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Patrick Rodgers is no doubt a hero to struggling homeowners across America facing foreclosure. He may be the only individual to turn the tables and begin foreclosure proceedings on a mortgage giant like Wells Fargo.
There’s no doubt most struggling homeowners have a troubled, if not outright antagonistic relationship with banks and other lending institutions right now. The recession may officially be over, but the housing market is still suffering terribly–underwater mortgages in the U.S. have reached 27 percent of all home loans as property values continue to fall, and about 5 million borrowers are currently at least two months behind on mortgage payments. Yet the financial institutions that were given a combined total of over $200 million in bailout money have done little to compromise with their customers and help the little guy out.
Maybe that’s why New Jersey resident Patrick Rodgers took it upon himself to show his lender how it feels.
Why Wells Fargo Became the Target of Foreclosure
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, it all started when Rodgers, who purchased a $180,000 home in 2002, was suddenly notified last year by Wells Fargo that he needed to insure the property for $1 million. The bank demanded he insure the full replacement value of the home, not the purchase price, to prevent a total loss should devastating damage occur.Rodgers, however, disagreed that his home was worth that much.
But the question of whether or not Wells Fargo’s request was valid is not the issue. When Rodgers declined to up his coverage and was presented with forced-placement insurance instead, he wrote to Wells Fargo demanding further explanation. In fact, he wrote four times over the course of a year with no response.
The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
After some research, he learned that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) of 1974 requires that mortgage lenders acknowledge written requests within 20 business days. They are subject to damages or penalties if they fail to respond. So, when his written requests for more information were ignored, Patrick Rogers took Wells Fargo to court.
The court ruled in favor of Rodgers and he received a $1,173 judgment against Wells Fargo. However, they didn’t pay up, so Rodgers began foreclosure proceedings against their local office.
March 4, 2011 is the date scheduled for a sheriff’s sale of the contents of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 1341 N. Delaware Ave., to cover the judgment and additional court and sheriff’s costs, though it’s likely Wells Fargo will pay a settlement to end the dispute before the sale happens.
How You Can Learn from Rodgers
Technically, Patrick Rodgers didn’t really foreclose on Wells Fargo, but he brings an important issue to light. As a responsible, employed homeowner who felt his mortgage lender was taking advantage of him, Rodgers didn’t sit back and allow it to happen. He researched his rights and stood up against the bank, ultimately winning his case.
If you suspect your mortgage lender, or any other financial institution for that matter, is asking something questionable or even illegal of you, there are laws in place to protect you. It’s up to you to know what they are, but you don’t have to feel like your situation is hopeless or unchangeable. It’s not if you’re serious about changing it.