According to a Michelle Conlin of Reuters, it all started in November 2010. The Barnharts used their $153,000 in cash savings for a Spanish-revival Cape Coral
properties in Florida. The property was in a devastating state as rats poked around the patio and the water in the swimming pool was green. The yard was not maintained and weeds are growing wildly.
Based on the report of Conlin, the Barnharts plowed an extra US$100,000 for renovations needed for the property. However, in January 2011, the Barnharts found out from the Lee County property appraiser that the bank didn’t actually own the property, and so the nightmare began.
What actually happened was that in 2007, Wells Fargo, which is the trustee of the prior owner’s mortgage, and American Home Mortgage Servicing, which is the mortgage servicer, foreclosed on Richard Riccobono. According to the report, on behalf of the mortgage bond investors who own the loan, the trustees act and foreclosure suits are done to bring the home to their name. The people who manage the loans are the mortgage services.
Wells Fargo took possession of the house on Dec. 30, 2008. On July of the following year, the title was transferred back to Riccobono. Riccobono said that he is not aware that the title was transferred back in his name. Riccobono is now living in Fort Myers and thought the experience was crazy.
In 2011, the Barnharts sued American Home Mortgage Servicing, now called Homeward Residential, and Wells Fargo in a bid to get the banks to scrub the title. Under a settlement reached in March, the banks agreed to pay the couple’s lawyer’s fees and clear the title, Barnhart says. However the title change still hasn’t happened. Wells Fargo said that as trustee, it had nothing to do with management of the loan and referred questions to Homeward Residential.
Homeward Residential said it was still working to resolve a lien and a small claim judgment against the former owner in order to clean the title. Barnhart says the bank had assured him it would straighten out the mess by October. That’s when the family of five moved into a new house with hopes of selling their former dream home, a place Barnhart’s wife won’t set foot in.
The Barnart family cannot even put the home on the market yet because technically it is still not theirs.