Baltimore homebuyers get new hope, settlement date
Remember BethAnne Hoffmann and her fiancé, who have been stuck in limbo waiting for settlement on a home in Baltimore's Mayfield neighborhood? The lender foreclosed months ago, but the title is caught up in the defaulted homeowner's bankruptcy case. Well, she's now hopeful that the ownership uncertainty is coming to an end.
This week (after much prodding) the lender filed a "lift-stay" motion to allow the sale. It expects a ruling April 17.
"They are hopeful that things will get ironed out by the end of April," she wrote me in an update. Her apartment lease -- the one she had to extend after the lender couldn't settle on March 6 as agreed -- is up April 30.
What prompted this development, since Hoffmann's repeated requests to fix the situation weren't getting her anywhere? She thinks it was her appeal to Rep. John Sarbanes' office. A Sarbanes official called the lender. Tuesday, the lender filed the motion.
"That rattled some cages," she said in her email.
The situation was odd because lenders aren't supposed to list foreclosures until they own them. But if you're looking to buy a bank-owned home and want to make sure a property is really, truly bank-owned, here's a way to check:
Go to the state's Real Property Data Search to see who's listed as the owner. If it's not the lender, go to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search site and search on the name of the person who is listed as the owner. Presumably a foreclosure case will pop up. Click on it and read through to see if the property has been auctioned and if that auction has been ratified. That ought to be enough, but since it wasn't in Hoffmann's situation, you might also make sure there's no line in there like, "Notice of Filing of Case in Bankruptcy Court."
I doubt this check is foolproof. But if you turn up a red flag, you'll at least know to ask questions.