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Widow sues Chase, LPS for fraud and wrongful death

In a heartbreaking story, a widow talks about how her husband changed after being served a wrongful eviction notice.

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chase bank sign

Texas-sized lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase

According to the Courthouse News Service1, Harry Engel of Grand Prairie, Texas passed away in 2010, leaving wife of 57 years, Wendy Jo, and three adult children. The Christian minister is the inspiration for a new lawsuit filed in Dallas County alleging that JPMorgan Chase, along with EMC Mortgage, and LPS Field Services foreclosed on their home after 22 years of timely payments and an attempt to refinance that the family says led to the minister’s fatal heart attack.

This story is not new – the players are, indeed new names to this publication, but the following is a story that has repeated itself too many times over. In February 2010, the family was mailed an offer to refinance their home loan at a lower interest rate, and court documents state that an employee at the local Chase bank branch told them they must miss a payment before they can qualify for refinancing.

“Trusting [that employee’s] counsel as a Chase representative, the [plaintiffs] missed a single payment as instructed,” court documents state. “After skipping the payment as advised… the [homeowners] received a letter from Chase advising them that they were not eligible for a loan modification and that the mortgage had to be brought current immediately.”

Surprise foreclosure

Shortly thereafter, the couple was told they were at risk of foreclosure, and quickly, an eviction notice was sent, and “finally, a personal representative of Chase physically went to the… home, knocked on the [the plaintiffs’] door, and enforced the eviction notice.”

The lawsuit alleges that the couple made many attempts to meet with the original Chase employee that told them they needed to skip their payment for the first time in 22 years, with the adult daughter claiming she accompanied her parents to the bank multiple times to wait for the employee, and finally, one one occasion, the employee “eventually met with them and handed them a piece of paper with a figure on it. [He] said ‘just pay this amount,'” the lawsuit alleges.

They paid that amount as instructed, but the foreclosure process continued, with an eviction notice being served. The widow alleges that after the notice, her husband “changed dramatically,” as he was “overcome with stress and fear, and was terrified at the thought of losing his and [his wife]’s home of more than 20 years. His once positive outlook was gone.” Shortly thereafter, he suffered a massive coronary and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Now a homeless widow

After the loss, the bank took possession of the home, changed the locks, and today, it sits vacant. The lawsuit reiterates that the couple did everything the bank told them to, and that “complying with a lender’s advice should be safe and should not put them at risk from the lender.”

“Chase made illegal, negligent and fraudulent representations… so that it could secure a loan modification entitling Chase to benefits and financial incentives that the government was providing lenders to make loan modifications,” alleges the minister’s family.

Charges against Chase, EMC, and LPS include wrongful death, wrongful foreclosure, trespassing, gross negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, fraud, fraudulent inducement, and deceptive trade.

1 Courthouse News report

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. J Philip Faranda

    July 10, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Utterly heartbreaking, and all too true. 

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Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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