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Michigan woman loses home featured on ‘Extreme Makeover’

HOLT, MICH. – Nearly nine years after her home was rebuilt on national television, Arlene Nickless is turning in her keys.

The Holt resident must leave her Eifert Road home by Monday after years of struggling to manage the mortgage.

Designers with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” — with the help of hundreds of volunteers — built the home in 2008 following the death of Tim Nickless, her husband of 18 years.

The home was foreclosed on in September, and has been up for online auction for weeks.

On Sunday, cardboard boxes were stacked on the dark hardwood floors once showcased in nationwide broadcasts. The 2009 Ford Flex gifted with the home sat in the driveway hooked to a moving trailer. And the overwhelming feeling a tearful Arlene Nickless had all those years ago took on a different tenor.

“When I stepped out of the house the day Extreme Makeover came, you will see me say ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” she said. “And, truthfully, that’s what I feel right now: I can’t believe this is happening.”

Nickless is quick to defend the ABC show, whose lavish rebuilds have, in some cases, led to foreclosure because of increased property taxes and pricey utilities. She’s less complimentary of her mortgage servicer that is now being targeted by state regulators.

She said her home’s foreclosure resulted from an ongoing struggle to manage the property’s pre-makeover mortgage — a balance that rested at about $30,000 after the 2008 makeover, but had ballooned to at least $113,000 by the end of 2016.

A prayer answered

Crews from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” arrived at the Nickless family’s doorstep in September 2008, about nine months after Tim Nickless died.

A nurse at Ingham Regional Medical Center, Tim Nickless was believed to have contracted hepatitis C after being pricked with a patient’s contaminated needle. He battled the disease for seven years before his death in January 2008.

More than 1,600 volunteers from the Holt area joined the show’s crew to rebuild the Nickless family’s home, an 1860s farmhouse that had fallen into disrepair during Tim’s illness.

The old home was demolished, and after a five-day building period, Arlene Nickless and her three sons received a new 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom home with stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall, and a retractable flat-screen television.

The home included a LEGO-themed room, another bedroom with blueprints covering the walls, and an airplane bed for Arlene’s youngest son.

The construction brought the community together in the midst of the economic downturn, said Karen Schroeder, vice president for East Lansing-based Mayberry Homes, the general contractor for the home.

“It was really at a time when everything was so solemn, so gray,” Schroeder said. “It kind of put a spark back in the Lansing area.”

Schroeder said, after the home makeover, state and banking officials were able to whittle the Nickless family’s mortgage from about $140,000 to $30,000, and lower the interest rate considerably.

But the home’s annual taxes more than tripled from 2008 to 2009, according to county records, from about $2,000 in 2008 to about $7,500 in 2009.

Those increased taxes and insurance costs would be paid for over the next several years through an escrow account in the home’s mortgage, bloating the Nickless family’s monthly mortgage payments.

Mortgage struggle

In 2010, Nickless was in a car crash that caused her to fall behind. By the end of 2010, the property went to a sheriff’s sale.

She filed paperwork to stop the foreclosure the morning of the sale and the sheriff deed was expunged, according to county records.

At that time, Nickless said, the mortgage lender offered to pay off the mortgage’s balance if she could come up with $15,000. Before she had a chance to gather the money, she said, her mortgage was acquired in 2011 by Ocwen Financial.

For the next several years, Nickless struggled with the loan.

She tried mortgage affordability programs but, in some cases, the home’s new equity disqualified her from those payment tracks. She tried to find answers from the mortgage company, but said she could rarely connect with someone who could speak English. She said she withheld mortgage payments because she didn’t know where she was sending her money.

“I was trying to find answers,” she said, and the information she found online about Ocwen wasn’t encouraging.

As recently as last month, the State of Michigan issued a cease and desist order prohibiting Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC from continued violations of state mortgage law. A press release from the state said Ocwen had a history of improper “servicing and handling of escrow accounts,” trouble keeping accurate records, and problems with properly crediting payments.

Ocwen called the claims “unfounded,” but added the company continues to work with state regulators.

Since 2008, the company has provided Michigan borrowers about 21,000 loan modifications, about 39% of which included principal forgiveness totaling about $317 million, Ocwen spokesman John Lovallo said in an email.

Since Ocwen began servicing Nickless’s loan in 2011, she has made no mortgage payments, Lovallo said, yet Ocwen has continued to pay all taxes and insurance on her home, which is valued today at more than $275,000.

The company offered Nickless a modification in 2014, but she said the payments of about $1,650 a month would have been too high and due too soon.

Lovallo spoke to the State Journal about the loan after obtaining permission from Nickless.

Lovallo said Ocwen empathizes with any homeowner facing foreclosure, and “is committed to working with distressed borrowers to find the right solution to allow them to keep their homes.”

Eric Schertzing, Ingham County treasurer, said state and non-profit mortgage manageability programs exist, but those programs can only do so much.

No program can help someone who doesn’t have the cash flow to pay their mortgage, Schertzing said, and “if a situation isn’t working, you have to be open to the mid-course corrections necessary,” such as selling the house.

In September 2016, Nickless’s home went to a foreclosure sale again and sold for about $113,000. The six-month redemption period passed with Nickless unable to pull together the needed funds.

Nickless’s house currently is listed on the auction website hubzu.com for $176,000, and the family has until Monday to leave the home.

An uncertain future

Nickless’s situation has similarities to other homeowners featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” between 2003 to 2012.

The spokesperson for the show’s producers, Endemol USA, declined comment Wednesday when contacted by the State Journal. However, the company acknowledged in a Wall Street Journal article in 2010 there were issues with the larger-than-life homes and accompanying expenses, and said they had “scaled back.”

Schroeder said, as the general contractor, Mayberry Homes worked on the Holt home’s design with show producers who pushed a “certain size, certain scope.”

“It had to be ‘extreme,’” said Schroeder, who owns Mayberry Homes with her husband Bob.

Behind the scenes, she and her husband did everything they could to make the house manageable for Nickless, she said.

“It’s unfortunate that it has gotten to this point,” Schroeder said. “But I still say, you know what, when Lansing was asked to step up they did so with flying colors and I’m so proud of our community.”

Nickless had big dreams to give back to the community through the home.

She dreamed of using the home as a camp for kids who’d lost a parent. She wanted to build a memorial garden for her husband and a blessing garden for all of the volunteers who helped to build her home.

But those dreams were swallowed by the ongoing threat of foreclosure.

“I feel bad because so many people came together to help us,” she said. “I know I shouldn’t feel like I let them down, but I do.”

Nickless doesn’t know where she’s going, she said, or where she’ll store a lifetime of memories. She wanted to share her story in the hopes that it would effect change for others struggling with house payments.

“It breaks my heart to know there are families going through this every day,” she said.

Watch the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode featuring the Nickless family here:

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved

Article source: http://www.kvue.com/news/local/michigan-woman-loses-home-featured-on-extreme-makeover/443753188

Client seeks chapter 13 relief for mortgage default, credit cards Senior seeks chapter 7 for relief for 40K credit cards


“ If you are saddled with debt, now is the time to get them discharged.Better now than later.”

CLIENT is 48, married and has a good job paying him $100K gross a year. A family emergency has caused him some financial hardship because money meant to pay for the house and credit cards were used instead for medical expenses of his brother abroad. Brother is only 35 and single and lives abroad, waiting his turn to receive his visa to migrate here. Another 4 years to wait. Brother has a good job abroad working as representative in a call center. He makes about $700 a month. For a single person making $700 a month, and just waiting for his visa to come to the Promised Land, life can’t get much better. No responsibilities; enough money to spend; and good health. What else can a guy ask for? On weekends, he goes scuba diving about 40 miles off the capital. He says its very enjoyable because going under water with a lot of live corrals and fish to see is “like traveling to another planet”.

However, lately, brother noticed that his legs were getting “fatter.” The doctor says that his legs are starting to retain water because he has some kind of heart problem. Thoracic and cardiac surgery had to be performed immediately as otherwise his physical condition would rapidly deteriorate and he could very well die from cardiac arrest! Not cool. Brother had no medical insurance to pay for the surgery and medical expenses estimated at $20K. The family depends on client for financial help because at $100K gross a year, client does have the resources to help. And since he loves his younger brother, client sends the $20K by not paying his mortgage and using $10K of credit cards. So that’s done. The surgery is performed and brother has a new lease on life. Thanks be to our God Almighty, Yahweh, and His beloved son, Jesus Christ! Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to Him, “You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust.” He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. This is what Moses said in Psalm 91 so it is true. Moses was as close as a man could get to our God.

After the family emergency, client is now behind 3 mortgage payments, is faced with $20K of credit cards. He also owes $5K to the IRS for 2016. He has sent this month’s mortgage payment to the bank. But that payment has been returned to him with a notice that the bank will be sending him a notice of default with intent to foreclose soon if he does not send the bank 4 payment or $12K.

The best relief for this kind of financial situation is Chapter 13. Why? First, Chapter 13 will stop the foreclosure process upon filing. So client does not have to worry about losing his house to foreclosure. Second, client will be given 5 years to pay the default of $12K without interest. Third, he will also be given 5 years to pay the $20K of credit cards and the $5K of back taxes. So, Chapter 13 gives client a breathing time of 5 years to handle his mortgage default, his credit cards, and his back taxes. During all this time, client is immune from all collection efforts of creditors, including foreclosure of house, lawsuits, garnishment, and liens.

Second client is 74. Pretty much a senior but doesn’t look a day over 60. She is now a widow. Her husband predeceased her 5 years ago. Her single daughter lives with her and they help each other. Her income is still ok. She receives social security and a work related pension that gives her a combined gross of $2400 monthly. She still works full time as a caregiver and is paid $1800 gross monthly. So, she has $4200 monthly. Not too bad. The problem is that she owes $40K of credit cards. She needs $1500 to make minimum monthly payments on these cards, which she has kept for the last 10 years. To make a long story short, she has paid $180K on $40K of credit cards for the last 10 years but still owes today the same $40K. This is why Visa is a good stock to own. It makes tons of your money! As a result, everything that she makes from the full time job goes to pay her credit cards.

Chapter 7 will wipe out all of the $40K credit cards so she can start saving her net take home pay from her caregiving job. It’s about time. At 74, she certainly needs to be able to save all of the money she makes. She really should have filed for Chapter 7 ten years ago. If she did, then she would have $180K in the bank saved up today, wouldn’t she?

If you are saddled with debt, now is the time to get them discharged. Better now than later when you are about to retire. But if you have not yet gotten rid of your debts yet and you are now a senior, believe me, you need to get rid of your debts now that your income is less than half of what it was when you were younger.

If you need bankruptcy relief, please call my office for an appointment and I will analyze your case personally.

“THERE WILL BE NO MORE NIGHT. PEOPLE IN HEAVEN WILL NOT NEED THE LIGHT OF A LAMP OR THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, FOR THE LORD GOD WILL GIVE THEM LIGHT. AND THEY WILL REIGN FOREVER AND EVER. “ REVELATION 22:5

* * *

Lawrence Bautista Yang specializes in bankruptcy, business, real estate and civil litigation and has successfully represented more than five thousand clients in California.  Please call Angie, Barbara or Jess at (626) 284-1142 for an appointment at 1000 S. Fremont Ave, Mailstop 58, Building A-1 Suite 1125, Alhambra, CA 91803.

 

Article source: http://asianjournal.com/consumer/client-seeks-chapter-13-relief-for-mortgage-default-credit-cards-senior-seeks-chapter-7-for-relief-for-40k-credit-cards/

Home Foreclosure Attorney Provides Free Legal Advice to California …

Los Angeles, CA — (SBWIRE) — 05/23/2017 — When homeowners face foreclosure, a home foreclosure attorney can save their home and file bankruptcy or file a lawsuit. In California, one in every 2260 homeowners has faced home foreclosure as of April 2017 (RealtyTrac). While foreclosure rates in California have improved over the years, the threat of losing one’s home still exists. Fortunately, there are legal actions they can take to stop foreclosure.

Filing bankruptcy helps homeowners stop foreclosure fast. There are two types of bankruptcy homeowners commonly choose to stop foreclosure: chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. Homeowners need to talk to an experienced home foreclosure attorney to evaluate their situation before selecting which chapter to pursue.

In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, homeowners can wipe out all credit card and medical debt, but must be up to date on mortgage and car payments and must not have too much equity in the house. While homeowners can lose their property with this chapter, most do not. „The benefit of a chapter 7 is that at the end of the case, [homeowners] are discharged debt-free,” said Attorney Lauren Rode. However, there are some exceptions to this, such as student loans.

With a chapter 13 bankruptcy, homeowners can stop foreclosure immediately. The homeowner will then have 3-to-5 years to fully repay their missed mortgage payments [arrears]. An advantage of a chapter 13 is that homeowners do not have to fully repay their unsecured debt (credit card or medical bills).

While homeowners can stop foreclosure by filing bankruptcy, there are times when they face foreclosure due to their lenders’ wrongful practices. In these cases, homeowners can file a lawsuit against their lenders by hiring a home foreclosure attorney.

The California Homeowner Bill of Rights protects homeowners from wrongful practices by their lenders and encourages fair lending and borrowing practices. This means that mortgage lenders cannot deceive their borrowers such as „lying to [them] about putting a hold on [their] foreclosure while [they] are being checked for modification,” (Attorney Lauren Rode). If homeowners are being treated unfairly, a home foreclosure attorney can help file a lawsuit against their lenders.

Homeowners facing foreclosures should act quickly to save their home. Fortunately, they can stop foreclosures by filing a chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy or filing a lawsuit against their lender. By taking legal action, home foreclosure rates in California can continue to improve.

For free legal advice, California homeowners can call Consumer Action Law Group at 818-254-8413 to talk to a home foreclosure attorney for free.

About Consumer Action Law Group
Consumer Action Law Group is a law firm located in Los Angeles, California. Their bankruptcy lawyers have successfully stopped hundreds of foreclosures for Stockton, California residents. Individuals who live in Stockton, California can call Consumer Action Law Group for free stop foreclosure advice. Bankruptcy Attorneys at Consumer Action Law Group have stopped foreclosures for homeowners within 5 minutes. For a free meeting with a lawyer today, Call Consumer Action Law Group directly at 818-254-8413.

Article source: http://www.military-technologies.net/2017/05/23/home-foreclosure-attorney-provides-free-legal-advice-to-california-homeowners-who-are-facing-foreclosure/

House committee advances bill allowing mortgage refinance program for low-income families

House committee advances bill allowing mortgage refinance program for low-income families

Published on May 30, 2017 by Peninsula Reports

Legislation introduced by state Rep. Diana Farrington (R-Utica) that allows the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to establish a means for homeowners to avoid foreclosure advanced through the House Financial Services Committee last week.

“Programs like this are important in keeping families in stable, affordable housing, and if MSHDA can offer refinancing without using public tax dollars I don’t see why we should stand in the way,” Farrington said. “Refinancing often gives homeowners a lower interest rate, saving them money. For low-income families this savings might be the difference that prevents foreclosure or keeps them from falling into a need for state-funded assistance.”

Farrington noted that the legislature had temporarily allowed MSHDA to offer mortgage refinancing from 2008 to 2011, without use of state tax dollars to finance loans or operating expenses. Once again, MSHDA wishes to develop a new refinancing program using private funds, with the aim of supporting low and moderate-income families. Farrington’s bill would allow just that, with no obligation on the state to pick up the tab in the event of any MSHDA debt.

The bill now heads to the House floor for further consideration.

Article source: https://michiganpeninsulanews.com/news/4343-house-committee-advances-bill-allowing-mortgage-refinance-program-low-income-families/

Foreclosure attorney to announce AG bid

Ryan Torrens will formally announce his bid for Florida Attorney General on Thursday, making him the second candidate (and first Democrat) so far to officially campaign to replace Republican incumbent Pam Bondi, whose term expires next year.

Torrens, a 32-year-old Tampa attorney, opened a campaign account last week. Rep. Jay Fant, R-Jacksonville, formally launched his campaign earlier this month

Torrens specializes in foreclosure defense, representing homeowners facing mortgage claims and consumers battling abusive debt collectors. He often represents clients who run afoul of homeowner associations.

“Many of the association foreclosures in this state are nothing more than a scheme for the associations to take someone’s home over failure to pay very small fees and for their attorneys to hit homeowners with excessive attorney’s fees,” Torrens told the Times in March.

His campaign website describes Torrens as a fifth-generation Tampa native. Prior to starting his law practice in 2012, Torrens worked as an independent consultant on the federal government’s Independent Foreclosure Review, which was established to determine if eligible homeowners suffered financial injury because of processing errors or other problems with their foreclosures between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2010. Torrens reviewed toxic mortgage loans, where he gained an interest in consumer protection law.

Torrens will announce at 6:30 p.m. at the Wells Fargo at 15518 Dale Mabry Highway.

Why there?

“To show that he is running to be the people’s lawyer, and stand up to the big banks and special interests,” the Pinellas County Democratic Party states in an email invite to the event. “This will be a very exciting event and it will be marked as the day we all decided to come together to take our state back! Finally, we will have an Attorney General who will fight for our people!”

Article source: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/foreclosure-attorney-to-announce-ag-bid/2325600

Foreclosure drives Michigan woman from her reality TV home – FOX … – WSYM

HOLT, Mich. (AP) – A Michigan woman whose home was rebuilt on a reality TV show is being forced from her home by foreclosure.

Arlene Nickless of Holt must leave her home by Monday, eight months after it fell into foreclosure.

Nickless tells the Lansing State Journal that “I can’t believe this is happening.”

Designers with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” razed her old home and built the new 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom home in 2008 with the help of hundreds of volunteers following the death of Nickless’ husband, Tim.

The home features stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall, and a retractable flat-screen television.

Nickless says the home’s foreclosure resulted from an ongoing struggle to manage the property’s pre-makeover mortgage. The mortgage’s balance had ballooned to at least $113,000 by late 2016.

Article source: http://www.fox47news.com/news/local-news/foreclosure-drives-michigan-woman-from-her-reality-tv-home

Hard times hit Billionaire’s Row with luxury condo foreclosure


Paul Martinka

Billionaire’s Row is headed for its first foreclosure.

The dubious distinction is going to a stunning apartment on the 56th floor of 157 W. 57th Street — the city’s first “billionaire’s building,” which is home to the Big Apple’s only $100 million condo.

“This is the first high-end condo to go into foreclosure,” said Kashy Eyn, of Platinum Properties, who is listing the property with Cash Bernard.

A mystery buyer who shielded his identity behind an LLC, Central Park Immobilier, bought the unit for $21.4 million in 2015. It is now on the market for $22.5 million — where it has agonizingly lingered for the past 547 days, according to Streeteasy.com.

There is now a lien on the property for $20.9 million “plus interest and costs,” and a foreclosure auction is slated for June 14, according to Property Shark.

“We rarely see luxury condos up for auction, let alone in such an exclusive building as One57, home to the city’s most expensive condo ever sold,” a Property Shark spokesman said.

A source told The Post that there have been several offers on the unit, but the seller has rejected them “because they weren’t high enough.”

The four-bedroom, 4¹/₂- bathroom unit is 3,466 square feet with a windowed, eat-in kitchen and a Central Park-facing master suite.

Only about 30 residential properties in Manhattan have been slated for the first time to go to foreclosure auction during the first quarter of 2017, said Property Shark’s Nancy Jorisch.

One57 was funded by a subsidiary of an Abu Dhabi company linked to a $7 billion global money-laundering investigation, The Post revealed last year.

Article source: http://nypost.com/2017/05/30/hard-times-hit-billionaires-row-with-luxury-condo-foreclosure/

Holt woman loses home featured on Extreme Makeover

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Arlene Nickless, a Holt resident whose story was featured in a 2008 episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, describes how life changed after the death of her husband and the arrival of the television show.
Beth LeBlanc and Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal

HOLT — Nearly nine years after her home was rebuilt on national television, Arlene Nickless is turning in her keys.

The Holt resident must leave her Eifert Road home by Monday after years of struggling to manage the mortgage.

Designers with ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” — with the help of hundreds of volunteers — built the home in 2008 following the death of Tim Nickless, her husband of 18 years.

The home was foreclosed on in September, and has been up for online auction for weeks.

On Sunday, cardboard boxes were stacked on the dark hardwood floors once showcased in nationwide broadcasts. The 2009 Ford Flex gifted with the home sat in the driveway hooked to a moving trailer. And the overwhelming feeling a tearful Arlene Nickless had all those years ago took on a different tenor.

“When I stepped out of the house the day Extreme Makeover came, you will see me say ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’” she said. “And, truthfully, that’s what I feel right now: I can’t believe this is happening.”

Nickless is quick to defend the ABC show, whose lavish rebuilds have, in some cases, led to foreclosure because of increased property taxes and pricey utilities. She’s less complimentary of her mortgage servicer that is now being targeted by state regulators.

She said her home’s foreclosure resulted from an ongoing struggle to manage the property’s pre-makeover mortgage — a balance that rested at about $30,000 after the 2008 makeover, but had ballooned to at least $113,000 by the end of 2016.

A prayer answered

Crews from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” arrived at the Nickless family’s doorstep in September 2008, about nine months after Tim Nickless died.

A nurse at Ingham Regional Medical Center, Tim Nickless was believed to have contracted hepatitis C after being pricked with a patient’s contaminated needle. He battled the disease for seven years before his death in January 2008.

More than 1,600 volunteers from the Holt area joined the show’s crew to rebuild the Nickless family’s home, an 1860s farmhouse that had fallen into disrepair during Tim’s illness.

The old home was demolished, and after a five-day building period, Arlene Nickless and her three sons received a new 3,300-square-foot, four-bedroom home with stone columns, dark wood floors, an indoor water wall, and a retractable flat-screen television.

The home included a LEGO-themed room, another bedroom with blueprints covering the walls, and an airplane bed for Arlene’s youngest son.

The construction brought the community together in the midst of the economic downturn, said Karen Schroeder, vice president for East Lansing-based Mayberry Homes, the general contractor for the home.

“It was really at a time when everything was so solemn, so gray,” Schroeder said. “It kind of put a spark back in the Lansing area.”

Schroeder said, after the home makeover, state and banking officials were able to whittle the Nickless family’s mortgage from about $140,000 to $30,000, and lower the interest rate considerably.

But the home’s annual taxes more than tripled from 2008 to 2009, according to county records, from about $2,000 in 2008 to about $7,500 in 2009.

Those increased taxes and insurance costs would be paid for over the next several years through an escrow account in the home’s mortgage, bloating the Nickless family’s monthly mortgage payments.

Mortgage struggle

In 2010, Nickless was in a car crash that caused her to fall behind. By the end of 2010, the property went to a sheriff’s sale.

She filed paperwork to stop the foreclosure the morning of the sale and the sheriff deed was expunged, according to county records.

At that time, Nickless said, the mortgage lender offered to pay off the mortgage’s balance if she could come up with $15,000. Before she had a chance to gather the money, she said, her mortgage was acquired in 2011 by Ocwen Financial.

For the next several years, Nickless struggled with the loan.

She tried mortgage affordability programs but, in some cases, the home’s new equity disqualified her from those payment tracks. She tried to find answers from the mortgage company, but said she could rarely connect with someone who could speak English. She said she withheld mortgage payments because she didn’t know where she was sending her money.

“I was trying to find answers,” she said, and the information she found online about Ocwen wasn’t encouraging.

As recently as last month, the State of Michigan issued a cease and desist order prohibiting Ocwen Loan Servicing LLC from continued violations of state mortgage law. A press release from the state said Ocwen had a history of improper “servicing and handling of escrow accounts,” trouble keeping accurate records, and problems with properly crediting payments. 

Ocwen called the claims “unfounded,” but added the company continues to work with state regulators.

Since 2008, the company has provided Michigan borrowers about 21,000 loan modifications, about 39% of which included principal forgiveness totaling about $317 million, Ocwen spokesman John Lovallo said in an email. 

Since Ocwen began servicing Nickless’s loan in 2011, she has made no mortgage payments, Lovallo said, yet Ocwen has continued to pay all taxes and insurance on her home, which is valued today at more than $275,000.

The company offered Nickless a modification in 2014, but she said the payments of about $1,650 a month would have been too high and due too soon.

Lovallo spoke to the State Journal about the loan after obtaining permission from Nickless. 

Lovallo said Ocwen empathizes with any homeowner facing foreclosure, and “is committed to working with distressed borrowers to find the right solution to allow them to keep their homes.”

Eric Schertzing, Ingham County treasurer, said state and non-profit mortgage manageability programs exist, but those programs can only do so much.

No program can help someone who doesn’t have the cash flow to pay their mortgage, Schertzing said, and “if a situation isn’t working, you have to be open to the mid-course corrections necessary,” such as selling the house.

In September 2016, Nickless’s home went to a foreclosure sale again and sold for about $113,000. The six-month redemption period passed with Nickless unable to pull together the needed funds.

Nickless’s house currently is listed on the auction website hubzu.com for $176,000, and the family has until Monday to leave the home.


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Mom Arlene Nickless, left; and sons Noah, 9; Andrew, 7; and Aaron, 11, wave to the crowd as host Ty Pennington gets ready to lead them up to their new house Oct. 3, 2008, in Holt, Mich., at the end of ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” 
Rod Sanford, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal
Arlene Nickless, center, of Holt, Mich., and her three boys, Andrew, 7; Aaron, 11; and Noah, 9, talk to the media Oct. 4, 2008, about the experience of being featured on ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” 
Robert Killips, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal
Darlene Eherenman of Warsaw, Ind., left, helps her twin sister, Arlene Nickless, pack May 21, 2017. Nickless and her family have to be out of their Holt, Mich., home by May 29, 2017, because of a foreclosure. The home was built for them in October 2008 as part of ABC-TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” 
Matthew Dae Smith, Lansing (Mich.) State Journal

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An uncertain future

Nickless’s situation has similarities to other homeowners featured on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” between 2003 to 2012. 

The spokesperson for the show’s producers, Endemol USA, declined comment Wednesday when contacted by the State Journal. However, the company acknowledged in a Wall Street Journal article in 2010 there were issues with the larger-than-life homes and accompanying expenses, and said they had “scaled back.”

Schroeder said, as the general contractor, Mayberry Homes worked on the Holt home’s design with show producers who pushed a ”certain size, certain scope.”

“It had to be ‘extreme,’” said Schroeder, who owns Mayberry Homes with her husband Bob. 

Behind the scenes, she and her husband did everything they could to make the house manageable for Nickless, she said.

“It’s unfortunate that it has gotten to this point,” Schroeder said. “But I still say, you know what, when Lansing was asked to step up they did so with flying colors and I’m so proud of our community.”

Nickless had big dreams to give back to the community through the home.

She dreamed of using the home as a camp for kids who’d lost a parent. She wanted to build a memorial garden for her husband and a blessing garden for all of the volunteers who helped to build her home.

But those dreams were swallowed by the ongoing threat of foreclosure.

“I feel bad because so many people came together to help us,” she said. “I know I shouldn’t feel like I let them down, but I do.”

Nickless doesn’t know where she’s going, she said, or where she’ll store a lifetime of memories. She wanted to share her story in the hopes that it would effect change for others struggling with house payments.

“It breaks my heart to know there are families going through this every day,” she said.

Contact Reporter Beth LeBlanc at 517-377-1167 or eleblanc@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @LSJBethLeBlanc.

Watch the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” episode featuring the Nickless family here:

 

Article source: http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/news/2017/05/25/bank-forecloses-holts-extreme-makeover-homeowner/331214001/

From Foreclosure to Eviction: One Family’s Struggle to Recover

When Vanessa and Richard Bulnes got an eviction notice, it felt ironic. The Bulneses were unable to pay the rent, because their corporate landlord took three years to remediate high levels of lead in the backyard soil, which caused Vanessa to lose her business, a family home child care that she had run for more than 20 years.

“There were nights where I would wake up and think, we’re squatters. And we felt really bad about that because it was never our intention to not pay rent,” Vanessa said. “Because after you lose a house for not paying your mortgage, we knew that’s not the way to go. This was like a second chance. We didn’t want to be at the mercy of somebody saying, ‘You gotta get out’ again.”

It was the latest in a string of injustices that happened to the Bulnes family: first, loan modification fraud, then foreclosure, now the threat of eviction. Their story is emblematic of a bigger problem: the disproportionate loss of African-American and Latino wealth during the foreclosure crisis and the obstacles to build up that wealth again. Between 2007 and 2013, so many African-American and Latino homeowners in Oakland were wiped out by foreclosure that entire neighborhoods were transformed. Many of the homes that were lost ended up in the hands of corporate investors, who then rented them out, sometimes to the same families who had lost their own homes. And that put those families, like the Bulneses, at risk of much more loss.


http://www.kqed.org/.stream/anon/radio/RDnews/2017/05/StavelyBulnesPart1.mp3

Richard and Vanessa met at church in Oakland. Richard is Latino and grew up in San Francisco. Vanessa is African-American and grew up in North Carolina. They bought their house on 104th Avenue in 1992, shortly after they got married. It cost $141,500, and Richard’s sister was kind enough to give them the money for a $20,000 down payment.

For them, this house is where they became a family. It’s where they brought their third baby, a daughter, home from the hospital. It’s where they took prom photos of their kids and all their friends when they were in high school. It was also where Vanessa started her own child care business, planting collard greens in the backyard with the kids in her care.

Their financial troubles all started one morning in 2008. Richard woke up early, as he likes to, took a shower and began to comb his hair.

“I pride myself on my hair, because so many people are bald-headed now, especially at my age. But I am not,” said Richard, with a wry smile. “[But] as I tried to comb my hair, I couldn’t lift up my right arm. I came in the bedroom, woke up my wife and told her, ‘I think you need to take me to the hospital.’”

Losing a home often begins this way: a family hits a hard spot, a health crisis or a loss of income. At the time of the stroke, Richard was working at Meals on Wheels. The family lost about $2,000 a month in income, about the same amount as their mortgage payment at the time, which had ballooned after they refinanced. They still had Vanessa’s income from her child care business, but they decided their best option was to try to modify their loan.

Vanessa strokes Richard Bulnes’ hair as he declares that he is still in love with her after 29 years. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The Bulneses, though, were caught up in a bigger web. Oakland and other cities across the country are now suing big banks for targeting African-American and Latino homeowners with loans that had abusive rates. At the same time, many banks weren’t playing fair to help homeowners modify their loans.

“It seemed like at every point, when we got to where we thought we were going to get a modification, they needed another piece of paperwork, they needed another bank statement,” Vanessa said. “There was always something else they needed, and when we gave them that, ‘Oh we lost that, could you send something else?’”

What Vanessa describes sounds really familiar to Maeve Elise Brown, director of the statewide organization Housing and Economic Rights Advocates. In 2009, President Obama had introduced the Home Affordable Modification Program to help struggling homeowners modify their loans, but homeowner advocates, researchers and news organizations like ProPublica found that banks often broke the rules.

“Mortgage servicers were telling people to turn in paperwork over and over and over again. They weren’t looking at it, they would shred it. They would deny people instantly,” Brown said. “Now not everyone qualified, but a whole bunch of people could, but were prevented from accessing that relief by the mortgage servicing companies.”

Latino and African-American neighborhoods, like the Bulneses, were hit the hardest by the foreclosure crisis. These are the same neighborhoods that were redlined decades ago, with residents denied for mortgages simply because of where they lived. Across the country, African-American and Latino neighborhoods lost three to four times more homes than white neighborhoods during the recent mortgage crisis, according to Cornell University research. On the Bulnes’ six-block street alone, at least 35 properties were foreclosed between January 2006 and December 2012, according to the website PropertyRadar, which tracks foreclosures.

Richard Bulnes chokes up on stage after talking with Bishop J.W. Macklin about his hospital visits. Vanessa Bulnes comforts him at the Sunday morning service at Glad Tidings Church in Hayward. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

“Our neighbors right next to us, they both work for AC Transit, and we saw them lose their house. So we started praying harder. Then we saw the neighbor next door to us on the other side lose their house,” Vanessa said.

Foreclosure seemed almost like a virus Vanessa and Richard Bulnes could catch. They decided to pay an attorney to help them. Other companies began circling them. Vanessa called them vultures.

“We would get all kinds of letters in the mail saying, ‘Call this number,’ and you’d call that number, and they’d say, ‘Are you behind on your mortgage?’, and we’d say, ‘No,’ and they’d say, ‘We can help you. The first thing you do is stop paying your mortgage,’” Vanessa said.

Vanessa was skeptical. But one letter from “The Gordon Law Firm” had a logo that looked like it was from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. On this firm’s advice they stopped paying their mortgage. But the firm was lying. They weren’t HUD, and they couldn’t modify Vanessa and Richard’s loan. Years later, through a class-action lawsuit, the Bulneses won $3,500 back, but that’s just a fraction of the wealth they lost.

In September 2012, the foreclosure was final. The house Vanessa and Richard owned on 104th Avenue was no longer theirs.

“I cried like a baby,” said Richard, remembering when he and his wife lost their home to foreclosure. “A grown man, crying like a baby. We had lived here 21 years. I raised 3 kids here. So, this is what we knew.”

Vanessa knew they had to find a place by Christmas, so her daughter would have a place to come home to during winter break from her freshman year at college, and so the kids at her day care could transition easily while school was out.

“My wife, because she’s so practical, she said, ‘Babe, you gotta wipe the tears out of your eyes,’” Richard remembered. “I said, ‘Man, I ain’t finished crying yet.’ She said, ‘Well, whether you’re finished or not, we got to find another house.’”

Many families who lost their homes were forced out of Oakland, but Vanessa and Richard Bulnes were able to find a new place to rent. What they didn’t know is that they were now at risk of losing a lot more.

Renting from a Wall Street Landlord

Vanessa and Richard were paying more to rent their new house than they had been paying on their mortgage before their first home was lost to foreclosure, but in many ways, the rental was perfect. It only had one level, so Richard didn’t have too many steps to climb, which is hard after his stroke. And the house was spacious, with lots of room for Vanessa’s daycare, Tender Arms Family Child Care. She had a contract with Head Start to care for low-income children.

Vanessa wanted to plant greens with the kids in the backyard as she had at her old home, so in the fall she called a group to come out and test the soil. That’s when she ran into a big problem: The level of lead in the soil was 1,350 parts per million, right in the area that the kids used for the playground.

Vanessa and Richard Bulnes sit on the couch of their rental home looking through an old photo album reminiscing about the past. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The amount of lead in the Bulnes’ backyard was more than three times the amount the federal Environmental Protection Agency considers a hazard in play areas, and almost 17 times the amount California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment considers a health risk.

When Vanessa got the lead results back, she called Head Start immediately, and they came out and put a temporary rubber cover on part of the patio. But they emphasized a permanent solution had to be found if she wanted to keep her contract. Alameda County has a financial assistance program to help low-income residents remove or fix lead problems, with priority for family child care providers like Vanessa. If Vanessa had still lived in a home she owned, she would have had it done right away. But now, she was renting.

“Because we’re not the owners, we couldn’t apply to have the work done, we needed the owners to give us consent, and that’s where we didn’t get any cooperation with the property owner,” Vanessa said.

The owner of the Bulnes’ new home wasn’t just any landlord. It was a corporation: Waypoint Homes. It merged in 2016 with another top real-estate investor, Colony American Homes, to become Colony Starwood Homes. Co-chairman of the board, Thomas Barrack, is a billionaire who helped raise $35 million for President Trump’s campaign and chaired his inaugural committee. The company owns more than 30,000 single-family homes across the country and close to 4,000 in California. On the company website, Colony Starwood boasts, “We recognized the unique opportunity created by the housing crisis and acted upon it in a bold way.”

The Urban Strategies Council found that in Oakland, 42 percent of foreclosed homes between 2007 and 2011 were snapped up by corporate investors.

In Oakland, corporate takeover of homes happened mostly in low-income neighborhoods, essentially shifting ownership from the hands of largely Latino and African-American residents to the hands of Wall Street corporations. Latino and African-American buyers are still largely locked out of home loans in the city. One report found that in 2013, the top 12 lenders financed only four homes for African-American buyers and only seven for Latino buyers, compared with 40 for white buyers.

Not only did investors snap up homes. They also decided to keep them and make money off of them by renting them out. Since single-family homes are exempt from limits on rent increases under California’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, for the most part, property owners could charge higher rents for them. It was a new money-making venture.

Vanessa and Richard Bulnes had lead in the backyard of their new rental house. In order to have a day care out of their home they placed this turf down, but they needed the property owner to do more in order to keep their business. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

A 2015 survey conducted by the group Tenants Together found that 40 percent of Californians renting from the top three Wall Street real estate investors reported that these landlords weren’t repairing or maintaining homes as they should. The three companies included both Waypoint Homes and Colony American Homes. Now, Vanessa Bulnes had to rely on them to get the lead fixed, so she could keep her contract with Head Start.

“So I’m on the phone, my husband and I, we’re calling Waypoint, and emails and everything like that,” Vanessa said. “Here we are, the clock is ticking. I’m like OK, I’m taking pictures, this is the area, this is how big it is, this is what we need you to have done.”

Vanessa first contacted Waypoint in 2013, when the lead was found. But she says property managers came and went, and each time she had to start the process again. In June 2016, almost three years after the lead had been found, Head Start told Vanessa they couldn’t renew for the next school year if the lead wasn’t fixed by September.

“And I’m like, ‘OK, this is affecting my income.’ I give all these red flags about what’s going to happen if nothing is done. Still no urgency on their part,” Vanessa said.

In one email in August 2016, a regional manager for Waypoint Homes wrote simply, “Unfortunately, we are not in a position to work with this program at this time.”

It wasn’t until November that someone from Waypoint Homes finally came to walk through the property with someone from Alameda County. When questioned why it took the company so long to fix the lead problem, a spokesperson did not respond, instead stating that the company finished the work on Nov. 28, 2016.

By that time, three years after Vanessa’s initial request, it was too late. The school year had already begun, and Head Start had canceled her contract. The family’s main source of income, which had gotten them through the stroke and the foreclosure, was gone. They had to apply for assistance for food, and Vanessa had to change her health insurance from Covered California to Medi-Cal. They began to fall behind on their rent.

Even before they started working on the lead remediation, Colony Starwood Homes had already begun trying to evict the Bulneses.

The Ripple Effect

It would take a protest at the headquarters of Thomas Barrack’s real estate investment company Colony NorthStar in Los Angeles, organized by the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, legal help, and financial support from their church for the Bulneses to finally get their corporate landlord to back off. In January, Colony Starwood Homes agreed to cancel the eviction, plus four months of back rent. Vanessa now has a job at an outside day care and is trying to make due off her hourly salary of $17. She says that amounts to about a third of what she brought in when she had her own child care business at home. She can pay the rent, but she says she’s behind on other bills.

Vanessa Bulnes hangs a “Welcome” sign on the door of their rental house. It’s the same sign she used to have up when the children arrived for day care. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Their precarious situation could now affect their children’s financial future. When you don’t own a home and are one step away from eviction, you’re a lot farther behind people who can help their children with a down payment or pay for college. In fact, there’s data that shows that black college graduates have actually lost wealth over the past generation, while white college graduates’ wealth has grown.

The Bulnes’ youngest daughter is about to graduate from a historically black college in Texas. Vanessa says her daughter has had to call on other relatives and friends from church to help out when she needs money at school. Still, she says, there are other lessons she’s passing on to her daughter.

“When she has a day that’s trying and she thinks she can’t make it, she’ll text me, and she’s like, ‘Mom, this is so hard,’ and she’s really down and sorry for herself. I’m like, ‘But think about your mom, what you’ve seen me go through, what you’ve seen us go through. You came from me,’” Vanessa said. “Those are the kinds of things we’re passing on to our kids. It may not be money. It may not be a house. But there’s so much more that we want to pass on.”

Some of that is financial advice, learned the hard way. And then there’s this: Vanessa is now an active community organizer, helping other Oaklanders try to fight off their landlords and stay in their homes.

Article source: https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/05/30/from-foreclosure-to-eviction-one-familys-struggle-to-recover/

After complaints, Fannie Mae will stop selling homes to Vision Property

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Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/23/business/dealbook/after-complaints-fannie-mae-will-stop-selling-homes-to-vision-property.html