Mardee Jerde is homeless today. At 9 a.m., a representative of JPMorgan Chase, along with a real estate agent and a locksmith, arrived to change the locks on her former three-bedroom house in Rush City, Minn. She's hoping that a last-ditch legal effort can get her home back, but meanwhile this breast-cancer survivor mourns the loss of the house, her blooming flowerbed, and the nearly $50,000 that she paid the bank in back payments and fees in exchange for what she believed was a chance to be approved for a permanent loan modification after a car accident left her unable to work.
According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, two days after Chase cashed her check for $49,825 (which came from an insurance settlement resulting from the auto accident), Jerde received notice that the bank had denied her request to reduce her mortgage under the Home Affordable Modification Program. It then proceeded with the foreclosure.
"They had no legal right to do what they did," says the 70-year-old Jerde, who had lived in the home for 20 years on property that her mother had purchased in the 1970s. She bought the home from her father for $130,000 in 1995, after her mother passed away.
"My barbecue grill, and scanner, and some other things are still in the shed, but everything else is out," she told AOL Real Estate. Many of her belongings are loaded in her car. She has no permanent place to go. There is a two-year wait for senior housing in a neighboring county, and no availability in her own county. Her children are grown with their own children or coping with their own illnesses. "They all have their lives and they don't need me," she says.
For now Jerde is staying with a friend, Frank Winges, who recently retired early after a leg injury. Winges needs someone to help him out and is letting Jerde stay for a short while, she said. "He is my angel. His name even reminds me of angel wings, even though it's not pronounced like that," she says.
Her encounter with JPMorgan Chase began about five years ago after it bought Washington Mutual, the bank that had given Jerde a forbearance and reduced her payments to $875.59, down from $1,763.10. Her original loan was with a local bank that Washington Mutual had bought. Once Chase denied the permanent modification, her payments were set to increase back to the original amount. That was about twice as much as she could afford, as she had used almost every penny of the insurance settlement to pay Chase the nearly $50,000.
Chase sold her home to the government at a sheriff's auction in February 2011. She was given a chance to reclaim it for $209,908, if she could pay that amount in full by August of that year. She couldn't. Her notice of eviction was delivered June 17 of this year. The government-sponsored mortgage lender known as Fannie Mae then acquired the home by purchasing its debt for a mere $10. In countering her lawsuit to try to regain her home, Fannie Mae petitioned to move the quiet-title lawsuit to federal court. Jerdes can only hope that her pro bono attorney can help put her back in her former home. But that case could be tied up for months -- or years. In the meantime, she said, she'll keeps looking for another place to live.
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