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Woman didn’t know her NC home was foreclosed and sold to highest bidder, lawyer says

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A woman had no idea her home — which she had owned outright and lived in for 12 years — was foreclosed on and sold to the highest bidder in North Carolina, her attorney says.

Trenita Rogers only learned of the matter when the bidder phoned her, informing her he bought her house in Winterville at an auction, according to a motion filed in state Superior Court on Nov. 7.

Now she’s been sleeping on a friend’s couch after losing her home, her attorney Jim White told McClatchy News in a statement. The motion accuses a homeowners association of auctioning off Rogers’ home after not properly serving her foreclosure papers. The HOA said Rogers had not paid her annual HOA dues — which led to the foreclosure — though her attorney contends she did not know her house was in the HOA.

When the bidder called Rogers, she thought he was joking when he told her “I need to know when you will be moving,” according to her interview with WTVD-Channel 11. This came after she had already paid off the home, the outlet reports.

The HOA sold the home to the man for just over $221,600, which is much less than its actual worth, according to the motion. As of Nov. 18, Zillow values Rogers’ former home at about $520,000.

Her dispute with the HOA

Rogers maintains she didn’t know her home belonged to the Irish Creek Section 2 Owners Association as some homes in the neighborhood are a part of it while others aren’t, according to the motion.

Because of this, “she fell behind on her HOA payments” and nearly $1,500 in unpaid HOA fees built up over time, according to the motion.

The manager of the HOA, Chelsey Bennett, told McClatchy News in a statement that “this matter is the subject of pending litigation, and we will let the lawyers and the court work through the legal issues.”

Irish Creek HOA is overseen by Russell Property Management, a company established by Rocky Russell. In a statement he provided to McClatchy News, Russell argues that Rogers likely received a welcome letter notifying that she was a part of the HOA and that explained she had to pay fees. Rogers says she never received any HOA bills and the unpaid fees resulted in the HOA foreclosing her home, according to the motion.

She was evicted from her home this summer and seeks to regain ownership of the house, WTVD reported.

Neighbors allow the sale of the home

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The motion maintains Rogers was never properly notified of legal proceedings initiating the foreclosure and sale of her home, which was authorized through an order in October 2021.

White told WTVD-Channel 11 that although Rogers did get legal papers “from a law office…she thought they were junk mail and the law requires more notification than that.”

In Russell’s statement, he said “dozens of notices are mailed to a home before foreclosure happens” and “if a homeowner ignores all of the above notices, someone will eventually purchase the property through the foreclosure process.”

“It is my understanding the foreclosure process for (Rogers’ home) went for an extended period of time due to the bidders of the property bidding up the price,” Russell added. “All of these back-and-forth bids generated mail to the registered owner at the time.”

According to the motion, members of the HOA board that allowed the sale of the home were Rogers’ neighbors.

“A knock on the door, a phone call, something to tell her that her $520,000 home was about to be sold…would likely have averted the sale. But no real effort was made to notify Ms. Rogers,” her attorney argues in the motion.

A bidder buys the home

The highest bidder who bought the home works for the same company as Rogers, according to the motion, which says the sale price was “grossly inadequate.”

Despite this, Rogers did not know the man before the sale of the house, White told McClatchy News.

The bidder is accused of calling Rogers at work about the sale “after making misrepresentations to obtain” her phone number, according to the motion.

Meanwhile, Russell said that the bidder may have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the $221,600 amount, citing federal and state income tax, property tax and mortgage costs in his statement.

On Dec. 9, a judge will decide on the motion at a hearing, according to White.

While speaking with WTVD-Channel 11, Rogers said she told her daughter that “Mom’s gonna fight for this because this is wrong.”

In North Carolina, homeowners associations are governed by state law only — the North Carolina Planned Community Act. HOAs in the state are not overseen by a state agency or the federal government, according to the state attorney general.

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