by: Steven P. Gouin
During the past few years, “foreclosure” has joined the national lexicon of dirty words. Americans have grown accustomed to viewing stories about families who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments and seen their bank foreclose on their home. In fact, over 2 million U.S. homes are currently in foreclosure, almost 3 million mortgages are at least 60 days in arrears, and close to 11 million homeowners, nearly 1 in 4, are underwater – owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Due to the recession and corresponding collapse of the housing market, there is little indication that this trend will change in the near future.
However, a Philadelphia man provided homeowners a moment of levity in an otherwise difficult situation, and just may have become a folk hero in the process, when he foreclosed on his bank. That’s right. Patrick Rodgers, of Philadelphia, recently obtained a judgment against Wells Fargo and ordered a sheriff’s sale of the bank’s branch office.
When Rodgers was told he had to buy a $1 million insurance policy on his $180,000 home, he demanded to know why. When Wells Fargo failed to provide him with a timely response, he did some research and learned that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act entitled him to an explanation within 20 days. Because the bank had never answered his inquiry, Rodgers sued for damages and won a judgment of just over $1000. Wells Fargo refused to pay, and Rodgers enforced the judgment by ordering a sheriff’s sale of his local Wells Fargo branch office. The notice of sheriff’s sale ultimately prompted Wells Fargo to pay on the judgment, but not before news of Rodgers’s story spread and became another chapter in the ever-unfolding story of the foreclosure crisis.