Experiencing foreclosure is difficult enough; experiencing it after being featured on the wildly popular television reality show “Extreme Makeover” is extremely difficult indeed.
Nine years ago, the producers of “Extreme Makeover – Home Edition,” a reality show that finds and selects a home to completely make over, found Arlene Nickless and her family in their deteriorating 1860’s family farmhouse. Nickless, a widow whose husband, Tim Nickless, had died some 8 months earlier and her three boys were barely making it. “Extreme’s” crew and 1,600 volunteers demolished the house and five days later, Nickless was surprised with her new 3,300 square foot, 4 bedroom, stone columned, hard wood floored home. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Little did Nickless realize her troubles weren’t over. Within just one year, the annual taxes on her newly made over home went from $2,000. to $7,900. in 2009. She paid the increased taxes and insurance through an escrow account through ’09 and into 2010 until a terrible automobile crash put a stop to her ability to pay what she owed. In late 2010, the property went to a sheriff’s sale. Nickless filed papers to stop the foreclosure on the morning of the sale.
Nickless’s mortgage lender then offered to pay off her loan balance if she could come up with the loan balance of $15,000. In the midst of her paying that balance, an outfit called Ocwen Financial acquired the mortgage in 2011. Apparently, Ocwen had a history of improperly servicing and handling escrow accounts, problems with properly crediting payments and trouble keeping accurate records. The State of Michigan issued Ocwen a cease and desist order for continually violating the state’s mortgage laws.
None of this had any impact upon Nickless’s ability to “reclaim” her foreclosed home. In September, 2016, the home went to a foreclosure sale again and was sold for $113,000. The six month redemption period came and went without any way for Nickless to impact the action and now the home is listed at $176,000. on the hubzu.com auction website.
None of the parties involved in this foreclosure have had much to say. Extreme Makeover’s producers, Endemic USA, declined comment however it did acknowledge in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article that they decided to “scale back” their make overs due to their beneficiaries having problems with larger than life homes and accompanying expenses. The lender, Ocwen Financial, has essentially disappeared.
Alice Nickless comments that “…it breaks my heart to know there are families going through this every day.”