YET ANOTHER: Owners say their Boise home was sold without their knowledge

A Boise family fights eviction after what its lawyer calls a botched loan modification.

BY SANDRA FORESTER – sforester@idahostatesman.com
Copyright: © 2010 Idaho Statesman
Published: 04/07/10

Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. An earlier version included an incorrect surname for MetLife spokesman Ted Mitchell and an incorrect assessed value of the Rudans’ home. It is assessed at $191,900.

•••

Zijad and Hata Rudan, refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina, moved to Idaho in 2000. When they bought a new home in 2006 in a quiet, middle-class West Boise neighborhood, they planned to raise their three children, care for Zijad Rudan’s elderly, disabled mother, and finish their lives there.

A self-employed construction worker and stone mason, Zijad put thousands of dollars of labor, upgraded materials and landscaping into the house.

Now they’re on the verge of being thrown out. To the Rudans’ dismay, the house was sold last month at a foreclosure sale.

The sale occurred despite what the Rudans say were their loan servicer’s promises not to sell it. The family fell behind last year on monthly mortgage payments after the Valley’s housing downturn sharply cut Rudan’s income. The company that bought the home says it did nothing wrong. The loan servicer, in response to Idaho Statesman inquiries, said Tuesday that it is working with the Rudans to solve the problem.

“We hope to stay in the house,” Zijad Rudan said.

WHAT WENT WRONG

In 2008, Zijad’s income dropped to barely half what he made the year before. The family struggled but kept making house payments until February 2009. They owed $220,000 and were paying $1,684.78 a month.

Last April, they applied to their loan servicer, MetLife, for a loan modification.

The family said MetLife offered in May to let them pay $1,052.68 a month – a 38 percent reduction – through a three-month trial period while they were considered for a permanent modification under the federal Home Affordable Mortgage Program.

The federal program requires mortgage servicers to review the mortgage modification with the homeowner at the end of the trial period, convert the mortgage to the lower amount or consider other alternatives such as a short sale or taking the deed in lieu of payment before putting the home into a foreclosure sale.

The Rudans made two more full payments for March and April, with late fees. In June, they said, the payments were sent back to them.

Zijad Rudan said he called MetLife to ask why. He said he was told not to be concerned because the application for modification was still being processed. MetLife told him to start paying the reduced amount, he said. So he did.

THEN, AN UNHAPPY SURPRISE

The next month, the Rudans received a notice of trustee’s sale.

Alarmed, they called MetLife again. The Rudans said a representative again told them not to worry, saying the modification process was moving forward and they should throw the notice in the garbage. The family was told that their July payment had been received and that all was well.

They continued to make the required modified payments each month. As MetLife continued work on the loan-modification application, it sought more information. The Rudans faxed numerous documents, such as paycheck stubs, sometimes several times, the family said.

On Feb. 8, they wrote another monthly check. MetLife still had not notified them of any decision on their permanent loan modification request, they said. But the check returned Feb. 17.

Once again, the couple called MetLife. They said they spent the morning calling the company and reached only recorded messages, so then went to a MetLife office in Eagle for help.

The local MetLife representative called the parent company. MetLife again asked the family for more information and pay stubs. The Rudans said they faxed the documents that day.

The couple called March 4 to check on their status. They say they were told the modification was still being processes and they should call back March 10.

Instead, they called on March 8 and were told that their files had been turned over to a different department, and that a foreclosure sale had been scheduled but postponed. The Rudans said they were told not to make payments for February and March.

A MAN ON THE DOORSTEP

On March 12, a representative of Gorilla Capital Inc. showed up at their door. The Oregon company buys homes at foreclosure sales and says it sells them for about $20,000 less than comparable houses in the market.

The Gorilla representative said he’d bought the house at a foreclosure auction at 11 a.m. that day for $111,201, just $1 more than MetLife bid on it. The home is assessed at $191,900, said the Rudans’ attorney, Richard Eppink of Idaho Legal Aid.

The Gorilla representative started eviction proceedings against the family that day, court documents say.

Since then, the family has been in turmoil, trying to find help and to work through the legal process.

On Tuesday, the couple appeared in Ada County Magistrate Court, where a hearing to evict them was postponed for a week.

Eppink also filed a District Court lawsuit against MetLife Bank, Transnation Title and Gorilla Capital Inc. to undo the trustee’s sale and declare the Rudans the rightful owners.

“We’re trying to stop the eviction process until we get this sorted out and get everyone into court,” Eppink said.

FEELING CHEATED

Through an interpreter, the Rudans said they are confused because they did everything MetLife asked of them through the past year.

Eppink said he hopes MetLife will recognize what it’s done wrong and work things out, and that Gorilla will negotiate in good faith.

“I can assure you that MetLife Home Loans is working diligently to resolve this situation, and remains in contact with the customer,” MetLife spokesman Ted Mitchell said in an e-mail to the Statesman.

Gorilla CEO John Helmick said he would be delighted to see the Zudans buy back their home as some other homeowners have done with homes his company acquired.

He said he would sell it to them for $149,000 – one-third less than they owed to MetLife.

Gorilla said his company followed the law.

“Gorilla Capital has not been provided with any documentation showing that MetLife and the borrower reached an agreement,” Helmick said.

“Instead the trustee has taken our money and provided us with the deed to the house.”

Sandra Forester: 377-6464

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