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Homeowner Ordered to Remove Foreclosure Sign

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GRANGER TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Zoning officials are ordering a local homeowner to remove an oversized sign from her yard that targets the banks involved in her foreclosure.

The sign reads, ‘Fifth Third and Freddie Mac proudly present the capture of this home and family into the smash the dream program’.  It was constructed by Peggy and her husband, who don’t want to be identified by their last name.

“There’s no way to get out from under it; you just gotta stop it before it starts,” said Peggy.

According to the homeowner, she wasn’t late with a payment when she was contacted last June by Fifth Third citing a clerical error with her property taxes. In order to make good on the alleged mistake, Peggy said the bank increased her payment almost $600 a month to approximately $2,000.

“It took me five months to figure out where the mistake was, maybe four months, because I was going through all the paperwork and I don’t understand it and they don’t tell you,” said Peggy, who has piles of paperwork inside her Medina County home.

“She’s a very good person, and this shouldn't happen to her or nobody. It’s terrible,” said Peggy’s friend, Kathy Shroka.

After feeling like they had nowhere to turn, Peggy and her husband got out the hammer and nails used to build the sign. “My husband did the entire sign,” said Peggy.  “We worked on the slogan and he constructed it, painted it and everything.”

According to Peggy, the sign was in the front yard since October of last year and she took it down once when she thought the banks were cooperating. Eventually, the sign went back up until a letter was received on Wednesday from the Granger Township Zoning Inspector who ordered it to be removed.

Peggy plans to comply with the request to remove the sign while she continues to work with the banks.

In a statement, Chad Wandler from Freddie Mac told FOX 8 News, “the [family is] encouraged to contact their lender, reapply for assistance and discuss the options available to them. We are open to working with them and the bank to discuss all of their home retention options including a modification.”

The Vice President & Director of Marketing from Fifth Third issued the following statement: “As a matter of customer confidentiality and corporate policy we don’t comment or disclose customer information. The Bank has several programs designed to educate customers who could have difficulty making mortgage and other asset payments. Our customer outreach/homeowners assistance group makes numerous call attempts each month trying to reach mortgage borrowers who may be past due on payments, or potentially at risk of going delinquent to help them understand their options.  The Bank also has a toll-free number, (866) 601-6391, which customers can use to reach the homeowner’s assistance team and discuss options,” said Laura Passerallo. “Our goal is to keep families in their homes. Foreclosure is used only as a last resort.”

Peggy said she’ll keep exploring her options, but she worries that she’s running out of time. “You have to be careful. You can pay on time and extra every month and end up losing your home. Unfortunately, you can’t trust anybody, sadly.”

According to Medina County Auditor Michael Kovack, this shouldn’t have happened.  “This is a situation where, if Fifth Third would’ve bent a little bit, we probably could’ve kept these people in their home,” said Kovack.

Peggy has a mediation scheduled for April 23.