Expiration of Popular Mortgage Modification Program, HAMP

Application for Mortgage Loan Modification

The Federal Government allowed the nation’s primary mortgage modification program, HAMP, to expire on December 31, 2016. The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, was introduced in 2009 to respond to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and it provided targeted aid to homeowners who met certain criteria. The primary eligibility requirements were that the loan needed to be originated before January 1, 2009, borrowers needed to document their income, suffer a financial hardship and the debt-to-income ratio needed to fall in the 30-35% range.

HAMP was uniformly used by most of the big banks and servicers and my office worked with more than a dozen of these banks and servicers to secure modifications for hundreds of our clients. While frustrating at times because of institutional bureaucracy, modifications were accomplished in a variety of ways, including through interest rate reduction, fixing the interest rate, reducing mortgage principal and/or forebearance and/or extending the term of the loan. HAMP was beneficial in that it provided clear and concise guidelines and included incentives for both the banks and the homeowners.

Neither Congress or Regulators have yet to put forth a replacement for HAMP. This is worrisome because it means that each bank or servicer is free to use and set their own guidelines. While there will be some period of uncertainty during this transition, our office will be working with homeowners and dealing with each bank or servicer’s specific and particular requirements.

Loan Modification Jury Trial Against Well Fargo

I just wrapped up a jury trial in New Jersey Federal Court against Wells Fargo. The litigation was lengthy and complicated and is hard to summarize in a blog.   It was settled during closing arguments after A LOT of time and energy went into it—Wells Fargo, as usual, was represented by Reed Smith.   In 2009, my clients were current with their mortgage, but asked Wells for a refinance.  Instead they were pushed into applying for a loan modification so long as they paid an up-front fee of $2,415.  One more thing—Wells said that they’d have to be delinquent in their mortgage to qualify (I’ve heard the same thing from many of my clients).  My clients thought that sounded strange, but followed Wells’ representatives instructions. They paid the $2,415 application fee and stopped paying their loan.

Wells also told them, and then wrote to them, that the fee would be returned to them if the loan modification was denied.  Which it was a few months later—but Wells never returned the money.  Wells then confused my clients’ paperwork with others, but told my clients that they’d keep trying to get them a loan mod.  While this was happening, Wells filed a foreclosure lawsuit against my clients, but didn’t even notify them of that important event until 2 months later.  Wells eventually denied the loan modification, and then took a foreclosure judgment.  Wells was lining the home up for Sheriff Sale when my clients retained me.  I got Wells to hold up on the Sheriff Sale, and then I filed the federal court action for NJ Consumer Fraud for 1) not returning the $2,415 and 2) for foreclosing when they should’ve been working with my clients to modify their loan.

The end result was that Wells and my clients agreed to a modification and Wells agreed to pay a confidential sum of money to settle the case.

Avoid Foreclosure by Modifying Your Mortgage

When you hire us to help you with a loan modification, we will become your voice in all dealings with your lender. If we are unable to immediately get the process moving with loan or bank officers, we will work directly with attorneys for the bank to get the modification process moving forward. We have a comprehensive understanding of the programs available to help you refinance or restructure your loan and avoid foreclosure. We will carefully evaluate your circumstances to determine what programs you qualify for, and we will explain your options as well as the benefits and consequences of different strategies.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Your first consultation is free of charge. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

 

Homeownership Obstacles

There are many obstacles that stand in the road to homeownership. Prospective buyers need to take many preventative measures to ensure their deal. A simple precaution a buyer can take is evaluating all financial information with their lender. Any surprises could disrupt the lending process. Another step to take would be not to make any major purchases when the deal is being closed. This is because lenders can recheck the buyers credit history right before closing, and any new credit obligations may cause for concern.

In today’s competitive market, buyers must obtain more than just pre-approval, but also obtain a loan commitment. A loan commitment is a guarantee that the needed money will be made available to the buyer. This commitment can help ensure the buyers success in this competitive house market.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

SoFi and Online Mortgage Lending

SoFi – How Millennial Usage of Online Mortgage Lending is Changing the Home Lending Landscape

A young couple each in their early 30’s found themselves buying a house outside of San Francisco. Being first time buyers, they searched for sources of financing on the Internet. Online they found a lender called social finance (SoFi). They received pre-qualification in 15 minutes and then got the documents for pre-approval and submitted a formal offer within a week. Because of SoFi’s simplicity, they were able to easily close on their new home.

Large groups of millennials are changing the mortgage industry because more and more lenders are using technology that enables borrowers to submit documentation online. This allows more non-bank start a blenders to compete in the mortgage industry and it also gets mortgage brokers out of the mix (who many blame on the crisis of the last decade) . Online lenders like SoFi are so appealing to millennials because of their online tools and fast closing times. Borrowers feel much more in control of their financial status due to the DIY system provided by online lenders. This freedom is what banks are unable to match.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

The Home Affordable Modification Program’s Paltry Lifeline

A Slack Lifeline for Drowning Homeowners

JULY 31, 2015 By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

“After Lucy Circe became disabled and could no longer work, she applied to Bank of America for a mortgage loan modification on her Vermont home. Over more than two years, starting in 2012, the bank repeatedly requested copies of documents that had already been provided, asked for proof that she was no longer married to a man she did not even know, and made other errors, like asking why Ms. Circe had indicated that she didn’t want to keep her property when she had actually told the bank she did….” READ MORE HERE.

Contact an Aggressive Foreclosure Defense Lawyer at Shaffer & Gaier Today

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

U.S. Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Homeowners

In 2007, a couple from Minnesota, Larry and Cheryl Jesinoski, refinanced their mortgage with Countrywide. Exactly three years later the Jesinoskis tried to rescind the loan by writing a letter to Bank of America Home loans, which purchased Countrywide during the housing crisis. This meant that Larry and Cheryl, through the Truth in Lending Act, had the right to cancel their mortgage as long as they did so within three years after the transaction was completed.

Yet, Bank of America tried to block the rescission and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of the bank, stating that the borrower must not only give notice but also file a lawsuit within three years. However, on Tuesday Jan 13, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple, with Justice Antonin Scalia interpreting the law, stating that it without a doubt requires only a notification of rescission within three years and not litigation. Please note that when a loan is rescinded, however, the homeowners often have to give the mortgage loan funds and fees back to the bank or lender.

Contact Philadelphia Foreclosure & Mortgage Modification
Attorneys Shaffer & Gaier

To set up an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Your first consultation is free of charge. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

New Jersey Foreclosures Lead the Nation

South New Jersey Foreclosure Attorneys

As of November 2014, information released by the Mortgage Bankers Association indicates New Jersey leads the nation in foreclosures. For the most part, the foreclosure crisis that followed the 2008 financial meltdown has abated and returned to levels seen before the 2008 recession. In New Jersey, however, one in six home mortgages is either delinquent or in foreclosure. While the percent of mortgages in foreclosure or delinquent is slightly less than this time last year (8 percent and 7 percent respectively in November of 2013), New Jersey is still posting foreclosure rates substantially higher than the national average.

Why Foreclosures are Higher in New Jersey

Part of the reason why New Jersey’s foreclosure rate is so high at this time is due to how foreclosures are handled in New Jersey. Under state law, foreclosures must go through the courts, which inevitably prolong the process. Additionally, due to a near halt in foreclosure activity in 2011 after questions regarding allegations of abuse and fraud in the mortgage industry, the system now has to play catch up.

Interestingly enough, most of the troubled mortgage loans are ones that were made prior to 2007.  According to Mike Fratantoni, the chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, 74 percent of delinquent loans were made before the beginning of the 2007 sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Mortgage Troubles? Contact Foreclosure Attorneys at Shaffer & Gaier

If you’re facing foreclosure or the bank has already initiated foreclosure actions against you, it’s important that you understand your legal rights and protections. In some cases, foreclosure can be avoided if you bank is willing to refinance your home. If this isn’t an option, short-selling your home can help you avoid bankruptcy and other unwanted financial complications.

To learn how we can help you, contact the foreclosure attorneys at Shaffer & Gaier today. We have offices in Haddonfield, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Make Your Home Affordable

According to the US Census bureau, there are over 75 million homeowners in America; homeowner, however, is a broad term used to encompass many Americans on all different “levels” of homeownership. Based on a study conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, of these 75 million homeowners, only 40% of the homes were paid off. Therefore 60% of US homeowners are essentially still paying a monthly bill for their homes and do not hold the deed that equates to actual ownership.

Be it that 45,000,000 American homeowners do not in fact actually own their homes, foreclosure is an ominous threat lurking at a vast number of doorsteps. With the aftershock of the recession still weighing heavily on our economy, an increasingly large number of Americans are finding their once affordable monthly mortgage payments are now incredibly unaffordable. As overwhelming as it is to realize that once seemingly reasonable mortgage payments now exceed your budget, it is important to never forget that help is available through a variety of channels for homeowners just like you. Specifically, a loan modification is a permanent change in the original terms of your loan that result in a payment you can afford. The Home Affordable Modification Program, commonly known as H.A.M.P., is a federal program specifically designed to offer loan modifications to eligible homeowners in mortgage debt

Been turned down before? Don’t panic. Many changes have been made to these programs to maximize the eligibility and assist as many borrowers as possible in retaining their homes. Don’t lose your home to due to circumstances out of control. It’s worth it to get the help that you deserve.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Your first consultation is free of charge. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

PA SUPREME COURTS ALLOWS DEFAULT TO STAND AGAINST BANK OF AMERICA

As an update to a blog I posted in January, 2014, in which I discussed a default judgment I secured for my client against Bank of America, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just ordered that the default judgment shall remain in place. I filed a lawsuit against Bank of America in Delaware County, PA for predatory lending and unfair trade practices. The bank failed to answer the lawsuit and I moved for a default judgment. Of course, the bank appealed, asking the trial judge to allow it to file an Answer, but the trial judge refused. The bank unsuccessfully appealed to the Superior Court and then to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, also unsuccessfully.

This means that the case can now proceed to a jury trial to determine the amount of my clients’ monetary damages. Certain discovery issues need to be worked out; primarily I am in the process of securing testimony from a Bank of America Corporate Representative regarding the net worth of the company in 2012 and 2013.

This is because I included a claim for punitive damages, which are used to punish the defendant for wrongful conduct. One of the ways that a jury is allowed to and able to determine an appropriate dollar amount for damages is to consider the net worth of the defendant. The Bank is, of course, objecting to such an inquiry, and is not agreeing to produce such a representative; again, the trial judge will decide the scope of the deposition testimony. I am hopeful for trial in January/February 2015. I will keep you posted.

Contact the law firm of Shaffer & Gaier, LLC

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Rental Property Foreclosure Lawsuit – Philadelphia

We represent a woman who owns a rental property in Philadelphia. I took the case over from a lawyer who responded to the bank’s lawsuit, but there was very little done in the way of discovery. The case was called for trial on July 8, 2014, and the bank, Bank of America, flew in one if its corporate witnesses to testify at the trial. In my client’s Answer to the foreclosure lawsuit, her previous lawyer admitted that she signed a Mortgage Note to repay Bank of America $93,000. Based on this, the bank’s witness did not bring the original Note to the trial.

The problem for the bank, however, is that the plaintiff in the lawsuit was a Wall Street trust, U.S. Bank National, as trustee, who acquired the Note in the securitization process. This means that the Mortgage was owned by the Trust, and not by Bank of America. Without bringing the Note to trial, which presumably would show that the Note was “negotiated” or transferred from Bank of America to the trust, I moved for a non-suit during the trial at the close of the bank’s evidence. I successfully argued that the Plaintiff did not prove that it had standing to enforce the Mortgage and Note because there was no evidence before the court that Plaintiff’s trust owned the Note (or the debt). The Honorable Idee Fox requested legal briefs on the issues, and then after oral argument, the court granted my motion for a non-suit and the foreclosure action was dismissed. It is not expected that the bank will appeal this action, and their only recourse will be to start the entire process over and file a new foreclosure lawsuit.

Contact Our Office

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

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