LAS VEGAS -- Many foreclosed Las Vegas homes end up on the auction block. That's where one former homeowner found himself confronting investors.
Underneath a downtown Las Vegas carport is where the future of some of Nevada's foreclosed homes is being decided. It's where investors and agents snatch up deals on home auctions.
Hundreds of homes are auctioned off daily in front of Nevada Legal News. A few dozen people gather around an auctioneer who announces the homes up for sale on that particular day. The auctioneers know almost every investor and agent by name. However, on this day, there is one unfamiliar face.
Wearing the orange shirt of his carpenter's union hall, Joe Zito stands watch and waits for his address to be called. He waits for five hours. The presence of 8 News NOW camera is noted and, out of the hundreds of homes on the auction block that day, his is the only one withdrawn by the home's trustee. Zito and his brother leave, having warded off auction one more day.
"They're taking people's houses granted some of them didn't make their payments and are behind. But they're taking them without paperwork and nobody is fighting them and then they're generating paperwork that is so-called legit," said Zito.
His story is typical Las Vegas. He spent money during the boom years thinking the good times would never end. Then, he was laid off from his carpentry job. He worked with banks and outside services to modify his home loan but the signatures and notary stamps didn't seem to match. Three years later, the help never came.
"We've got Fidelity National, Power Default, American Home mortgage, Deutsche Bank. Who's who? What's what?." Zito says he bought the home in 2002 and much of the paperwork between then and now seems to be missing.
Zito shows up again the following day at the auction. His home is the first up but no one bids on it. For now, the asking price of $119,000 is too high and the house will remain with the bank.
The auction is then put on hold as protestors from Occupy Las Vegas show up with a megaphone pitting themselves against the investors who have shown up to bid on houses.
"There were people who had buyers lined up yesterday and their house is on the block today because the bank said no," shouted one protestor.
Investor: "You're not going to change anything."
Protestor: "it's spiteful!"
Investor: "This is reality."
That reality has hit hard for Zito. He stays in his house alone, having sent his wife and three kids back to family in New York.
"I'm like a bachelor now. That's what discourages me. I'm a family man. I feel like I'm a bachelor now. My family is 3,000 miles away right now," Zito said. He remains in Las Vegas so he can fight for his home.
He spreads his papers out on his dining room table.
"I'm not saying I don't want to pay anybody. Prove to me who I owe it to first."
No matter how loudly Zito protests, the home auctions go on and he knows one day his home will be back on the block.
"They are vultures as far as I'm concerned. They're circling waiting for the prey to die and then they come in."
The home auctions at Nevada Legal News are run by former Nevada Assemblyman Scott Sibley. He declined to be interviewed.