Home ownership is stressful enough these days. Prices are plunging with little end in sight, new construction has all but disappeared, and the two companies that hold the mortgage industry together -- Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE) -- are trading as if their days are numbered.

But for one couple brave enough to take the real-estate plunge, the nightmare came from a completely different direction. Back in May, Bobo and Joy Dickson purchased a home that had been on the brink of foreclosure. Just days after their purchase, they returned home from work to find the house completely gutted. All of their possessions -- even the food in the kitchen -- were gone. The locks on the doors had been drilled. The American dream vanished in an instant.

You didn't get the memo?
Had the Dicksons been the victims of a home burglary? Nope. They had become the latest victims of a mortgage industry struggling to sift through a mountain of foreclosures.

Even though the Dicksons had purchased the house, foreclosure filings from the previous owners weren't properly halted. EMC Mortgage, owned by parent company JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), moved in to complete the foreclosure process on what it assumed were the previous owners. Sadly, this process included hiring an outside company to remove all possessions out of the house and donate them to local thrift stores. Adding insult to injury, the Dicksons claim they've had no lucking tracking down their property, which included family heirlooms.

Yes, it was an accident. If anything, it just goes to show the state of disarray the housing market is now in. A JPMorgan spokesperson commented, "We take this very seriously, and we are working with EMC and the family's attorney to make this right." In the meantime, the Dicksons’ real estate agent is rounding up donations to get the family's house back in order.

Brings new meaning to the term "buyer beware."

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