Local veteran fighting for his home after changes made to his mortgage lead to foreclosure
HAMLET, Ind. -- If you have a mortgage on your home there is a good chance over the lifetime of that mortgage another bank could buy it. The process can be confusing and for one local veteran it proved so much so that it’s now costing him his home. An ABC57 investigation found he is not the only one. .
It all has to do with your mortgage servicer. That’s the company responsible for collecting your payments. It’s not always the bank your loan is through and it often changes -- sometimes several times.
Imagine your house is paid off. You decide to take a mortgage out to do some remodels. You make all your payments on time and then your house is sent into foreclosure. That’s exactly what happened to 78-year-old James Campbell.
Campbell is one of five generations of servicemen. He served six years in the Marines and as a Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputy. He now volunteers his time as a Reserve Deputy for Starke County.
"I'm on social security," said Campbell. So I am getting -- I need to be giving."
He’s lived on the same quiet street in Hamlet for more than 40 years.
“All my children graduated out of this house," said Campbell. "My daughter got married in this very room”
In 2004, he took out a mortgage to Do some remodeling.
"I paid since 2004 until last September," said Campbell.
That’s when he got a notice that Nationstar -- now known as Mr. Cooper -- took over that mortgage.
He assumed the payments were still coming out of his bank account, but a few months later he learned he was behind almost $10,000.
"I don't understand why they weren't taking the money out," said Campbell. "It was in the contract. They bought that contract. They bought that mortgage. They could have taken it out had they wanted to."
Instead Campbell's home is now set to go up for auction on July 24th.
"It's heartbreaking," said Campbell. "I've devoted myself as a police officer, devoted myself as a Marine."
Judith Fox is a Clincial Law Professor at Notre Dame who specializes in mortgages and foreclosures. She says, Campbell's problem is not uncommon.
"In the modern mortgage market the mortgages get packaged up and sold to securities and so there is a separate company that's called a servicer that collects your payments," said Fox. "One of the frustrating thing in this market is I can choose who I want to do business with. I can choose which bank I want to take a loan out from, but I have no control over what servicer I get stuck with and I'll use the word stuck, because some of them are good and some are horrible."
It’s when your servicer changes that problems often happen.
"Most people don't understand what that means," said Fox. "They didn't realize there was a servicer or they might not recognize the name of this company. Why is Mr. Cooper sending me this letter? I never took out a loan with Mr. Cooper and they ignore it."
Fox says you should always pay attention to your statements and open any notices from your mortgage lender.
"People used to just throw those in the drawer. It's really important to just take a look," Fox added. "If it says the payment wasn't made and you know you made it then you should call immediately."
She warns if the payments aren’t being made save the money and seek legal counsel before it goes to foreclosure.
"Very often people will come into my office like this a week or two before the sheriff's sale and at that point there is extremely little that we can do for you and after the sheriff's sale there's usually nothing we can do for you," said Fox.
Despite the ticking clock , Campbell plans to keep fighting to save his house and more importantly the memories.
"And what's going to be the worst memory? Having to walk away from it," said Campbell. "That's going to be the worst memory."
ABC57 Reached out to Mr. Cooper and the company says it’s working with Campbell to resolve this issue. He’s also reached out to Senaor Joe Donnelly’s office who has referred him to places where he can get some free legal assistance.
We’ve also posted links below to several local resources where you can get help if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Volunteer Lawyer Network, Inc.
117 & 1/2 N Main St
South Bend, IN 46601
Indiana Legal Services
401 E Colfax Ave Suite 116
South Bend, IN 46617
ND Legal Clinic
725 Howard St
South Bend, IN 46617