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Jim Ross column: Mystery stems from mortgage foreclosure

LaDonna Lowery is worried about losing her home

LaDonna Lowery is afraid. Before long, she might lose her house and be thrown out on the street.

The note holder on a 2006 mortgage has foreclosed. Lowery, age 73, has no lawyer and, she suspects, no chance of winning in court. If she loses the case, then she loses the house.

“We’re working on it hard,” she said. “If they win, I have nowhere to go.”

The house is at 21 SE 19th St., Ocala. If you walked behind the McDonald’s on South Pine Avenue you would see it, just beyond the Ocala Worship Center. When I visited recently, I realized I had driven past it countless times while taking the back route to and from Pine.

The house has been Lowery’s home since she was a teenager, and she can’t bear the thought of losing it. Her fear led her to my office, where I agreed to look into the matter.

What ensued was a long slog through the official records section of the court clerk’s office. I found some things that were a shock to Lowery.

In May 2006, Lowery’s mother, Ruth R. Virgil, took a $53,000 loan from Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Aegis Lending Corp. The annual interest rate was 7.775 percent. Monthly payments of $359.60 were due for 30 years. The house was security on the loan.

At that time, Vigil also executed a quit-claim deed to Lowery, giving her the house. All this information comes from documents that are on file with the court clerk’s office and/or attached to the foreclosure lawsuit.

Virgil took the loan to catch up on some bills, buy a car, and finance a trip to Arizona to see one of her children, who was serving in the military out there, Lowery recalled.

Virgil died in 2013.

In February 2016, Aegis assigned the mortgage to Deutsche Bank National Trust Company, serving as trustee for Soundview Home Loan Trust 2006-3, Asset-Backed Certificates, Series 2006-3, according to property records on file with the court clerk.

At the same time, Lowery received a warn letter saying she was $1,096.80 behind. Lowery said that was resolved.

But by November 2016 she was back in trouble again and couldn’t make payments. By that time the monthly payment had increased to $523.15 to cover home insurance. When Virgil died, Allstate dropped its coverage. The note holder arranged new insurance coverage — hence the hike in monthly payment.

Lowery said the loan servicing company was brutal, calling dozens and dozens of times and demanding to speak to Virgil. When told she was dead, they refused to work with Lowery.

On March 31, the new note holder (Deutsche, as trustee for Soundview) filed a foreclosure action, alleging that Lowery hadn’t paid on the loan since October. The bank said it is due $49,331.81 in principal, plus interest, costs and fees.

Lowery has a check for $3,845, plus $100 in cash, that she is ready to hand over. That wouldn’t bring her up to date, but it would come close. A court hearing is set for July 31; maybe something can be worked out there. I called the lawyers representing the note holder but did not hear back from them.

“They want the property…it’s heartbreaking,” said Lowery’s son, Chris.

“It just sends me to tears,” Lowery said.

The house, built in 1953, is valued at $32,363 for tax purposes, according to the Property Appraiser’s Office. The original mortgages were paid off in the mid-1980s.

How did the situation come to this?

Why did Virgil, who was in her 80s at the time, take a 30-year, $53,000 loan in February 2006? I don’t know what the home’s value was then, but if it’s $32,000 now, how much could it have been then?

For that matter, why would someone give her such a loan? I tried retracing steps to find Aegis, but only hit dead ends. Lowery said a man came from the Orlando area to make the loan arrangements.

The public records on file with the court clerk provide a trail — and some surprises.

In May 1998, Virgil took a small mortgage ($3,500) to help a granddaughter. The loan was satisfied in November 2001. Lowery said she was familiar with that loan and the circumstances behind it.

Lowery said she knows nothing about two other loans, however.

Virgil took a mortgage ($22,828 with Citifinancial Equity Services) in May 2003 and satisfied it in January 2005.

She took another mortgage in December 2004 ($38,500 with America’s Moneyline, Inc.) and satisfied it in July 2006 — five months after taking the $53,000 loan that is in arrears today.

Lowery said her mother never discussed those loans. In hindsight, it seems she took one loan in 2003, but then needed more money. So she took another in 2004, and used part of the proceeds to pay off the first.

Then, in 2006, she took an even bigger loan. She used the proceeds to pay off the second mortgage.

When she died, her family collected only $500 in life insurance. She left no savings. Maybe Virgil thought her daughter, who is on a fixed income, would be able to handle the monthly payments.

What did Virgil use the money for? Lowery doesn’t know. It certainly wasn’t for luxuries, she said.

Regardless of what Virgil set in motion, Lowery is the one who is dealing with it today.

She wants to stay in her home and is confident that she can make good on the loan if given a chance. I hope she gets that chance. That would be a surprise — the good kind, for a change.

Contact Jim Ross at 671-6412 or jim.ross@starbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @jimrossOSB

 

Article source: http://www.ocala.com/news/20170716/jim-ross-column-mystery-stems-from-mortgage-foreclosure

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