The Obama administration released figures at the end of last week indicating that only 32,000 homeowners have entered into final loan modifications under the HAM program this year. That is out of the several million homeowners that are likely eligible. These results show that lenders are slow or unwilling to finalize modifications to save homeowners. Lenders are putting homeowners in 3 month trial plans that are lasting 6 months and not leading to final modifications.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can result in elimination of 2nd mortgages and other debts and allowing homeowners to keep their homes. A Chapter 7 can still allow homeowners to keep their homes as well through reaffirmation agreements. The additional bonus is that the bankruptcy puts a stop on foreclosure or eviction proceedings, resulting in additional time for the banks to get their acts together and start finalizing modifications. Homeowners without this protection are relying on lenders telling them they will hold off on selling the home, but that is not a legally binding agreement. I get new clients who tell me their lender said they were working with them and not to worry, only to get an eviction notice stating their home has already been sold.
Now is the time to take action. Do not rely on a customer service rep telling you not to worry, they won’t sell your house, because they will. You will never hear from that person again and they are not about to help you find a new place to live.
For a free consultation with an actual attorney and not a paralegal or assistant, call us today. 888-881-6591.
It seems that banks are continuing to be extremely slow and difficult to deal with on modifications, even though the HAMP guidelines were published almost 9 months ago. I see many clients come in that may have tried a modification on their own or through a company, only to obtain no real relief. Many banks will give a denial, but then tell the homeowner to resubmit the exact same paperwork to be re-reviewed. This is only going to result in yet another denial unless something has changed in terms of financial ratios and the homeowner is kept is more months of frustration and delays.
The problem, as discussed in my do it yourself guide, is that homeowners often do not give the banks what they want to see. The other problem is that many homeowners are in over their heads and the terms a bank might give them will still not help, even if they can actually get approved.
In many cases, homeowners can keep their home through a Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy filing. This also helps the homeowner reduce other debts at the same time. The homeowner can still keep certain property and vehicles, so unless the homeowner was planning on buying a major item in the next 2 years, a bankruptcy filing can be the most effective way to get a fresh start.
A short sale (where the bank allows you to sell your home for less than what is owed) is also a good alternative. The banks will take tremendous losses in the process and the homeowner is no longer liable for a huge mortgage. It will take a few years to get bank into a position to purchase, but with the large number of vacant properties available for rent at a reasonable price, it shouldn’t be that much of a concern.
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April 30, 2009- The second step in assisting homeowners who are in jeopardy of losing their homes in foreclosure was defeated today in the U.S. Senate. The proposed law would have given bankruptcy judges the power to force lenders to modify mortgages on the debtor’s home. The so-called “cram down” powers would be useful in adding leverage on the big banks to work with homeowners to avoid a judge ordering a modification. As it is now, the borrower can attempt to re-affirm their debt with the lender to keep their home during the bankruptcy process. They will still be able to attempt this; however, the banks will likely not be as willing to make any kind of changes or modifications to the actual terms. They will likely ask the borrower simply to reaffirm the debt on the same terms they originally had, but adding the unpaid or late payments to the principal.
If you have any questions about bankruptcy, loan modifications, or foreclosure relief, you can call for a free consultation.
Chris Barsness, Esq.
Law Office of Barsness & Cohen, Beverly Hills, California