Foreclosure crisis hits Esrati.

Last year sucked. But, without going into the details, of why- I’ll walk you through how the banks are working to actively screw people.

10 years ago, I went to US Bank and got a 15 year loan against my house to refinance some business debt. My ad agency is a sole proprietorship, and banks wanted collateral. Promising a loan at 6.25% I worked out a deal with US Bank. They delayed with appraisals etc- and on signing day, said sorry- it’s 7.125% I’d already made plans, was acquiring equipment etc, and didn’t have time to go through arguing. I signed the note.

They immediately sold it off. If memory serves right- to Greenpoint. Then about 5 years ago, it went to Countrywide, then Bank of America, then to IBM and finally to Seterus.Each time it was sold, someone made some money. Somewhere in the Contrywide/BOA day- I tried to get an adjustment to 4%. They told me that even though I was always on time making the payment at 7.125% I couldn’t make enough to pay it at 4%- uh, yeah?

Last year, my taxes went up on all four properties considerably. I let the house and the office go- and paid my employees- looking for some big projects to come in and make it all good. Instead, 3 employees conspired with a former employee- and siphoned work off for 3 months to start their own thing. I went to the county in December and signed up for a payment plan.

My loan didn’t include either insurance or escrow for taxes.

Sometime after I had made arrangements with the county, Seterus came in and paid my taxes and tacked them onto my loan. I protested. Told Seterus that I had a contract with the county- and that they should contact the county and get their money back. I kept making my payment to Seterus online and paying the county agreement. Seterus began harassing me, asking if I wanted to stay in my house, if I wanted to short sell, and demanding payment.

Then in May, the site wouldn’t take the payment, insisting I pay the entire tax, plus my payment. I mailed a check.

Next they claimed they didn’t get it- or the second check. I have them on tape saying that, and then they offered a 4% loan- only catch it was a 40 year loan. I only had 5 years and $41,000 left. I politely declined. A few days later, they mailed me back my second check, and then the third check was returned as well. They filed for foreclosure.

In the mean time, I researched my deed. Seterus, IBM, BofA, Countrywide and Greenpoint don’t even appear on the lien. Nope, US Bank sold it off to MERS and that was the last recording. I also had a forensic analysis of the note done- which determined they’d also been overcharging me all along. When I told the people at Seterus in the recorded call that I wasn’t even sure they had legal right to collect- I think that set an alarm off and that’s why they forced the issue.  In some states, courts are allowing “Quiet Title” actions – which dissolve the note, since it wasn’t properly recorded. Apparently, this doesn’t happen in Ohio.

I went to the Home Ownership Center, and then to Miami Valley Fair Housing- and talked to the County Treasurer (who partially aided the mortgage company by accepting their payment) and they referred me to County Corp. All three of these organizations are here to help, but the odd thing, is even though my loan is Fannie Mae, Seterus isn’t party to either the Federal programs or State programs to help home owners facing foreclosure. Nope, that’s why the banks shuffled this off. 4 years ago, I was told I had to be behind 3 months before I could be helped, when I was current with a mortgage holder that was party to the programs- but, they’ve built their escape hatch with Seterus.

What I’m facing is a fabricated default. It wasn’t that I didn’t pay the mortgage company, it’s that they stopped taking my payments. Whats even more bizarre- is that they went and tried to pay off my home insurance too. I told my insurance company to reject their payment.

Next step is supposedly mediation. We’ll see what happens. I’m also being told that the mortgage company is now entitled to several thousand dollars in penalties that they get to heap on. What’s that saying “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help”- uh, yeah.

I’m friendly with several Realtors. Here is what one wrote on Facebook today:

“There is truly a disgraceful situation going on when the owners are begging to be able to stay in, just need to renegotiate the terms and the banks say NO. You’re correct that they stop taking payments – in fact, they TELL the owners they can’t even try to renegotiate unless they are delinquent by 90 days! Then they don’t accept a short sale / contract and go to foreclosure – the sale then is bid up by the bank and they get paid for their “loss” and because the bank bids the high and keeps anyone else out of the process – they get paid again for putting it back on the books, then listed as a REO and when it finally sales for a less price they again get paid. Its horrible!! All the while we have taxes that aren’t getting paid on homes that are now vacant, while there are homeless people and / or people who really just want a place to call home.”

Another wrote:

To the banks, it’s all paper. There is little to no concern for the havoc that is wrought on peoples’ lives. Every time I am presented with such an issue I unfortunately have to warn people of what *could* happen – but then have an arsenal of resources to which I can point them as well.

In the mean time, business is booming, but, my credit rating is now toast thanks to the “foreclosure.” I’m working with a locally owned bank to work out some other issues, and waiting to see what the mediation process brings.

I believe that as a city commissioner, who has actually had to go through this stupidity, there are some things we should do to help our citizens and our community from suffering through these kinds of strong arm tactics. Here are some rough ideas- I would ask for input from all the people that are currently battling this unjust system to weigh in:

  • If a mortgage company hasn’t properly recorded every transfer of the deed, they will not be able to foreclose. Without a proper paper trail, only the original contract is valid, and any trades, swaps, transfers will be null and void. If you or I tried to pull this stunt, we’d be up the creek without a paddle.
  • If a mortgage company refuses to renegotiate a mortgage, or isn’t party to the federal programs available, they will have to put up a bond to guarantee the property will be maintained in the same condition it’s in when they throw people out.
  • If a mortgage company isn’t maintaining and properly marketing the properties they already have, they can’t evict anyone, and must accept a reduced payment plan for a period of 2 years.
  • If a home is placed for sheriffs sale, and the bank bids more than the note, the additional money is delivered back to the home owner. If it’s sold back the bank for less than the note value, the homeowner has the right to buy the home back at the lower value within 30 days from the sale, at the current 15 year note rate for A+ credit. Being able to steal a home over a few missed payments amounts to state supported theft.
  • If a mortgage company isn’t maintaining properties to the same standard in one community as compared to another, we will file class action discrimination lawsuits forcing reinvestment and the banks will be investigated for redlining.
  • Investigate using eminent domain to take over properties from banks involved in predatory lending, fabricated defaults etc- and set up a local fund to finance the properties at reasonable rates.

My neighborhood has suffered enough from the foreclosure fiasco and we’re a neighborhood that’s considered a success. We need to protect all of our communities investments.

And before anyone says that I wasn’t talking about foreclosure before it happened to me, please watch this video from my last Congressional run:

I’m sure, this will be a topic of discussion as to my ability to handle decisions about city finances. Just remember, I’m not the one who sank over $4 million at the corner of Wayne and Wyoming for a new Kroger without a contract.

One of the things that I believe strongly in is open honest discussion of the issues. You are reading this here first because I know how many people in Dayton are struggling with the very same issue. I’m going to work hard to make sure that your government works to protect all of us from this kind of state sponsored robbery.

I will try to keep you appraised of the progress in this case.

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