HOUSTON - It's a homeowner’s worst nightmare.
A 91-year-old Houston woman came close to losing her house Monday. She was in the process of being evicted, until her attorney and community came to help.
The woman says it all started when she took out a reverse mortgage.
Her story is now a warning to others to read the fine print before re-financing a home the second time around.
“I really didn’t think it would come to this,” said homeowner Jane Scott.
That was the harsh reality Scott faced Monday after constables showed up to evict her.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen to her now. I don’t want to lose her, so I don’t know. That might kill her,” said her son, Tony Scott.
Leaving the 91-year-old to fear the worst.
“I’ll go under the bridge until I can get me some help,” Jane Scott said.
Like so many retirees, Scott took out a reverse mortgage four years ago to supplement her income.
Everything was fine up until she missed a payment on her home insurance -- $853, an amount she later paid.
“Being her age, she probably thought, hey I paid it, it’s over,” said LaTrice Martin, assistant to Jane Scott’s attorney.
But it wasn’t over. Jane Scott's mortgage company eventually decided to foreclose her home, something Scott says she had no clue about until now.
“She found out that she was foreclosed on this year, when everything went to court. That is when she was notified and found out that she had been foreclosed on at an earlier date,” Martin said.
Dan Parson with the Houston Better Business Bureau says this type of miscommunication happens quite often, especially to those who re-finance the second time around.
“When people get into reverse mortgages, people forget the home owner’s responsibilities,” Parson said.
From taxes, insurance, to even HOA fees, these are still part of your homeowner duties, when you re-finance.
Parson says it’s also important to seek legal consultation before signing up and to check and make sure the company you’re dealing with is the real deal.
Lastly, he says reverse mortgages aren’t for everyone.
“You’re playing with your home, take a deep breath and rethink this in a million times," he said. "I would always argue if there’s always a more conventional way to get money, you might consider that first, but again, if it’s properly done, and you know what you’re getting into, than you’re fine."
As for Jane Scott, there’s still hope.
Her attorney managed to get her an extension until next month, buying her some time.
Houston City Council member Dwight Boykins also came out Monday to check on Jane Scott after hearing about her story, heeding a warning to seniors and their families.
“I want to encourage every person that doesn’t touch bases with their parents once a week, to go and look, know what’s going on, and check on their finances, because a situation like this shouldn’t happen,” Boykins said.
Jane Scott says her son has always checked up on her, but recently fell ill. She says he was the one who paid for her missed insurance payment and has helped rally the right people to clarify Monday’s situation.
KHOU 11 News reached out to Jane Scott’s mortgage company for comment but haven’t heard back.
As for Jane Scott, she’ll be put up a local hotel for free for a few days while her belongings and home are put back together.
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