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Phillip Harris, 62, who has black lung disease, has lived for more than 40 years in a three-story building in San Francisco that doubles as his home and a boardinghouse. Caliber threatened to foreclose on the mortgage a few months after Lone Star bought the loan from Bank of America and scheduled a sale of the property for March 19.
Mr. Harris sent in an application for a loan modification — a move that under California law would stop the foreclosure process. But because the documents were not yet in Caliber’s computer system, the firm said it intended to go ahead with the foreclosure and sale of the house.
About a week before the trustee sale, Mr. Harris and his lawyer, Tiffany Norman, said they called Caliber and spoke with an employee who identified herself only as Katrina. On the recorded call, Mr. Harris and his lawyer repeatedly told the Caliber employee that the application had been submitted.
“We definitely don’t doubt you guys sent that in,” the Caliber employee said during the phone call, a recording of which was produced in litigation. But the employee said there was nothing she could do to stop the sale because it took five to seven days for an application to be “uploaded into” Caliber’s system.
Ms. Norman went to court and got a temporary restraining order against Caliber. A few weeks ago, a Caliber lawyer approached Ms. Norman about a potential settlement.
Formerly known as Vericrest Financial, Caliber has grown rapidly. Today it manages more than 327,465 mortgages with a combined value of just over $71 billion. Some of Caliber’s growth has come from Lone Star’s steering of standard mortgage origination business to the firm by requiring prospective buyers of the foreclosed homes it puts up for sale to be prequalified for a mortgage from Caliber.
As Caliber has grown, so have the customer complaints. More than 1,000 complaints have been lodged with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with complaints running 54 percent higher than a year ago, the agency reports. Caliber said in an email that the modifications it had made had reduced the average borrower’s monthly payments more than 20 percent.
“A collaborative solution that turns a nonperforming loan into a performing loan is not only the best outcome for homeowners, but it is the most attractive economic outcome for the long-term oriented investors who own the mortgages,” Caliber said.