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Bank Mistake Earns Mpls Woman's Home Back

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For 20 years, a two-story duplex at 38th Street and Park Avenue in Minneapolis was home for Leslie Parks and her mother. That was until a risky option arm mortgage created heartache beyond belief for the family.

The family refinanced the home to tap equity in order to pay for some badly needed repairs. Little did they realize the mortgage would increase their payments every six months, soon putting it beyond their means.

To get out from under the $2,300 monthly mortgage payments, Parks would enter into the loan modification process. However, her lender, then IndyMac Federal Bank in California, jumped the gun and mistakenly changed the locks. That was done in the middle of a Minnesota snowstorm, putting the parks family out on the street.

"Oh my goodness, I felt so helpless," Parks said. "I didn't know what to do."

With housing advocates picketing on Leslie's behalf, the bank realized its mistake and called on Waterstone Mortgage in Maple Grove to help repair the damage. Liz Peter specializes in working with difficult mortgage situations.

"It's been tough, but there are ways to rebuild and to work on your credit and to get back into a position to buy," said Peter.

That's what she would do on Parks' behalf. The problem was that damage to her credit rating had already been done by the start of the foreclosure process. To ever qualify for a home mortgage again, Leslie would need to fix her credit score.

Peter contacted the folks at Edina's Robert Christopher & Associates to help with that. CEO Michael Stroozas was able to improve her scores by a whopping 155 points.

"We got seven or eight negative accounts removed from Leslie's credit that had no right to be there in the first place," said Stroozas.

Within no time, came the payoff. On Friday, Leslie signed the documents to a new fixed rate, 30-year mortgage.

"Such a relief," said Parks. "I feel I can exhale now. I mean, oh my goodness!"

Her mother's home is now in her hands, thanks to folks who cared and a strong belief in the American Dream.

"First mortgage, reasonable payments and I'm loving every minute of it," said Parks.

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