Locals still stress over foreclosures, loans


ABC7 first met Gary Robinson when he applied for a home loan modification two years ago. The Antioch father of two is still waiting to get one.

"It adds a lot of stress," Robinson said. "You don't know where it's going to end up. You don't know whether to plan to move."

Oakland resident Lilian Cabrera also applied for a modification two years ago, and -- like Gary -- the stress is taking its toll.

"This is the burden that I carry everyday on my back…all the paper work that they send me," Cabrera said.

The more time passes for both of them, the more they get into debt. Gary's principle on his mortgage went from $690,000 two years ago to $800,000 today, while Cabrera's principle shot up during the same period from $562,000 to $620,000.

"The longer it takes for them to review your file and come up with the decision, the more arrearages you're incurring," Katrina Vizinau a senior housing counselor with the Community Housing Development said.

A recent study from the non-profit national consumer law center concluded that loan servicers had little incentive to work out modifications.

"With the modification, all the staffing costs, all the time and effort that goes into modifying the loan does not get reimbursed and the servicers have to bear that cost," said Diane Thompson with the National Consumer Law Center, who added that service fees can add up quickly..

Lynette Neidhardt has been working for a modification for nearly two years.

"It bothers me on so many levels that the banks make it on the way up (and) on the way down," Neidhardt, an Oakland resident, said. "They get covered in every which way."

Vizinau said homeowners like Neidhardt are paying foreclosure fees, attorney fees and property inspection fees. The Mortgage Bankers Association says in many cases those fees are justified.

"Attorney fees, recording fees, collection fees -- those are third-party charges that have directly offset the costs associated with them," Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens said.

A 2008 federal lawsuit accused Countrywide Home Loans of channeling business to its subsidiaries throughout the foreclosure process and marking up the price of the services, often by 100 percent or more. Countrywide settled for $108 million.

"Servicers have this large incentive to keep loans in the pool, not to foreclose them so they can keep getting this money, but also to keep balances high," said Thompson.

A trade organization of many mortgage servicers says that's not true.

"Servicers are paid to service performing loans," Paul Leonard with Financial Services Roundtable said. when a loan is not performing…when a person is delinquent, they are not paid."

"At the end of the day, there is absolutely no economic argument to say that it's in a servicers or banks best interest financially in anyway shape or form to have a borrower go in to default," said Stevens.

Cabrera is facing a foreclosure sale date of June 18th. She wants to continue to raise her children in Oakland.

"When I got divorced, it was important for me to raise my kids under one roof," said Cabrera

Gary has reapplied for a modification four different times and now wonders if it's been worth it.

"When you sit down and add all the fees that you incurred, you come to think, was it a good thing?" Robinson said.

Ultimately he hopes to get the news Neidhardt got who received a permanent modification last month.

"I feel like I'm one of the lucky ones," Neidhardt said. "I feel I was able to gather all my friends, my neighbors and my work companions to help me fight and I didn't stop."

The trade organizations ABC7 spoke with said more than 4 million permanent modifications have been granted since 2007; however, Reality Trac said there have been 5 million foreclosures during that same period.

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