Art and Entertainment

extreme makeover foreclosure, extreme makeover harper
AP/Journal Constitution, Johnny Crawford
The "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" home of the Harper family in Gerogia. The Harpers
recently filed for bankruptcy in an effort to keep their home, on which they'd taken out a
$450,000 loan that they can't repay. 

With "Extreme Makeover" Homes, Some Get Foreclosure Instead of Happy Ending

June 05, 2009 08:00 PM
by Haley A. Lovett
Property taxes, bills, neighborhood pressures and legal issues can add up for some "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" recipients, leading to foreclosure, sale and other trouble.

Kentucky Family Latest to Sell “Extreme” Home

The Hassall Family was given a 3,298-square-foot home in 2006, a gift that the community felt they deserved. Brian and Michelle Hassall, the parents of two adopted children, work as a police officer and a teacher in the community, and they both suffer from health problems. For one week, their friends and neighbors worked with the ABC show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” to build the family a new home that would better suit their needs. But three years later, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader, the family is going to sell that home.

Left with more than $100,000 to pay off on their mortgage, and an increase in property taxes and utility bills, the Hassalls have decided that the stress of the home is more than they can take. Although some in the community are angry with the decision, most seem to be sympathetic to the Hassalls’ situation.

Background: Other "Extreme Makeover" homes go on the market

As for “Extreme” recipients selling their homes, the Hassalls are not alone. As many as five other families have put their “Extreme” homes on the market, for reasons such as rising property taxes and utility bills, or because they used the home as collateral on a loan they couldn’t repay.

Eric Hebert put his "Extreme Makeover" house up for sale last year, saying that he couldn’t afford the maintenance on the home, according to the Associated Press. Hebert, of Sandpoint, Idaho, then took out a loan against the house. In February, the bank foreclosed on the house when Hebert became unable to make payments.

Victor Marrero moved into his "Extreme Makeover" home in August 2007, and then in May 2008, he put the New Jersey home on the market for nearly $500,000. According to, Marrero said the home “was too costly to maintain” and that the money he’d been given by the show was not enough to pay all of his debts. One day after he listed the property, however, Marrero removed the listing.

In Atlanta, one "Extreme Makeover" family has had nothing but financial trouble since moving into their new home. Milton and Patricia Harper received their home in January 2005. The family used the house as collateral for a $450,000 loan to start a construction business. When the business failed, the house went into foreclosure in July 2008, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

After working out a plan to pay back the loan and avoid foreclosure last summer, they again faced foreclosure this spring, according to WSB Atlanta. The Harpers also owed debt to credit card companies, pawn shops and a cell phone company, and had outstanding garbage bills with the city. The house was scheduled to be auctioned off, but the Harpers avoided this by filing for bankruptcy.

In 2006, former drug addict turned charity worker Sadie Holmes faced foreclosure on her "Extreme Makeover" home because of nearly $30,000 in fines due to code violations. A pro-bono lawyer came to her rescue and helped Holmes save her home, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In December 2008, Judy and Larry Vardon were saved from losing their "Extreme Makeover" home. According to the AP, the Vardon’s financial burden was decreased thanks to donations to help them pay for their mortgage (which had increased since the makeover) as well as medical care for their son, who is blind and autistic.

Reference: "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"; Mortgages and foreclosures

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" premiered on ABC on Dec. 3, 2003. According to the Internet Movie Database, the show has helped more than 140 families. Families can be nominated, and have often endured hardships. For example, the show’s official site describes the upcoming sixth season premiere about a single mother who is taking care of 14 children: four of her own and 10 nieces and nephews she’s trying to keep out of foster care.

To learn more about the process of getting a mortgage for a home, or to understand the foreclosure process, visit the findingDulcinea Mortgages Web Guide and the foreclosure section of our Home Selling Web Guide.

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