Homeowner battles Bank of America for 2+ years to get modification
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - A homeowner emerges bruised, but not beaten after battling Bank of America. It's a story Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears first reported two years ago. Now, she sits down with the family again as they begin to recover from their mortgage meltdown.
"It's one big rollercoaster. It just took way too long," explained JoAnn Licko.
The ups, downs, twists and turns of the last two years have left JoAnn wondering whether it was worth the fight.
"They just don't have anything rolling smoothly. They really need to figure out what they're doing wrong," said JoAnn.
JoAnn's been battling Bank of America for her brother, Bob Gratzke, to help him hang on to his modest, East Valley home.
"What did you think two years ago when you entered into this battle on behalf of Bob," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"I thought six months down the road he'd get a halfway decent modification," said JoAnn.
We first shared Bob's story in late 2010 when Bank of America was threatening foreclosure. After Contact 13 got involved, they promised to review Bob's plan.
Bob Gratzke is a long haul truck driver who rarely gets to spend time in Las Vegas. He wouldn't give up the battle for his home because he wanted a place for his children to come visit. For the little amount of time he does spend there, it is still his sanctuary.
Bob had to hit the road after he lost his union job as a journeyman carpenter when his industry collapsed in the crashing economy.
"He was a construction worker, making really good money in town here and truck driving doesn't cover what he made doing construction work," said JoAnn.
He really needed a principle reduction but because he has a federal housing authority loan, he was told he didn't qualify. So he was stuck fighting for a modification.
"It's been all faxing and refaxing and phone call after phone call," said JoAnn.
JoAnn spent months feeling like she was beating her head against a wall.
"They ask you the same questions repeatedly, every time you call. When you're looking for a loan modification, why you're doing this, why you're doing that, they are the exact same. It's like a script that they have," said JoAnn.
Despite Bank of America's settlement with Nevada's Attorney General and their full page ads promising homeowners help, JoAnn has seen little change.
"Two years ago we started with one hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing, refaxing the same documents, paperwork getting lost, too many negotiators on a file, that's where we were two years ago," said Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"Exactly," said JoAnn.
"And you're saying we're no better off today," asked Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"No. I don't even know how it ended, but it finally ended," said JoAnn.
She's relieved it's over, but she's less than thrilled with the meager outcome.
"So you feel like they're throwing him enough crumbs to keep him eating, but just barely," said Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"I mean he's grateful that he gets to keep his house, but they could have done much better," said JoAnn.
The devil is in the details. After a trial period brought his payment down a mere $7, he got a final modification saving him $165 a month. They agreed to defer the past due amount of $28,000 to the end of his 30 year loan.
"That was their big hurrah, their bonus," said JoAnn.
JoAnn says they had to take what they could get, because the first loan modification Bank of America offered was even higher than Bob's original monthly mortgage. That just added to the frustration.
"Their ethics are pretty screwed up," said JoAnn.
Though thankful her brother still has a home, she thinks Bank of America has a long way to go to truly repay the people who bailed them out.
"They're finalizing now, but they're not doing it where they're really helping the person in the end. Not a great deal," said JoAnn.
After getting scammed by a loan modification service who took Bob's money and ran, JoAnn turned to the Women's Development Center for help. She says the local, non - profit housing agency worked tirelessly to get Bob his final modification. Click here to visit their site.
As we continue our coverage of the Valley's mortgage meltdown, we want to hear about your battle with Bank of America or any other mortgage lender. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number.