Homeowners Win Fights Over Mistaken Foreclosures

Magaly Cervantes and Julio Bermudez started this week in tears. But they ended the week in celebration.

I met the couple on Tuesday when I visited the Dade County Courthouse to observe the foreclosure court proceedings. The court heard dozens of of cases that day, but Ms. Cervantes stood out immediately: Her eyes were red and puffy from several days of crying.

But there were no tears as she sat in the back row of courtroom 3-3 in downtown Miami Tuesday morning. Ms. Cervantes wanted to be strong for her mission: Convincing Senior Judge Robert M. Deehl that her Hialeah Gardens condominium wasn’t supposed to be foreclosed upon.

Ms. Cervantes says she and her longtime partner Julio Bermudez fell behind on their mortgage payments two years ago. In August of last year, they applied for and were granted a loan modification from J.P. Morgan Chase, which services the mortgage. Since then, Ms. Cervantes says they never missed the $659.30 payment.

Then, last Saturday, the couple received a letter saying Chase foreclosed and the condo was sold online.

Just a few minutes after 9 a.m., on Tuesday Ms. Cervantes and Mr. Bermudez stood before the judge. In broken English, they tried to explain the situation. “There’s nothing I can do about the sale,” Judge Deehl says matter-of-factly. “You’re going to have to deal with the bank.”

They tried calling Chase many times, they said, but couldn’t get anywhere. After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, Chase looked into the matter and discovered they made a mistake. In an email, a Chase spokesman said, “We are working to reverse the sale, and are reaching out to the customer to apologize. We have also been reviewing the application for a permanent modification.” No further detail was provided.

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