Cancer Patient Mom With Two Boys Keeps Fighting
This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post on 9/24/2012
Kelly Parker, a single mom and cancer patient who covered her Detroit home with graffiti earlier this month in a desperate attempt to keep it off the county auction block, is still fighting to keep her house — even though Wayne County’s online tax sale ended Sept. 20 without garnering a bid.
Unfortunately for Parker, her residence is scheduled to go up for auction again next month as part of a second round of sales, where bids start at $500 and tax debt and outstanding water bills are eliminated.
“I think I made a lot of noise and I think now they’re worried,” said Parker. “It still don’t feel right because it’s going to go back on auction in October. I’m still kind of stuck in limbo until then.”
Parker bought her two bedroom ranch home on Detroit’s west side in 2005, but got behind on payments after the rates on her mortgage doubled. Her case is a little unusual because it involves the county, and not a bank or another lender. The county is trying to auction off her home because she owes close to $12,000 in back taxes. Michigan law permits counties to foreclose on properties if taxes have not been paid for three years.
Steve Dibert of the mortgage investigations agency MFI-Miami got in touch with Parker after hearing about her effort to scare away potential buyers with spray paint. He’s now on the case and believes he’s found a reason for the county to hold off on selling the property.
After looking at her mortgage statements from 2008 and 2009, Dibert thinks Parker actually paid taxes for the years Wayne County is trying to foreclose on her house. He believes the home’s original lender 1st Franklin Financial put money into a special escrow account that can be used to pay taxes.
“My numbers are showing that, as part of her escrow for 2009 to 2010, she paid roughly $5,100 to $5,200 dollars into her escrow account for those two years total and her tax bill for those two years was roughly $4,400,” he said. “She overpaid her tax escrow by a minimum of $700.”
On Sept. 17 Dibert called on the Wayne County Treasurer’s office to take Parker’s house out of the auction for 90 to 120 days to allow him to conduct a full investigation and an accounting of her tax payments. He believes that either 1st Franklin Financial or Wayne County made an error in Parker’s case and wants time to get documents from Bank of America, which now owns the original lending institution.
Bank of America spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens told The Huffington Post her company doesn’t have a lot of information about the loan because it was brought into their system from the previous servicer.
“Ms. Parker stopped making payments in October 2008,” she said in an email. “The servicing on the loan file stopped in October 2010 prior to the transfer into our portfolio. Since then, Ms. Parker no longer received any bills from the servicer.”
Bauwens said Bank of America is currently looking into the escrow history of the account.
The Wayne County Treasurer’s Office has not responded to several requests for comment on this topic from The Huffington Post.
Dibert said he didn’t have much success speaking with Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz about Parker’s case through regular communications, so he resorted to another method to get his attention. Last week he asked listeners on “The First Shift with Tony Trupiano” radio show to get their friends and family to vote against Wojtowicz in November if he doesn’t pull Parker’s house from auction to allow for an investigation.
Since that time, Parker told The Huffington Post that David Szymanski the county’s Chief Deputy Treasurer has attempted to arrange a meeting with her. She said she’s now handling negotiations through two attorneys who are working on her case.
Despite intensive cancer treatments, Parker remains as dedicated as ever to saving her home for the sake of her two children.
“Nobody’s taking my house,” she said. “I worked my butt off for this house and I’m not going anywhere.”