Foreclosure of McCollum home canceled, but ownership still in doubt

  • Robert McCollum leans on the his truck blocking the end of his driveway while he watches his home being auctioned off on Shaw Road in Bernardston. Recorder File Photo

Recorder Staff
Friday, August 25, 2017

BERNARDSTON — The day after a bank foreclosed on 72-year-old Bob McCollum’s home, a letter went out to the bank from the longtime carpenter’s debt collector, reversing the decision.

“Regrettably, Shellpoint was unable to cancel the foreclosure sale that occurred on July 31, 2017,” reads the letter the debt collector company Shellpoint sent to the state of Massachusetts Division of Banks. “We have notified our counsel to rescind the foreclosure sale. The process is currently underway at this time.”

At first glance, the news seemed to be good for McCollum, a one-time contractor who had lost his source of income when a few cases of cancer slowed him down and a job gone wrong further dug him in a financial hole. McCollum had been working to pay off his mortgage after taking a $153,000 loan for the home on an adjustable rate interest back in 2003, but with nearly no income other than Social Security.

So, while McCollum isn’t being forced out on the street as it looked at the beginning of the month, his finances haven’t changed and he’s not sure what Shellpoint’s action means going forward.

In his conversations with the Bank of New York Mellon, an investment bank that took the home in the foreclosure sale for $144,000, and with Shellpoint, the debt collector of the mortgage, McCollum has come away with no definitive answers about his future.

He said he spoke with a representative from Shellpoint, Nelson Hernandez, who said he couldn’t tell McCollum what would happen until paperwork between the company and the bank was sorted out. Three weeks later, paperwork has not been finalized.

Shellpoint’s Hernandez could not be reached at his direct work line for comment despite multiple attempts.

But in discussions with McCollum, and his representative, senior care advocate Al Norman of Greenfield, Hernandez “profusely” apologized for what he said was a mistake, according to the two.

“I’ve never heard a bank apologize for anything in my life, but they did,” McCollum said about his conversation with Hernandez at Shellpoint. “He said it should’ve never happened and that it was their mistake. He said they couldn’t do any payback deal until they got the official paperwork. It seems that it goes through so many channels, that it seems no one seems to know what the other is doing.”

According to McCollum and Norman, who spoke to Hernandez in a conference call, the Shellpoint representative told them what could be the senior’s options once the paperwork finalizes. He had three options: pay back the loan in full; pay it back in 12 monthly installments; or pay the bank the 84 payments that were past due, according to Norman.

“They set some unrealistic terms that nobody could fulfill unless you’re a millionaire,” McCollum said. “As it turns out, I’m a retired worker and I got the richest bank in the country chasing after me.”

McCollum said “everything is at a standstill.”

The Bank of New York Mellon declined to comment on the case, saying it is the trustee for the property and that Bank of America is acting as the master servicer. Bank of America declined to comment on the current state of McCollum’s property, citing privacy.

The state of Massachusetts Division of Banks declined to comment on any general trends involving foreclosures of homes of seniors and declined to comment on any specific home.

In the meantime, McCollum is continuing to live at home, while he awaits any potential news that may come in the mail or on the message machine.

“If they continue to be unreasonable, Bob is going to have another foreclosure sale,” Norman said. “What they’ve offered him now are not reasonable options.”

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