Fort Washington couple evicted from million-dollar house

May 4, 2012

Prince George’s County sheriff’s deputies have evicted a Fort Washington couple who spent years fighting the foreclosure of their million-dollar house.

Keith and Janet Ritter did not make a single mortgage payment on the showcase home along the Potomac River after buying it at the end of 2006.

Sheriff’s deputies showed up at the house Wednesday morning with an eviction order issued last week by the county Circuit Court. The order had been sought by Kondaur Capital Corp., a California firm that buys foreclosed properties and now owns the house.

The Ritters could not be reached for comment.

During the real estate boom, the Ritters earned six-figure incomes by flipping houses — buying and reselling rapidly. Most of their activity was in the Fort Washington area. The Ritters ran into financial trouble once the housing bubble burst. They had said previously that they did not make payments because they were scrambling to save other investment properties from foreclosure.

The mortgage on the million-dollar house passed through several lenders, at least two of which tried to foreclose. The Ritters held them off with repeated bankruptcy filings in different states, temporarily halting the foreclosure process. They also benefited from a national moratorium on foreclosures following the
robo-signing scandal and from Maryland’s unusually long foreclosure process, one of the most protracted in the nation.

Attorneys for Kondaur successfully foreclosed on the house late last year and obtained an eviction order in December. In March, after an article about the couple appeared in The Washington Post, sheriff’s deputies pulled up to the house but had to leave because of another last-minute bankruptcy filing by Janet Ritter. Kondaur’s lawyers last week secured the court order that allowed the eviction to go forward.

The Ritters had filled their home with art and furnishings. One witness to the eviction said it took the entire day to remove the couple’s belongings.

By Friday afternoon, the front door sported a new lock and a real estate lock box. There were bits of debris strewn about outside — clothing hangers, paint cans, a dog crate filled with rocks and “For Rent” and “For Sale” signs. A cream-colored Mercedes with a flat tire was parked outside the garage, where it has been for several months. The driveway was also sprinkled with broken glass. One front window on the ground floor appeared to have been vandalized.

Neighbors in the small development of custom-built, high-end homes were reluctant to talk to a reporter about the eviction. One man, who did not give his name, said, “This is reality.”

Annys Shin has been a staff writer at the Washington Post since 2004.
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