Homeowners Unknowingly Sign Away Property - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NewsChannel 5 Investigates:

Homeowners Unknowingly Sign Away Property

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Thomas McKissack Thomas McKissack
Mary McKissack Mary McKissack
Sean Queen Sean Queen
Sharmila Murthy Sharmila Murthy

Thomas McKissack raised six children in the modest home he bought more than 30 years ago.

"I've seen my whole life in this house," McKissack says.

But McKissack no longer owns his home. He claims he was tricked into signing away the deed by Sean Queen, who he thought was helping him.

Thomas was two months behind on his mortgage when he received a letter in the mail promising him help with his foreclosure problems.

"When I first got that letter I was thinking this is help on the way, this is help," McKissack says.

The letter came from Sean Queen, who owns a local real estate business. NewsChannel 5 Investigates found court papers that show Queen has been sued at least two different times for what's known as sale lease/back transactions.

Court documents show Queen sent letters like the one McKissack received to people on the verge of foreclosure. They would sign a series of papers thinking they were getting a loan -- but in fact they signed away ownership of their home and agreed to become renters.

Thomas McKissack claims he had no idea he was signing away the deed to his home. "When I signed those papers I thought I was refinancing my house," McKissack says.

Family members noticed weeks later that McKissack's name was not on the deed. McKissack received $5,000 for a house the Metro property assessor says is worth $98,000.

And consumer protection attorneys say these types of transactions are becoming more common in today's economy.

"I think we are going to see more of these scams," says Sharmila Murthy, an attorney with Leiff, Cabraser, Heimann and Bernstein. Murthy has represented several clients who unknowingly signed away the deed to their homes in an effort to avoid foreclosure.

"You're not really looking at all the fine print. You're just saying I trust you and people get really desperate," she says.

Sean Queen says that Thomas McKissack knew exactly what he was signing and that an attorney clearly told him he would now be renting his home. Queen says that was clearly stated on the papers McKissack signed.

"For Sean Queen to come out here and take it and make them pay the mortgage its ridiculous," says Mary McKissack, his former wife. " And it's put in their name. It's ridiculous."

McKissack has stopped paying his rent and now Sean Queen says he's losing money on the deal.

But after NewsChannel 5 Investigates began questioning the deal Queen agreed to give McKissack his home. Queen's attorney is drawing up papers to transfer ownership back to McKissack.

"You got to have a place to live, a place to call home," says Mary McKissack. " I feel good every time I stick my key inside my door -- and he needs a place to live."

As for Sean Queen, he says he is no longer in the real estate business.

The McKissacks have hired an attorney and they say they are reviewing paperwork that would give Thomas McKissack the deed to his home once again.

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