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posted: 7/29/2010 12:01 AM

Foreclosure looms for Schaumburg man locked out of house

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  • John Wuerffel, 62, of the 1400 block of Hampton Lane in Schaumburg could see his house foreclosed as early as today.

      John Wuerffel, 62, of the 1400 block of Hampton Lane in Schaumburg could see his house foreclosed as early as today.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer


Though the neighbors of a Schaumburg man locked out of his house by his mortgage company are planning to help him clean the outside of the property on Saturday, that property could be legally foreclosed as early as today.

A summary judgment is expected in court today in the dispute between 62-year-old John Wuerffel and HSBC Mortgage Corp. over outstanding payments on the house on the 1400 block of Hampton Lane, Schaumburg Assistant Village Attorney Elmer Mannina said.

If the judge rules in the mortgage company's favor, only Wuerffel's two-year right of redemption, which requires significant money upfront, could keep the house from going on the market as early as Aug. 27.

Coincidentally, that's the same day as the village's hearing to get a court order to enter the property to clean it up against Wuerffel's will.

Meanwhile, Wuerffel is in an unusual state of limbo - locked out of the house he's owned since 1971 but still within his rights to camp outside of it.

Neighbors long annoyed by Wuerffel's years of cluttering the property with cars and bric-a-brac are even more upset by the fact that it's all now confined to the driveway and backyard, which they face.

Four vehicles packed with Wuerffel's belongings currently pack the driveway, where he sits and keeps a near constant vigil over them.

Though the house isn't yet foreclosed, the mortgage company has put a padlock on the door due to its condition.

HSBC spokesman Neil Brazil said that while his company doesn't comment on individual cases, it's standard industry practice for lenders to take action to protect and preserve the value of mortgaged property.

Mark Newton, a reverse mortgage specialist for Perl Mortgage in Deerfield who's trying to help Wuerffel keep his home, agreed that a mortgage company maintains a certain expectation of the condition of a property even before a foreclosure occurs.

The observable condition of the cluttered home, coupled with the fact that the village of Schaumburg declared it unfit for human habitation last fall due to its shut-off utilities, may have contributed to the mortgage company's decision to padlock the house, Newton said.

In fact, his own company would be unable to help Wuerffel until he personally gets the property into better condition, Newton said.

A reverse mortgage is a program which allows homeowners 62 or older under threat of foreclosure to keep their homes without making additional payments. But the condition of the home is one of the conditions of the mortgage.

Wuerffel said he knows he is dependent on outside help but doesn't believe it gives anyone the right to tell him what he can and can't have in own home. Among the things inside are thousands of empty soda cans which he hopes to redeem for a dime each in Michigan.

Schaumburg Village Manager Ken Fritz emphasized that the padlock is not the village's, and that the Schaumburg warning sticker on the front door was put there last October while Wuerffel was away living somewhere else.

Wuerffel subsequently spent last winter staying at PADS shelters and sometimes in his car with the heat on.

Wuerffel claims to be a Vietnam veteran and says that the health problems that brought him to financial ruin over the past decade are a result of Agent Orange. But his estranged ex-wife Sandy disputes that he ever served in the military.

Representatives of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said they could not confirm or deny anyone's purported veteran status - that such information is as privileged as medical records and available only to the individual concerned.

Wuerffel also has said he is on medication for bipolar disorder and a heart condition.

Fritz said that whatever the outcome of the ongoing property dispute, there is a human issue that the village is working hard to address. A police department social worker has been providing counseling and assistance to Wuerffel but was not at liberty to discuss his case.

Kellie Kiszka, who lives across the street, said she's been hearing from other neighbors who've taken greater interest in Wuerffel's situation since a Daily Herald article earlier this week.

One resident has already mowed Wuerffel's overgrown backyard, while another is planning both a fundraiser and volunteer cleanup party at the house on Saturday.

Kiszka said she'll be satisfied when the outside of Wuerffel's house is cleaned up and he no longer changes his clothes in the driveway where children can see.

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