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LAYTON -- More than 32,000 homes in Utah received a foreclosure notice last year.
A lot of those foreclosure notices went to people who thought they were meeting all of the lender's demands while they were following the procedures to apply for a loan modification. One of those people is Steve Curtis, the mayor of Layton.
Two weeks before Christmas, Curtis came home and found a foreclosure notice taped to his door. It said his home would soon be put up for auction -- even though he had never missed a mortgage payment.
This was just one of the many nightmares Curtis encountered by applying for a trial loan modification.
Naturally our trust was with the bank. We saw no reason why not to trust. Call it gullibility or whatever.
–Layton Mayor Steve Curtis
"Naturally our trust was with the bank," he said. "We saw no reason why not to trust. Call it gullibility or whatever."
Curtis says he was stunned to see the foreclosure notice on the home he has lived in for 14 years.
"It was very painful," he said. "Nobody should have to go through that. Nobody."
The foreclosure process on the Curtis home began when Curtis and his wife applied for a loan modification in March. Curtis had been out of full-time work for nine months and was trying to stay current on all of his bills.
Bank of America agreed to a trial loan modification that lowered their mortgage payment by $350.
"All along they said as long as you were making your payments, a foreclosure would not happen," Curtis said. "Even when it got to the underwriter everything looked very good. We were told that and that we would have no problem in qualifying."
So what went wrong? How did a foreclosure notice end up on the Curtis' door in December?
"The payments that they are making actually don't go to the servicing department," said advocate Marco Fields.
According to Fields, it's because departments within Bank of America are not communicating with each other. As soon as the Curtis family applied for the loan modification, their payments went into an escrow account so they showed up as delinquent in the servicing department.
"I think it is a simple fix. It's a computer program that needs to be able to talk to one another," Fields said.
Every homeowner needs to be concerned about this issue because we are having the equity in our homes eroded because of these irresponsible actions by these financial institutions.
The miscommunication is costing homeowners all over the country a lot of time and money -- and in some cases even their homes. Bank of America now faces consumer class-action suits in several states for persistent failure to modify loans.
"Every homeowner needs to be concerned about this issue because we are having the equity in our homes eroded because of these irresponsible actions by these financial institutions," said Fields.
Fields helped push the Curtis file into the office of Bank of America's CEO. But the company still hasn't been able to find all the right paperwork to straighten out their error.
"This is so far beyond advocacy. This is so far beyond a counselor. At the end of the day you are going to need a five-star attorney," said Fields.
Curtis says it's easy to lose hope. "Legally, no I don't have the resources to fight the big bully Bank of America. They'd crush me."
In order to save their home, the Curtises will have to pay all reinstatement charges. On top of that, they will also have to foot the bill for the legal fees Bank of America racked up when they foreclosed on the Curtis' home.
"I'm thinking that never should've been done in the first place," Curtis said. "So why should I be paying legal fees for something that shouldn't have been in the first place?"
Curtis now has a full-time job and will be able to save his home, but says he will continue to speak.
"I will stand up and fight because my neighborhood matters," he said.
To further illustrate what a mess the whole process has been for the Curtis family -- just two weeks ago they received an e-mail stating that they are not eligible for a loan modification because their loan is in active litigation.
But the only reason the loan is in litigation is because Bank of America wrongly foreclosed.