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RESEDA : Residents in Limbo on Fate of Condos

More than six months after the Northridge earthquake damaged 130 condominiums at the Sherman Court complex in Reseda, the primary lender has still not decided whether to rebuild or raze the property.

And many residents wait in limbo, not knowing whether their homes will be foreclosed, whether they should hand over their deeds, whether they should move on with their lives or wait.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Teri Feld, president of the Sherman Court Homeowners Assn. “Sherman Court is just sitting there.”

With some tenants having put 50, 60 or even 100% down on their condominiums, members voted in May to rebuild the pink stucco structure.

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By June, Feld said, many were so frustrated by the lack of progress--toward either reconstruction or demolition--that they voted not to rebuild.

That vote was little more than a preference poll, however, as North American Mortgage Co.--the largest lender for the complex--filed suit to keep residents from doing either.

North American President Terrance Hodel said Tuesday the company is making deed-in-lieu agreements--where homeowners essentially hand properties back over to the company in exchange for an erasure of debts--with about 50 of the 87 owners it provided mortgages.

Others--including those who had defaulted before the quake or had removed appliances and furnishings afterward--may have their homes foreclosed, he said.

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But still, said Daniel Perwich, attorney for the residents association, “They haven’t decided to rebuild. They haven’t decided not to rebuild.”

As if such headaches with lenders weren’t problem enough, the residents association is involved in litigation with the builder.

Before the earthquake, the association had sued contractor Sherman Calvin Partners. The allegation: shoddy construction.

A trial date for that lawsuit will be set in late August, but the trial will probably not occur until next year, said Sherman Calvin attorney Paul Levine.

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After paying $38,000 down on her condominium, Feld was among those who wanted to rebuild. The majority voted against her.

Either way, she said, a decision needs to be made.

“The homeowners would like to have an answer so they can decide what to do with their futures.”


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