Capt. Mike Clauer was serving in Iraq last year as company commander of an Army National Guard unit assigned to escort convoys. It was exceedingly dangerous work — explosive devices buried in the road were a constant threat to the lives of Clauer and his men.
He was halfway through his deployment when he got a bolt from the blue — a frantic phone call from his wife, May, back in Texas.
"She was bawling on the phone and was telling me that the HOA [homeowners association] had foreclosed on our house, and it was sold," he says. "And I couldn't believe that could even happen."
Clauer had a hard time understanding what his wife was saying. His $300,000 house was already completely paid for. Could it be possible that their home was foreclosed on and sold because his wife had missed two payments of their HOA dues?
In many states it is not difficult for an HOA to foreclose on a member's home for past dues even if the amount owed is just a few hundred dollars.
"I was really in a hurry trying to get home before my family was living on the streets," Clauer says.
Sold For A Steal
But by the time he got back to Texas, it was too late. The Clauers' four-bedroom, 3,500-square-foot home had been sold on the courthouse steps for just $3,500 — enough to cover outstanding HOA dues and legal costs.
The new owner quickly sold it for $135,000 and netted a tidy profit.
"Basically it's everything to us," Clauer says. "Having a house like this paid for was huge for us, for our retirement plans. We thought we were so far ahead, and now it's like we're starting from the beginning."...