SANTA CLARA – Bank of America foreclosed on a Santa Clara woman’s home, despite her doing everything she was instructed to do in order to prevent it.
Annette Lake resided in her house in Santa Clara from 1986 until May 24, 2011, when Bank of America foreclosed on her home.
Just after her divorce from her husband was finalized in 2008, Lake was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was laid off from her job during chemotherapy treatments. She began having a hard time paying her mortgage, though she never missed a mortgage payment.
In 2009 Lake learned that the government had given banks money to assist people experiencing hardships. She called Bank of America, the holder of her home loan, to learn if she could refinance her loan so that her payments would be more affordable.
“They told me they couldn’t assist me because I was paid up to date,” Lake said. “I had to be behind on my payments before they would give me assistance.”
Bank of America representatives told Lake she needed to miss three mortgage payments in order to be eligible for assistance. Lake then missed three mortgage payments, as Bank of America instructed her to do.
After missing three payments, Lake’s home loan was remodified and her mortgage payments were lowered to $728.50 per month, which she paid on time each month. But in late June 2010, the day after her mother died, Lake came home to find a foreclosure notice posted on her house.
She called Bank of America and asked why her house was being foreclosed. The Bank of America representative told Lake her house was being foreclosed because Lake hadn’t been making her mortgage payments.
Lake told the representative that she had been making her payments every month.
The representative did some research and found that Lake’s payments had been received but not handled properly. However, her checks were being cashed and clearing her bank, she said.
“The payments had been on someone’s desk and not been processed,” Lake said.
The representative told Lake that her mortgage payments would be processed immediately, her account would be credited, and an extension would be put on the foreclosure of her home.
“They said they would reinvestigate my loan but that I need to call every one to two weeks to make sure they’re still doing their job,” Lake said.
Bank of America credited Lake’s account for the payments she’d already made.
In December 2010, Lake received a letter in the mail telling her she was declined for Bank of America’s home loan remodification program. Lake didn’t understand how this could happen, since, as far as she knew, her home loan had already been remodified several months previously.
Lake continued calling Bank of America every week to try to straighten out the issues with her home loan. She said she was rarely able to talk to the same Bank of America employee twice, which added to the frustration.
“Every time I call in I get a different person and we have to go through the total complete thing all over again,” Lake said. “How can anything be accomplished if nobody’s paying attention to what’s going on?”
Though Lake continued paying her mortgage payments, Bank of America attempted to foreclose on Lake’s house again, and on May 24, the efforts were successful. Lake and her 19-year-old daughter moved out of her house, which has now been sold by Bank of America. Lake and her daughter moved into Lake’s father’s basement, where they share a bedroom.
Most of Lake’s possessions are in three storage units. Lake’s ex-husband has her dogs, she said.
The entire experience has given Lake a different outlook on life.
“I honestly understand how people become homeless and how they give up and say they don’t care,” Lake said. “You get to the point where you don’t care. I get it. You just feel like saying, ‘Fine, you win.’”
Though she’s already lost her home, Lake is hoping to participate in a class action lawsuit against Bank of America.
“I know I’ll never get my home back,” Lake said. “But hopefully there’ll be some repercussions, some reciprocation.”
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