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Pa. woman sues bank, others over home purchase

A Scranton, Pennsylvania, woman and a bank are embroiled in a residential real estate dispute over a home the woman says she owns and the bank says she legally doesn't.

The case began four years ago when the woman bought a brand new townhome and took out a loan of almost $260,000 for the mortgage. She had been making a monthly payment in excess of $1,650 to the bank with no thought that anything was amiss.

However, when she tried to refinance with a new bank at a lower rate two years later, she learned that she was not the legal homeowner. She said she sat down at the table to close the deal in August 2008 with an attorney by her side - one she thought represented the bank, and as an extension, her.

It turns out, he didn't. Instead, he was there on behalf of the title company and while he transferred the money from the woman to the developer, he did not record the deed with the proper officials, she said. While she had no idea about the failure to file paperwork, the title company did, suing the attorney about her case six months before she ever found out the deed had not been recorded.

The bank, however, still required her to make payments, she said, but she stopped since she was not going to pay for a house she didn't own. Now, while she still lives in the house, she is suing the bank.

She wants possession of the townhouse and almost $400,000, which includes the mortgage payments she has made, all the costs to acquire the property and legal fees. She also has filed suit against the lawyer and the title company.

This woman's case illustrates why all people who buy property should have an attorney whom they have selected and hired by their side to represent them. The investment is too large to assume that another attorney sitting at the closing table will act in the best interests of the buyers.

Source: The Times-Tribune, "Scranton woman suing bank, lawyer for not filing proper paperwork after home sale," David Falchek, Aug. 27

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