Alleged Squatter Stakes Claim to Seattle Homes, Says She Is 'Sticking It' to Banks
As if the nation's real estate market did not already have enough problems -- declining sales, credit crunch and the home appraisal nightmare -- now squatters are moving into vacant and foreclosed homes and staking ownership claims.
A Seattle woman who plopped herself into a vacant $3.3 million suburban Seattle mansion with her two kids -- claiming she was squatting in empty foreclosed mansions as a means of "sticking it" to the banks -- now tells the judge she "meant no harm."
Jill Lane, an attractive blonde and co-owner of an online debt recovery business that also claims to help make mortgages vanish, says she made a mistake and is seeking legal counsel.
In previous statements, Lane insinuated she was part of a rebellion that may grow into a national movement. And she told a Seattle Times reporter that she's going to keep staking her claim to the waterfront house at 435 Eighth Avenue where she squatted for almost a month, because no one owns it. Even more, she says she is staking claims to 10 other houses in the Seattle area that have gone into foreclosure and been passed from bank to bank.
And she's doing it all, she insists, not to make money but to make a statement.
Lane told The Seattle Times by phone from Disneyland, where she was vacationing after being released by the Kirkland, Ore., police, that "banks do whatever they want and nobody holds them accountable." She went on to say: "It makes me ill to see what the banks are doing. They aren't using their bailout money to help anyone. So I'm standing up for the people who are being brutalized by banks every day."
"This is a national movement," seconded Jim McClung, a former Bothell real estate agent and owner of NW Note Elimination, a company he runs with Lane that counsels people in how to "eliminate mortgages" as well as take over empty, foreclosed houses.
Lane moved into the vacant suburban Seattle mansion with her cats, TV, and even her own bed. A man named James Grenz also moved in with Lane and her children, 9 and 7. She treated the property well, according to news reports, and was kind enough to allow the home-stagers to come inside the mansion to rearrange the $80,000 worth of staging furniture to make the house more appealing to buyers.
Talk about plush living: The brand-new home is equipped with an elevator and wine cellar, fitness room, home office, and boasts city and mountain views. It has 7,680-square-feet, six bedrooms, nine baths, a formal dining room, and living room and dens. The holder of the note, First Citizens Bank, says the family showed up, took down the "for sale" signs and even changed the locks on the doors. Lane replaced the "for sale" sign with a "no trespassing" signs.
Ironically, Kirkland police arrested Jill E. Lane, 30, June 22 for criminal trespass after neighbors saw the signs that Lane put up. Before that, they just thought the house had been sold and they had new neighbors.
The bank hired security and notified police, and now have an attorney fighting to keep the bank as the home's rightful owner.
See more homes for sale in Seattle, Wash. at AOL real estate.
Want to learn more about home buying and home finance? If so, you won't want to miss
our online discussion with industry experts,
"What Works Now: Smart Moves When Buying a Home,"
created by AOL Real Estate in participation with Bank of America Home Loans.
Sign up for a reminder on AOL Real Estate.