By WINK News
Story Created: Feb 11, 2010 at 4:33 PM EST
Story Updated: Feb 11, 2010 at 6:33 PM EST
LEE COUNTY, Fla- In the middle of the multi-billion dollar foreclosure crisis, there’s a southwest Florida family that could lose their house over a 40 cent mistake.
According to the homeowner, that mistake was his lender’s fault.
“I’m fearful to send them more money,” said the homeowner, who is also afraid of losing his job for talking about the situation publicly.
“Mark” said he modified his mortgage to match his lower income after a layoff and thought everything would be alright, until his lender took an automatic payment incorrectly.
“They posted it 40 cents short … three weeks later we get a letter saying you’ve missed your payment so you’re out,” said “Mark”.
For three weeks, “Mark” called his lender time and time again trying to resolve the problem.
“They said, ‘no problem we assure you everything will get fixed’. Just make the 40 cent payment to make it even.”
But the problem did not get fixed and “Mark” had to seek the help of foreclosure attorney Carmen Dellutri.
“The extraordinary thing about this case is that the bank made a mistake. They acknowledged it and yet they wouldn’t fix the problem,” said Dellutri, who said he’s never heard of someone almost losing a house over less than the cost of a soda.
Dellutri said his phones are ringing off the hook with homeowners just like “Mark” who think they’ve resolved their mortgage issues.
“This gentleman contacted me with a situation that I hear about 5 times a week. The banks and mortgage companies will not work with individuals and they renig on the deal,” said Dellutri.
Like many homeowners, “Mark” was forced to default on his mortgage payments to get his lender to even start the modification discussion.
For two years, WINK News has been uncovering stories of homeowners that say the same thing.
Last March, we met Janice Bass who said she was in financial trouble but doing everything she could to keep up with her payments. The Fort Myers resident said she couldn’t get her lender to work out a modification with her until she stopped paying altogether. By July, she had stopped paying and was working out a modification but when we checked back in October she still hadn’t heard anything from her lender.
The Making Homes Affordable Act was supposed to save seven to nine million homes, as of February 1, 2010 it’s saved about 850-thousand.
“We had a breakthrough oppurtunity in December and January,” said Alvina McHale, the communications and marketing director for the United States Treasury Department.
McHale said the Treasury knows there are a lot of problems with the act, so they are making changes.
They are going town to town to get troubled borrowers face to face with their mortgage lenders, streamlining paperwork to get people from temporary to permanent lenders and creating new rules for lenders.
Those new rules require lenders to acknowelege applications made through the treasury department within ten days, and make a decision within 30.
“If people don’t get an answer from their lender, they call our hotline, ask for the MHA desk and we will work with the lender to get an answer,” said McHale.