David Krapes took neither solace nor satisfaction in Bank of America's announcement Monday that it will pay billions to atone for shenanigans that contributed to the mortgage market meltdown that triggered the Great Recession.

There is a sense of closure, though. Krapes' five-year quest to get free of a soured refinance - that started with Calabasas-based Countrywide and ended up with BofA Home Loans - finally ended last summer with a strange twist.

He's now renting the Reseda house that was once his and his wife's dream home.

"I'm broke these days. I've spent the last two years just nickel and diming every cent that came in to take care of me and my wife," said Krapes, a former commercial and residential real estate agent.

"When Countrywide transferred (the loan) over to BofA, they didn't care. They were not listening and they were not caring."

On Monday regulators announced that Bank of America had agreed to pay $11.6 billion to government-backed mortgage giant Fannie Mae to settle claims related to mortgages that soured during the housing crash. The company is also party to an agreement to pay $8.5 billion to settle charges that it wrongfully foreclosed on millions of homeowners.

For Bank of America it is more financial pain that stems from its $4.1 billion purchase of Countrywide in January 2008, ending the once high-flying company's downward spiral.


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A year later the Center for Public Integrity issued a report saying that the company acquired by BofA topped its list of the 25 lenders most responsible for extending subprime mortgages to homeowners who might not otherwise have qualified for a mortgage.

That practice triggered a global financial crisis.

The bank said it is trying to correct past mistakes.

"We are resolving legacy mortgage issues while balancing the needs of our customers, mortgage investors, our shareholders and communities," said Ron Sturzenegger, Legacy Asset Servicing executive for Bank of America, in a statement.

Truck driver Javier Sarmiento bought a modest Panorama City home in 2005 with a Countrywide mortgage that cost $2,400 a month. Two years later he lost his job in the recession and eight months later his wife lost her job.

"We were having a hard time paying the (mortgage) bill. We couldn't keep up. So we were late on the payments, six months then a year. We tried to do a short sale but it didn't work out," he said.

The bank eventually told him he could stay in the home if he paid $1,450 a month and Sarmiento agreed. The bank sent him a contract, which he signed, and he made the payment each month.

Ten months later Bank of America tried to evict him, saying his documentation record and payment history had been lost, he said.

Sarmiento, with help from the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, initiated a persistent protest and eventually prevailed. The house is his once again.

He's already filled out some paperwork to get some of the settlement money and is a Los Angeles County sanitation driver in training.

"I hope it will help but I'm not sure," he said of the funds. "My family is falling apart because of my employment situation. But I'm going to stay in the house now.

David Krapes lost his Reseda home to Bank of America and is now renting it from the new owner.
David Krapes lost his Reseda home to Bank of America and is now renting it from the new owner. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)
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Bank of America Home Loan officials in Calabasas did not return calls or an email seeking comment on Krapes' and Sarmiento's cases.

Michelle Lopez applauded Monday's settlement by the banks. Lopez and her family own a two-bedroom home and adjacent horse property in an unincorporated area near La Puente.

"My husband and I are mobile horse trainers and caretakers," the 55-year-old homeowner said. "When the economy started to take a dump in 2008 our business did, too."

Their situation worsened when their 18-year-old son Robert was seriously injured in an ATV accident in March 2009. With business lagging and medical bills mounting, they soon fell behind on their monthly mortgage payments. 

And those payments ultimately ballooned from $2,455 a month to $3,500 a month.

"We were originally with Deutsche Bank and I was trying to get a modification back then, but then our loan was sold to a loan servicer," she said.

The loan was turned over to NovaStar Financial Inc., whose servicing rights were subsequently sold to Saxon Mortgage Services Inc.

"Things were getting lost in the transition," Lopez said. "I had to start all over with the new servicing agent. There was a lack of communication and a lot of dual tracking. One week I'd be talking to one person and next week someone else."

Fortunately, Lopez's current loan servicer, Ocwen Financial Corp., appears to have things on track.

"I did go through a foreclosure but through the grace of God I'm in the process of a loan modification now," she said.

Although Lopez was never directly involved with any of the 10 banks named in Monday's settlement, she figures the deal is long overdue.

"This money that will now be available to homeowners is going where it belongs - to us," she said. "We've been hearing about it for a year but we needed to see it."

greg.wilcox@dailynews.com

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