Bank's errors leave Buckley family living in limbo, fearing eviction

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 3, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 7:18 AM

It's not a fancy house, and at 1,700 square feet, it's certainly not a big one.  But from the moment they saw it, the yellow house in Buckley captured Mike and Jamie Vos's heart. 

"It was our first home, our first real home.  It was amazing," said Jamie Vos. 

Fifteen-year-old Cameron has his own bedroom and a place to practice the music he writes for the guitar.

Cameron's 9-year-old sister, Autumn, has her own room too, where she practices piano on a keyboard.

Mike and Jaimie have what they've always wanted. For Mike, that's a garage for his projects. For Jamie, it's a roomy kitchen.

The Vos's bought the house in the spring of 2008 for $267,000 and religiously made their monthly payments. But in early 2009, Mike Vos saw trouble coming. He said that his work pouring cement was drying up, a casualty of the slumping construction business.

"We knew that times were coming, we would need to adjust our lifestyle, so we said, 'Let's do the biggest payment we have -- the house,'" Mike Vos said. 

The Vos's applied for a loan modification with their mortgage holder, Bank of America. In September 2009, it was turned down.  The Vos's say they were told they made too much money and thus were not considered to be in financial distress.

Then Mike Vos lost his job. So the Vos's decided to take some advice that, they say, came straight from the bank.

"The lady I talked to (with bank of America) said she couldn't legally tell us not to make payments. She said they couldn't help us unless we were three months behind," said Jamie Vos.

The Vos's stopped making payments and re-applied for a loan modification. 

"Then it got impossible. I would send in the paperwork. They would say they never got it," said Jamie Vos. "I would spend hours on the phone with them; they would say I never called them."

The Vos's loan modification may have been stalled, but something else was happening fast. The bank was preparing to foreclose on their home.

The Vos's hired a lawyer. But on June 3, 2010, Bank of America denied their loan modification. On the very next day -- on June 4 -- the bank sold their house.  It happened to be the Vos's wedding anniversary.

"I didn't understand it," said Mike Vos. "It was really disappointing."

The Vos's pleaded with the bank to undo the foreclosure, noting that Mike had a new job and they could make their payments. A month later, the Vos's got the news they had been praying for from Bank of America -- in writing in an e-mail marked "urgent."

The e-mail read: "The sale was rescinded." They had their home back. "We never planned on moving," Jamie Vos said.

But four days later, a stranger showed up at their house with a gun and an eviction notice.

Jamie Vos said she was "panicking, at first. I was in tears; I was terrified ... I honestly didn't know where we were going to go."

Then it got really confusing. No one at Bank of America seemed to know what was happening.

The Vos's said the bank started asking them if the foreclosure had been rescinded. 

"The bank who was supposed to have done it, didn't know if they did it, so they contacted my attorneys to see if they had done it," said Jamie Vos.

The confusion dragged on through 2011 and into 2012, leaving the Vos's living in limbo. 

Mike Vos was frustrated. "Get your act together, you know. You're Bank of America, you should help. I'm an American. Help me," he said.

In March, the man with the gun came back. "With another eviction notice; you got 20 days, 30 days or so to leave," Mike vos said, describing the man's message.

Then in April, the bank notified the Vos's that the foreclosure had not been rescinded after all. 

"Basically, they just pushed us down and kicked us while we were down and just kept doing it," Mike Vos said.

After three years of fighting, the Vos's told their kids to get ready to pack up their rooms; another family might soon be living in their dream house.

But now the Vos's have new hope. After the KING 5 Investigators contacted Bank of America, the eviction was put on hold and the case bumped up to the Office of the CEO and President.

Rick Simon, spokesman for Bank of America Home Loans, said the bank would not provide anyone for an on-camera interview.  Simon sent KING 5 a statement in which he apologized for how the case was handled and said it's still unclear why the Vos's foreclosure was not reversed in June 2010 when it was approved.

Thousands of people in Washington are in trouble with their mortgages, and Bank of America ranks No. 1 for complaints about loan servicing, according to the Washington State Office of the Attorney General.  Since July 2011, the AG's Office reports it has received 256 complaints about Bank of America's servicing of home mortgages. That's more than the total for Wells Fargo and Chase banks combined (see related charts below).

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