Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cousin's use of free mortgage loophole not disclosed in court

Desmoinesregister website:

The assistant attorney general who challenged Matt and Jamie Danielson's fight for a free house in court said Friday he was unaware a relative of the Ankeny couple had won a free house previously by using the same legal loophole.

"No one was aware of that to my knowledge," said Assistant Attorney General Grant Dugdale. "That was not disclosed during the course of discovery."

Mortgage lenders and readers were outraged this week by news that the couple salvaged their house from foreclosure in 2007 after making one payment, using a 123-year-old law that requires both spouses to sign a mortgage.

The Des Moines Register reported Friday that Troy Hudson, a cousin of Jamie Danielson, managed the same feat in 2006. His wife had not signed his mortgage.

In both cases, which were upheld by the Iowa Court of Appeals, the couples voided their mortgages and kept their houses.

On Friday, the Register learned other facts about the Danielsons' case that were not part of the court record before the appeals court made its decision in May 2009. Among them:

• Both the Danielsons and the Hudsons refinanced their homes through a branch of First Horizon in Ankeny.

Jamie Danielson worked at First Horizon during her refinancing, and the branch was run at the time by her mother, Rita Van Zee. Van Zee managed the branch from 2005 to 2008, when it became part of MetLife, and then continued managing the branch until it closed at the end of last year.

During the time the two women worked there, other relatives of the Danielsons refinanced homes through the company and later lost them through foreclosure, court records show.

Reached Friday, Troy Hudson said Jamie Danielson and her mother knew when he won his foreclosure case. However, Hudson said neither Jamie Danielson nor Van Zee was involved in his loan.

He said the case was one of the first in the state in which someone was able to void a mortgage and keep a house because a spouse did not sign it.

He said he tried to do right by Wells Fargo and make up overdue payments after he fell behind, but Wells Fargo would not accept anything but the total he owed.

"All I know is there's nothing shady as far as me and my wife are concerned," he said. "I don't know all the facts in my cousin's case."

• Matt and Jamie Danielson sold part of another property they owned to Jamie's mother before it was taken in foreclosure.

The property at 3605 N.W. 83rd Place in Ankeny was assessed at $371,570 when it was purchased in 2003. But the Danielsons got a mortgage for $624,800 a year later at the First Horizon branch run by Van Zee.

In October 2006, they sold two acres of land, valued at about $45,000, to Van Zee and her husband for $150,000. In June 2008, after the Danielsons were foreclosed upon, First Horizon sold the remaining property and house for $350,000.


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