Due to an unfortunate turn of events, primarily the death of my husband, I am facing foreclosure on our home- proceedings scheduled for May 18th, 2012. A few weeks ago I took a real estate agent to my property to get his opinion on it's value and found I was unable to unlock the doors with my keys. I went to the back door and there before me was a notice of foreclosure with a real-estate broker's card and 'Call Alice' written on the foreclosure notice. My friend called her and she told him that the property was indeed for sale and that it was listed on her web-site. Sure enough we went home and found the listing online. I was advised to call the Sheriff's Dept. of which I did and he in turn called the Real Estate Broker. She indicated to him that the attorney/trustee handling the foreclosure said it was ok for her to go ahead and assume the property for sale. She entered my property and had a locksmith change the locks. The sheriff demanded she return the new keys to me and that she had no right to enter my property. The Real Estate Agent told me I should hire a litigator and find out from him what recourse I might have against this Broker for her actions. The litigator basically said not much. He asked me what harm had really been rendered to me. I asked him how he would feel if he came to his property and found himself not only locked out but that a locksmith had changed the locks. He shrugged his shoulders and asked me if anything had been damaged or stolen and I replied, 'not to my knowledge'. He said, 'exactly' and that's the way a judge would see it. That the broker would be reprimanded and charged court costs so it wouldn't really be to my advantage to pursue the matter legally.I was so stunned by his response to her actions, almost as if he were protecting her interests. And he even went on to say it was nothing more than a 'Judge Judy' type of claim that I would be submitting before the court. I didn't know what to think.I have copies of the listing on her web-site and pictures of her card on my door with the hearing of foreclosure notice. The property is today listed on her web-site and the foreclosure proceedings haven't begun yet.Have I been wronged and if so do I have recourse in the state of North Carolina in your opinion?
State/Country relating to question: North Carolina
I sat down with a litigator who didn't show me any empathy whatsoever in an injustice that clearly happened to me.
Hello,While the attorney (litigator?) acted without any hint of professionalism or tact, what he told you was essentially correct. In order for a person to have a cause of action and be able to recover, they must first prove that the defendant breached the law in some way. That is easily proven here because they dispossessed you of your possession of the property without any due process of law. The second aspect is that you must have suffered some calculable monetary damages that the court could then award you..If nothing was taken or damaged, then even though the broker violated the law, there are no real damages that you have suffered other than your inconvenience and emotional distress if they put you back in possession. You could file suit against the broker as well as the attorney who directed her for their wrongful foreclosure and a judge might impose some type of punitive damages to deter future similar behavior..The defendants would argue that this was a simple clerical mistake, that it was not done willfully or with malice and that you have suffered no compensable damages since the dispossession was brief in nature..It would then be a coin flip as to whether the judge would award any punitive damges and how much to compensate you..Since this type of action would be out of the jurisdiction of small claims court, you would have to hire an attorney to pursue the claim with no guarantee of success..I understand that it is unfair and wrong, but this is one of those cases where the remedy might cost more in money and time than it was worth..
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Thank You Barrister. At least I have professionalism in your response. Do you think the actions of this Broker should be reported to the NC Real Estate Commission? It is obvious to me that the broker understood when entering my home that her manipulation of the law, (intentionally breaking & entering 'my' home), listing it without a contract & telling the real estate agent I took there to see the property, in an email that he has today, that she had received an offer, (didn't bring said offer it to me), would be worth any legal recourse I might take. I feel she needs to be held responsible somehow- for entering my home where my medications and personal items were- my God, had I done such as this I & any other citizen would have been locked up!
You are very welcome. An attorney is supposed to be professional and sympathetic especially when delivering unpleasant news and this person's behavior makes all attorneys look bad..And yes, I definitely think that this broker should be reported to the Real Estate Commission. As a Realtor myself, it would have been obvious if your personal property was in the home that it had not been abandoned and she had a duty to inquire further before just changing the locks. The fact that she listed it without the consent of the owner would be negligence at best and fraud at worst. Even if she was acting at the direction of the attorney for the lender and thought it had been abandoned, she had a duty to inquire further..
12 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 23+ years
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