From a recent story in the South Florida Daily Business Review
'They Started Saying We Didn't Live here'
- Deerfield Beach retiree Mary Carter and her husband, William, said they never received any [occupancy certification] forms before two unexpected brushes with foreclosure [on their reverse mortgage].
The Carters had grown accustomed to the visits by lender and loan servicer representatives who would drop by unannounced to verify they still occupied the property as required under the terms of the loan. They were sitting in their carport the last time a reverse mortgage inspector checked up on them.
Carter, a former elementary school teacher, said her 75-year-old husband would sign any paperwork handed to him at the end of these meetings.
But the last visit, which set the elderly couple on the path to two separate foreclosure suits for non-occupancy, was different. This time they said the inspector asked them to clear the driveway so he could take a photograph without them. They and a friend visiting from next door complied.
"He just said we couldn't be in the picture, we had to move, so we all moved out of the way," Carter said. "That's when they started saying we didn't live here."
What followed stunned the couple: Oklahoma-based Mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse LLC claimed they defaulted on their loan by moving out of the home. "I can't fathom why there would be any indication they weren't occupying the property," said the Carters' attorney, Sarah Barker. "They don't travel out of state. Their things are in the house."
Finance of America attorneys at Greenspoon Marder declined comment.
Facing foreclosure in 2013, the Carters were forced to prove residency to dismiss the case. But that victory was short-lived, as an almost identical lawsuit followed within three years.
"It was the same default reason in the complaint," Barker said. "Through the first lawsuit it was clear the Carters were living there, so we can't understand why the second lawsuit would even be filed. We can't understand why the first one was filed."
Finance of America filed for foreclosure with a single-count complaint in 2016, calling due more than $119,925 in principal, plus interest, escrow, attorneys' fees and other charges.
The seniors again beat back that suit, but still fear they'll lose their home.
"We can't afford to fight without help from Legal Aid," Carter said. "We're worried there's going to be another foreclosure."