Fish Out of Water Foreclosure Defense

Marco?  Polo.  It is a game of blind man’s bluff played in the swimming pool where the person who is “It” tries with eyes closed to tag another swimmer.  To evade being tagged, a player can get out of the pool, but if “It” says, “Fish out of water!” then the person out of the pool becomes “It.”  Home foreclosure might not be as much fun, but it has a “Fish out of water!” aspect when it calls into question Subject Matter Jurisdiction. Marco? If the lenders and loan servicers have done their jobs right, what is a foreclosure defense attorney going to say?  However, there may be room to talk about the loan servicer’s authority to foreclose. Polo. Subject Matter Jurisdiction is a big deal in our form of government.  The United States Judicial System requires that a court have Subject Matter Jurisdiction over the subject of the case, and requires that the parties are the proper parties to pursue the lawsuit.  With debt sold into secondary markets, Subject Matter Jurisdiction is an important question.  Just because you owe money does not mean the party suing you has the authority to pursue the case. Marco? With institutional lenders, home […] Read More

Choices in Home Foreclosure

What is good for the goose is not necessarily good for you.  Honking and aggressive behavior may not illicit the desired result in a home foreclosure, or anything else.  However, you do have choices in home foreclosure. There is no single solution to deal with home foreclosure.  It depends on your circumstances—how much equity is in your home, if you are unemployed, if you are retired, if you are raising children or a caregiver for a family member, or if you have a medical hardship. Some of the foreclosure resolutions include: Refinance Forbearance Short Sale Mortgage Modification Reverse Mortgage Hardest Hit Fund (And sometimes) Bankruptcy Just because everybody is flying south does not mean you have to join the flock.  Seek competent financial guidance, such as a HUD-certified counselor or an attorney, to help you determine the choice with the best benefit for you. Read More

Marching Into Home Foreclosure

I was in marching band in Utah, and our last show, we marched into the pool…kind of like home mortgages bundled into mortgage-backed securities. Safety in numbers, investors thought, no way they will all default at the same time.  And thus, homeowners across America marched into foreclosure together. Though many homeowners went together into home foreclosure, there was not a single solution to fit every situation.  Instead, there were many choices.  The best choice for the homeowner depended on the homeowner’s circumstances.  The same is true today, with choices including: Refinance Forbearance Short Sale Mortgage Modification Reverse Mortgage Hardest Hit Fund (And sometimes) Bankruptcy You may need to get a third-party professional involved in order to complete a resolution.  A legal defense of your home foreclosure gives you time to pursue a resolution to bring you the best benefit.  Consult competent legal counsel to review your situation and which strategy is right for you.   Read More

Courtroom Experience

The St. Johns County courtrooms are getting updated—huge TV sets are being installed.  With A/C, big TVs, and plenty of seating, the question is, which courtroom do you want for the Super Bowl? Not every person’s experience in court is as grand as a Super Bowl party.  While the courtrooms are physically comfortable, they can be an intimidating scene.  There are some very serious people who look like they know what they are doing, and there is a guy with a gun. You might not be up for this.  While you have the right to represent yourself in court, you may want to seek competent legal counsel before going in front of that big screen TV and the Judge. Attorneys remove the emotion so their clients can take the necessary steps to move through a legal problem.  A lawyer can reframe the situation into business terms to help you look at the possible choices and consequences.  Furthermore, the more you know about the legal process, the less stress you have about the unknown. If you think you cannot afford an attorney in a civil case, contact your local Legal Aid office.  Even if you do not qualify for Legal Aid, […] Read More

Win-Win-Win Short Sale

A Short Sale is not for every homeowner, it depends on the homeowner’s personal and financial circumstances and goals.  However, for a homeowner facing foreclosure on an upside down property, a Short Sale can create a win-win-win situation. A Short Sale happens when the lender agrees to accept less than the mortgage balance, and a Short Sale can benefit three entities:  the homeowner, the lender, and the neighborhood.  The homeowner gets out of a house he cannot afford, and he can start to rebuild his credit.  The bank receives more than they would otherwise in a foreclosure or REO (Real Estate Owned) sale.  The neighborhood gets a new owner faster—instead of leaving the house vacant for months—which helps maintain property value in the area. (Also the transaction stays local, benefitting the local economy—the vendors involved in the completion of the sale.  So really a win-win-win-win situation.) A Short Sale will not stop a foreclosure.   Just because you are in negotiations with your lender for a Short Sale does not mean you are “safe” from foreclosure.  Your lender’s legal department and financial department are two separate entities.  They do not necessarily communicate or coordinate.  The lender may be working with […] Read More

Beware of False Hope in Foreclosure Rescue

Home foreclosure is bad enough.  What is worse is a fraudulent foreclosure rescue. The Federal Trade Commission went after HOPE Services this spring for offering homeowners foreclosure rescues that were not.  HOPE Services had homeowners pay three monthly trial payments (like a HAMP trial mortgage modification) and then they kept the money instead of putting it towards any type of foreclosure relief.  Furthermore, HOPE Services encouraged homeowners not to talk to their lenders or an attorney.  This scam cost homeowners nearly $2 million; some went bankrupt and some lost their homes. Hopefully you were not one of the victims of this scam, and hopefully you will not be a victim in any foreclosure rescue scam.  Here are three things to consider when you are considering foreclosure rescue: There are no guarantees in foreclosure rescue.  No one can guarantee to stop a foreclosure or get you a new mortgage. Talk to your lender.  A legitimate foreclosure relief will not have you cut off contact with your lender (and your attorney if you have one). Pressure.  If you are facing foreclosure, you are already under pressure.  Do not accept additional pressure from someone rushing you to sign over the deed or title […] Read More

Making Mortgage Payments

Just because you hit the jackpot does not mean you can restart making your house payments.  After being behind for three months or more, your lender is not going to accept them. Maybe you were between income sources or just had not won the lottery yet, but once you fall behind on mortgage payments for a certain period, the bank is not going to allow you to start making payments (or even partial payments) because it is not in the bank’s best interest.  Unless you have made arrangements with your lender for a forbearance plan, the bank will not accept a restart of payments because that restarts their clock towards foreclosure. Even if you can now afford your monthly mortgage, you cannot necessarily avoid a foreclosure lawsuit. Talk to your lender to see if you can work something out, and bankroll those mortgage payments until you have a resolution you can put them towards.   Read More

Aches & Pains & Home Foreclosure

Do not let home foreclosure sneak up on you like a heart attack—know the signs.  Can you feel it coming in your elbow or your hip?  Here are some of the common aches and pains that can precede a foreclosure: Unable to pay bills on time Having trouble paying for routine maintenance and upkeep Having to choose which bills to pay Unable to pay homeowner association fees or property taxes Using payday loans or pawning valuables Borrowing money from family and friends Facing loss of employment or a reduction of hours Going through a divorce or separation Dealing with a major illness / injury or death of a spouse Served a Foreclosure Complaint lawsuit The earlier you address these symptoms, the more choices you may have available.  Talk to your lender; you may be able to work out a deal before legal action is taken against you… But if number 10 happens, seek legal counsel to review the specifics of your circumstances and the legal choices available to you—you only have 20 calendar days to make a proper response to a Foreclosure Complaint notice.   Read More

Latest Foreclosure Statistics

The latest home foreclosure statistics show that foreclosures are down nationwide for the first quarter of 2015, but Florida is still in the lead for the top foreclosure state, with two of its cities in the top 10 metro areas of homeowner distress (Miami in first place and Tampa in seventh).  While Northeast Florida counties are above the national numbers of foreclosures, some of them are less than the statewide number. Nationally one in every 1,082 home is in a state of foreclosure.  Statewide in Florida, that number is one in every 446.  St. Johns County, however, is doing better that the statewide statistic (one in every 991) as is Putnam County (one in every 520) and Flagler County (one in every 451).  Clay and Duval Counties fall below the statewide number with one in every 329 and one in every 355 respectively. The thing about statistics is that they do not really matter…unless you are part of them.  Regardless of the trend, if you have received a foreclosure notice, the problem has hit home.  Seek competent legal counsel to discuss your options.   These statistics are from the March 2015 RealtyTrac report.  For more information on foreclosure statistics, visit […] Read More

Choice Point in Home Foreclosure: Answer to the Foreclosure Summons

So you have not made a mortgage payment in months and get served a foreclosure lawsuit—what now?  You have 20 days from your receipt of that court summons to file an Answer…or do nothing. If you DO NOT file a valid Answer with the court within those 20 days, a Summary Judgment Request may be filed against you, and you give up your right to contest the foreclosure.  Once a Final Summary Judgment is entered, a foreclosure sale date is set, then your house is sold on the courthouse steps, a Certificate of Title is issued to the new owner, and you will be served an eviction notice. If you DO file a valid Answer with the court within those 20 days, you have a chance at a better outcome. (Note:  If you have not made your mortgage payments just to live in a free house, the judge probably will not be inclined to rule in your favor.  Getting a free house from a foreclosure proceeding happens about as often as popsicle sightings on the sun.) With the help of a HUD-certified counselor or an attorney, you can file a valid Answer with the court, and pursue a strategy with […] Read More