Make us your home page
Instagram

Digging in: A man fights to stay in his home

ST. PETERSBURG — J. Thomas Wood is showing just how tough it can for a lender to foreclose, even on a homeowner who hasn't made a payment in more than three years.

In 2006, when his condo in Bayway Isles was valued at $261,000, Wood refinanced for $180,000. It didn't seem to matter to Countryside Home Loans that he was in bankruptcy at the time.

"I wondered why they'd give us a loan in the first place," said Wood, a retired art teacher.

Now, investors in the package of mortgages that included Wood's want the condo. Wood has kept the foreclosure at bay with several challenges right out of the "stay in your home" playbook. He argues that:

• He wasn't told he was getting an adjustable rate loan when he refinanced, even though he defaulted on the payments before the rate rose.

• He wasn't appropriately notified of the foreclosure lawsuit. The bill from the process server says the first attempt was made the day before the case was filed. The process server also indicated the home was unoccupied — though Wood was living there — and that it was a mobile home, instead of a sixth-floor condo unit.

• It's unclear who owns his loan. An admitted Bank of America robo-signer put her signature on the document that assigned Wood's mortgage from MERS, the mortgage industry's electronic database, to Bank of New York, trustee for the investors. All Wood knows for sure is that he got the loan from Countrywide, that Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America in 2008 and that Bank of America is supposed to be collecting his payments.

"It bothers me that I can't go into the bank and discuss it with them," said Wood, who made his last mortgage payment in August 2007.

In the daisy-chain of modern mortgage financing, the Bank of America branch on the corner doesn't communicate with Bank of America's mortgage servicer in Plano, Texas which is supposedly carrying out the orders of investors represented by a trustee at the Bank of New York through a law firm in Tampa.

The upshot: With so many parties involved, an easy resolution is impossible when the borrower defaults. Cases drag on in the court. And savvy homeowners can use the confusion to their advantage, living rent-free.

In December, Wood attended court-ordered mediation, but the parties were unable to agree on a loan modification. With fees and charges, he now owes $228,745 and counting.

The next move: Wood's lawyer will challenge the court's routine use of retired judges to handle the backlog of foreclosure cases, saying to do so violates his client's constitutional rights.

J. Thomas Wood, retired teacher, artist

Loan Amount, $180,000

Foreclosure action filed: 6/3/08

Status: Foreclosure pending

Digging in: A man fights to stay in his home 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  2. Miami woman, 74, admits to voter fraud. Does jail await, or will she go free?

    State Roundup

    MIAMI — An 74-year-old woman pleaded guilty Monday to filling out other people's mail-in ballots while working at Miami-Dade's elections department.

    Gladys Coego
  3. Bigger ships carry Georgia ports to record cargo volumes

    Economic Development

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — Bigger ships arriving through an expanded Panama Canal pushed cargo volumes at Georgia's seaports to record levels in fiscal 2017, the Georgia Ports Authority announced Monday.

    The Port of Savannah moved a record 3.85 million container units in fiscal 2017, the state said, benefiting from the larger ships that can now pass through an expanded Panama Canal.
  4. Dragon ride in Harry Potter section of Universal closing for new themed ride

    Florida

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019 — sending wizard fans into a guessing game with hopes for a Floo Powder Network or the maze from the Triwizard Tournament.

    Universal Orlando announced Monday that it will close Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 for a new "highly themed" Harry Potter ride to open in 2019. The ride, originally the Dueling Dragons roller coaster, was renamed and incorporated into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter when the hugely popular area opened in 2010.
  5. Would you let your company implant a chip in you?

    Working Life

    Would you ask an employee to get a chip implanted in her hand? Sounds invasive and intrusive. But come Aug. 1, one company in Wisconsin will be giving it a try.

    Three Square Market - a developer of software used in vending machines - is offering all of its employees the option to get a microchip implanted between the thumb and forefinger. [Photo from video]