|Lender cancels mortgage on moldy
Pepperell Free Press,
Davis: Lenders do another
reversal on mortgage issue
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 -
PEPPERELL -- "I don't know what's going to happen next," Nancy Davis
said about the news she received Friday night at 5:45 p.m.. on her cell
An attorney for Washington Mutual bank of Jacksonville, FL told her
the bank is willing to give her family a full deed in lieu of
foreclosure. That would effectively wipe a their $225,889 mortgage and
$21,502 worth of interest and other charges for the family's unlivable,
mold-infested duplex on Shawnee Road off the books.
Two weeks prior, Davis had received a letter of foreclosure and
demand for immediate payment from attorneys hired by the Federal
National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae). The letter had come on the
heels of an even earlier offer from Washington Mutual to excuse the
The roller-coaster of events is nothing new to Davis, who is doggedly
pursuing a lawsuit against two real estate brokers and a home inspector
involved in the original sale of the house. She has taken in stride two
previous attempts by the bank to auction the house.
The most recent attempt was aborted when the auctioneer saw Davis and
her husband, Rick, removing their belongings dressed in full HAZMAT
clothing before television cameras.
She doesn't know the status of the third auction try, which is
scheduled for Sept. 8.
"Washington said Fannie Mae controls the mortgage and [the
foreclosure] was Fannie Mae's decision," Davis said. "They won't discuss
what's going on with Fannie Mae but all of a sudden we got this phone
call. Whose on first? I don't know and I don't know what's on second."
Neither the Federal National Mortgage Association nor the Washington
Mutual Bank responded to requests for comment.
Davis does know a couple of things, however.
"In negotiations, if that's what we're doing, I want the property
sold as a full tear down. I want to make sure there isn't another family
in there, ever," Davis said.
The Davises had ceased making mortgage payments some months ago when
Nancy became ill from the pervasive mold that is eating away at the
interior of the house. Inch-thick multi-colored mold has eaten away 40
percent of the roof sheathing. Doctors persuaded her to vacate the
property, she said, and throw away their possessions.
In June, the Davises presented their plight to the Pepperell Board of
Health. They had delayed their appearance because they would have had no
place to live if their house was condemned. After townspeople raised
money last year for the family to move into an apartment, they met with
health officials who said they were powerless because the Davises no
longer live at the property.
"We can't go bankrupt because the lawsuit is pending," Davis said.
"The case might be heard three years from now, and even after a case
goes to jury, the judge has to rule on it. There's no guarantee how long
that will take so that's why I'm doing what I'm doing."
The other thing Nancy knows is that her story, with the help of
newspaper and television reports, is now a national one. She is coming
into increasing contact via e-mail and telephone with mold sufferers
from as far away as Dublin, Ireland.
She has been selected as a volunteer coordinator for a 50-state
lobbying effort for passage of federal mold regulations sponsored by
Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan.
She has also begun working with Mold Relief Inc., which she describes
as the "Red Cross of mold relief," to help fellow sufferers find housing
and financial support.
Sunday night, for example, she was speaking with a photojournalist
from Colorado who has been operating his cell phone and computer from a
tent in the woods. Mold has forced him to abandon his home, he
reportedly told her, and there isn't enough money to purchase another.
She put him in touch with people in California who might help.
"I'm working on the humanitarian end of helping displaced families
nationwide. It's wonderful and it fills me up," Davis said. "Sure, we
have this lawsuit and so on but you have no idea how long it will go. In
the meantime, you can pick up the pieces."
Her husband Rick, meanwhile, is moonlighting delivering furniture for
the company that was able to restore some of the couple's antiques in
order to pay off the bill.
"I'm just a little woman with a big mouth," she said, "but there are
families all over the country with mold problems. There are families out
there just trying to get a deal on a home. You have no idea what fight I
"Look what one person can do," she said. "Who would have believed
that this tragedy could turn into helping people in states I've never
even been to."