Foreclosure Foul-Up Wins Man a Free Home

Jacksonville foreclosureAmid all the foreclosure horror stories, every now and then we hear about a good outcome, whether it's by winning a lawsuit through a homestead loophole, because the lender didn't properly serve the owners, or because it doesn't really own the mortgage. Or in the case of one underwater Florida homeowner once facing foreclosure, the bank is simply walking away. The house is his, free and clear.

That's what happened to Perry Laspina and an investment property he owns in Jacksonville, Fla. He was facing foreclosure after the 9.5 percent adjustable rate mortgage spiked, sending his payments from $605 to $1,058 on the $72,000 mortgage, reported the Florida Times-Union.

Despite Laspina receiving an extremely high mortgage rate for the time period, he told the paper, it didn't matter. "I figured I'm going to flip this house within six months, maybe three months," he said about his 2006 purchase during the height of the housing boom. After tearing up carpet, refinishing hardwood floors and painting walls, he hoped he'd fetch about $120,000 for the 1,120-square-foot home he purchased for $80,000.

Although the former used car dealer had made several payments on the home he purchased with $8,000 down, the $72,000 principal had only been paid down about $1,000 before he stopped Search Homes for Sale See photos of homes for sale in your area and across the country on AOL Real Estate making payments. The economy turned, housing prices slid, and he couldn't unload what he had hoped would be an easy flip.

The bubble burst. Laspina was unable to sell it or rent it out, reported the paper, so he chose to stop making payments on the 2-bedroom, 1-bath home, which last appraised for $46,000, according to the Duval County appraiser's office.

The mortgage was through EquiFirst, the nation's 12th-largest subprime lender at the time. In 2009 its corporate parent, Barclays plc, shut the doors of the Charlotte, NC-based mortgage origination business that operated in 47 states, reported the Charlotte Business Journal. America's Servicing Co., a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, was servicing the loan at the time of the default.

The attorney handling the foreclosure on behalf of the lender was foreclosure king David Stern, who went down with his law firm, as we previously reported in "Foreclosure King Falls from Grace." (Stern is in his own legal battle now, suing the lenders who once hired him, as we later reported.)

Through all the mess and the upside down mortgage, it seems Wells Fargo just wanted one less headache. A bank spokesperson apparently told the Florida Times-Union that the loan was written off and the house given to the owner "because of the significant decreased value of the property."

Sheree R. Curry
, who has owned three homes and once had a Wells Fargo mortgage, is a three-time award-winning journalist who has covered real estate for six years. During her 20-year career, her articles have appeared regularly in the
Wall Street Journal, TV Week, and Fortune. She's been writing for AOL Real Estate since 2009 from a Minneapolis-area rental. She seeks a book publisher -- or at least a lender who'll give a reasonable mortgage rate to a self-employed mom.

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How can i get to write for aol real estate? i have been investing and coaching real estate for over 20 years.

June 01 2011 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These mortgage companys are stealing peoples homes right out from under peoples noses in the disguise of working something out. They tell you to send in paperwork for modification, then claim they did not receive and have you repeat the process. They do this and other shady things dragging the process out over up to 2 years then all of a sudden you have a foreclosure notice sent to you. Their intent all along was to take your home. Here in Michigan Bank of America is taking foreclosed homes in upscale neighborhoods in the city of detroit and giving them to the city to give to police and later firemen for 1,000 dollars and a low interest loan up to 150,000 dollars to entice them to move back to the city from the suburbs. Homes that originally sold for up to 200,000 dollars. Great, take someones home because they now have trouble making the payment due to the economy and give it away practically for nothing. What is the world coming to when people or busineses can just uncaringly throw people away like this. The one thing is, everything tends to come around full circle and i for one hope to see the day all these people get their come uppence!

April 23 2011 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jacin Rome

I have known Perry for 30 + years. He intends on selling the house and giving a percentage of the proceeds to habitat for humanity. Perry suffers from terminal honesty. He does deal in used cars but they are all specialty used cars i.e. old muscle cars, rare cars and the like. He does not sell cars to the general public. He sells to collectors. In his mind they are used. Perry is trying to start a movement. Perry feels the banks are responsible for the mess we are all in. Perry thinks we should all stop making payments due to the fact the banks have been made whole. We as a society have already shouldered the burden for the banks free for all profiteering. A mans home is his castle. The subject is not flipping the subject is do the banks have a legal right to your home. The banks have in most instances have no paper work to justify their claims. Please write me at

April 20 2011 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would like to know how many other people lost their home to foreclosure after acting upon advice from the Today Show's (more specifically the "Money Managers"). segment regarding: getting a loan modification from your bank as a way to prevent home foreclosure? I am sure that I wasn't the only person duped into believing this information was creditable. After all it was the Today Show and their professional Money Managers advising viewers what to do about the housing crisis! I am sickened by the lack of real truth in which the Today Show's Money Managers reported this information to the entire nation! I no longer watch the Today Show, though it was my favorite news program, I trust them no longer. We fought to save our house, but in the end banks have all the power, and we have been foreclosed on. With less than two weeks before we must leave our home of eleven years, I feel the Today Show also bears blame for all the people who lost their homes to foreclosure after heeding such disastrous advice!! Mother always said, "If it sounds to good to be true, IT IS!"

April 19 2011 at 4:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is no free lunch, pals. I have a mortgage with Wells Fargo, and so I know that Mr. Laspina just cost Wells the balance on the mortgage, and I get to keep making my payment. I wonder why Mr. Laspina thinks he should get the windfall. As long as we have guys like him, we have no hope in our country. Thanks, Mr. Laspina.

April 19 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think this is a great outcome! I just wish it would happen to the average person that bought the home to live in and not flip. I have my Mortgage from Wells Fargo. American Servicing services the mortgage. I can tell you this bank deserves all the loss it can handle. I'm in the prosess of forclosure. I am disabled as is my partner. We were both qualified for this mortgage and made our payments ontime. Due to the downturn of the economy, we lost most of our nest egg while we continued to make payments. We filed for a modification that dragged on for almost two years. Finally, we hired an attourrney. Two weeks after hiring the attourney, we were given a payment that we could afford. We were on a three month trial period that lasted for five months. This offer was then withdrawn and we were given another loan amount that was not affordable. Basically a bate and switch. I should state that we put down 20% and put in a further $30k in improvements to the property. The forclosure papers have so many irregularities. Its a real joke. I'd certainly love to have the same outcome and hope others do as well. These banks need to be taught a lesson for their misdeeds!

April 19 2011 at 12:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Why are people bashing on this guy for getting a free house? If I were in the same situation I would be happy to take it for free, as would anyone else in the same situation. His foreclosure was being handled by a shady lawyer that broke numerous laws, how is that his fault? He got a lucky break, I'd be smiling too. Besides, look at the house, it's a dump. It's not like he ended up with a mansion for nothing.

April 19 2011 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is an interesting story, and I think this will be happening more in the future. It seems that even the banks don't want some of these homes; it costs too much money to reclaim them, and there are no buyers. I have been trying for over a year to sell my home. My husbands job is in another state, so after 10 yrs we need to sell to be able to move. Now, after more than a year, my realtor has just told me that home appraisals (required for a sale) are using foreclosure property values as comps. Because nothing else has been sold here other than homes that were foreclosed on. And what is even more frightening is what has happened to people (2 neighbors) who rented their homes when they couldn't sell- those renters refused to pay their rent, tore up the homes, and then fled across the border (yes, I live in a border town). I do not dare to leave the home and move- there have been 2 separate break in attempts so far- fortunately the home is alarmed and I have a huge guard dog. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think even this foreclosure wave will hit a point of no return for everyone-even the banks.

April 19 2011 at 4:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I am mixed race english/jamaican...A white male on -Bla'ckw'hi'teCu'pid. ℃○M- who viewed my profile (at least 8 times!!), had on his profile in capitals 'NO BLACKS', and in the part where it asks 'what makes you sad?' he'd put...'when black women contact me'! just thought 'why do you keep looking at my profile?' He must have thought the more he looked at me, the paler i might become!!! HaHaHa :)

April 18 2011 at 11:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He didn't make his payments and his reward is a free house that he is going to flip and make a bunch of money off of? WOW. And yet there are single moms and others out there who pay their bills and struggle. What a piece of crap he is ... someone needs to slap that smile off of his face.

April 18 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply