Short sale puts Iraq veteran in credit bind
By CARY ASPINWALL | Tulsa World, Okla. | Published: January 13, 2014
TULSA, Okla. — Sgt. Eduardo Marquez wants to complete the short sale of his former home in Kiefer and move on with his life, preserving what he can of his finances and credit score.
Marquez, an Iraq war veteran who's currently working as a recruiter for the U.S. Army in Utah, fell behind on his mortgage in Oklahoma after an attempt at a loan modification did not work out.
He was dealing with a divorce and a job transfer, so he decided a short sale was his best option. A short sale means the property is sold for less than the total debt owed on it.
A company called Rescue Team Realty, with several offices in the Tulsa area, mailed him an advertisement once his mortgage servicer began foreclosure proceedings in Creek County court. They offered to help negotiate the short sale of Marquez's home in the summer of 2012, and had him sign documents transferring his title to their trustees as part of the agreement, records show.
Marquez was told he would not be charged anything by Rescue Team, and they would earn commission from the short sale of his home, he said. But Rescue Team's first attempt at a short sale was unsuccessful, Marquez said.
His mortgage servicer, GMAC, later notified Marquez and his Realtor, Angie Bowker, that it would consider a short sale offer, but not if Rescue Team Realty was involved, records show.
Marquez's problems worsened, he said, when Rescue Team Realty agreed to dissolve its former business partnership with Bowker.
Documents provided by Marquez show the former business partners agreed that any claims to Marquez's property would be released as part of a "dissolution agreement" between Bowker and Rescue Team Manager Michael J. Ford.
Bowker said she held up her end of their dissolution agreement, but for some reason, Ford and his business partners refused to release legal claims to the deed to Marquez's home.
This refusal has blocked all short sale offers from being able to close, she said. And there is an interested buyer waiting to purchase Marquez's home, she said.
Meanwhile, the situation continues to negatively impact Marquez's credit score — which could ultimately hurt his security clearance in the Army, he said.
Documents show Ford — as "managing member" of Rescue Team Realty, Rescue Team Negotiations and Worldview Investments — agreed in November 2012 to release Marquez "from any trust or option contract" as part of the dissolution agreement with Bowker's realty firm.
Creek County land records show the title to Marquez's property is still held by Worldview Investments, however.
Ford told the Tulsa World that his Rescue Team Realty has released any claim to Marquez's title. But Worldview Investments holds the title as a trustee for a beneficiary, Creek Management, a limited liability corporation out of Florida.
Ford said he's only a minority owner in Worldview and Creek Management. Florida state corporation records show Ford is listed on Creek Management's annual report as the manager.
Despite that title, he has no authority to release Marquez's deed, he said.
"It is an unfortunate situation," Ford said. But Marquez signed a contract that must be honored, he said.
Ford said he has asked the other owners of Creek Management to release Marquez's title, but they have refused.
Ford said Creek Management had agreed to release Marquez's title if he would pay them $1,000, but the offer was declined.
Later, Ford sent the World a message to say he wanted to clarify that issue. Creek Management had asked for $1,000 from Bowker's commission at closing, for the time spent by the company over the first three months "protecting the property from vandalism," he said.
Ford initially declined to provide the other names or contact information for the other partners in Creek Management, then later agreed to put the World in touch with the majority owner, Brandon Winter of Sapulpa.
Winter told the World that Creek Management is owned by three partners: Himself, Ford and real estate broker Eddie Hasan. They voted to ask for $1,000 of the commission from Bowker, even though that stipulation does not appear in an agreement Ford signed with Bowker. They wish to recoup expenses spent preparing the property for sale, Winter said.
Winter said he was not aware that the delays were hurting Marquez's credit score and potentially his security clearance with the Army.
Marquez filed a consumer complaint with the Oklahoma Attorney General's office in July 2013.
The World contacted Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office to see if it is investigating Marquez's complaint.
"We take all reports of possible scams seriously and work to help resolve issues for Oklahomans, including prosecuting those criminals who try to take advantage of consumers," said Julie Bays, chief of the AG's Public Protection Unit. "For Sgt. Marquez, we are working to resolve his issue with the realty company and have contacted the business' attorneys."