BOULDER CREEK — Roberta and Randall Strand thought they were getting a great deal on a foreclosure and helping their daughter and future son-in-law become homeowners. Instead they are holding a worthless second mortgage.
The home they bought for just under $98,000 and fixed up for $25,000 is scheduled for a foreclosure auction this afternoon to satisfy a debt of more than $529,000.
They offered lender Wells Fargo $75,000, but it was to no avail.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Michele Ashley issued a statement saying, “We believe the foreclosure auction of the property on which the Strand family bid was done correctly, and are confident the legal resolution to this matter will bear that out. Currently, Wells Fargo has presented the family with options that can help them through this matter.”
The Strands saw a newspaper notice last fall about the home, which is a mile from theirs, slated for a foreclosure auction. The unpaid debt was listed as $97,604.
Nestled under the redwoods on Cypress Trees Lane, the place needed work but their daughter, Hayley, 24, and her fiance, Bryan Janbay, 28, were willing to put in the effort.
Roberta looked up the property records. She saw there were two mortgages, a first and a second, recorded on the same date with the same lender. She figured the lender was auctioning the first and that the second mortgage would be wiped out.
“The price was right,” her husband said.
They took out a mortgage
on their own home to make their offer. At the auction on the steps of the county Governmental Center in November, they were the only bidders.The house had been stripped, and they spent $25,000 on improvements — windows, paint, carpet, lighting and appliances.
In January, before Hayley and Bryan could take out a mortgage to pay them back, a notice arrived from Wachovia Bank, saying the previous owners owed $529,259 on their loan.
Roberta thought it was a mistake.
“I tried speaking to someone at Wachovia, but no one would speak to me because my name was not on the loan,” she said.
She sent certified letters to Wachovia and didn’t hear back until April, when a foreclosure sale notice was posted on the property.
“Rather than foreclose on both loans at the same time, Wachovia chose to foreclose, market and sell the worthless junior lien, purporting it to be the real property, which is what we purchased,” she said.
The family sued Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia, and Cal-Western Reconveyance, which posted legal notices of the sale, claiming deceit, fraud and wrongful foreclosure. They want their money back.
The Strands’ attorney, Steve Vondran of Newport Beach, argued that “Wells Fargo and Cal-Western have set up a system that allows them to mutually profit off the sale of worthless second mortgages.”