N.L. widow, mother of 3, set to lose family home next week

The widow of a former CFL quarterback and mother of three daughters is about to lose her dream home in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's.
Widow Laurie Metcalfe is losing her home due to a series of financial mistakes after her husband died 13:31

The widow of a former CFL quarterback and mother of three is about to lose her dream home in a town near St. John's.

Laurie Metcalfe, 40, and her three daughters, ages 4, 8 and 10, have been living in a house in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, N.L., but as of Sept. 30, will be homeless. 

Life started to unravel for Metcalfe after her common-law spouse, Bob Torrance, died suddenly last year. 

Metcalfe, originally from St. John's, moved to Calgary upon university graduation and met Torrance in December 2000.

Torrance was a former quarterback for the Calgary Stampeders, a member of the Stamps' Grey Cup winning team in 1992, and also played a season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. 

The couple made the decision to move their family to Newfoundland in 2007, and in 2010 they purchased the 5,700-square-foot home.  

"We have three kids together. This is our dream home, we moved here .. and this is where we were going to live the rest of our days," Metcalfe said. 

Laurie Metcalfe's bank tried to auction her Portugal Cove-St. Philip's home in August, but was unsuccessful. (CBC)

One day in January 2012, Torrance fell suddenly ill. The following day, he died of a streptococcal infection.

"It was a complete shock. When he passed away... I'm kind of still in shock over it... It got really tough just trying to keep the kids sane and stable and fine. You know they're doing good, they're doing great, we're all kicking along fine, but it's been a tough year and a half," she told CBC. 

Metcalfe, who was employed as a science technician with Memorial University, took extended time off without pay and cashed down pension funds to be with her children. This fall, she had planned to return to work, as her youngest daughter started kindergarten.

After Torrance died, Metcalfe decided to sell the family home.

It sold in just one day on the market, but the potential buyers couldn't secure financing. After several months, Metcalfe took it off the market.

Earlier this year, she made the decision to sell the house again. Metcalfe said money was tight, and she fell behind in the mortgage, missing January and February payments.

In March, the Bank of Montreal sent Metcalfe a letter, looking for $8,800 to cover the months missed, as well as lawyers' fees.

Metcalfe's mortgage payments total about $1,300 a month. She also has $250,000 of equity in the home.

Metcalfe approached a broker in Ontario, looking for a $30,000 loan. The amount would cover the arrears and put her in a better position to sell the house. 

"I went to a refinancing company, and [they] said they could help. It was all pre-approved. I had someone come in and appraise my home at $500,000. I had a lender, he's in Ontario. Their lawyer's in town, and I asked them about my mortgage, if I should keep paying it, or is the bank going to act on their letter, saying I must pay it up by a certain date, at the end of May?" Metcalfe said.

"And they informed me that the loan, because things are tight now, would go through.... All you needed to do was hold tight until the paperwork goes through, and they'll pay up the arrears of the month or two I missed."  

'I have nowhere to go, I don't have family to stay with.' - Laurie Metcalfe

A broker at Mortgage Intelligence in Ontario arranged the loan.

They were willing to lend the money, at 17 per cent. The broker would earn a 20 per cent fee, or $6,000 on a $30,000 mortgage.

Under the Mortgage Broker's Act in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is illegal to charge that high of a fee. The allowable amount a broker can charge is one per cent, plus $100. Metcalfe was also told if she missed three payments, she would forfeit the house to the mortgagee.

Metcalfe's lawyer, Ron Cole, has concerns over the ethics about the deal. Cole said that he even arranged two different private lenders to try and assist Metcalfe in securing a better deal. 

In the end, neither lender gave her the money.

Attempts by CBC to reach Mortgage Intelligence by phone and email have been unsuccessful.

Situation critical

Last month, the situation escalated, as Metcalfe discovered the bank was going to auction off her home on Aug. 23. 

The auction was not successful.

Metcalfe wonders whether the sheriff's office will physically remove her from the house on Monday. 

"I have nowhere to go; I don't have family I can stay with. I don't have anything set up, I don't have anywhere to put my things. I didn't think I had to go anywhere. I was refinancing — just like everybody does it every day, they refinance. They get in a stumble with their mortgage and they have to fix it," she said.

"Unfortunately, I woke up one day, and I have to leave in a week." 


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