Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Fighting Foreclosure
Tonight, a rare bright spot in the dark hole that is the foreclosure crisis. A South Florida woman fought back and won. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- More than 2.5 million homes nationwide have been lost to foreclosure in the last three years, 240,000 of them here in Florida.
Some lenders froze foreclosures due to reports of questionable documentation, but courts are still clogged with active cases.
Nina Valencia, Fought Foreclosure: "I was completely in shock."
Nina Valencia's case is one of them, but her battle was not with a bank: it was with her condo association.
Nina Valencia: "I can't lose faith. I can't lose faith."
Nina owned her $140,000 condo free and clear. As 7 News first reported this summer, Nina fell behind on her condo fees. She says she was trying to work out a payment plan with her association, but the next thing she knew, her unit was being sold on the auction block.
Nina Valencia: "I was like, 'This is not happening to me, and how come they can do something like that without even telling me?'"
Nina fought back.
Judge Marc Schumacher, Miami-Dade Circuit Court: "Good morning, ladies and gentleman. We are here regarding Biscayne Cove Condominium Association v. Valencia."
She claims she was never properly notified that her unit was being foreclosed on. If Nina was not properly served, it would render everything after, including the sale, null and void.
Judge Marc Schumacher: "Do you swear or affirm to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"
Nina Valencia: "Yes."
In court, Nina testified she never got that notice. The association's attorney claims she had been notified as required by law.
Security guard, swearing in: "I do."
But a condo security guard testified he could not recall seeing Nina the day those papers were allegedly served.
Frank Wolland: "So you did not see the process server hand any papers to Ms. Valencia, did you?"
Security guard: "I just don't remember."
In the end, the judge believed Nina.
Judge Marc Schumacher: "The court finds that the defense has met its burden and has shown by clear and convincing evidence that Ms. Valencia was not served."
It was a huge relief after a year of high anxiety.
Nina Valencia: "A nightmare. My health is wearing down to hell."
But it may not be over yet. The association can appeal.
Steve Davis, Becker & Poliakoff: "I think the judge felt sorry for her, that she was going to lose her condominium. I'm not sure what the next step will be at this point."
But for now, Nina is glad to have her home back and is making plans for the future.
Nina Valencia: "This is my legacy for my daughter. She's in the Navy, and when she is 25 years old, I'm going to give the apartment to her. I'm very happy. You have no idea."
Carmel Cafiero: "Nina still has to come up with those past-due condo fees and faces the possibility of an appeal. If that happens, she could end up back in court."
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