SHAWNEE, OKLA – Michael and Paula Choate are terrified of losing their home.
“This is not loss,” Michael said. “This is back door acquisition of my home.”
The couple says they were forced into foreclosure after missing just one mortgage payment.
First Paula lost her job, then a tornado nearly wiped out their home, prompting the couple, who had never missed a payment, to ask Bank of America for a loan modification.
“I explained to her the story, the power just came on, we’re scrambling,” Paula said. “And she said the only way I could get any help, I had to be 30 days late. I said okay, fine.
That was a big mistake. The bank started the foreclosure process.
Paula and husband, Michael, immediately tried bringing their mortgage current, but say Bank of America wouldn’t accept their money.
They also claim the bank kept their insurance check that was supposed to be used to fix their tornado and hail damaged home.
“It was cashed by the bank, Bank of America out of California,” Paula said. “That I do know. That’s all I know.”
Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General, Julie Bays, said, “[The problem is] the bank isn’t under any contractual or legal obligation to help you keep your home.”
Bays heads up the AG’s consumer protection unit.
She attributes the foreclosure crisis to Wall Street greed, poor financial decisions by consumers and a lack of government regulation.
In the Choate’s case, their loan had been sold and resold to nearly a dozen different mortgage companies.
“I don’t know how you can stop that,” Bays said. “They’re allowed to transfer those mortgages from [the] first mortgage. “It probably said in the hundreds of pages you signed that they can transfer and assign this loan out to someone else.”
Meanwhile, the Choates, whose son recently did a tour in Afghanistan, might not have a house to come home to for the holidays.
Bank of America was recently granted judgment against the Choates, meaning the family’s home could end up on the foreclosure auction block any day now, again, all over one missed payment.
“I’m at the point right now. I won’t give up,” Paula said. “I’m not going to walk away. They’re going [to] have to drag my a** out of here if they want my house.”
Not to mention the couple’s credit is shot, plus they’re out the equity and the down payment on the home.
A Bank of America spokesperson says they offered the family a loan modification last year, but the family turned it down. The bank also claims the insurance money was used to pay the contractor who made repairs on the home.