H-ARROYO GRANDE

Jun 1, 2011 9:46 PM by Danielle Lerner

Local veteran says VA tried to unfairly foreclose on his home

A local veteran says the State Department of Veteran's Affairs tried to unfairly foreclose on his home.

Arroyo Grande resident Andrew Jenings served in Desert Storm as part of the Army National Guard. He bought his home in February of 2005, thanks to a loan from CalVet. Jenings was laid off last year and decided in February he could no longer pay the mortgage. He wanted to do a short sale, where he would settle on a price with the bank for less than what he owes on the loan, but he says the VA Made that too difficult.

"This is where I wanted to raise my kids, and I was planning on living in here until basically the mortgage was paid for but it didn't work out that way," said Jenings.

In February, Jenings and his realtor listed his home as a short sale and the first offer arrived within 30 days, but they say the VA rejected it without giving a counter offer.

"Typically when an offer is rejected you can still continue to market the property," said Sylvia Lunsford, Jenings' realtor. "In this case, what was unusual was the VA declined to let us continue marketing the property."

Jenings turned to Senator Sam Blakeslee's office for help and the VA eventually countered the original offer, but Jenings says it was so high the original buyer could not qualify. The same happened with a second buyer and the VA decided to go ahead with a foreclosure.

"In my opinion, I think the VA is off by about $30,000 in their market analysis," Lunsford said.

Still, a spokesperson for Veteran's Affairs says that is not the case and he insists it does all it can to keep veterans in their homes. He says in the end, it is about dollars and cents.

"This is not something we take lightly," said J.T. Tremblay, deputy secretary for the California Department of Veteran's Affairs. "It would have been a loss of almost $50,000 that would have been recouped, the investors that put the money up for bonds are the taxpayers and from our standpoint that was an unacceptable offer."

During all this the VA contacted Jenings about a quit claim deed, which essentially relinquishes ownership of the property to the VA. Jenings signed it but says in hind sight, he wishes he would have consulted an attorney first. The deed allows the VA to avoid costs associated with foreclosure, and Jenings is now eligible to receive between $3,000 and $5,000 to help with relocation.

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