Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Living On $641/Month, Another Senior Citizen Gets Stung By Signing Over R/E Paperwork She Didn't Understand; Elderly Homeowner's Attorney: Education, Bad Eyesight Kept My Client From Understanding Details Of Reverse Mortgage

In Austin, Texas, the Austin American Statesman reports:

  • Aron Ezilla Ridge, 74, who has myriad health problems and is living on a monthly $641 check from Social Security, might lose the home she’s owned since 1968 if a mortgage company gets its way.

    James B. Nutter & Co., a Kansas City firm that approved a reverse mortgage for Ridge in 2007, has filed suit to foreclose on her small house on Webberville Road in East Austin for unpaid property taxes, according to court records. Ridge’s attorney, Nan Hazel of the George Brothers Kincaid & Horton, an Austin law firm that is representing her for free, says Ridge’s 2012 taxes were $49, and she has a receipt proving payment.

    James Madson, a vice president for James B. Nutter, however, says the wording in the suit is an error and that the real reason for seeking foreclosure has to do with Ridge not insuring the home for four to five years. The firm has been paying the insurance all this time. A Houston law firm representing Nutter erred in listing unpaid property taxes as the reason for foreclosure. “We are going to refile and list insurance as the reason,” Madson said.

    It doesn’t matter to Hazel that the mortgage company will make the change. “Miss Ridge didn’t understand the paperwork she signed,” Hazel said. “They knew that a woman of her education and bad eyesight would not be able to understand the details.”

    Ridge is distraught. “It’s my home. I worked very hard for many years, and I finished paying for it in 1995 despite my heart attacks and cancer and my diabetes,” she said.

    Ridge was served foreclosure documents in February and had 30 days to respond. Her niece, Brenda Files, found Hazel through Volunteer Legal Services.(1) “This just isn’t right,” said Hazel.

    Files blames the mortgage company from the time the reverse mortgage was approved in 2007. “They sent someone to her house to read her the papers to sign. She does not understand things too well. They saw how she was. They should have asked Auntie if there was a family member they could call to help her understand,” she said.

    Ridge said she approached the Nutter company about a reverse mortgage. Her home was paid for but she didn’t have any money to fix it. “I needed a new roof and repairs to my kitchen because it was dangerous to get around,” she said. She uses a wheelchair and is mostly homebound.

    Hazel said the mortgage company gave Ridge a lump sum of about $39,000. Ridge understood that she could remain in the home as long as it was her permanent residence. If she ever got too sick to live at home, a family member could purchase the house for the loan amount and value, about $66,000.
For more, see Mortgage Company Tried to Take Home of 75-Year-Old Blind Woman Over $49 She Already Paid (The company now claims that was an error, and is now filing for a different reason).

(1) Volunteer Legal Services of Central Texas helps low-income clients access the civil justice system by providing volunteer attorneys who donate free legal advice and representation, and by supporting and training those attorneys. .

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