Countrywide in the Courts:
Borrowers across the nation have accused the lender and its subsidiaries and business associates of avariety of misconduct.
MELISSA LOPRETTO KNEW WHAT SHE WANTED:A BIGGER HOUSE, A BIGGER BACK YARD,A NICE PLACE TO RAISE HER 11-YEAR-OLD SON.
Her new home was built outside Tampa by one of the nation’s largest home builders, KB Home,and financed by the nation’s largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial. The subdivision’sname spoke of sunny hopes: Tierra del Sol.
But things didn’t turn out the way she’d expected.
Ms. Lopretto claims in a lawsuit in Pasco County, Fla., that the builder and the lender engaged ina sophisticated scheme to take advantage of her and other borrowers like her, landing her in a predatory loan and in a house with serious structural defects.It was a process, her suit claims, tainted throughout by fraud, nudged along by an inflatedappraisal and bait-and-switch salesmanship.“It’s sick that they’re allowed do such things and prey on people,” Ms. Lopretto said in aninterview with the Center for Responsible Lending. “I cry a lot because I wanted things to be better for me and my son, and they haven’t been.”
Both KB Home and Countrywide deny doing anything improper.
Ms. Lopretto is not alone in complaining about Countrywide, however. Borrowers across thenation have accused the lender and its subsidiaries and business associates of a variety of misconduct. In court documents, borrowers have claimed that Countrywide has:
systematically lured “unwary” borrowers into getting mortgages that were “entirelyinappropriate for them;”
overcharged minority borrowers who for qualified for lower-cost loans;
taken advantage of elderly and non-English-speaking borrowers;
gouged borrowers by charging inflated or unauthorized fees and penalties;
used falsified appraisals and inflated incomes to approve loans that borrowers couldn’tafford;
made loans arranged by mortgage brokers who used deceptive sales pitches to land borrowers into overpriced and unfair deals;
engaged in sloppy or fraudulent loan servicing, in some cases misapplying homeowners’ payments or filing unwarranted foreclosure actions; and
reneged on promises to help victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by giving them a break on their loan payments.
2007 Center for Responsible Lendingwww.responsiblelending.org