Articles Posted in Foreclosure Defense

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houses.jpgThe Miami Herald just remarked that the passage of these Florida foreclosure bills (HB 87 and SB 1666) is an open invitation to more bank fraud. And more houses owned by banks in bulk to be sold to institutional investors.

This is an opinion piece published in the Tallahassee Democrat. Since not many in the Tampa Bay area likely read the Tallahassee Democrat, I thought I would include it here. Please help by contacting your legislative representatives and express your vote against HB 87 and SB 1666 if you have a similar story to that below.

I am in foreclosure. Although I am not proud of that, I know my foreclosure is not my fault.

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short sale tax.jpgThe late night fiscal cliff tenative workout included a proposed extension of the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act for one more year to include 2013! Floridians seeking to short sale their home but weren’t able to get it done prior to the end of 2012 can breathe a sigh of relief. It’ll take a few days, but provided the House approves the Senate’s Bill, it will be full speed ahead for short sales for another year.

Popular blogger Calculated Risk posted the Senate version of the bill (H.R. 8) today.

Expiration of the favorable tax treatment of cancelled debt would create a major headache for homeowners who sell their home short (for less than what is owed). It would also apply to foreclosures and a deed in lieu of foreclosure.

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house life preserver.jpgWe are still seeing significant principal reductions for some of our very lucky clients, mostly from Bank of America and Ocwen.

An article by Drew Harwell in the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times indicates that since March, more than 1,000 Florida homeowners have learned their principal balances were dropping by an average of $114,000. This is due to the National Mortgage Settlement of $25 billion. Five of the nation’s largest banks – Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

I know to many this seems unfair. Those behind in their payments get huge windfalls, while those who have kept paying do not. Or someone with a different lender doesn’t qualify and no one has control over who buys their mortgages. Fannie and Freddie do not presently allow for any principal reductions.

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lawsuit.jpgIn Florida, typically someone who is sued is served with the lawsuit and given 20 or sometimes 30 days to file a response. If the lawsuit was filed in small claims court, you are given a date to appear at a pretrial conference instead of filing a written response.

The most important thing is: Don’t ignore the deadline. It doesn’t matter that you think you might be able to work it out or that you called the attorney’s office who filed the lawsuit. If you don’t file a timely written response with the court, or attend the pretrial conference, a default will be entered against you. A default judgment can last up to 20 years in Florida and is very hard to challenge.

Before the deadline expires, please see an attorney. Many attorneys, including our office offer a free consultation for foreclosure defense or debt collection matters.

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photo.JPGIn a strong opinion favoring Florida homeowners, the Eleventh Circuit slammed the door in the face of debt collectors and mortgage servicers in foreclosure cases making it abundantly clear that calling homeowners multiple times in one day after they have hired an attorney to represent them, using abusive and offensive language and lying about foreclosure sale dates and other unscrupulous behavior would no longer be tolerated. In Birster v. American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc. Case no. 11-13574, (11th Cir. July 18, 2012), the Court said no more when it reversed the Southern District of Florida who had ruled for the mortgage company.

I urge all homeowners who have suffered abuse at the hands of their mortgage servicer (which frankly is most all prospective clients I speak with) contact an attorney immediately – the protections afforded by the FDCPA have a one year statute of limitations, under the FCCPA it is extended to two years. If you already have an attorney, print out this blog, or tell your attorney about this brand new case so he or she can now use this powerful tool in the defense of your case. We sure plan to.

You may be asking why is this case so important?

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Back in 2009, the Florida legislature realized that tenants needed some protection from the foreclosure crisis. The resulting Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act protects tenants from eviction because of foreclosure on the properties they occupy. These provisions took effect on May 20, 2009, and originally were scheduled to expire on December 31, 2012.

However, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) changed the expiration date to December 31, 2014.

We still do not know if the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act will be extended past December 31, 2012. This Act allows a waiver for certain qualifying homesteads of the tax consequences of forgiven debt such as in a short sale.

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house money.jpgHere’s an example in Tampa, Florida this month for one of our foreclosure clients who wanted to keep her house and avoid the possibility of a deficiency judgment:

New monthly payment: $933.45 with escrow Old monthly payment: $1,491.35

New interest rate: 4% fixed Old interest rate: 7.75 % fixed

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Here in Florida, our foreclosure defense clients have seen two more excellent principal reduction offers in the past month – both from Ocwen. Both reductions were to the fair market value, maybe even below, and both were reduced over $100,000. Additionally, the interest rates were reduced to 4% for the remaining balance.

As I’ve reported in the past, Ocwen is buying the servicing rights for many mortgage loans, including Litton and Saxon, so when you open your mail and find your loan has been transferred once again, don’t fret if its Ocwen, as it may be a blessing in disguise.

Both of the above cases were involved in litigation with our law firm so that may also have been a relevant fact, but we really don’t know. All I can say on behalf of my clients is: Thank you Ocwen. Kudos.

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underwater house.jpgThe recent AG settlement among the states’ Attorneys General and the five largest mortgage servicers is expected to be filed any day now. Hopefully then more light will be shed on what exactly the terms are and how they will help Florida homeowners.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that Bank of America also made a side deal to avoid penalties and will be doing more principal reductions. Under the terms of the settlement, the five servicers are required to make more than $10 billion in principal reductions. There is a lot more info in the article at the link above.

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occupy tampa.jpgUSF and Occupy Tampa is holding a Foreclosure Teach-In this Saturday March 10, 2012 1:30-4:30. There is no charge and you can also attend via the Internet live feed.

Senior Staff Attorney from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid April Charney will be speaking. April has been traveling around the State of Florida for the past several years educating attorneys on the nuances of foreclosure defense. I have personally attended two of her all day seminars and she is a very spirited and knowledgeable fighter of foreclosures! It was time well spent.

Do not miss this opportunity. This seminar is designed to help participants become familiar with the foreclosure process and what they can do when faced with foreclosure. If your schedule does not permit you to attend, the seminar will be archived on the site as well.

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