Exactly six months after Arapahoe County District Court blocked Marla Sneed's house from foreclosure, the 53-year-old mother of three is back to square one. Or perhaps square negative one: Earlier this week, she received a letter from PNC Bank demanding a payment of more than $42,000 by July 15 lest she enter the same process again -- and risk losing her Aurora home. That would be the same home she stood in front of two weeks ago to support Initiative 84.
The last time Westword spoke to Sneed, she, representative Joe Miklosi and other supporters of the foreclosure documentation effort and its sponsor, the Campaign to End Unjust Foreclosure, staged a rally at her home to raise awareness for Initiative 84. If supported by voters, the measure would require financial entities to provide proof of ownership before they are able to foreclose on a property. Sneed shared the story of her near foreclosure, which ended with vague hope. "All I can say is right now I have a roof over my head," Sneed told the Latest Word. "But there's no guarantee I still will in a year, if this starts again."
Sneed (center) and Initiative 84 supporters gather in front of her home.
The next month, her fear was realized. Three years ago, PNC Bank began procedures to foreclose on Sneed's home, though a background investigator involved in the case found no records in the Arapahoe County system indicating that PNC owned Sneed's mortgage. Title researcher David Pelligrini filed the following statements in district court on August 11:
28. I found no recorded evidence of a mortgage interest held by PNC Bank in the public land records of Arapahoe County CO. 29. The legal ownership of the mortgage security or note ownership is unknown. 30. The legal rights held by PNC or other entities would most likely be determined by a decision entered by a qualified attorney or court.
Further forensic analysis indicates a confusing web of misinformation. But Sneed says the end result is that she is no longer sure where the almost $200,000 in mortgage payments she paid have ended up -- or who owns the title to her property. From 2009 to 2011, Sneed represented herself pro se in the court proceedings that followed her initial Colorado 120 hearing. In a complaint Sneed filed in federal court, she asked PNC to produce the title to her home to indicate ownership. According to current Colorado law, however, this is not required, and the step can be replaced by a lawyer signing on behalf of a lender to verify ownership.
Her complaint was dismissed, but shortly thereafter, on December 29, 2011, so was the action against her. On behalf of PNC, lawyers moved to dismiss her foreclosure case without prejudice. Sneed was not notified as to the reasons, only the dismissal, in which she took temporary comfort.
But in a letter dated the day after she shared her success publicly, PNC notified Sneed that officials could relaunch the same foreclosure process. It's a letter she had hoped never to see again. On view below, it asks her for a $42,506.47 payment by July 15. "If you do not make this payment by the date specified, we may exercise our rights to accelerate the full balance due on your account, which means all sums would be immediately due," the statement reads. "Further, the matter may be referred to our foreclosure counsel or a foreclosure trustee for whatever action is deemed appropriate or necessary."
As Sneed investigates her options and searches for a pro bono attorney to take on the second life of her case, she says it is important for her to share the updates to her story. "People feel disconnected from foreclosure unless it's happening to them, and I just want to make sure they know it's happening all around them," she says. "What I do know is that in order for them to foreclose on me, they have to do the same process all over again, and I have to fight it all over again. And I don't know that I have it in me to do that."
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More from our Politics archive: "Foreclosure: Coalition gathers signatures, stories for Initiative 84."