The Faces of Foreclosure— Tomás Hernandez

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By Consumers Union on Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

California is ground zero for America’s foreclosure crisis. In January 2009, 76,761 properties in California, totaling 1 out of every 173 housing units, were in some stage of the foreclosure process, according to RealtyTrac.
These sobering statistics put California at the top of the heap, nationally, as the state with the highest number of properties in foreclosure. And 2008 wasn’t any better for California. According to ForeclosureRadar, California saw unprecedented foreclosure activity in 2008 with nearly a quarter of a million properties sold at trustee sale auction, representing $107.8 Billion in combined loan value.

Tomás Hernandez is just one of the hundreds of thousands of California homeowners who is feeling the crush of a looming foreclosure. His story is one that illustrates what happens to someone when they have placed their trust in the hands of professionals who, they say, did them wrong. One would never know by driving past the Hernandez family home that they are in danger of losing their home. Their home is tidy, the flowers are lovingly tended and there is so much pride of ownership that anyone would be proud to live next door. Yet, within the family home there is sadness and regret that the dream of homeownership, which they have worked so hard to attain, is quickly disappearing.

The Hernandez family story is complicated and involves allegations of being sold several unaffordable mortgage loans by deceptive means. The Hernandez family, along with several other Spanish-speaking borrowers from the Silicon Valley area, are part of a lawsuit in which they are suing several individuals who they say were involved in activities that took advantage of Spanish-speaking individuals. One of the ways in which they say they were taken advantage of is that the loan agent required signatures on loan documents prepared in English when the loans were negotiated in Spanish. Sadly, this is a situation we hear of all too often. Among the reforms Consumers Union is advocating is that loan documents should be prepared in the language of negotiation used to sell the loan, to make sure that the borrower is fully informed of what is taking place and that they are not unfairly taken advantage of because of the language limitations. But the problems with the Hernandez family situation do not end here. Click here and scroll down to read more about their story.

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