Q: We deeded our house to a man that took over our mortgage. The house went in foreclosure but we knew nothing of it.
He told us that he sold the deed to someone else and we knew nothing of that either. It is true that we finally started receiving letters of the foreclosure but it was too late by then. My husband was unemployed and we could not afford to save it. Can we sure the man?
A: You could not have legally deeded the home to someone else without violating the due on sale clause of your mortgage. And even if you did do that, deeding the property away does not take your name off the mortgage. You would still be responsible for the mortgage unless the mortgage lender was aware of this and allowed the man to assume your mortgage. Even then, the lender would not necessarily let you off the hook so I am guessing that the lender was not involved and this was not an aboveboard transaction. The man could pay the mortgage voluntarily but if he stopped then the lender could foreclose and that is what happened.
You did not handle this transaction intelligently. Can you sue the man? Yes. Anyone can sue anyone else for anything at any time. Will you prevail? That is the real question. The answer is, it depends on a whole bunch of factors you do not relate. Who is the man? Does he have assets? Does he make his living by scamming people like this?
And what about you and your own culpability in trying to do an illegal deal like this?
This is not me being harsh. Any lawyer is going to be asking these types of questions and a court certainly would. So you have to think this through. If the man is a scammer, then suing him civilly will not get you very much because he probably is smart enough not to have assets or own anything in his own name. And you may have a long line of victims ahead of you. Of course, if you and others were scammed, the man may have committed a criminal offense, in which case he can be prosecuted and if convicted, may go to jail.
Litigation also costs money which you don't seem to have much of unless you can find a lawyer who is willing to take a case on contingency (unlikely here unless the man has assets), pro bono (for free) or at low cost.
If money is tight, I would try to see if a Legal Aid or other pro bono attorney will at least review this matter for you. Such review would include the deeds to your property and deed of trust and whatever documents you signed with this man. If possible, I would try to do as much research on this man as possible and let the attorney review that too. Hopefully, after a review, the attorney can point you in the right direction. If Legal Aid cannot help, try contacting the NC Bar Association, which runs a low cost referral problem. You might want a real estate or consumer attorney.
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