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Couple Loses Home To Bank They Thought Was Helping Them

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GRAPEVINE (CBS11) - Elizabeth and David Ball have 21 years of memories at their Grapevine home. Elizabeth recalled the time her kids learned how to ride a bike or where they skateboarded. Every street corner has memories, but they don't have their home.

The couple told CBS11 they lost their home to a bank they believed was helping them keep it. They said the whole process caught them by surprise.

In 2014, Mr. Ball lost his job. He took up a freelance job with an unsteady income. They decided to modify their mortgage loan which would lower their monthly payments. "We didn't want to have to dip into our savings," Elizabeth Ball said.

They called CitiMortgage, their mortgage company and started their loan modification process.  "In one of the conversations, I was like should I make a house payment?" Elizabeth recalled asking the bank representative on the phone. "They were like no! Don't do that because that will confuse the issue, that will really mess things up."

As the couple started getting the documents together, they also started receiving foreclosure notices from CitiMortgage. Citi was working on their loan modification and their foreclosure.

They called the bank again. Elizabeth said the customer service rep told them not to worry, "She said, that department isn't caught up with what we're doing here in the modification department."

Elizabeth and David say they trusted the service representatives they were speaking to.

"Never once did I truly believe that we were going to be foreclosed" Elizabeth said.

She believed everything was going to be take care of.

They recall the day when David received an eviction notice. Their home of 21 years was being foreclosed on and they had three days to get out of their home.

"I crumbled to the ground and sat there and cried and cried," Elizabeth recalled.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau said it receives thousands of consumer complaints related to loan modifications and foreclosure. From July 2001 to March 2016, it has logged 223,000 mortgage related complaints.

Consumers told CFPB that lenders drag out the process by repeated requests to submit the same documentation. The CFPB report also states that lenders sent consumers conflicting foreclosure notices while the homeowners were trying to get help.

Molly Rogers, an attorney with legal aid in Austin, handles mortgage and foreclosure related cases. She said sometimes consumers don't really know why their loan modification applications get rejected or take too long to complete.

She said consumers have 37 days before any scheduled foreclosure sale. But it depends on if you have a completed application.

"Once that complete application is on file, the bank has to stop the foreclosure from going forward," she said. But she said the bank decides when the application is complete.

Elizabeth and David Ball
Elizabeth and David Ball (CBS11)

The Balls also believe that Citi dual-tracked their loan. It happens when a mortgage company continues foreclosure proceedings while considering an application for a loan modification at the same time.

That's illegal under federal regulations.

Citi told CBS11 "Citi works closely with financially distressed borrowers to help them avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes.  We explore potential options which may include loan modifications, forbearance or other financial relief plans. If, however, there is no plan in place, and we do not receive a complete financial information package from the homeowner prior to the foreclosure sale, the foreclosure process moves forward.  In such cases, dual tracking regulations do not apply to the loan. "

The couple feel like they were taken advantage, "I trusted the mortgage company," she said. "I worked with them in good faith."

If you're having trouble with loan modification. Rogers says you can seek advice from a certified HUD counselor or get an attorney to help you thorough the process. You can also file a complaint with the CFPB.  She also says do not stop payment on your home, even if you hear conflicting information.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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