Homeowner Fighting Foreclosure Wins Trial Loan Modification - NBC Bay Area

Homeowner Fighting Foreclosure Wins Trial Loan Modification



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    Amy Julia Harris/Center for Investigative Reporting
    Ricardo Rodriguez (holding bullhorn) participates in a protest against Bank of America in early March, recounting his story of fighting foreclosure on the steps of a branch in the San Francisco's Mission District.

    By Amy Julia Harris
    Center for Investigative Reporting
    Publish date: June 5, 2013

    Ricardo Rodriguez, a San Francisco resident who has been fighting to save his home from foreclosure, has received some good news from Bank of America. After unsuccessfully applying for at least 10 loan modifications since 2009, Rodriguez was accepted by Bank of America last week for a trial loan modification.

    He has made his first payment and will get to stay in his home. If he makes his payments on time during the three-month trial period, he may qualify for permanent loan restructuring.

    “We’re just happy we get to keep our house after more than three years of this stuff,” Rodriguez said Monday. He said he is optimistic that he can meet the requirements to make the trial loan permanent.

    NBC Bay Area and the Center for Investigative Reporting highlighted Rodriguez's case in a joint report in April on questionable foreclosure practices in the Bay Area. The investigation found that thousands of homeowners were fighting in court to save their homes from a foreclosure system filled with mistakes, mismanagement and, on occasion, fraud. The report also found that in some cases, Bank of America was skirting proper foreclosure procedures, leaving Rodriguez and other borrowers unsure of the status of their loan modifications or who owned the rights to their home.

    When Rodriguez lost his job delivering newspapers in 2011, he had trouble making the payments on his mortgage. He repeatedly applied for loan modifications but said Bank of America lost his paperwork and shuffled him among account managers, despite a state law requiring banks to provide homeowners with a single contact. Rodriguez became fed up and joined a local advocacy group to fight foreclosures in his neighborhood.

    Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens said in April that the bank previously had worked with Rodriguez and reduced his interest rate to 2 percent, but he was unable to pay the lower amount.

    “If even the lowest possible payment is not affordable for a borrower, homeownership may not be the best or most responsible option for them,” the bank said at the time.

    Bank of America plays the largest role of any bank in Bay Area foreclosures. From July 2008 through October, Bank of America's foreclosure trustee, ReconTrust, handled 1 in 5 defaulted properties in the Bay Area, roughly 70 percent more than the next biggest trustee, according to RealtyTrac Inc., a real estate information company.