Zeeland woman in years-long battle to keep her home

Posted at 10:16 PM, Sep 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-26 11:53:42-04

ZEELAND, Mich. -- Gretchen Molotky built her dream house to live her dream life, even made her living in the housing market.

It's the same market that's now manifested a mortgage mess, one that's set to ruin her retirement, leaving her broke and homeless.

Molotky has been fighting to keep her livelihood for years, and she's days away from losing it all.  In her final efforts to retain her life savings, she reached out to the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.

It's been nearly a decade since the housing market crash, when the bubble burst and led to widespread foreclosures, evictions and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.   Massive government bailouts followed, preventing the crumble of powerhouse lenders like Wells Fargo and Fannie Mae.

"You take my house, you embarrass my children, you humiliate me, you take my life savings and you ruin it so I can't get a job," said Molotky.  "So what am I going to do?"

Nearly 10 years ago, Molotky never thought something as simple as an insurance policy change would turn her life upside down.

"I don't know what I am going to do, I don't have anything if they take it from me," she said.  "And it doesn't matter because they don't care."

This wasn't always Molotky's reality.  She was a successful single mom working as a real estate agent, providing for her two kids and living in a home she helped build in 2006.

"Being in real estate, you don't get a 401k; and being a single parent it's kind of hard to save, so this is my 401k.  I was going to build this house.  I was going to stay in it for a few years and sell it when my kids graduated," she said.  "It's everything I have."

A year into her family's new sanctuary, illness struck.    Molotky contracted bacterial meningitis in 2007.

"I almost died... attacks all your organs," she said.  "It does permanent damage... so that was a really hard time."

She was fighting for survival, and still caring for a 15-year-old daughter.  Her son was serving in the military.

Molotky decided to make what she saw as a smart financial move.

"I took my car off my home owner's combined multi policy.  Took that off and went to a cheaper company."

It was the first domino in what is now a 10-year fight.

"Wells Fargo said 'Oh you don't have insurance. We are no going to force insurance on you and we are going to charge you this exorbitant premium for this insurance,'" said Paul Ledford, Molotky's attorney.

Her $1,400 mortgage payment doubled, then tripled.  She started calling and calling, trying to right a wrong and prevent something worse.

"'Oh well we made a mistake, we will modify your mortgage.'  No, my mortgage doesn't need to be modified.  You need to correct your error.  Correct your error, you have proof of this," Molotky said.

Wells Fargo eventually acknowledged that, okaying future bills at her initial mortgage payment.

"Then just to find out six months later they did it again, and it was just a mess and from then on it was a mess," Molotky said.  "I mean I am not just going to be thrown out of my home, because I know, I know what's going on.  I am in real estate.  I know what they are doing to people."

At this point, Gretchen was paying her initial insurance and the mandated insurance form Wells Fargo; double home insurance, which is illegal to have.

Believe it or not, her fight was just getting started.  A lawsuit, court battles and a "secret sale" were still to come, all leading to a new battlefront on the national stage.

Watch Part 2 of this Problem Solvers Investigation Monday, Sept. 26 on FOX 17 News at Ten.