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Accounting issues may cost couple their home
Jessie and Aida Marinas outside their Crom Street home they are fighting to save from foreclosure. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

Aida Marinas is working three jobs.

Her husband Jessie - literally broke his back while laboring for 35 years to feed his family of six - collects disability insurance for a spinal injury and paints. He has taken to selling his art work at less than they are worth.

The couple is trying their best to save their home.

They have scrapped together $15,824 to bring their mortgage payments current but have been caught in a maddening bureaucratic maze in a bid to stop their Crom Street home across from the Manteca Golf Course from being foreclosed.

The latest hurdle involves their inability to get a through accounting of exactly what they owe Wells Fargo. The bank gave them until Sept. 1 to bring their payments current. The couple enlisted long-time Manteca Realtor Tom Wilson and his wife Gayl who has a background in accounting to help them get what Wilson called “a straight answer.”

Wilson has compiled documentation almost an inch thick in the past 10 months that includes Wells Fargo losing several forbearance payments that the Marinas got receipts for when making them in person at the Manteca bank branch. It also includes a settlement amount that keeps jumping around going from $8,000 to $12,000 to $14,000 and now to $16,000 without any specific accounting from Wells Fargo on exactly what a breakdown of the numbers represent.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson declined to respond to inquiries noting the bank doesn’t comment on individual accounts. They emphasized, though, that the bank is trying earnestly to resolve concerns that various customers have that are in the foreclosure process.

“I’d hear horror stories about people in the foreclosure process dealing with banks but I always thought they were embellished,” Tom Wilson said. “I don’t anymore.”

Aida Marinas said she wants to have assurances from the bank before she sends in close to $16,000 that it is indeed all that they owe to bring their payments current. She fears she could send them the money and that they say they owe even more. In such a scenario they would lose everything they have - their home and the money.

The bank for the past eight months has provided balances that the Marinas owe that have varied wildly. Wilson cites federal law that requires the mortgage holders to provide a “full, complete and accurate accounting” noting that has yet to happen.  They are now taking the step of filing a “qualified written request” - a structured letter that is designed to hold mortgage holders to the strict guidelines imposed by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act in such cases.

Spending hours on the phone

Between working her three jobs, Aida Marinas spends hours upon hours on the phone with Wells Fargo. Rarely does she get to talk to the same person regarding the mortgage.

The Marinas bought their home in Manteca in 2000. They made a 60 percent down payment after selling their home in the Bay Area. In 2003 they took advantage of lower rates and financed into a 15-year loan at a 5.25 percent rate on a balance of less than $80,000. Their monthly payment was $1,077.

Then in February of 2009 she lost her fulltime job.

Concerned that they might have problems making their mortgage payments and having heard about programs put in place to help borrowers in situations like her and her husband, she contacted Wells Fargo.

“They said they coudln’t help us because we were current on our payments,” she recalled. “We had to miss payments before they could send us a hardship package.”

So that’s what they did.

They filled out the package and sent it in. They kept trying to get a response back from Wells Fargo but to no avail. Then when they got almost two years behind in payments, Wells Fargo finally reviewed their hardship package application and informed them that they didn’t qualify.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t tell us sooner,” she said.

That was when the bank entered into a forbearance agreement with the Marinas. Essentially the agreement spelled out the terms for the couple to become current on their payments. Their monthly mortgage went from $1,077 to $2,214 taking 49 percent of all of their available monthly income to make it.

Figures on what is owed vary from $8,000 to $16,000

At one point they inquired what it would take in a lump sum to bring their loan current so they could resume making normal payments. That is when they were given the initial figure of $8,000 that has since ballooned to $16,000 while they continued to make forbearance payments more than twice their original monthly mortgage payment.

The Marinas were able to scrap up the money to cover the latest figure they were given but aren’t comfortable with making it until they are given an exact and full accounting.

That is where the Wilsons started getting real frustrated.

“They made payments (at the bank branch) they have receipts for that Wells Fargo can’t account for,” Wilson said.

Wilson noted that the Marina’s balance of less than $80,000 means they have a substantial amount of equity in their home given the market value of similar homes based on current sale data is well in excess of $220,000.

“The loan balance isn’t that big,” he said. “It’s almost like Wells Fargo wants to take the home regardless.”

As for the Marinas the endless hours on the phone and having Aida juggle three jobs is worth it if it means they can save their home.

“This is our home,” Jessie said.