Consumer lawyers in Western Washington say they are seeing increasing instances of banks failing to honor home loan modifications.
“It scared the heck out of me. I pretty much lost it because I thought I was going to lose everything,” said Adella King of Enumclaw.
King says her home of 20 years was foreclosed upon after her bank denied that she had been granted a modification.
King says Bank of America gave her the loan modification – a reduction in her monthly payment – in 2013 after her husband’s death. But later that year, she says, BOA sold the loan to Green Tree Loan Servicing.
“(Green Tree) said they had received the documents but that there was no record of a loan modification,” said King.
After weeks of negotiation, King came home one day to find a foreclosure notice tacked up on her front door.
“They never once told me that my home was in foreclosure or my loan was in default. They just took my money, and then sold (the house) at auction,” King said.
King’s case isn’t unique.
Last year Green Tree, now known as Ditech, settled with federal regulators over complaints that it “failed to honor loan modification agreements between consumers and their prior servicers,” among other charges.
Green Tree admitted no wrongdoing, but it paid $63 million in fines.
Even with that settlement, King says she was forced to hire an attorney to take her case to court.
Her attorney, Ha Dao, says she is aware of about a half dozen similar cases that have been filed in courts in Washington state. She says those cases involve people who aren’t benefiting from the changes Green Tree promised when it settled with the federal government.
“Federal regulators are seeing it. They’re doing something about it, but individual borrowers like Adella are still struggling,” Dao told KING 5.
Dao says Bank of America sold the servicing rights to 650,000 home loans to Green Tree in January 2013. She suspects there are many more homeowners who have had problems similar to King’s, but don’t have the means to hire an attorney.
King’s lawsuit names Green Tree and Bank of America as defendants.
Green Tree did not respond to requests to discuss her case.
Bank of America spokesperson Rick Simon denied that King had a loan modification in effect when her loan was transferred to Green Tree.
King’s loan “was not in active modification, or in active modification review” at the time of the transfer, Simon said. He said her modification had been canceled beforehand, but he wouldn’t say why because of “privacy concerns.”
King remains in her house while her case goes to trial in federal court in Seattle.
Green Tree now says she’s $55,000 behind in her payments.
Find Federal Trade Commission details on Green Tree’s settlement with federal government here.
Follow Chris Ingalls on Twitter: @CJIngalls