In the ever-widening foreclosure crisis, stories of families losing their homes from predatory lending practices, free-falling property values and modification scams are legion. But for one Houston couple, the reason for their foreclosure was entirely out of their control.
Brian and Khanklink Pryon purchased their Houston home in 2008 from Wells Fargo, after the previous owner defaulted, according to Fox 26 News. They had never missed a payment on their $700-a-month mortgage. But unknown to them, the title of ownership was never delivered to Wells Fargo because the title company tasked with sending the paperwork went bankrupt shortly after the purchase.
As a result, the couple has been stuck in legal limbo for close to two years, with the bank maintaining that the couple doesn't own the home.
Now Wells Fargo, which still technically owns the property because of the oversight, is attempting to foreclose on the couple. That is, unless they're willing to pay $170,000 to buy the home back -- $30,000 more than the bank had agreed to sell it for in 2008. Pryon claims that the bank has jacked up the price because of purported "late fees."
Unfortunately, the Pryons (pictured at left) are far from the only homeowners fighting a questionable foreclosure. In 2010, Fort Lauderdale homeowner Jason Grodensky was served with foreclosure papers –- on a home he purchased entirely with cash, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. As in the Pryons' case, the confusion started when the deed to Grodensky's home, which was purchased at short sale, ended up in the hands of a government-backed lender.
Bank of America, which ordered the foreclosure, has since apologized for the incident and agreed to pay to correct the problem.
And lest readers think that banks are the only ones implicated in unwarranted foreclosures, AOL Real Estate reported on the story of Sgt. Michael Clauer of Frisco, Texas, whose $300,000 home (which he had owned free and clear) was foreclosed on by the local homeowners association. The reason? His family fell behind on their $800 membership fee.
In Texas, where HOAs are granted extraordinary power over their members, an association can foreclose on its members' homes without a court order if the owner fails to pay dues. Clauer was overseas on active duty when the foreclosure was ordered. After a thorough shellacking from the media, the HOA relented and returned the home to the Clauers. But not before the HOA reportedly received death threats.
Sited in a gated community nestled in "The Estates," a posh spot in The Oaks of Calabasas, this home, once listed at $10.8 million, offers a picturesque tree-lined driveway with stunning landscaping. Special features inside its finely finished walls include a soundproof theater, climate-controlled wine cellar, elevator and expansive guest quarters. Oh, and don't forget the "subterranean storage with an auto lift" -- for your car.
Location: New Canaan, Conn.
Listing Price: $10.9 million
Sq. Ft.: 9,244
Auction date: Oct. 20 (absolute auction)
Beyond its stately 16-room colonial, this compound also has a giant 14-room entertainment complex that cost $7 million to build. The veritable athletic club includes a basketball court, bowling alley, full-swing golf center, production stage and movie theater. The property also includes a guest house, pool, spa and trout pond.
Offering astounding panoramas of the Vineyard Sound and Elizabeth Islands, this home is ideal for entertaining: it has ample space, open ceilings and an expansive deck accessible through many rooms of the house. Stone walls and meadows add further to the idyllic feel of the residence. Hop in the outdoor shower to get really close to nature.
Once whistling at the treetops with a $10 million asking price, this home has had to climb down a few branches. Starting bid for this property will be $1.9 million. The long and the short of it is you get 12,000 square feet, 1,100 feet of shoreline and 4,000 square feet of outdoor terraces. Yee haa!
We've hardly ever seen so much space for so little. Often, homes that are this expansive cost easily 10 times as much. But that's the nature of auctions, right? The bet -- and it's a risky one -- is that bidders, lured by the prospect of a bargain, will drive up the price. This home, heavily influenced by French Normandy architecture, brims with antique furniture and fine finishes. Special features include a 3,000-square-foot master suite, a separate media room and a, er, "hunt room."
How's that for symmetry? Not bad, but apparently that eye-pleasing vista -- plus all the other luxury features of this chateau -- wasn't enough to spur bidders at a May auction this year to meet the event's reserve price.
Location: Malibu, Calif.
Listing Price: $22 million
Sq. Ft.: 10,480
Auction Date: N/A (reserve price was not met at auction on Sept. 18)
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the highly-promoted auction of this jaw-dropper in Malibu, once listed for $65 million. The bidding started at $22 million last week, but it did not reach the reserve price, a minimum amount sometimes set by the owner to ensure that the home doesn't sell too low. The failure of this home to sell on the block reveals how auctions sometimes are more marketing ploy than bona fide bidding-war.
Only 35 minutes from New York, N.Y., this enormous house sitting on eight acres of posh Purchase, N.Y., real estate brims with mahogany and a wide array of decorative touches. The property includes a gazebo, manicured gardens and two cottages. We haven't heard back on whether the property sold on the 22nd.
Location: Paradise Valley, Ariz.
Listing Price: $6 million
Sq. Ft.: 9,523
Auction Date: Oct. 20 (Absolute Auction)
When this home hits the auction block, real theater is in store: The home will sell at an absolute auction -- the highest bidder, no matter how low his bid, takes home the, er, home. With cascading walls of glass, this Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired contemporary offers unparalleled luxury for your wealthy desert-dwelling aesthete.
Location: Charles Town, W.Va.
Price: $1.2 million
Sq. Ft.: 7,037
Auction Date: Ongoing (Current bid is $950,000)
The Perkins House, which occupies the property where radical abolitionist John Brown was executed, was built in 1891 and retains the Queen Anne style exemplified in the turret at its front, along with other trappings of the era. The 7,000-square-foot home boasts five bedrooms, 6 and 1/2 bathrooms and four porches, along with a two-story barn (the home's original), a preserved outhouse and outdoor pool.
The home, built in 1994, is 4,162 square feet of pure gorgeous. Just minutes from the Sunset Strip, it also has location going for it. There are four bedrooms, four baths, a three-car garage, hardwood flooring, a marble fireplace, formal dining room, kitchen, a spiral staircase, custom media room with a wet bar, and wall-to-wall windows offering scenic views.