There’s been a lot of funny business in the mortgage industry. It’s getting less funny by the minute.
Danielle and Jim Earl admit they skipped mortgage payments, filed for bankruptcy, and lost their home. But they broke back into the house last week after changing the locks.
They admit having money troubles in the past, including bankruptcies. Danielle Earl reportedly co-owns a medical equipment company, and she says times were tight in 2006, so they skipped some mortgage payments. Earl says they eventually caught up, paying more than $100,000, only to receive a notice of default. The home was foreclosed on earlier this year and sold to an investor group, Conejo Capital. The Earls were evicted.
The investors sold the home, but before the new owner could move in, the Earls had the locks changed and moved back in themselves. “Why should we lay down?” she says her husband asked her. “We need to fight back.” She began researching the history of their mortgage and the title to the property. Names began popping up that she says she’d never heard of, documents allegedly appeared forged. “The company that we had been paying all this money to, that we felt our money was stolen from us, was actually not legitimately our mortgage company.” If no one can prove who owns the home, the Earls argue, it’s still theirs.
So far, they haven’t convinced a judge. The Earls have been ordered to move out a week from today, but their attorney, Michael Pines, says they may move back in, saying they can legally do that since the judge didn’t issue a permanent injunction. He’s reportedly helped other Southern California families break back into their old homes, and Pines claims that mortgage securitization calls into question every commercial and residential loan going back decades.
So what now? “If the sheriff shows up and tells us to leave we’re going to leave,” Danielle Earl says, “but that doesn’t mean our fight is over.”