Home > News > NJ Man Uses Loophole to Beat Foreclosure, Get His Home Back

Comments 0 Comments

Generally, failing to pay your mortgage does not end up with you outright owning your home. In fact, that’s usually the exact opposite of what happens.

That being said, here’s the story of a New Jersey man who had the uncommon experience of defaulting on his mortgage and retaining ownership of his home, by court order, according to a report from The Record.

In 2007, Gordon A. Washington defaulted on his $520,000 mortgage. This is usually the point at which foreclosure proceedings start, but that’s not exactly what happened, according to the U.S District Court of New Jersey. Washington argued that his creditors, Specialized Loan Servicing LLC and Bank of New York Mellon, couldn’t collect on his debt because they didn’t file “a viable foreclosure complaint within a six-year statute of limitations,” The Record reports.

Judge Michael B. Kaplan ruled in Washington’s favor, though not without a grimace. Here’s an excerpt of his written opinion, published by The Record: “The court will proceed to gargle in an effort to remove the lingering bad taste.”

As humorous as that line is, it’s doubtful Washington’s creditors are laughing. Washington reportedly bought the $650,000 home with $130,000 down and a 30-year, adjustable-rate mortgage, but only made a few monthly payments of $4,165 before defaulting. The outstanding loan, according to The Record, is $519,000, just $1,000 less than what Washington borrowed, and his creditors now have no claim on his property.

It’s still not an entirely rosy picture for Washington — he filed for bankruptcy in March — but getting out of a half-million-dollar mortgage is a pretty big victory for someone with financial issues. It’s unclear if the creditors will appeal the decision.

This isn’t your typical foreclosure case. Falling behind on mortgage payments is one of the worst financial issues you can have, because it will trash your credit for several years, not to mention the stress of potentially losing your home (see: U.S. financial crisis, 2007).

Of course, most people go into homeownership expecting to be able to pay for it, but given the recent history of mortgages in this country and the gravity of this financial milestone, it’s worth approaching with caution. Before you start home shopping, you should figure out how much house you can afford (here’s a calculator to help). Keep in mind that good credit will help you qualify for more affordable mortgage rates, which will greatly reduce the cost of homeownership over the life of your loan. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team