- Tom Silva
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The House That Started a Foreclosure Frenzy
A small, weathered, blue-gray house in Denmark, ME, set off a national uproar about the foreclosure crisis when its owner, Nicolle Bradbury, lost her job and stopped paying her mortgage two years ago. The family, which includes Bradbury’s disabled husband and two children, lives on food stamps and welfare. When the bank started to foreclose on the house, Bradbury contacted Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a non-profit group and was lucky enough to have her file read by retired attorney Thomas A. Cox, who decided to help her as much as possible.
Cox’s act set off a national foreclosure uproar, with the attorneys general of all 50 states opening investigations into the bad paperwork and questionable methods behind many of them. The Senate plans to hold a hearing and the federal government is taking a closer look. The housing market – currently fueled by foreclosure sales – is chaotic. All this occurred because Cox thought something about Bradbury’s foreclosure file didn’t look right.
In reading Bradbury’s filing, Cox noticed that the documents from GMAC Mortgage were approved by an employee whose title was “limited signing officer”, which indicated that the person who approved the foreclosure likely knew little about the case. When Cox won the right to get a deposition from the employee in question, he learned that the individual had signed off on as many as 400 foreclosures a day, and that no one at GMAC Mortgage had actually reviewed the documents.
“A lot of people say we just want a free ride,” according to Bradbury. “That’s not it. I’ve worked since I was 14. I’m not lazy. I’m just trying to keep us together. If we lost the house, my family would have to break up.” Unfortunately, Bradbury is almost certain to lose her house, despite the errors made in the foreclosure process. “Had GMAC followed the legal requirements, she would have lost her home a long time ago,” said Geoffrey S. Lewis, another attorney on the case.
To listen to The Alter Group podcast on solving the foreclosure crisis, click here.