Mattfeld v. PHH Mortgage (WI)

Summary: Under Wisconsin Statute, a lender’s response to a borrower’s inquiry can be delivered in various forms, including email, and it may address a borrower’s agent without addressing the borrower’s question specifically.


Mattfeld v. PHH Mortgage Corp., 2013 WI App 94, 349 Wis. 2d 526, 835 N.W.2d 291 (Wis. Ct. App. 2013), review denied.


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Facts: The Mattfelds owned a home in Menomonee Falls with two mortgages, including one held by PHH. The Mattfelds sought to close on the short sale of their Menomonee Falls home on January 8, 2009 but were unable to because their real estate agent could not ascertain their mortgage payoff amount from PHH. The realtor contacted PHH twice, on December 29, 2008 and January 5, 2009, and received an email response from PHH’s lawyer on January 6, 2009 informing the Mattfelds’ realtor that they would have to go through the short sale process with PHH’s loss mitigation department. On March 31, 2009, PHH delivered the mortgage payoff amount to the Mattfelds, but the potential purchaser had already canceled the sale contract on March 19, 2009 due to repeated delays.

The Mattfelds brought two causes of action against PHH: 1) failure to comply with Wisconsin Statute § 138.052(7s) by not providing a response within fifteen days of the January 5, 2009 inquiry that included the Mattfelds’ payoff amount; and 2) breach of an implied duty of good faith and fair dealing in the performance of the loan contract after not providing the timely payoff amount. The district court denied Mattfeld’s motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment to PHH because the response sent to the Mattfelds’ realtor was sufficient under the Wisconsin Statute.

On appeal, the Mattfelds contended that under the Wisconsin Statute the lender’s response must be: 1) sent to the borrower, not an agent; 2) specifically answer the question posed; 3) in writing; and 4) sent by personal service or mail.


Holding: Affirmed. The district court was correct in granting PHH’s motion for summary judgment because 1) the Wisconsin statute does prohibit the lender from responding to an agent of the borrower, 2) the nature of PHH’s response was sufficient because it addressed what the Mattfelds’ needed to do in order to calculate the payoff amount, 3) the Statute does not impose requirements as to form of delivery, 4) nor does the statute require a particular service for the response. Furthermore, Mattfelds' breach of contract motion was correctly denied because the Mattfelds could not show that the mortgage payoff amount was the type of notice required by the mortgage to be sent by first class mail.


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By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:58am