Bank foreclosure may slam doors on Mack woman’s 40-year home

Estefanita Crespin worries that she will lose her ranch in Mack to foreclosure.



For 40 years, Estefanita Crespin has watched the seasons change at her 60-acre Mack ranch. At 84, the self-described country girl still putters around her newer manufactured home, but she wades into the snow only to feed a flock of chickens.

This idyllic country life may be coming to an end for Crespin as the ranch is in foreclosure and slated for auction Wednesday.

Crespin and her great-nephew, Anthony Amos, who signed on as a co-owner in the property in the last few years, fell on hard times when Amos lost his job in the oil fields. They missed six payments completely and have paid half the mortgage price on the past seven payments through a forbearance agreement with their bank, Chase. They say they have borrowed enough money from other family members to pay off the full amount owed, about $18,000, but cannot get cooperation with their bank to make the lump sum payment and keep the place.

“It’s been a difficult thing for me to get it in my head that we’re going to have to move,” Crespin said, sitting with her head in her hands at her kitchen table.

“For me, I can go into assisted living. But his little boy loves the country,” she said of Amos’s 6-year-old son.

By all accounts, Crespin could have paid off the place years ago. She purchased the acreage and a mobile home on the site for $24,000 nearly four decades ago. She refinanced three times, each time using the extra money to help out her brother’s children, whom she raised. She also raised three sons of her own.

Crespin, this time with Amos, refinanced again in 2007 after learning the mortgage had a variable interest rate. A refinance lowered their interest from 9 percent to a 7.25 percent fixed interest rate.

Mortgage on the property and home is now at $240,000. The property and buildings are valued at $146,190, according to the Mesa County Assessor’s Office, but the owners believe they could sell for more than that.

Attorneys for Chase, working on the foreclosure, are Castle Meinhold & Stawiarski LLC based in Denver, Crespin and Amos said. A representative answering the phone for the law firm said the company could not comment on the foreclosure without written consent from the borrowers.

“I’ve been trying to work with them,” Amos said of Chase. “I just can’t get the paperwork from them to pay this off.”

Mesa County Public Trustee Paul Brown said he’s heard of hundreds of similarly sad foreclosure stories, especially last year. Mesa County counted 1,291 foreclosures in 2009. There were 136 foreclosures filed already in January as of Wednesday, Brown said.

However, about 70 percent of properties that head into the foreclosure process do not go to sale because borrowers and lenders are able to make a deal. Losses on properties that go to sale rarely are recouped by the borrower, but Brown said it occasionally has been known to happen.

Brown said he lately has heard from borrowers that banks seem less willing to work with borrowers.

“It’s true,” he said. “I’m sorry to say banks have not been working with people as much as they should. I don’t know if they’re swamped with foreclosures. Sometimes it feels like they’ve taken the stimulus money and run with it.”

Still, Brown said, bank representatives regularly tell him they lose money on each foreclosure.

Crespin and Amos still plan to fight their impending foreclosure, hoping they can get a payoff amount from the bank, make the payment and stall the proceedings.

“The way it’s looking we have the money to catch up if they would quit giving us the runaround,” Amos said. “Whatever it takes, we’ll do it to cure it. My great-aunt has been on this property for 40 years, and I can’t let her lose it.”


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