Gift of the Mortgage Modification Magi

A young married couple was very much in love, but they could barely afford their one bedroom house.  The husband had a pay cut at his job, and then the couple began to fall behind on their mortgage, but they never gave up hope.  The couple worked diligently with the loan department towards a mortgage modification.  With lower payments, they would be able to stay in their cozy little home. The loan department offered the couple a HAMP modification (Home Affordable Mortgage Program), which gave them a three month trial of lowered payments, after which they could get a permanent modification.  The couple made it through the first payment, and then the second, and when they cleared the third, they rejoiced.  The husband stood on the curb of their one bedroom home and waited for the permanent modified loan package to arrive by FedEx…and while he stood there, he was served with foreclosure papers. The irony was not bittersweet.  It was a demonstration that the loan department and the legal department do not speak.  Yes, while you are working to negotiate a mortgage modification, also yes, the legal department is putting together a foreclosure lawsuit against you.  The lender works […] Read More

Lemons to Lemonade

In Foreclosure Defense, you work with what you have to make the best of a sour situation.  It might not turn out as well as lemonade, but it is usually better than lemon-seed-surprise. There is a lot you can do with lemons, but getting a free house is not one of those things.  You cannot make double chocolate cake with lemons, nor can you get a free house with Foreclosure Defense. Instead, you can try for a best case scenario from a worst case circumstance.  You may be looking at a short sale, a loan modification, forbearance, refinance, and in some special cases, bankruptcy.  The goal is to fit the resolution to the homeowner’s needs for optimal financial security. Foreclosure is bad, but Foreclosure Defense may be able to squeeze the best possible result from a sour situation. Read More

20 Days of Foreclosure Summons

Eight Days of Chanukah, Twelve Days of Christmas, Seven Days of Kwanzaa, and you have 20 Days to respond to a Foreclosure Summons.  Regardless of how many shopping days you have left, if you received a Court Summons, the clock is ticking.  It ticks over holidays and weekends. A Foreclosure Defense can give you more shopping days to find a resolution that is right for you.  You do not buy the first pair of jeans you put your hands on any more than one-size-fits-all in Foreclosure Defense.  Foreclosure lawsuits come with deadlines, and the more deadlines you meet properly, the more choices you have open, the closer the fit for an outcome tailored to your situation. On the First Day of Christmas a Process Server gave to me:  a Foreclosure Suit with a Court Summons…you only have 20 days from there to respond.  Time is a side-effect of Foreclosure Defense.  The purpose of a legal defense is not to delay the inevitable, but to allow an alternative strategy to go through, like a Short Sale or Loan Modification. Accept Service of Process, and start the clock towards resolution.  Seek competent legal counsel to guide you through the process and help […] Read More

Home Foreclosure for the Holidays?

No turkey from work?  Company car repossessed?  Thirty-year retirement pension a thing of the past?  The average life-span of a home mortgage is seven years…and a lot of those are in foreclosure. Foreclosure is the new black.  In Florida, 350,000 homeowners can boast about the sun in the morning and the moon at night…because their debt ceiling is tied up in the foreclosure court system. Foreclosure is no holiday, but you can make informed decisions along the way.  Seek legal counsel to learn more about the choices available.  No one should go through foreclosure alone, not during the holidays or any other season. Read More

Watered Down Fortune

In 1880 President Ulysses Grant visited St. Augustine, accompanied by Frank Hamilton Taylor, an artist who covered the tour for Harper’s Weekly in watercolor illustrations.  More recently, many Florida homes have turned pastel hues in value, watered down by a flood on the market. When your house is under water, a short sale can be a lifeboat.  A short sale is a real estate transaction in which the lender agrees to accept a lesser sale price than the mortgage balance owed on the house.  It is not ideal for anyone involved, but it does give the lender some return on the property, it relieves the homeowner from a mortgage he cannot afford, and it has the by-product bonus of putting another homeowner in the place, instead of leaving it vacant.  Thus a short sale helps maintain the property value in the community.  Again, a short sale is not ideal, but it is often best for the universe when home value is upside down. You are all wet if you think a short sale will stop a foreclosure.  Just because you have a buyer at the table does not prevent a process server from handing you a foreclosure lawsuit.  It may […] Read More

Foreclosure? Good Thing You Had Your Orange Juice

Income loss?  Unemployment?  Foreclosure summons on the way?  Good thing you had your orange juice.  While Vitamin C is healthy, you may need more than antioxidants to deal with Home Foreclosure. Eat your vegetables…Home Foreclosure can be stressful mentally and physically.  You may be suffering poor circulation of funds, so you are going to need your strength to deal with legal lifting. Foreclosure is not for the faint of heart; however, good legal counsel can provide the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your financial future. Foreclosure Defense offers choices.  It is not about winning; it is about pursing the best possible outcome for your particular situation. Every foreclosure case is different.  Despite the staggering number of foreclosure lawsuits, each homeowner has a unique set of circumstances.  There are choices to consider, depending on the individuals involved. If you are fighting foreclosure, you may need more than Vitamin C to keep your strength up.  Seek competent legal counsel.  No one should go through foreclosure alone. Read More

Losing Ground

Whether you are strangled by high mortgage payments, drowning in market value, or both, if you are facing foreclosure you are losing ground.  How fast you give up yardage, though, may determine your financial position for the future. Time is a side effect of Foreclosure Defense.  Time can be very useful.  Foreclosure Defense gives you the opportunely to create a fallback position, and the time in which to pursue it. There is no such thing as a free lunch…the same goes for houses.  Eventually you are going to lose your Foreclosure case, but if you have a Short Sale or a Loan Modification or other resolution in place, then you will be better off. Foreclosure Defense is not about whether you win or lose, but how fast you can recover.  It is a way to make a positive attempt at a better financial future. Read More

Tip for Short Selling Your House: Get An Attorney

Scented candles, the smell of baked cookies, and a clean, well-maintained appearance are all good, but none of that is going to matter if a Foreclosure happens before a Short Sale can go through. A Short Sale does not stop a Foreclosure.  Many homeowners turn to Short Sales as a way to get out from underneath upside down mortgage payments they can no longer afford.  Thus it is good for the homeowner, and it gives the bank some return on the mortgage balance.  However, do not ignore a Foreclosure Summons even if you have a Short Sale Buyer lined up. If you receive a Foreclosure Summons, get a defense attorney involved if you have not already done so.  You only have 20 days from the time the summons is served to respond, and most Short Sales take longer than that.  A Foreclosure Defense can give the opportunity for the Short Sale to go through before the Foreclosure happens. The Short Sale Process should look something like this: 1. Find a real estate agent.  Pick one you can get along with…you are going to be with that person for a while. 2. List the property as a Short Sale. 3. Receive […] Read More

Slip Showing in Foreclosure Fashion

“Allonge” is a dirty French word that means undergarment of a Real Estate Note.  Not really, but it is an attachment to a Real Estate Note that should draw notice when foreclosure lawsuits are not properly dressed. Allonges are gaining attention as more unverified documents are coming forward from banks.  The validity of records is increasingly questioned with cases like that of the Wells Fargo executive who admitted to signing 150 foreclosures a day and only checking the dates.  These documents are the underpinning a homeowner foreclosure eviction.  An allonge is just one more way records can go the wrong way, regardless of whether or not the error is intentional. Court is a formal place and proper attire maintains the decorum of our legal system.  As an attorney, my coat should not smell like sour milk (see http://staugustine.com/interact/blog-post/rusty-collins/2011-08-12/new-suit#.TsPkBT3RDxQ), and a foreclosure lawsuit should be appropriately dressed. Justice is not a matter of fashion.  Despite the foreclosure fad, lawsuits should be in appropriate condition and not threadbare over documentation; otherwise, Justice’s slip is showing.   Read More

Stepping Stones to Misfortune & Recovery

Unemployment, medical hardship, loss of income…these are stepping stones to misfortune.  Life pulls you one direction, while your financial goals take a different route.  Before you declare bankruptcy, consider your options. Bankruptcy is great if you have been bitten by the right snake.  While bankruptcy can stop a home foreclosure, it is not an anti-venom to be taken lightly.  There are consequences you need to understand beforehand.  Bankruptcy has long-lasting effects, and you may be better served by an alternative resolution. Seek competent legal counsel if you are stuck between a rocky lender and a financial hardship.  Make informed decisions about the steps before you.  Choose wisely, using expert legal advice to find the best path to recovery. Read More