Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Took Her Home
Imagine owning your home outright and still losing it to foreclosure. It happened to one South Florida condo owner. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- Nina Valenica owned her Aventura condo free and clear. No mortgage, yet it was foreclosed on and sold.
Nina Valencia: "I was completely in shock."
Nina lost her job and fell behind on her condo maintenance fees. She tried to work out a payment plan with her association.
Nina Valencia: "To help me cause I have to make payments she allowed me at that time, they say $100 per couple month then I will increase it to $250, and she said that it was fine."
But it wasn't the association sent the case to its attorney who filed in court to take the condo to pay the maintenance fees. The condo was eventually sold at auction.
Nina Valencia: "I was like, this is not happening to me, and how come they can do something like that without even telling me."
Steve Davis: "Condominium associations now are are being more aggressive."
Steve Davis represents Nina's condo association.
Steve Davis: "She should have been more diligent with taking care of this debt. She should have paid it on time. Fine, she lost her job, she should have tried to work it out, but she ignored everything."
Nina says she did try to work it out and at the time the foreclosure started, she only owed $1,500s. She wonders how that debt could cost her a home worth more than $140,000.
Steve Davis: "Is it fair to lose your home over a small amount? Absolutely."
Nina is not alone.
Bill Raphan: "We've gotten five times as many complaints and inquiries on this type of related issue in the last year or two."
The state condo Ombudsman's Office has been flooded with similar complaints, but there is little the state can do to help.
Bill Raphan: "It is what it is. If you don't pay, you are in jeopardy of losing your home, yes."
Nina's case is now in court. The company that bought her condo at auction wants to take it.
In Court: "Thank you so much your honor."
The transaction has been frozen while she fights the deal based on the claim there was never proper notice of the sale.
Frank Wolland: "I think this is a unique situation because I don't think anyone, who really knew what was going on, would lose their home over $1,500."
It's now up to a judge to decide if Nina is able to keep the place she has called home for more than 15 years.
Nina Valencia: "I can't lose faith. I can't lose faith."
Carmel Cafiero: "It is a sad fact that people throughout South Florida are losing their homes every day. If you are in a condo and you're trying to figure out what bills can slide and what bills must be paid, put those monthly maintenance fees on the "must" be paid list."
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