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Foreclosure nightmare: Family's home sold, but it wasn't for sale

September 12, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
What would you do if you suddenly found out your mortgage company had sold your house right out from under you even though you always paid on time? An Altadena family suddenly facing eviction turned to Eyewitness News when that happened to them.

The Altadena house has been home for Ceith and Louise Sinclair, who bought it in 2003. They've been living in it with four of their kids.

Last year, they got a loan modification with Ocwen Financial Corporation. Then they say they got a call, and later a letter, notifying them Ocwen had sold their loan to Nationstar Mortgage. In June, they got a knock at the door.

"They came and knocked on our door. That's how we found out our house had been sold," said Louise Sinclair.

The Sinclairs say although they hadn't received notice prior to that day, the person at the door told them they had two weeks to leave their house because a company called Sage Equities had bought it in foreclosure. They were expected to pay rent in the meantime.

"We thought we were doing everything. We were paying our mortgage every month. And then they're going to sell your house up from underneath you without you knowing?" said Ceith Sinclair.

The Sinclairs say they've always paid their mortgage on time, in full, and they have the documentation to prove it. But then, in June, after their first payment to Nationstar, the mortgage company sent a check back to them for the full amount.

They say they made calls to figure out why Nationstar was attempting to refund the payment, but couldn't get an answer, so they never cashed the check and continued to make their payments every month. And they say Nationstar continued to collect their money, even as they were repeatedly told by Sage Equities they had to leave their house.

The Sinclairs say a Nationstar representative finally gave them a reason for the foreclosure over the phone.

"They said that we didn't notarized one paper of the modification, and in fact, we did," said Ceith Sinclair.

Throughout the summer, they say no one from Nationstar would help them, and they began packing their belongings, thinking it was only a matter of time before they lost their house.

"Every time we call them back, they give us the run-around, saying call back in two days, call back in two days," said Louise Sinclair.

After three months of trying, the Sinclairs still weren't getting any answers. After Eyewitness News made numerous phone calls, Ocwen still refused to comment on the case.

But Nationstar released a statement saying, "We are very sorry for the situation Mr. Sinclair was in, and we deeply regret the difficulty he experienced. As a result of KABC bringing this situation to our attention, we were able to expedite our review and take two important steps. First, we have rescinded the sale of the home, which means Mr. Sinclair will not have to leave his house. Second, we are going to honor the previous loan modification that was put in place."

Jamie Court, who works with the group Consumer Watchdog, says if you own property in America, particularly if you're paying your mortgage, and the company institutes a foreclosure proceeding against you, that proceeding is not legal if you didn't know about it.

"Unfortunately, today, banks are foreclosing in ways that circumvent the law, that are taking too many shortcuts," said Court.

Court says if you find yourself in this position, there are things you can do.

"You should definitely consult with a lawyer. You should definitely consult your bank. And if you're paying your bills on time, you don't have anything to be worried about, but you need to assert your rights," said Court.

Now the Sinclairs say they can take a breath knowing they can stay in their home. But they say it doesn't make up for their experience.

"It should have never happened in the first place. We've been paying our mortgage on time and the modification was approved. I'm still very angry about it," said Louise Sinclair.

They're now talking to attorneys about possible compensation from the mortgage companies. They're also trying to figure out what they can do to fight for others who may be experiencing the same thing.

"It's still unbelievable. No one should have to go through what we went through, but there are people going through it right now," said Ceith Sinclair.


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