After battling countless leaks, Pat Wilkinson knew she needed a new roof and $13,500 seemed like a fair price.
But when she later found out the ultimate cost of her PACE financing home repair loan would be $56,812, she was stunned.
“I panicked because I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to pay that much,” Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson is the latest homeowner to share a nightmarish story about PACE financing with 8 On Your Side.
PACE is a government-sanctioned loan program marketed to homeowners low on cash or credit that enables them to pay for energy-efficient home repairs. The bill is added to their property taxes which is paid off over a long term.
The trouble is the loan interest hovers around 10 percent and in Wilkinson’s case, extended 25 years.
When you add in thousands of dollars for closing costs, the ultimate cost of Wilkinson’s roof project tripled and reached a point she couldn’t afford on her modest social security pension and cottage quilt making business.
“Heck you could have put four roofs on that home over that period of time for less money,” said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who oversees administration the PACE program in Pasco County.
Fasano takes a personal interest in homeowner complaints since PACE loans are added to the tax rolls.
“Sadly, she paid a lot more than she should have for that roof,” Fasano said.
Wilkinson reached out to Fasano and he asked 8 On Your Side to investigate Wilkinson’s deal to see if there was any way to obtain some relief for her.
Fasano also wanted to underline why he now requires PACE lenders, customers and contractors to read and sign a full disclosure document that tells homeowners up front what they’re getting into and how they can lose their homes if they don’t pay their inflated tax bills.
Before we got involved, Wilkinson had already sold some inherited property in order to pay off her PACE loan just a year after she obtained it. That cost her $22,750 for a roof originally estimated to cost $13,500.
But we also spotted a big mistake that worked in Wilkinson’s favor.
Somehow the PACE lender Renew Financial processed two different loan applications for Wilkinson and mistakenly added thousands of dollars to the base cost of the roof project.
In other words, Wilkinson overpaid by at least $2,500, not including added closing costs and interest charged on the mistakenly inflated roof cost.