WSVN — When you buy a house, there is good news and bad news. The good news, you have your own home. The bad news, you have your own mortgage.
Sandra Davenport: “I bought the house for $294,000 and I’m dishing $2,400 a month to pay for my mortgage.”
Unfortunately, Sandra Davenports home is now worth less than she paid, so she decided to modify the mortgage to save her $600 a month. And that’s when she got the stunning news.
Sandra Davenport: “Oh we found out there is something on your mortgage. I said ‘No.’ Are you sure I said no? She’s like ‘Oh there is $204,000 lien on the property.”
The $204,000 lein on Sandras house was actually another mortgage. Her neighbors mortgage recorded on Sandra’s property, giving her one house and two mortgages.
Sandra Davenport: “So yeah I start crying and you know get very upset and I told her to send me all the paperwork.”
The title company made a mistake in writing the numbers in the legal description, which you get in your closing document when you buy a property. They typed in 60, which is the lot number for Sandras property. Instead of 50, which is her neighbors property. So Sandra called the owner of the title company to fix it.
Sandra Davenport: “Nothing, he didn’t do anything. He didn’t respond to my emails and he has not called me back.”
Sandra then called her mortgage company. Another brick wall.
Sandra Davenport: “And they said they couldn’t find nothing that is on my mortgage and they can’t help me.”
Right now Sandra is stuck.
Sandra Davenport: “You can’t do anything. You can’t sell your property, you can’t refinance your property, you can’t modify your property. You can’t do nothing.”
That’s a description of what she cannot do. Now let Sandra describe how it makes her feel.
Two mortgages on one house. Clearly a mistake but no one wants to clear it up. So Howard, legally, what does a homeowner do?
Howard Finkelstein: “This is what the law calls Slander of Title. Which is the filing of a mortgage on the wrong property. It’s the responsibility of the person who made the mistake to correct. If they don’t, they will be responsible for Sandra’s legal fees as well as any amount of money she didn’t save by modifying her mortgage.”
We called the title company who made the mistake. They told us they could not talk to us but they were communicating with Sandra. They then sent a letter to Sandra and her neighbor, explaining that they made a mistake because the lot number was difficult for them to read. To get it resolved, Sandra’s neighbor needs to sign several documents. We spoke to her, she was very nice and said she would sign them but she wants to hire an attorney to review them to make sure everything is correct this time.
Howard Finkelstein: “It looks like Sandra’s neighbor is doing the right thing, but if this happens to you and the neighbor wont sign the papers, don’t wait. Go to court right away to clear your title because otherwise, the problems could be astronomical.”
With everything clearing up, Sandra can now start looking ahead. To how she plans to spend the savings she will get from her new modified mortgage.
Sandra Davenport: “I could be doing so much with that money. My backyard needs fixing up, my pool needs fixing up. I need a new kitchen.”
Now technically Sandra’s neighbors don’t have a mortgage on their property, but they still owe the lender the money. And if they said we are not going to sign to straighten things out, a judge can put the mortgage back on their property without their consent. And how often does this happen? Since its just a simple typo, probably more often than we suspect. I mean have you ever checked the numbers in your closing documents?
Someone twisting numbers and messing up your life? Don’t mortgage your future, lein on us. Cause we believe you are en-titled to free help.
Contact Help Me Howard:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com