New rule allowing Ga. homeowners to halt foreclosures

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - A metro Atlanta consumer attorney said he has already been able to halt a dozen foreclosures using a new ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The latest case involves a Forsyth County home and lending giant Wells Fargo.

"Having to move out of the dream home that my son and I built is the worst thing I could think of," said homeowner David Stripland.

The recession hit his car dealership around the same time the housing crisis, cutting his home's value more than 60 percent.

"You can't sell it, you can't re-fi, you have to get a modification," said his wife, Paulette.

The Striplands said the process went on for more than a year. They then received a string of foreclosure notices from Wells Fargo.

"Foreclosure. It's a shame," said Paulette through a stream of tears.

The foreclosure has now been halted, after a recent ruling by the state appellate court.

Wells Fargo does not hold the note. It only services the loan. The note holder is not clearly stated.

The Striplands paid forensic auditors who found the loan has been divided up into dozens of securities sold to investors.

"Once these notes are chopped up and turned into bonds, securities, whatever; who really owns it?" asked their attorney, Bob Thompson.

But the Georgia Court of Appeals ruling in a case involving a Cobb County family and servicers Provident Funding, LLC, ruled homeowners have "a right to know" to whom they actually owe the money, lest they be "misled or confused."

"Even a dog in Georgia has the right to know who's kicking him," Emory law professor Frank Alexander told Channel 2's reporting partners at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

"These big banks and Wall Street have to follow the law of the land, just like I do," said Paulette Stripland.

Channel 2's Jim Strickland learned just before 5 p.m. Thursday, Wells Fargo had halted the foreclosure.

Thompson said most homeowners in peril should take action on their own.

"Call and get it stopped and get yourself some time, because with time most people can work things out," he said.

It is likely Provident will appeal to the state supreme court.