. If approved, a contract is prepared and signed. Funds can be available within 24-48 hours. The process is really that simple.

Disclaimer: This article is a paid advertisement prepared by Lawsuit Financial Corp. and does not constitute legal or financial advice from Online Legal Media or LawyersandSettlements

Article source:

AG: Colorado law firm getting paid too much in foreclosure settlement

Colorado’s attorney general is challenging a Denver law firm that recently landed a class-action settlement against one of the state’s biggest foreclosure law practices — and wants to collect $875,000 in legal fees — saying it did little more than to ride the state’s investigative coat-tails.

State investigators say they did nearly all the heavy lifting during a two-year probe into the foreclosure practices at Aronowitz Mecklenburg — an inquiry that law firm settled with the state for $13 million.

Yet attorneys at Allen Vellone are trying to collect for having done little more than copying the state’s work, according to a filing in Denver district court where the class-action is being heard.

The law firm’s requested fee “victimizes these homeowners once again,” because the money could go to them instead, the state says in the filing.

Allen Vellone argues that any reduction in its fee would be money in Aronowitz’s pockets, not for homeowners.

“The attorney general’s position does nothing to advance the public interest,” the law firm said in its response to the AG’s objection. “The attorney general is laboring under the misapprehension that (Allen Vellone) piggybacked on his office’s work. Not true.”

Allen Vellone filed their lawsuit against Aronowitz Mecklenburg — as well as one against The Castle Law Group, which is ongoing — weeks after the attorney general investigation into the law firms’ alleged overcharging of fees was made public last year.

Although AG investigations are typically kept under wraps, the inquiry went public when a different law firm under investigation for the same conduct sued to stop the AG’s investigative subpoenas. Aronowitz and Castle later filed similar lawsuits, claiming information the AG wanted was protected by attorney-client privilege.

On July 15, the attorney general filed civil lawsuits claiming misconduct by both the Aronowitz and Castle law firms.

Allen Vellone also settled their lawsuit with Aronowitz, garnering about $1.8 million for homeowners who were allegedly overcharged for the required postings on foreclosed properties of a pair of legal notices that outlined a homeowners’ rights — the same thing the state was investigating.

Aronowitz did not admit any wrongdoing in either settlement.

Allen Vellone argue the AG’s settlement covers only 2,000 homeowners who cured their foreclosure — paying off what they owed to stop the process, including the lawyers’ fees.

“This represents fewer than 10 percent of the victims,” attorney Jordan Factor said. “The AG’s settlement does nothing for the tens of thousands of Coloradans who were unable to save their homes or only able to save their homes through a loan modification. Our settlement compensates 100 percent of the victims. And not a penny of our fees comes at the expense of compensating homeowners.”

The state’s settlement covered a number of other fees the law firm allegedly overcharged — and for which homeowners will be reimbursed — while the Allen settlement dealt with a single type of fee.

The law firm “copied allegations from the state’s well-publicized investigation and re-pled them into a private class action lawsuit,” the state says in its challenge.

Allen Vellone said their fees were only $355,000, but asked for far more because of the “significant benefits” they brought to about 32,000 homeowners impacted by the overcharging practice. Also, courts routinely award class-action lawyers a multiplier of their actual costs, the law firm said.

“The $875,000 attorney fee is the product of … attorneys who slapped together a complaint based upon the state’s investigation of foreclosure postings,” the state said.

The law firm said it did its own investigation and all its work was original and independent of the AG. Only after it landed the settlement for homeowners did it work on how much it would be paid. Any settlement had nothing to do with the outcome of the AG’s case, the law firm said in its response.

Part of the $10 million Aronowitz agreed to pay the state — $3 million more was set aside should Aronowitz not live up to the agreement, including the provision that the firm sell or close in the next six months — will cover the state’s legal costs.

The majority, however, is to revert to homeowners impacted by the law firm’s alleged practices, the AG recently said.

David Migoya: 303-954-1506, or

Article source:

Statehouse aims to fix foreclosure logjam

By Andy Metzger

State House News Service

BOSTON — Improper foreclosures have jammed up homeowners who purchased the properties from banks, leading to a late-session push for legislation that opponents claim would unfairly bar those who lost their homes from winning back the titles.

The bill would create a one-year period, starting the day it takes effect as law, during which those who lost homes because of improper foreclosures could sue to regain the title. Going forward, the House and Senate have differed on the window of time until any discrepancy in title would be cleared by another document. The legislation would not limit those who lost homes from suing banks for monetary damages.

“We’re hoping frankly that the bill goes nowhere,” said Roxanne Reddington-Wilde, treasurer of the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending. Though the organization opposes both versions, Reddington-Wilde said the alliance prefers language recently adopted in the House that would provide a 10-year window going forward rather than the three-year window approved by the Senate in January.

Reddington-Wilde said those windows are unworkable and represent a significant decrease from the current 20-year statute of limitations, which she said is a “longstanding right.”

Real-estate lawyers said the current law has put certain homeowners in a situation in which they can neither refinance their mortgage nor sell the property because of questions about the validity of the title.

“When they went to sell subsequently, they were extremely surprised to find out they had an unsellable title because of this decision,” Framingham attorney Richard Vetstein told the News Service. “They couldn’t refinance and they couldn’t sell their property. They’re stuck.”

The January 2011 SJC case U.S. Bank National Association v. Antonio Ibanez upheld a Land Court decision that denied a foreclosure because the bank did not actually hold Ibanez’s mortgage when it began proceedings on his property in Springfield. Ibanez had obtained a mortgage through Rose Mortgage, which was packaged by Lehman Brothers into a mortgage-backed security, which did business with U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank foreclosed on the property starting April 2007, but was not actually assigned the mortgage until about a year later.

The financial collapse of 2008 was in part fueled by and exacerbated a foreclosure crisis around the country. Maps generated by the alliance show homes at varying stages of foreclosure dotting the state’s landscape from Provincetown to North Adams.

Vetstein and Plymouth attorney Richard Serkey said banks have stopped the improper paperwork that led to the Ibanez decision so homeowners have already had years to attempt to regain their homes. Vetstein said those who have already begun legal action to regain title would not be affected by the bill.

“You’re talking about at least a five-year period that’s elapsed up until now,” said Serkey, who said the 10-year window the House adopted is too long. He said, “How many people can afford to wait 10 years before they can refinance or sell their property?”

Serkey said he hires an investigator to track down the people who lost their home in foreclosure, sometimes offering them money and helping them discharge a secondary mortgage so that they will transfer an unsullied title for the house.

“There are two categories of equally deserving persons,” said Serkey, acknowledging that people who lost homes because of improper foreclosures have justified grievances. He said, “The purpose of the bill is to provide relief to a large number of homeowners in Massachusetts who find themselves unable to refinance or sell their property.”

MAAPL claims 58 percent of those who purchase foreclosed homes are “big, cash-only investors.”

“A home is not just a financial investment,” the organization wrote in a fact sheet, which said, “The only sure protection for new or old homeowners will be swift adjudication of or another remedy to the now numerous valid challenges to post-foreclosure titles and broken chains of ownership of mortgages and notes.”

The bill was originally filed by Sen. Michael Moore, a Millbury Democrat, and moved through the Financial Services Committee. Last week the House adopted an amendment from Somerville Democrat Rep. Denise Provost that expanded the window from three years to 10 years.

This week the legislative two branches plan three back-to-back formal sessions, the final three of the year. Any lawmaker can object to the passage of a bill in the informal sessions, which will run clear through December, meaning Thursday serves as a deadline for any controversial bills.

Reddington-Wilde criticized the lack of a provision providing notice to people of the legal change and said the one-year period following the bill’s passage would lead to a torrent of legal claims that would overwhelm the courts. Serkey said the foreclosures occurred years ago and predicted there would be “very few” who take action in the one-year period.

Article source:

Coachella Valley foreclosures rose in June.

Coachella Valley foreclosures rose in June as a lingering trail of distressed homes returned to their lender, a new housing report shows.

The slight increase may continue into the fall, real estate analysts and loan officers said. Borrowers who had tried to avoid foreclosure through efforts under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights had delayed the inevitable, they said.

“It’s been so long, and it’s been so much time, at this point, the people that are losing their houses have exhausted every other option,” said Bret Cohn, a senior loan officer for Stearns Lending in Palm Desert.

Soaring home prices lifted the values of more underwater homes this year and gave more homeowners a chance to sell with equity instead of a short sale or foreclosure. But for those in the most dire of situations, foreclosure may have been the only option left.

“With appreciation up 20 percent from the previous year, there’s not as many people in negative equity positions,” Cohn said. “The people who are foreclosing, who had little or no money down for an FHA loan, may had a catastrophic event, and are now losing their house.”

Those last-resort homeowners added to the bump of foreclosures in June. There were 231 foreclosure filings in June, up 1.7 percent from the same month last year. The number was the same for May, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine-based real estate information services firm that tracks foreclosures reported in public records.

California foreclosures include three types of filings: notices of default, scheduled public auctions and bank repossessions, if the owner fails to pay what is owed during default. These are called REO, or real estate owned, sales.

There were more than 500 foreclosures started through the courts in March, the highest number observed so far by RealtyTrac, said spokeswoman Ginny Walker. Foreclosures are not required to go through the courts in California, but the Homeowner Bill of Rights passed last year made the non-judicial process less appealing to some lenders, Walker wrote in an email. So more lenders are opting to go through the courts to foreclose on homes still in limbo.

The number of homes starting the foreclosure process, those with a notice of default, dropped from last year. There were 91 notices of default in June, down 23.5 percent year-over-year.

That trend mirrored the rest of California. There were 17,524 notices of default across the state from April to May, according to county recordings. That’s down 31.9 percent from the same period in 2013.

But more homes in the Coachella Valley actually finished the process — and returned to a bank. In June, there were 63 REO sales, up 23 percent from June 2013. That’s an uptick from 54 foreclosures in May and 51 last year, according to RealtyTrac.

The number of REOs also ticked up across the state, rising 18 percent from last June.

In the Coachella Valley, the biggest increase of bank repossessions was in Indio. The city had nine REO sales, up from only three in May and two last year.

North Desert Hot Springs had the highest concentration of foreclosure activity. One in 405 housing units was going through foreclosure in June in the ZIP code 92240, according to RealtyTrac. That’s compared to one in 1,228 housing units across the country.

Bank repossessions and short sales made up 13 percent of all single-family home sales in the desert in June, according to the California Desert Association of Realtors, which tracks property listings on its private Multiple Listing Service. That’s up from 9 percent month-over-month but down from last year’s 18 percent.

Most of the homes going through foreclosure are still remnants from the housing bust that contributed to the recession. In the second quarter of 2014, most of the loans going into default in California originated between 2005 and 2007, the tipping point of the recession, according to DataQuick, a San Diego-based real estate data firm.

The country is dropping back toward a normal level of foreclosure activity, Walker said, citing RealtyTrac data.

Nationwide, the normal level is between roughly 75,000 and 100,000 foreclosure filings per month. The peak was 330,000 filings per month in 2009. This year, foreclosure filings are averaging about 116,000 a month. The average pace of decrease has been 2 percent, meaning the country should fall to 90,000 filings a month by March.

In California, overall foreclosure activity is down, in contrast to the Coachella Valley. The Inland Empire and desert were harder hit during the Great Recession and have taken longer to rebound.

In June, there were 12,804 foreclosure filings in the state, down from the peak of 108,104 filings in July 2009. The June figures show that the state is reaching “consistently normal levels of foreclosure activity,” Walker wrote.

Dominique Fong is a business and real estate reporter for The Desert Sun. She can be reached at (760) 778-4661, and on Twitter @dominiquefong.

June foreclosure filings

Total Coachella Valley foreclosure filings rose in June compared to May:

• 92234, Cathedral City, 33, -8.3%

• 92236, Coachella, 19, 111.1%

• 92240: Desert Hot Springs, 36, 16.1%

• 92241: Desert Hot Springs, 1, -50%

• 92210: Indian Wells, 1, -80%

• 92203: Indio, 20, -4.8%

• 92253: La Quinta, 28, 33.3%

• 92211: Palm Desert, 19, -20.8%

• 92260: Palm Desert: 22, 0%

• 92262: Palm Springs: 20, -9%

• 92264: Palm Springs: 18, -14.3%

• 92270: Rancho Mirage: 13, 0%

• 92274: Thermal: 1, -75%

Source: RealtyTrac

Article source:

Followup: New owners of eviction-fight house say they’re taking the city to court

Followup: New owners of eviction-fight house say they’re taking the city to court

July 29, 2014 at 4:28 pm | In West Seattle housing, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

(July 18 WSB photo)
A new development late today in the fight over a Morgan Junction house that’s been the subject of a showdown over foreclosure and eviction. Eight days ago, Mayor Ed Murray announced he was telling police to stand by until the circumstances Byron and Jean Barton‘s legal fight over the house was clearer; this afternoon, we received the following announcement from a law firm representing the company that bought the house at foreclosure auction in April:

Triangle Property Development has taken legal action to force Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle Police Department to uphold the law by removing the illegal trespassers from a West Seattle house.

The company filed the document, formally called a writ of mandamus, in King County Superior Court more than a week after Murray ordered police officers to stand down rather than remove Byron and Jean Barton from the house, which they had broken into after being legally evicted by King County Sheriff’s deputies. Triangle Property Development bought the house at a foreclosure auction in April, more than two years after the Bartons stopped making mortgage payments.

“Mayor Murray’s refusal to uphold the law is undermining the legal process by preventing a property owner from lawfully using and possessing its property,’’ said Synthia Melton, legal counsel for Triangle Property Development. “The legal issues the mayor refers to in this case have already been determined by the courts. The Mayor’s inaction is supporting criminal trespass, and can set dangerous precedent for how court-ordered evictions will be executed, making it more difficult for law enforcement to perform its job.”

Much of the media coverage surrounding the eviction of the Bartons has been incomplete, misleading or downright inaccurate. Here are the facts of the case:

According to King County property records, the Bartons received the house free and clear from a family trust in 2003 and almost immediately began to use a series of mortgages to turn the value of the house into cash. By August of 2007, the house was pledged to more than $660,000 of debt.

In 2011, the Bartons ceased making payments on their mortgages. In 2012, their lender began foreclosure proceedings, which concluded in April when Triangle Property Development bought the property at auction.

Mindful of Mr. Barton’s disability, Triangle made repeated offers of thousands of dollars of relocation assistance to the family, who refused that help in favor of a series of futile attempts to block the eviction in court.

On July 18, King County Sheriff’s deputies evicted the Bartons from the house despite the interference of protestors, and changed the locks. After the deputies left, the Bartons, along with protestors, broke into the house, committing the crimes of breaking-and-entering and trespass. Since that time, they have illegally trespassed on the property, and protesters have subjected Triangle Property Development employees and officials to harassment and abuse.

The case drew regional media attention back on Friday, July 18th, when King County Sheriff’s Deputies evicted the Bartons, four weeks after a different KCSO employee had declined to evict them because of Byron Barton’s health status. Meantime, we’re following up on this new development – including looking up the latest court documents – and will add whatever reaction we get.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. so…what happens if they vacate, Triangle tears down, starts building a new house, and the the Bartons win their law suit. I’m not a legal mind, so I’m asking. The house would be gone. Would they be compensated monetarily? Anyone out there want to venture an answer to this “what if”?

    The Bartons do have a law suit pending, don’t they? Or am I imagining that?

    Comment by JanS — 4:45 pm July 29, 2014 #

  2. JanS, previous WSB story noted that Triangle said they were not going to tear down the home.

    Comment by Graham Morgan — 4:52 pm July 29, 2014 #

  3. thanks…so, substitute “remodel” :)

    Comment by JanS — 4:54 pm July 29, 2014 #

  4. I 100% agree with this court actions and hope it is executed quickly. This is not a case of people being swindled by a bank. This is a couple that systematically lived beyond there means (BEFORE HIS HEALTH ISSUES) by cashing out the equity in their house and at that point putting up their house as collateral. I never like to see or cheer for someone losing their home but this is what happens. It is sad that people make these choices but in the end of the day it is a choice that they made.

    Comment by The Truth — 4:55 pm July 29, 2014 #

  5. This just came in a short time ago so now I’m following up on a whole variety of aspects (checking back on the court files, the site’s DPD files if any, asking the mayor and the Bartons for comment, etc.). And yes, they have a lawsuit pending, though it’s over the foreclosure = going back to check that too. Tonight I don’t have a meeting to go to and might finally be able to put together something resembling a coherent timeline of all this. The comment about “not going to tear down the house” was from a Triangle Development-affiliated person. I had noted that this is a double-lot house, meaning that it COULD potentially hold two residences, under zoning, though that depends on a lot of things including the site’s buildability – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 4:56 pm July 29, 2014 #

  6. ” more than two years after the Bartons stopped making mortgage payments. ”

    .I get it – its sad as heck to see someone evicted, but come on – two years + without making a mortgage payment? just what is the new owner supposed to do? just say “oh well” and forget about it?

    Comment by flimflam — 4:56 pm July 29, 2014 #

  7. I only know the facts posted here and in the related stories – based on that, I hope there is an expedient resolution and the new rightful owner takes possession. I would also like to see charges filed against those who assisted with the breaking and entering. I am sure this will be the popular opinion based on posts in related stories … not.

    Comment by Graham Morgan — 4:57 pm July 29, 2014 #

  8. All coverage seems a bit one-sided, not WSB, and the “facts” presented gently lead to certain conclusions. I have seen little coverage of the other side—there is some reason people chose to defend these people. I, for one,am leery of a no-tear-down assumption based on what the developer said.

    Just an alternative view.

    Comment by charlabob — 5:06 pm July 29, 2014 #

  9. “According to King County property records, the Bartons received the house free and clear from a family trust in 2003 and almost immediately began to use a series of mortgages to turn the value of the house into cash. By August of 2007, the house was pledged to more than $660,000 of debt.”

    Wow! I felt bad that mounting medical bills put them in this position, then I realized his stroke happened in 2012.
    Wish I could borrow over half a million and live in my home without paying a mortgage.

    Comment by Krm66 — 5:13 pm July 29, 2014 #

  10. TR – thank you for publishing the facts in this case instead of the sensationalism. Your straight-up journalism is appreciated!

    Comment by Kim — 5:15 pm July 29, 2014 #

  11. Well, we’re trying. I also believe in publishing statements so that people can hear for themselves what the various sides are saying – we have published statements from multiple sides in this case now, and I am sure there are more to come. In the previous coverage, we were one of only two media crews left when the advocates supporting the Bartons gave a press briefing, and we recorded it and published that video in its entirety as well – that was part of the unfolding coverage that ran from morning into the night on July 18th (embedded into the story around noontime) – – more to come – TR

    Comment by WSB — 5:22 pm July 29, 2014 #

  12. I hope they go hard after Murray for his abuse of office. Would never have happened anywhere else but in Seattle. Really doesn’t matter what new property owners do as it’s their property that they paid for, and don’t forget the Bartons were going to end up with money if they moved out, not exactly broke, just don’t want to move along with not paying towards what they owe. Everyone should quit paying their utility bills and taxes to the city and see what happens, you will get a lean on your home then sold 2-3 years if not paid. Quicker than what’s going on in this case.

    Comment by wetone — 5:26 pm July 29, 2014 #

  13. I don’t understand how the mayor has executive power beyond what the legal system has ruled. The Barton’s need to recognize they don’t have legal rights to the property and vacate without additional protest. It sounds like Bartons are clearly aware of how to “play” the system to their advantage.

    Comment by Mt — 5:29 pm July 29, 2014 #

  14. Well written press release and very correct. This is an abuse of power by the mayor and a sad, pathetic milking of the media that is so typical of Seattle.

    Comment by Ray — 5:36 pm July 29, 2014 #

  15. Enough a enough. Out they go.

    Comment by 35thSteve — 5:44 pm July 29, 2014 #

  16. I know many West Seattleite who inherited homes and are living in a place they couldn’t possibly afford on their own, but most have avoided succumbing to this money trap. Not good to get stuff free.

    Comment by G — 6:03 pm July 29, 2014 #

  17. Seriously! If the Bartons sucked $660,000 dollars in loans/equity out of that house, they clearly came out ahead. I’ll bet it sold on foreclosure at 1/2 that price, probably less. The bank took a beating and the taxpayers (ala bank bailouts) absorb the rest. Sorry for the Bartons and the decisions they made, but on the face I see little merit in their case. and that makes the Mayor an idiot to be involved.

    Comment by steve — 6:25 pm July 29, 2014 #

  18. I wish there were an easy way to regurgitate all the information from all previous stories (and comment discussions) into each successive one. Since there isn’t: No, Steve, the house sold at auction for about that sum. The mortgage was less. King County Sheriff’s reps told us that the Bartons actually get part of the proceeds because Triangle bought the house for more than the minimum bid, more than was owed on the house. Not quite sure how that works but that’s what they said. I have not confirmed all the numbers mentioned in this statement – still trying to find a new court document, for one. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 6:36 pm July 29, 2014 #

  19. So, Ed murray is above the law? He’s going to get sued and kicked out of office.

    Comment by sittingbird — 7:02 pm July 29, 2014 #

  20. Since when does a “mayor” have juristiction over a county? If I understand correctly, this was a county procedure that was enforced by the KC Sheriff. They should be the ones back to enforce the lawfull eviction, regardless of what the “mayor” wants. The SPD should only be involved if needed to “keep the peace”.

    Comment by bs — 8:03 pm July 29, 2014 #

  21. As noted by the King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson we interviewed for our report last week (it’s linked in the first paragraph of our story above), it is their duty to serve eviction orders. However, that does not mean they have permanent jurisdiction over/responsibility for the eviction site/scene. Once they had done their duty, KCSO said, it was up to SPD, who has police jurisdiction, to enforce the law against what could be considered burglary/trespassing.

    Comment by WSB — 8:07 pm July 29, 2014 #

  22. I feel sorry for the developer. They will sink thousands into legal fees to claim what it rightfully theirs, then carry the scarlet letter for being the bad guy. Come on Barton’s, take your personal possessions from the home and leave.

    Comment by Joe — 8:44 pm July 29, 2014 #

  23. Wow. No words. Out they go. Get a house free clear and dig yourself into this kind of mess? Not okay. I agree with Joe’s comment above.

    Comment by M — 9:21 pm July 29, 2014 #

  24. I’m all for Vets. Work with them everyday.
    But, this is not a Vet story and there is much more to it than the takers media are telling. You don’t wait for a gapping wound to turn into an amputation and expect everyone else to bail you out. They were irresponsible and it’s costing them the home they lived in for free…for a long time! Using being a Vet to gain attention to this irresponsibility is shameful and takes our attention off our Vets who really need us as a result of their service.

    Comment by WTF — 9:49 pm July 29, 2014 #

  25. If the foreclosure is found illegal in June of next year, then this was an illegal sale and the Bartons will likely take back their land from this developer. The one the developer needs to sue is the people they made a quick $ with on this deal. But what’s that, the developer would have sold this already and run off with large amounts of cash? Yes, yes they would have. And who then do the Bartons go after to get their land and home back? If it’s an illegal foreclosure, the only one losing out on all this is the Bartons.

    Comment by Mike — 9:50 pm July 29, 2014 #

  26. “According to King County property records, the Bartons received the house free and clear from a family trust in 2003 and almost immediately began to use a series of mortgages to turn the value of the house into cash. By August of 2007, the house was pledged to more than $660,000 of debt.”
    I’d love to read these, if somebody can provide the links to this documentation so I can interpret it myself instead of reading the legal twisted view of it by “a law firm”. Can you also name that law firm, I’d love to do a background check on them. There’s all sorts of fun stuff about law firms on the Internet. Which ones are connected to each case is always fun to see.

    Comment by Mike — 10:15 pm July 29, 2014 #

  27. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A lawyer, developer and a banker walk into a bar…

    Comment by Mike — 10:29 pm July 29, 2014 #

  28. Triangle’s representation is Dimension Law Group of Renton. I still haven’t found this particular filing. I have found a couple other eviction cases – preceded by foreclosures – involving Triangle, however. As discussed extensively in comments on our previous two stories about all this, you can find some of the real-estate documents in King County Online Records, which unlike the Superior Court docs at ECR Online, does not usually shut down for the night, and does not require paying per page, etc. I don’t re-upload docs like these in most cases because they tend to have very personal information and I don’t have software for redacting. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:29 pm July 29, 2014 #

  29. What does Kshama Sawant have to say about this whole thing? She went down in person the day of the eviction, but I don’t hear a peep out of her now cmon Kshama.I get it a good time for a photo op.

    Comment by sittingbird — 11:01 pm July 29, 2014 #

  30. “[free] Housing is a human right.” Wow, I didn’t know that. I’d like to know how to get one of these free houses please.

    And can I also have the hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity loans along with my free housing?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Alex — 11:22 pm July 29, 2014 #

  31. Thanks WSB for the clarification. I misspoke. A house up for auction will always start the bidding at the balance (660k in this case) that is due on the mortgage. I find it amazing that this house sold for this amount(and higher) in this area, but then again we are in another real estate bubble. If there were no takers at auction, then this house would have become “bank owned.” The Bartons unfortunately got in over their heads, but lucky that they’re actually coming out ahead with proceeds from the sale. i.e., lucky that it sold at auction, and above starting bid.

    Comment by steve — 12:01 am July 30, 2014 #

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Putnam County court records

Putnam County Common Pleas Court dispositions

July 22

Putnam County Treasurer Tracy Warnecke was granted judgment against Jeffrey E. Trumbull, Hatfield, Arizona, and Heidi B. Trumbull, Hatfield, Arizona, in the amount of $1,537.93 in delinquent taxes and assessments.

July 23

Beneficial Financial I, Inc., Elmhurst, Illinois, was granted a foreclosure against Donald L. Partin, Vaughnsville, and Mary A. Partin, Vaughnsville, in the amount of $123,171.35, plus interest and costs.

New Cases

Huntington National Bank, Columbus, v. Eugene L. Recker, Continental; foreclosure.

Kenneth Schroeder, Leipsic, and Karen Schroeder, Leipsic, v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and Dennis Michael, Leipsic; complaint for personal injuries.

Pennymac Loan Services, LLC, Moorpark, Calif., v. Beth Doster, Delphos, and Mark Doster, Ottawa; foreclosure.

Andrew C. Grieve, Montague, Mich., v. Stephen P. Buehrer, administrator of Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, Columbus, and Great Oaks Transportation, Inc., Ottawa; notice of appeal.

Jody A. Camareno, Glandorf, and Arturo J. Camareno, Ottawa; dissolution with children.

Putnam County Municipal Court dispositions

July 21

Camerin T. Harrington, 24, 328½ W. Second St., Ottawa, pleaded no contest to an amended charge of carrying a concealed weapon and was found guilty. Sentence: $100 fine. He also pleaded guilty to an amended charge of disorderly conduct. Sentence: $100 fine.

Luke D. Lammers, 23, 717 Broadway St., #3, Leipsic, pleaded guilty to telecommunications harassment. Sentence: 180 days jail, suspended, $150 fine. He also pleaded guilty to an amended charge of menacing. Sentence: 30 days jail, suspended, $100 fine and complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center. Charges of aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment were dismissed.

Travis L. Dauterman, 24, 1635 N. Union St., Fostoria, pleaded no contest to assault. 180 days jail, 170 days suspended, $250 fine, one year probation, pay $1,595.13 restitution to victim and no contact with victim for two years.

Anthony L. Schumacher, 30, 15074 Road Q, Columbus Grove, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-offense reckless operation. Sentence: Four points, 30 days jail, 27 days suspended. $250 fine, with credit for three days jail upon completion of DIP.

July 22

Tyler J. Harris, 19, 8211 Rockwood Drive, Findlay, pleaded guilty to failure to stop after an accident. Sentence: 180 days jail, suspended, $100 fine, and complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center. Charge of driving under suspension was dismissed.

Bryan A. Recker, 23, 14721 Road 22K, Cloverdale, pleaded no contest to criminal damaging. Sentence: 90 days jail, suspended, $200 fine, pay $400 restitution, perform 20 hours community service, and no contact with victim or his property for two years. He also pleaded no contest to an amended charge of hit and skip. Sentence: 90 days jail, 87 days jail, $250 fine, perform 20 hours community service with credit for three days jail upon completion of DIP. Charges of criminal damaging, open container, failure to control and reckless operation were dismissed.

Harley-Davidson Lane, 20, 11351 Road 20J, Cloverdale, pleaded guilty to underage possession. Sentence: 30 days jail, suspended, $250 fine. He was also fined $50 for speeding.

July 24

Paul J. Duling, 51, 206 Blanchard St., Gilboa, pleaded guilty to first-offense OVI. Sentence: Six points, 180 days jail, 174 days suspended, $750 fine, $375 suspended, two year license suspension, with credit for three days jail upon completion of DIP, one year probation. Charges of following too close, drug abuse/possession and drug paraphernalia were dismissed.

Derek M. Schwab, 30, 580 North St., Marion, pleaded guilty to domestic violence. Sentence: 180 days jail, 179 days suspended, $150 fine, and complete assessment at Pathways Counseling Center and abide by recommendations and no contact with victim for two years.

Putnam County Municipal Court judgments

July 21

Blanchard Valley Health System, Findlay, default judgment v. Natalie R. Butler, Leipsic, and Richard A. Butler, Leipsic, $504.66, plus interest and costs

MT Truck Enterprises, LLC, Columbus, default judgment v. Brenton E. Karbowiak, Pandora, $824.49, plus interest and costs.

Capital One Bank, Norcross, Georgia, default judgment v. Jesse A. Martin, Ottawa, $732.59, plus interest and costs.

July 22

IOM Health System, Cincinnati, default judgment v. Pamela S. Manning, Continental, $2,949.04, plus interest and costs.

July 24

Discover Bank, New Albany, default judgment v. Brian W. McCrate, Ottawa, $1,908.29, plus interest and costs.

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Thousands stuck in limbo waiting to save their homes

A huge backlog and slow processing times are putting troubled homeowners in limbo for months while mortgage companies review their applications for federal housing assistance, according to a new report from the bank bailout’s watchdog. 

As of May, more than 220,000 homeowners applying to Treasury’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) were still waiting for a decision from their servicer, according to Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). That’s nearly double the number of applicants who were stuck in limbo in November 2013, and the slowest mortgage companies are taking 10 to 12 months to give them an answer. 

“Clients are very stressed through this time — everything is on hold for them, they don’t know whether to invest their money on this or that,” says Carmen Castro-Conroy, a Maryland-based housing counselor. “The not knowing is probably the most difficult for them.”

Homeowners who are applying for loan modifications are already having trouble making their mortgage payments, and the huge backlog makes it even more likely that they’ll fall behind. If so, they could have a harder time qualifying for a HAMP modification and avoiding foreclosure. “If Treasury does not take strong action to stop this growing trend immediately, it will be homeowners who suffer the consequences,” the SIGTARP report said. 

As part of the 2008-2009 bank bailout, Washington set aside billions to help troubled homeowners make their mortgage payments and avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. But HAMP is being administered through private mortgage companies, and a slew of problems have made it difficult for ordinary Americans to get assistance from the program. HAMP was originally supposed to last through December 2013, but the White House extended it for another two years. As of June 2014, Treasury has expended only 33% of the $38.5 billion in TARP funds for the program.

The report singled out two mortgage giants for poor performance over the last six months. “Chase and Select Portfolio Servicing stood out as the least effective large servicers in keeping up with demand for HAMP,” the watchdog said. “During this period Chase processed an average of 35% of the applications it received each month, while SPS processed an average of 42% of the applications it received.”

The slowest servicers were Citimortgage, a subsidiary of Citigroup, which took an average of 12 months to process HAMP applications; Select Portfolio Servicing, which took an average of 10.5 months; and JPMorgan Chase, which took 7.6 months on average.

Special Inspector General Christy Romero blames the Obama administration for failing to notice the problem in the first place, given that its own data made it clear. “When Treasury is holding data and not doing anything with it, and homeowners aren’t being treated fairly, there’s something wrong with that,” said Romero, who heads SIGTARP. “Homeowners don’t have the luxury of time, of waiting for seven months or 10 months.”

Castro-Conroy, the housing counselor, says that homeowners with full-time jobs tend to go through the process more quickly. If homeowners have more than one source of income, the process tends to take longer because there is more paperwork, and customers don’t always understand the process. But, Castro-Conroy adds, mortgage servicers can be at fault as well: Long delays force applicants to resubmit income documentation, for instance, and staffing turnovers can further prolong the process. 

“It’s not ever an acceptable excuse to blame it on the homeowners and say they didn’t have their package complete,” said Romero.

The watchdog previously criticized the administration for failing to ensure that HAMP money was dispersed quickly, as participating mortgage servicers failed to communicate clearly with homeowners, lost their paperwork, and otherwise prolonged the process. SIGTARP, which is also a law enforcement agency, reached a $320 million settlement with Suntrust after alleging that the company misled HAMP borrowers, falsely reported them as delinquent, and was slow to process HAMP applications.  

“So significant was SunTrust’s failure in this regard, that the floor of the room in which the bank dumped the voluminous unopened HAMP applications actually buckled under
the packages’ sheer weight,” SIGTARP said. 

The watchdog also said that Treasury should be doing more to ensure that those who do ultimately qualify for HAMP are able to stay afloat. About 30% of the homeowners in the program have already defaulted again, costing taxpayers about $1.3 billion, the report says, and that number could increase as HAMP mortgage rates automatically rise after five years. SIGTARP suggests that Treasury use other bailout-funded housing programs to help HARP participants remain current. 

While the housing market and broader economy have shown signs of healing, the redefault rates and the steady demand for foreclosure-prevention assistance indicate that many homeowners are still struggling. 

When lawmakers originally passed TARP, “it was all about getting money out to banks immediately. The same level of effort and immediacy have not applied to TARP housing programs,” says Romero. “Will they eventually get all the money out? Maybe. The question is, when did the homeowners need it? It’s always yesterday.”

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Dunbar Community Center in Springfield in danger of foreclosure; YMCA …

SPRINGFIELD — The Dunbar Community Center – renowned as a cradle of basketball talent in the birthplace of the game and as a safe haven in a troubled neighborhood – could be sold at a foreclosure auction sometime in August,.

Kirk R. Smith, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, warned of the foreclosure in a letter sent to YMCA supporters Tuesday. The Dunbar is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

University of Massachusetts men’s basketball coach Derek Kellogg and future NBA players Travis Best and Vinny Del Negro all played at the Dunbar. Broadway dance legend Frank Hatchett opened a studio there in 1967. The center once hosted Golden Gloves boxing tournaments and the Dunbar Players theater troupe.

The YMCA and building owner Dunbar Inc. was negotiating with mortgage holder Bank of America with the help of U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal. But instead, Bank of America sold the mortgage to Republic Financial Corp. of Colorado, which is moving forward with the foreclosure.

Neither Bank of America nor Republic Financial Corp. responded to calls for comment Tuesday.

The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the city’s NAACP chapter and chairman of the Dunbar Y’s advisory board, said the mortgage holder is asking for $1 million to avoid foreclosure. The highest the Y, building owner Dunbar Inc. or anyone else can go is $500,000.

The Y plans to keep running programs at the Dunbar Y Family and Community Center building at 33 Oak St. as long as it has access to the building, but has also developed a contingency plan to relocate Dunbar programs elsewhere in the city’s beleaguered Mason Square Neighborhood, Smith wrote in the letter.

The YMCA took over operations in 2011 after the Dunbar Community Center and parent organization Dunbar Inc. ran into financial trouble. In its time managing the center, the Y has grown membership at the Dunbar to 3,500 young people, teens, adults and senior citizens.

The Y operates as a tenant to Dunbar Inc., which owns the building. The Y’s budget for Dunbar activities runs $300,000 to $400,000 a year with an annual deficit of $100,000. Smith wrote that the Y makes up the annual $100,000 Dunbar shortfall with year-round fundraising and fund transfers from the YMCA of Greater Springfield  because the Y believes in the Dunbar’s mission and the need for a community center in Mason Square.

Besides basketball and other sports and recreation programs, the Dunbar provides education, child care and health  and wellness services.

“The YMCA has done a tremendous job in keeping this facility open since 2011,” Mayor Domenic J.Sarno wrote in an email. “This will be a terrible loss to not only Mason Square but the entire Springfield family. Hopefully the bank will realize what this facility means to the community and find an amicable resolution.” 

Dunbar programs could continue in space rented from the Springfield School Department or from area churches, said Swan, president of the city’s NAACP chapter and chairman of the Dunbar Y’s advisory board.

“But the reality is the services they are able to provide would likely not be centralized in one location like they are at the Dunbar,” he said. “The services will be scattered in the community which definitely will definitely hurt those people who depend on the Dunbar.”

The loss of the Dunbar would be particularly troublesome because the South End Community Center was destroyed in the June 2011 tornado and a new building has not yet been constructed.

“We are talking about a horrific blow to communities of color, in particular in Mason Square and to the South End,” said Swan, who grew up playing basketball at the Dunbar. “The Dunbar has been a beacon of light for generations in our community and it would be sad to lose it.”

City Councilor Bud L. Williams said he was aware of the situation with Dunbar and said he hopes it will remain in Mason Square at its current site.

“It’s too important an institution and too important to the Springfield community to lose. We have to do whatever it takes to keep it,” Williams said.

Swan said the mortgage difficulty stems from the same financial troubles that plagued the Dunbar as an independent entity prior to the Y’s 2011 takeover.

According to documents on file at the Hampden County Registry of Deeds, the Dunbar took out a $1.6-million mortgage in 2000.

Swan said Y officials and others in the community thought they had a deal with Bank of America to save the property.

“I believe the financial institution that holds the mortgage did not act in good faith as the Dunbar Inc, board attempted to negotiate with it,” Swan said. “We were led to believe that  Bank of America was going to resolve the mortgage issue. Unbeknownst to us, the mortgage was bundled with many others and sold.”

In his letter, Smith said the YMCA and Dunbar Inc. have tried negotiating with Republic but couldn’t reach an agreement and DevelopSpringfield, the city’s public-private development partnership, even offered to buy the property. DevelopSpringfield’s offer was rejected.

Dunbar Inc. also offered to give Republic ownership of the building provided the YMCA get a six-month lease, Smith wrote. That offer was also rejected.

Swan said even the most hard-hearted of business people would be unwise to foreclose on the Dunbar because it’s unlikely that an auction would bring in even the $500,000 Dunbar backers are offering.

“It would be hard to put that property to any sort of use unless it was as a community center or a church,” he said. “A developer could bring some sort of housing there, but given the difficulties of the neighborhood, that seems unlikely.”

The Rev. Nelson DeBerry founded the Dunbar as extension of the St. John’s Congregational Church on Union Street – first as the St. John’s Parish Home for Girls and later as St. John’s Institutional Activities.

 The Dunbar trained young people to work as housekeepers, porters and similar jobs that reflected the meager opportunities for blacks in the early 1900s.

By the 1930s, Dunbar had moved to 33 Oak St. and had grown into a community center offering sewing, hairdressing and baby-care classes along with basketball and boxing.

In 1962, the center split and its job development and civil rights advocacy functions moving downtown as the Urban League of Springfield. Athletics, dance and social programs remained in Mason Square as the Dunbar Community Center.

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