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Jul 28, 2016 6:16 PM

Exeter family struggles to find solution in mortgage dispute

EXETER — A local family is still in a struggle with its mortgage company and is running out of time to find a reasonable solution.

Since NH1 first spoke with Jon and Lisa Hichborn two weeks ago, they have had little communication with Ditech Financial, their mortgage carrier, about how they accumulated nearly $25,000 in back taxes over the last year and a half. Moreover, they say the company expects most of that money to be paid back in the next year, meaning their monthly bill would increase by $800 a month.

That first increased bill is due on Monday, but the couple doesn't plan to give in.

"We want to pay the principle and the interest, the same as what we've been paying, until we can come to some sort of arrangement," Jon said on Thursday. "We are not giving up."

The Hichborns say numerous attempts to speak with representatives at Ditech to get the bill explained have been unsuccessful. The company has admitted for at least the last 18 months, they have paid taxes to the town of Exeter in full, but have been half-charging the Hichborns during that same time period.

"It's been extremely frustrating, to say the least," Lisa said. "I don't understand why they would take somebody who has been a great customer, who's never missed a payment, and they're not willing to work with us."

The couple says Ditech has accepted responsibility for the billing mistake, but has been unresponsive to the Hichborns' request to get the payback period extended, saying they simply can't afford the extra $800 a month.

"The worst part is if we owe the money, we're happy to pay it, but we just need help extending it," Lisa said. "They're being so steadfast on that 12 months, which makes no sense. We just want them to work with us."

The Hichborns say they've asked for documentation explaining how the funds in their account were depleted so quickly. They also say every time they call, they're directed to a different representative and, especially in the last two weeks, have made little progress.

"Really nothing has happened in two weeks other than being told they'll get back to us," Jon said. "Now, it's do or die because it's almost August, but they really haven't proven anything to us. We want to somehow get their attention an make them realize what they're doing is sad and foolish and not right to their customers."

When the Hichborns first came to NH1 with their situation, Ditech responded with a statement saying, in part, “While Ditech cannot comment on the details of individual customer cases, we do take these issues very seriously. We will work directly with the customer to address [their] concerns.”

The company did not have anything additional to add to their statement on Thursday.

The Hichborns have received advice from friends, lawyers, and other people who have been in their situation. They've also reached out to the U.S. Department of Housing in hopes of connecting to resources to help kick-start negotiations with Ditech over the length of the payback period.

For now, the couple is doing everything they can to avoid hiring an attorney.

"All options are open to us," Jon said. "Right now, I think the best option is the way we're handling it, which is to understand as much as we can, be as knowledgeable about all aspects of this as we possibly can and try to work with them directly."

The Hichborns plan to pay the principle and interest on their bill to avoid becoming delinquent and to salvage their credit as this situation gets sorted out. On Thursday, they said more than anything, they hoped to resolve this soon so they can stop worrying about the worst-case scenario: losing their house.

"I understand mistakes happen," Lisa said. "Everybody makes mistakes, but we can't let it go. It's not right."

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