Articles Posted in Foreclosure Defense

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facemask-mortgage-relief-covidSome creditors and loan servicers are jumping the gun in pursuing foreclosures, HOA liens, COA liens.  The federal government is also taking the position that it’s okay to pursue cases already in litigation.  We had to file a motion to abate arguing that the moratorium preventing involuntary collection activity includes cases already in litigation — which is well supported by case law.

None of these things should happening while the moratoriums are still in place.  For mortgages and tenant evictions in Florida, that means we are in a holding pattern until July 2 when the foreclosure and eviction moratorium is set to expire.  This includes actions on other liens as well.  Florida Statute Section 702.09 defines mortgages to include HOA and COA liens so they have to put things in park, same as other traditional mortgages.

It also appears that certain banks are not honoring mandatory forbearance requirements — if you have received any messages, letters or phone calls re: SPECIAL FORBEARANCE options, please reach out to us asap to help make sure that this goes smoothly.

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CARES-ACT

Webinar: Why you should care about the CARES Act

May 20, 2020 at Noon

 

The Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association will be hosting a FREE Webinar via Zoom on May 20, 2020 from 12:00 to 1:30pm. Why you should care about the CARES Act and its impact on Student Loans, Foreclosure, Collection, and Consumer and Business Bankruptcy. Christie Arkovich, Jake Blanchard, Nicole Mariani Noel and Chapter 13 Trustee, Kelly Remick, will discuss provisions of the stimulus bill that expand or create options for Debtors in Chapter 13 cases as well as Small Business Debtors under Subchapter V and many more. Panelists will also discuss foreclosure, forbearance, collection and student loan impacts. No cost to attend. This will be a live webinar and will not be recorded. Register here.

Couldn’t come at a better time now that things are hoppin’ a bit more!  I encourage our colleagues to register for local insight to help represent our clients the best we can in these trying times

 

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One of our clients had a sale date on March 25, 2020 that was moved to May 20, 2020.  While our clients had already moved out, they are very appreciative of the additional time to safely remove their belongings.  There is a lot more relief to come!

This benefits the mortgage companies too in that it keeps their employee and contractor activity to a minimum to turn around this property during our Safer at Home period of time.

“HUD issued letter dated March 18, 2020, “to inform mortgagees of foreclosure and eviction moratorium for all FHA-insured Single Family Mortgages for a period of 60-days.” The letter can be found at:

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mortgageHow do I make my mortgage payments for the next three months?

When people asked and learned that I am able to work from home, they are a little envious. What they don’t understand is that one cannot “work from home” indefinitely. At some point, there will be no work to work from home. There will be no new clients, no new orders, and the pipeline of work will stop.  Hourly workers, contract workers, and salaried workers alike are on the same boat; our income will be greatly reduced or terminated altogether. While some of us have savings, few have sufficient savings to last us several months and our housing expense will be first and foremost on our list of concerns. If you have lost income due to COVID-19, there are things you can do to qualify for relief from your mortgage payments.

Federal regulators, through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are ordering lenders to offer flexibility to homeowners; about one half of the home loans in the country, those guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, will be affected by this policy. However, the entire mortgage industry is expected to follow suit. Forbearance from mortgage payments could last up to 12 months, depending on the borrower’s particular situation, according to Mark Calabria, director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.  While this type of relief is neither debt forgiveness or free money, it will keep you from falling into the trap of default and foreclosure.

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error-not-foundIf you happen to have Ocwen as a mortgage servicer (or former servicer), you may have an excellent reason to challenge their books.  Check out this quote from an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals case out this week in University of Puerto Rico Retirement System et al v. Ocwen et al.

“Unfortunately for Ocwen, REALServicing didn’t really work—the software, as it turned out, was incapable of properly tracking borrowers’ accounts and payments, and it recorded inaccurate information about interest, late fees, escrow accounts, or completed payments for up to 90% of the loans in the system.”

90% of their loans were not properly accounted for!  Wow that’s pretty bad!

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reverse-mortgageReverse mortgages are a great way to provide retirement funding but they do come with traps for the unwary.  In a recent Forbes article, “Additional Risks of Reverse Mortgages,” complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau remain high.  Areas of concern include servicers that:

  • make it difficult to coordinate payment;
  • act as if property taxes and other homeowner obligations are not met;
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foreclosureIn a recent case, Harbin v. Roundpoint Mortgage Co., No. 18-11713 (11th Cir. Dec. 17, 2018), the Eleventh Circuit confronted a situation where a borrower applied for a loan modification and was told that the foreclosure sale was “temporarily postponed.”  This borrower decided not to file bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure when she was told this by her mortgage company.  Who wouldn’t?  When the sale went through anyway, she sued.  The appellate court held that the borrower “reasonably could have believed . . . that the foreclosure had been ‘suspended temporarily'” and that the statement was ‘material’ because it was the key to [the borrower’s] decision whether to file for bankruptcy before the June 3 sale.”

Beware out there – consult with a foreclosure defense attorney or a bankruptcy attorney to make sure you know what’s going on with your home if it is in foreclosure — and the various options on how to keep your home.

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Most of us still use the New Year as an opportunity to review the past year and set goals for the New Year.  My own practice has grown tremendously from this goal setting.  We target the best strategies to grow our practice and help our clients to get back on track financially.

As most of you know, we practice bankruptcy and foreclosure defense as we have for many years, but since student loan debt has become such a crisis, much of our work is focused on eliminating that debt.  We have developed different strategies both inside and outside of bankruptcy to reduce student loan debt.

A new tool we are adding this year involves the misreporting of student loan debt on credit reports.  Put quite simply, the student loan servicers often can’t get it right.  They send bills with different amounts owed, transfer the debt so often that it appears duplicate times on a credit report, inaccurately reports payments etc.  We intend to hold them accountable.  Stay tuned as we hope to blog about this regularly to help our readers recognize when their credit reports may be in error and costing them real money – by denied credit or increased cost of credit, insurance etc.

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fha-appleI’ve written before about the requirement in FHA mortgages that the lender send certified letters and conduct a face-to-face meeting with a borrower before initiating a foreclosure.  When a lender fails to do that, the may be liable for the damages sustained in a wrongful foreclosure.  There are other advantages as well to allow for the transfer of the debt to a third party or even another family members in case they wish to keep the home if the borrower becomes ill or even passes away.  Also it’s easier to obtain deficiency waivers of the debt in case a short sale or foreclosure occurs.

Conventional mortgages are not assumable.  However, similar to veterans who have VA loans, a consumer with an FHA loan may sell his/her home to a purchaser who is willing to assume the existing mortgage and continue making payments pursuant to the existing lending agreement.  HUD and FHA approval is necessary for a loan assumption to occur, and requirements include:

  • Manual underwriting to ensure that the homebuyer is creditworthy
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fha-guidelinesIf you have a FHA mortgage and have not had a face-to-face meeting with your lender, this may be the ticket to stop the foreclosure!

Foreclosures are on the rise in Florida:  Tampa/St. Pete is up 75%; Orlando is up 198% and Jacksonville is up an astonishing 332%.  While Tampa is the strongest real estate market of these other Florida metro areas, this uptick bears watching.  Overall, I’d have to say as a foreclosure defense attorney that lenders appear to have corrected many of their ways regarding properly documenting a mortgage and its subsequent assignment.  But lender practices are often still deficient.  A foreclosure defense attorney just needs to be more diligent in representation to ensure our laws are followed.

A mechanism that was designed to prevent unnecessary foreclosures is found in FHA mortgages and is known as the face-to-face meeting requirement.  FHA notes specifically limit acceleration of the debt and foreclosure only when permitted by HUD regulations.

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