Fighting to keep their home

  • Bethany Freudenthal/The Garden Island

    Zoraida and Lauro James may lose their Hanamaulu home in a foreclosure action.

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    The Hanamaulu home Zoraida and Lauro James may lose in a foreclosure action has a distinctive color.

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    Zoraida James said if she loses her Hanamaulu house there’s a good chance she’ll have to give up her beloved dog, Eurasia.

LIHUE — After falling on hard times in 2010, one Hanamaulu couple has been fighting to keep their home, but with a recent summary judgment hearing in favor of their lender, they may lose that battle.

With plans to appeal the decision handed down last month by Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe, the couple isn’t giving up just yet.

Sitting on a couch in the living room of her pink house with baby-blue trim, Zoraida James said what upsets her the most about the thought of losing her home is the thought of not being able to keep her dog Eurasia.

“I don’t want to lose her,” James said through tears, pointing to the dog sitting at her feet.

Zoraida and her husband Lauro purchased the home from her sister after her sister’s husband died. The house was a part of a revocable trust of which the original owner was both a trustee and a beneficiary. The owner’s daughters became co-successor trustees and beneficiaries. Her sister’s name was also added to the trust.

After her sister’s husband died, her husband’s kids decided they wanted to sell the house.

“I talked to my sister and said maybe you can give me your share, like your gift of equity, so we can keep the house and we all have a house,” she said.

They qualified for the loan and were taken to a local restaurant to sign the papers. The couple didn’t know how to buy a house in America.

“In the Philippines if you buy a house, you buy a house. You got the paper, sign the paper, that’s it,” she said.

When the couple began struggling to pay their mortgage, about $2,700 per month, she applied for a loan modification program but was denied on the premise that they didn’t have enough income.

“I told them what had happened to us. My husband lost his other job and my job, they cut our hours and I even asked them if I can only pay the interest,” she said. “They declined that one. They want me to pay for the full amount. I was late for three months and they want me to pay that full amount, but I couldn’t.”

Since 2010, the couple has continually applied for loan modifications, but has been denied each time.

“I was upset, but I didn’t know where to go, so I just let it (go),” she said.

Their debt continued to grow.

After about three months, the James’ financial situation improved and they could afford the mortgage again. But when she went to pay, the bank told her she had to pay the three months they were behind at one time.

“I had to stop talking to them. I was so upset,” she said.

During last month’s proceedings, Jesse Scheil, attorney for the plaintiff, said the lender had received another loan modification application from the couple, but their request was denied that morning before court.

“I’m still fighting. I’m trying,” James said.

The couple won’t leave their home until they hear the words “Get out,” she said.

“I would like them to try and give me what I’m asking for them because I want to put all this things in the right way if I can, if they let me. That’s all I was hoping for,” James said.

The longevity of the battle has caused James much anxiety throughout the years.

“I can’t sleep at night. I’m always worried. I don’t know where to go, but I’m still fighting,” she said.

James said she’s fighting so hard because she wants to make everything right again.

“I took my sister’s money. That’s her money, her share, so I’m thinking if I lose this house than I won’t be able to pay her,” she said. “If I have this house maybe I could like give her some amount every month if I have extra. I feel so bad.”


Bethany Freudenthal, courts, crime and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or

  1. Theodore Mack September 2, 2018 2:52 am Reply

    Why don’t you publish the name of the bank so everyone can know to not do business there?

  2. harry oyama September 2, 2018 7:59 am Reply

    Unfortunately this happens when more people are added to the interest of property that is not held in whole title. People get greedy and want to sell their share, negatively affecting the whole process of those living there. She can try to quiet title that property, since the other parties only show connections through some document but not actively engaging in the house since she lives there.

    But then not paying the mortgage are grounds for eviction, which is just another way banks steal property at low foreclosure rates, then sell it making huge profits.

  3. PauloT September 2, 2018 12:50 pm Reply

    “Fighting to keep their house” was one sad story. And there are plenty of others who have been or who are now in that same situation. That’s a steep house payment they are trying to deal with, especially with the job loss for one and the hours cut back for the other. When facing this kind of extreme problem sometimes the answer is, fill it up with roommates till the jobs materialize or get it in on the market fast. It’s probably too late to find a buyer since it’s gotten to this point of 3 missed payments. And if they owe more than it would sell for that wouldn’t help either. Lastly they could move out and rent the property if it could bring in enough to pay down the arrears and get on an even keel while they get full time jobs. But where would they live? Pretty terrible.

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