Community Rallies, Seniors Home Saved With Reverse Mortgage (Update)

Despite a storm of negative press about reverse mortgages yesterday, look hard and there is some positive news as well.  There was lots of discussion regarding 72 year old Lorraine Zickefoose, whose home was scheduled to go up for auction after falling behind on her payments with Wells Fargo.

AAXA Mortgage’s John Smaldone had been working with the woman to try and save her home using a reverse mortgage and earlier this week, Ms. Zickefoose was able to close on her reverse mortgage and save her home.

Smaldone was able to generate a lot of awareness from the public and it ended up reaching the right people at Wells Fargo.  See his statement below.


In May, we were able to get a 30-day extension. Wells Fargo assigned to me one of their top loss mitigation managers, Afsheen Alam in Milwaukee. This took place at the end of May. I need to make mention that though all these months, Wells Fargo has NOT been cooperative, did not return calls and made this ordeal an almost impossibility to resolve, it was obviously done on purpose.

Afsheen Alam, is the only one that has shown compassion and the willingness to work with me. She has worked with Village Capital & investment LLC as well as with our title company very closely. We were able to switch the type Reverse Mortgage into a fixed rate program, which got us a more funds to work with toward a settlement.

Afsheen Alam was the only person within Wells Fargo that cared enough to resolve the problem.

This past Friday, June 5, 2009. Wells Fargo through Afsheen Alam approved a settlement for a payoff in the amount of money we had available from the Reverse Mortgage. On Saturday the 6th, Afsheen and I worked over five hours getting everything ready for a closing.

I want to add that our entire community with the help of the press, Lorraine’s Church, Our lady of Fatima Catholic Church, our Police Department, Sheriffs department and so many citizens that held fund raising car washes, and other fund raising events and you name it. Americans do unite; the news media came to our aid. The associated Press through Adrian Sainz got the press campaign rolling toward victory.

Lorraine’s loan with Wells Fargo is being paid off. We are closing on the Reverse Mortgage with Village Capital & investment LLC, today, June 8, 2009 at 4:30 PM EST.

Smaldone is also working on a proposed appropriation program called the Senior Citizen Housing Supplement Program.  The document below goes into more detail:

Smaldone-SCHSP Smaldone-SCHSP jry1938

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  • Yay John!!! Always heartening to see someone in the industry that cares enough to work that hard. May your example inspire others to do the same.

  • Good morning my colleges,

    I want to thank everyone for all the support you gave me.

    I feel a small battle was won. However, unless legislation is passed, similar to what I have proposed above, there will be no hope for seniors in the shape Lorraine Zickefoose was in.

    There is no way from an economical or time wise stand point one could take 6 or 7 months to work on a problem like Lorraine faced. I had to get the press, a Church and legislators involved to get this ordeal settled.

    Our legislators need to open their eyes and ears. they need to realize that seniors around the country that are on a fixed income, like social security are losing their homes. The programs that are available, if you can get them, are modification programs. People like Lorraine Zickefoose can’t qualify for this kind of loan. We don’t hear about situations like this in the press, do we.

    I am sending letters and my Press release to senators and congressman. I will be “Mr.Smaldone goes to Washington” to get something done about this severe problem we have. I don’t know if I will be as effective as “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” but I will try.

    I need any help I can get, I will be forever appreciative. I want to thank John for the great job he did on writing this up date article.

    The Reverse Mortgage Daily Post is doing a great job. I see it becoming even a stronger force then they are.

    Thanks again,

    John Smaldone

  • It will, indeed, be a big battle won, if your cause generates any positive publicity. That positive publicity can be used to refute and balance any negative publicity and can shut up some of the negative and ill informed accountants and attorneys. (I read elsewhere in this forum that they screw up many of the potential sales in the RM business.)
    Sometimes, doing good is good.

  • Sandy and dduck.

    Thank you very much, I appreciate you. dduck, I agree, we need all the positive publicity we can receive. Thus far the bad publicity has been unjust and perpetrated upon the Reverse Mortgage industry by people who do not understand it.

    Why don’t the accountants, Attorney’s and our legislators come to us to find out what it really is all about. Our seniors do not deserve this. By bashing our industry and driving good people out of the industry like us, only is hurting the people that need help the most. I will not give this fight up, I promise you. I will get this to Washington, one way or another.

    Thanks again all,

    John A. Smaldone

  • They won’t come to you. They are too busy with their own lives and businesses. Reach out, like you are doing, and others should be doing; it is a long process to educate people. However, you have a great advantage, you have lots of satisfied clients. I’m sure many stories of homes saved, children protected, lives made better, mortgages canceled, etc. If you can some of these seniors to write to their congresspeople and explain the benefits of an RM, you will see some of the legislators sit up and take notice, especially around election time. -SENIORS ARE ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL VOTING BLOCKS.-

  • I too will say job well done……….but I will also say SHAME SHAME on Wells Fargo for NOT taking care of their customer and almost putting her out on the street…here we have Wells Fargo who evidently refused to do a “short sale” and roll her into a Wells Fargo reverse mortgage. John…I have no idea who you did the reverse mortgage with….I sure hope it wasn’t Wells Fargo…..I guess the $25 Billion we gave them wasn’t enough…..Lenders take note….Reverse Mortgage Daily take note……and expose the bums at Wells for what they really are……….

  • Critic and Bob,

    Thank you for your comments. By the way Bob, the lender in no way was Wells Fargo, you can be assured of that.

    One amazing thing I discovered through this whole process was something that is hard to believe. Not once through the entire 7 months I spent negotiating and fighting with Wells Fargo did they ever say to me, “We should look at doing a reverse mortgage for Lorraine Zickefoose”. Like you said Critic, they are the largest lender of Reverse Mortgages.

    When I started the process, Wells suggested to me to allow Ms. Zickefoose to be put into one of their a modification programs. They assured me that would take care of her. I told them, this woman can’t even afford a mortgage payment, much less be approved for one of your modification programs.

    They insisted and I did not want my borrower to pass up any chance of saving her home. I got a list of what Wells Fargo needed and I helped my borrower fill out the forms. Everything was sent into Wells as required. Guess what? Wells Fargo came back and said Lorraine Zickefoose could not qualify for any of their programs. That is the truth and the whole truth!

    What else was surprising, Wells never mentioned a Reverse Mortgage as one of their programs. It was like I was dealing with a completely different company.

    I will say this, after the press got heavily involved and started calling Wells Fargo daily, they assigned me to a special exec from their loss mitigation department. A girl named Afsheen Alam. Afsheen said her interest was to get things worked out for a settlement. This was on a Monday, 7 days later on June 8th we closed the loan. I worked right up to Saturday night working with Afsheen on getting her documents she needed. Afsheen was teriffic to work with, she represented Wells Fargo very well. That is the rest of the story.

    Critic, I agree with you about getting more lenders aboard. However, the lenders will automatically be aboard with a program like I proposed. They would be fools not to be. What lender in their right mind would rather foreclose and face all the expenses ahead of them? If a lender only had to come in with half of the shortfall, they would jump through hoops not to take advantage of that. No, our problem is to get legislative action to pass such a bill.

    This will not only benefit our seniors, which is the most important concern but it will benefit the lender. The lenders are aboard now, if they are not, they should not be in business. They still have a business to run and wise decisions can mean money in the cash register.

    Thanks to the both of you, have a great evening.

    Best regards,

    John A. Smaldone

  • I, too, have been working with people who are about to lose their home due to loss of income in today’s economic conditions – many within the construction industry, but some from selling businesses with financing to retire. People who have made payments on the business for about 5 years started getting behind and then quit altogether. One couple has gone into credit card debt to the tune of $50k to supplement the payments that finally stopped coming in. The lender will allow them to do a short sale or take a deed in lieu of foreclosure but have stated they will not allow the homeowner to get into a reverse mortgage because it is neg am. With savings depleted and credit cards exhausted, they came to me for advice. I asked their lender for a modification only to find they could not qualify. They are as your people – way too short of income at this point to afford any payment. How the lender who has benefitted from their use of savings and credit cards to make payments could now insist on putting them in the street where they can’t afford the rent rather than allow them to stay in their home payment free is beyond my comprehension. They are looking at listing the house now but are very distraught knowing they can’t afford to move and will have to sell with no money coming to them. They have no children to take them in. No other relatives able to help. Where I have been successful in dealing with some lenders, this one does nothing but ask them for money and remind them they do not have to accept any offer they make, even on a short sale although they were the ones to insist they list their house. Anything I can do to get the message out to help this sort of legislation, please just give me some instructions. I called one of the people in our state department but am concerned our state won’t have much influence on a national lender. My people are not yet willing to tell their story publicly and I wish I could get something done so they don’t have to do that. I am trying to convince them that the community will not think badly of them and may even try to help. Any suggestions on getting throught to their lender would be appreciated.

  • Ms. Bolt

    There is nothing to be ashamed of if you have been screwed.
    Light, in the form of publicity, is like light to a vampire. These bloodsuckers fear bad publicity and often will not listen to reason, even if it benefits them. Shed a little light on the situation, and lo and behold, someone at he firm might become reasonable. (John Smaldone knows the power of publicity.) You couple should be made aware that they will be far more ashamed out on the street and that they will be helping other people in a similar fix. Stories like Zickefoose and others become cumulative and sometimes hit the media outlets if there enough of them. You know, like:
    “Countless Seniors Made Homeless by Selfish Lenders”. It’s when the media editors can get adjectives like “countless, hoards, dozens, hundreds, etc.” that they really pay attention (sells papers). Documenting and creating a file for cases like these
    could come in handy for all lenders/originators to maintain. Forward copies to the NRMLA so they can have a file handy for future news articles (they were quoted twice in the recent WSJ article)and send local media these cases as they occur.



    I feel so bad for you and your borrower. I only know too well what you all are going through. I wish I could wave a magic Wand and have it all be fixed, but I don’t. I will try and guide you through some obstacles you may not thought of, if you would like me to.

    You asked me what you can do to help. The key is to get to our legislators at the Federal Level involved and supporting it. I have two senators and a congressmen but that is not enough to make much of a noise. I have package I can send or E-Mail them.

    If anyone reading this comment has a senator or congressmen they know, please tell them the story. Let me know who it is and I will send he or she my package and start the Ball rolling.

    Nancy, one thing you can do for me and all of us. If you can write me a letter about what has occurred with your borrower. Actually it should be from your borrower to me. Your borrower will have to consent to do this or what I have in mind will not work.

    I will need he or she to put in the letter the name of the lender and their address, your borrower’s loan account number and any one you have names of you or your borrower have talked to from the lender. It would be very important if your borrower in the letter will give YOU the authority to act on their behalf in reference to their loan. I know this sounds a bit complicated but it will help the overall effort to get the bill through that I am proposing as well as possibly helping your borrower’s out in their own situation.

    Again, if anyone has a buyer in the situation that Nancy’s borrowers are in or like my Lorraine Zickefoose, please help by doing what I requested Nancy to do. This is such a major and serious problem occurring nationwide. However, you don’t hear about in the press.

    Nancy, below is my contact information, please feel free to contact me so we can discuss your situation. Unfortunately, time is of the essence, seniors every day are being put out of their homes. There is no appropriation bill, bailout bill or a so called foreclosure preventive appropriation like our politicians want you to believe to help our seniors.

    Most seniors can’t qualify for the fancy loan mod programs out there by the lenders, FNMA and Freddie Mac. No one remembered the senior when the foreclosure bubble burst. We need to do something, we are the only ones that really care enough to do something. Nancy, I will do what I can to help you, I need your help as well. Help in the way I outlined it above. I will look forward to you contacting me. dduck, thank you for your comments as well.

    Best regards,


    John Smaldone
    Direct Local: 865.980.3583
    Direct Toll Free: 866.400.2487
    Mobile: 865.406.5377
    Fax: 865.982.5180

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