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Faced with foreclosure for paying her mortgage early

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis August 26, 2011 08:01 AM

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Can the nation's big banks get any more incompetent in how they handle individual foreclosures?

A popular mistake seems to be foreclosing on the wrong home and then only offering a grudging apology later - of course not until after having thrown some innocent homeowner's possessions onto the sidewalk and locking everything up tighter than Fort Knox.

It's a hard act to top, but Bank of America appears to have succeeded in the case of a 70-year-old woman in Florida.

Underwater on her $133,000 New Port Richey home and nursing a bedridden husband, Sharon Bullington found herself in a financial jam as medical bills began to pile up.

But she thought she had staved off foreclosure after working out a loan modification deal with BofA, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

That was until she paid her mortgage a week early. That's right, Mrs. Bullington made her January payment on Dec. 23, the Times reports.

And that turns out to have been a big mistake.

By February, the bank was no longer accepting her mortgage payments and had begun foreclosure proceedings.

An appeal to the bank's chief executive elicited this particularly boneheaded reply, according to the account in the Florida paper.

In fact, why don't I just quote directly from the story.

One of Moynihan's aides, Ana Olivera, told Bullington the foreclosure could not be stopped. She wrote in a two-page letter that the payment due on Jan. 1, 2011, had been made in December.

"In accordance with the Trial Payment Letter dated December 15, 2010, it indicates that if you are not able to make each payment in the month in which it is due, you will not be eligible for a modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program," the letter said.

Olivera told Bullington she could avoid a foreclosure by selling the home in a short sale or by signing it over to the bank. The letter said the bank values Bullington's business and strives to provide exceptional customer service.

"I understand that you may be disappointed with our final resolution and appreciate the opportunity to clarify this matter," Olivera wrote. "While this may not be the response you were hoping for, I trust I have addressed your concerns."

Reading on, the bank, after being contacted by a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, told the paper that it is now going to "re-review" the case.

Now that's customer service!

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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