Google news is great. I love to be able to read news stories from all over the world on one page. My page is customized with a section for New Mexico news, news about my favorite sports teams, and of course, housing news. Earlier this week there was a story about a Philadelphia music promoter who “foreclosed” on Wells Fargo, the bank who holds his mortgage. WF had demanded that Patrick Rodgers increase his home-owner’s insurance coverage to $1M, the estimated cost to rebuild the 6 bedroom Tudor style home in the suburbs. The problem with that from Mr. Rodgers’ perspective is that he paid only $180K for the home and increasing the coverage would quadruple his insurance premiums. So Mr. Rodgers started researching to find out what his rights are and he settled in for a fight.
Armed with persistence and the ability to Google, Rodgers found that he could write a specifically formatted letter called a Qualified Written Request (QWR)under terms of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). In it, a borrower can request that errors or unexplained charges on the account be explained or removed. The lender has a certain amount of time to respond or rectify the errors. In the event they don’t, the borrower has the right to sue the lender for damages. This is precisely what Rodgers did, and as per usual the behemoth bank did not dignify his letter with a response. Rodgers then sought out attorneys to take his case and, as per usual, they saw no money in it and none would take on Wells Fargo. Still armed with a can-do attitude he again sought the aid of the internet and a helpful court clerk and he sued Wells Fargo in Municipal or Small Claims court. Wells Fargo sent no representative or lawyer to defend themselves and Rodgers was awarded a default judgment of $1173.00, which they paid, but never corrected the problems he initially wrote them about. So he filed for a Sheriff’s levy which is essentially a foreclosure. The Sheriff issued a levy for the local Wells Fargo Mortgage branch office and deputies inventoried the entire building and instructed employees not to remove anything from the premises.
The next phase was right up Rodgers’ alley. He was required to place posters all around town to publicize the sale of the branch, but he went further than that. He used the media to call attention to his story and to force Wells Fargo into action. It worked. They got their $500 per hour attorneys to stop the Sheriff’s sale, and asked to meet with Rodgers. He knew all along he would not get the proceeds of the sale of the local WF branch. He just wanted someone to talk to him and work out an arrangement. He got that and more.
I like this story, not because I am anti-bank or anti-big business, but because I am anti-bully. David stood up to Goliath and won. Rodgers had never been late on his mortgage in 8 years of paying and the reward for being a good customer was to get pushed around and then ignored. It shows that you and I can fight big fights. Information is now global and available. The esoteric nature of legal maneuverings is now gone. Knowledge is universal and free and if we are willing to learn and be persistent we can win.
My job in Real Estate is to make the hidden, confusing nature of the jargon, practices, and processes of buying and selling property plain. You don’t have to spend hours on the computer learning theses things, I have done it for you. Call me and we’ll simplify your life together.
All Real Estate. All The Time.