Impact 5: The real estate crash and robo-signings

FORT PIERCE, Fla. -- The real estate crash has turned home ownership into a nightmare for so many and wreaked havoc on our economy. Jessica Elder said she knows that fight all too well.

Elder lives in Fort Pierce. She is battling to keep the family home she bought seven years ago for herself and her two children. The single mom works as a medical biller. She became trapped in the fine print of her original home loan.

The adjustable rate spiked, more than doubling Elder's $700 monthly mortgage. She says she was then bounced between lenders as she fought for a permanent loan modification and a reduced payment.

Elder said she was told she would be eligible after making trial payments of nearly $1000 per month. After two years went by, Elder said her plea for help was rejected.

"I could not understand or get past the money we had already spent for the last two years and where it went," said Elder.

On the verge of foreclosure, Elder went to the West Palm Beach law firm of Paul Krasker. That is when her attorneys said they discovered Elder had also become a victim of the practice known as robo-signing.

During the real estate boom, lending documents were often poorly kept. Without them, many lenders allegedly turned to robo-signings, which is falsified signatures on made up mortgage documents. 

Her legal team said that is what happened to Elder. 

"How dare they prey on the little people, people who don't even know," said Elder. "Why would they take advantage of common people? No ethics. No morals. They have none."

Robo-signings have spawned suits and countersuits. They have also created a backlog of homes in foreclosure limbo. Until that backlog clears, home values could remain on unsteady ground.

"I think it remains in a critical situation right now, critical because there are so many foreclosures that have not been brought forward over the last six months since these robo-signings came into existence," said attorney Paul Krasker.

Jessica Elder hopes to stay put in her home, hopes to get that loan modification that might secure her future, one mortgage payment at a time.

"I have never ever wanted to skip out on anything I ever borrowed," Elder said. "I have always paid my debts and (my) house has been in the family for a long time. I do not want to see it go."

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