The mortgage situation in the U.S. has been in the news recently, as more homes go into foreclosure. This is not a sudden problem, but has been brewing for several years. It is a complex situation with many aspects, and Cleveland has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country.
One of the problems in Cleveland has been lenders who target groups that they see as financially unsophisticated. These are relatively low-income people, and minorities. Some mortgage brokers chose to target people who had been ordered to repair their homes to avoid prosecution, as they had been cited for building code violations. Some bought lists of people with unpaid hospital bills. The thinking behind these actions was that these people needed money quickly and could be persuaded to refinance their homes for that reason, and pay high fees in the process.
In one case, Eva v. Midwest National Mortgage Banc, Inc., the plaintiff alleged that:
“Defendants extract unconscionable and illegal fees from their victims until there is no money left to extract; they then leave their victims’ homes vulnerable to foreclosures, which the loans were specifically designed to facilitate.”
That case was filed in 2000, and has now been settled, saving seven of the eight homes involved.
Another case is Housing Advocates, Inc. v. Argent Mortgage Co. where the complaint was filed for racial discrimination and claimed that the company targeted African-American homeowners, offering them loans that were likely to lead to foreclosure. An investigation found evidence to substantiate this claim, and a hearing is now scheduled.
The City of Cleveland has sued 21 Wall Street banks that funded lenders who followed predatory lending practices.
Similar cases have been filed in many other states. Baltimore has sued Wells Fargo bank for predatory lending practices in African-American neighborhoods. Countrywide Financial Corp, which is the country’s largest lender, is facing multiple lawsuits:
- From a previous regional manager who has filed a whistle-blower suit, (Zachary v. Countrywide Fin. Corp.)
- From the Florida U.S. trustee for “bad-faith conduct that abused the judicial process”
- Similar complaints in Ohio, North Carolina, Texas and Pennsylvania
If you have been persuaded to refinance and are now regretting it, or if you are facing possible foreclosure, please don’t delay in contacting us. We will be glad to give you a free case evaluation.