Wrongful foreclosures

Dec 7, 2010

Is it possible for proud home owners who pay their mortgages on time to have their houses foreclosed on? KPLU’s John Maynard talks with real estate appraiser Richard Hagar who says this sort of thing happens all the time, thanks to sloppy bank practices.

Examples of this are rampant, says Hagar.

  • There's the story of a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan who returned stateside only to find complete strangers living in his house. What happened? While he was away, his bank mistakenly foreclosed on his home and auctioned it off.
  • Another horror story involves a family who paid off their mortgage free and clear, then rented their house out. The renter kept getting bank notices in the mail addressed to the owner, but ignored them because they looked like junk mail.  But it turns out those were foreclosure notices. 

How do homeowners protect themselves from these type of banking mistakes?

Hagar says, first and foremost,  pay attention to any mail, calls or emails coming from a bank.

Those notices may be more than just junk or spam.  It might be a bank proceeding with a wrongful foreclosure due to poor bank practices such as "robo signing." That's the process of signing complex documents without first evaluating their contents. And in some cases, that can lead banks to foreclose on property that isn't even theirs.