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Foreclosure Story of Human Decency

July 8th, 2020 by

Story of Human Decency

The unfolding of my career has made me a witness of individual stories of emotion, challenge, and courage.

This is a brief story about a family in a crisis as a result of a foreclosure case through no fault of their own.

The takeaway is that even in the midst of great difficulty, we can still trust and love each other.

If this story resonates with you and you’d like to know more about me, please read, “Why I Give Legal Advice Away for Free,” and “The Worst Moment of My Entire Career.”

Answering the Foreclosure Complaint is Essential

July 8th, 2020 by

Answer the Complaint to Protect Your Rights

If you are sued by a bank and in foreclosure, answering the foreclosure Complaint protects your right and empowers you.

You can either get a lawyer to do this or do it yourself.

Here’s how.

When you Answer, you take action to defend yourself and you buy yourself time. Time to seek out advice on how to best proceed to protect your family. Time to strategize, to plan and to prepare … to win.

NJ Supreme Court Issues Fifth Omnibus Order, What That Means for Foreclosure

July 4th, 2020 by

Update: What’s going on in the court system in New Jersey right now!

The supreme court of NJ has issued it’s fifth Omnibus order. This order has reopened the foreclosure unit. That means the clerk’s office that reviews all of the motions for default, the motions for final judgement, and basically deals with all the uncontested foreclosure cases, are now open for business.

Things have been on pause for a while and are going to start moving again.

What does that mean for you?
Watch the video to find out!

Bottom line,
Things are moving again.
There are going to be more foreclosure complaints filed.
There are going to be more foreclosure complaints prosecuted.
Make sure to Answer the foreclosure complaint!

If you want some advice on how to do that, give me a call. 1-201-970-6534
[email protected]

The Status of the Foreclosure Process in New Jersey

June 23rd, 2020 by

How and when can mortgage servicers file foreclosure complaints right now?

This video goes over the federal and state rules and regulations that are governing how and when mortgage services can prosecute their alleged rights against people in default on their homes.

For government backed loans, as we explained in our last post, you cannot start a foreclosure case until September 1, 2020.

For non-government backed loans, Governor Murphy had made other servicers agree to delay filing foreclosure complaints. That delay has not been extended to September 1. If you have a non-government backed loan, you may be wondering what to expect? Watch the video to learn more.

If you have any questions, call me. I’ve got your back. We can get through this together.

Moratorium on Government Backed Mortgage Loans Extended!

June 19th, 2020 by

FHFA Extends Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium

The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced an extension to the moratorium on filing foreclosure complaints.

Originally set to end on June 30, 2020 – the moratorium has been pushed back to Aug 31, 2020. Two more months! This is the time to prepare, think strategize, and get ready. Pay off credit cards, take care of other bills, look after your family. Please watch through the video for more information and follow us here for more updates as things in the mortgage industry unfold. We’re watching the situation closely and will keep you informed.

For even more detail on what’s happening and tips on how to proceed, check out the following blog posts –

What Suze Orman Says You Must Do With Your Money During the Pandemic
New Jersey Supreme Court Just Issued Its Second Omnibus Order
Is a Mortgage Forbearance Under the CARES Act Right for You?

New Jersey Supreme Court Just Issued Its Second Omnibus Order

April 24th, 2020 by

The New Jersey Supreme Court just issued its second Omnibus Order … what you need to know!

 

The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued two emergent ‘Omnibus’ Orders related to Covid 19.

 

The second, issued today, addresses foreclosure for the first time.

 

Previously,

  • The Governor has already issued Executive Order 106 which prevents anyone from being evicted as a result of foreclosure or tenancy eviction judgments.
  • The CARES Act already prohibits any FHA backed mortgage servicers from filing a foreclosure complaint. Providing a mandatory forbearance of up to a year on mortgage payments.
  • Governor Murphy negotiated forbearance agreements for nearly all non-FHA mortgage servicers.

Today,

 

Where the CARES Act and Governor Murphy has pretty much put a halt to the start of most foreclosure cases, now the Supreme Court of New Jersey has Ordered that foreclosure cases already started are going to come to a screeching halt.

 

The exact language of the Order regarding foreclosures, found at Section 3(h) is:

“The Office of Foreclosure will not review or recommend motions or judgments received on or about March 1, 2020 pending further court order”.

 

The Clerk of the Foreclosure Unit is the place where motions for judgment, where motions to reinstate dismissed foreclosure cases and where all uncontested foreclosure actions are decided.

 

So what this means, in normal English, is that most of the foreclosure process in New Jersey is essentially stopped.

 

What does this mean to you?

 

First, it means that if you are already in foreclosure, or late on your mortgage and worried, you can take a breath and relax.  Nothing is going to happen in your case right now.

 

That is not to say that you should ignore the foreclosure, not at all.

 

This is all going to put such strain on the mortgage servicing industry to keep up with all of these changes.  They are really going to struggle, and as a result, they are going to MAKE MISTAKES.

 

Mortgage servicer mistakes are how borrowers WIN.

 

What’s next?

 

Take a deep breath … and start thinking about how you can win this fight.

 

The mortgage servicers are in crisis.  The industry is absolutely terrible at dealing with wholesale changes in the manner of doing business, and they are going to make many, many mistakes.

 

How do you catch the mistakes?

 

The answer is to send Requests for Information (you can find many examples online), demanding full accounting of the loan and asking for them to tell you exactly what programs are available for you to help in this crisis.  Any mistakes made, even in failing to describe a potential forbearance or modification program available to you, can turn into a lawsuit against your mortgage servicer … and sometimes their lawyer, too!

 

So, if you are able to take a deep breath and clear your mind, start thinking offense, instead of defense.  I hope that I am empowering you to believe that you CAN fight back and you CAN defend yourself.

 

If you have any questions regarding your situation, to see how these changes affect you, please reach me.  I am happy to give you a few minutes on the phone or by email to try to explain all these changes to alleviate at least some of your stress.

 

Be safe, people.  And trust one another if you can.  We are all in this together and I will be leading to charge to get us out of this mess together.

 

I’m working hard to stay on top of this ever changing landscape and keep people informed. You can follow me on Facebook , Twitter, our Our Blog to read the latest updates!

 

This Is What Suze Orman Says You MUST Do With Your Money During the Pandemic

April 23rd, 2020 by

This is what Suze Orman says you MUST do with your money during the pandemic –

 

New Jersey is one of the coronavirus hotspots in the United States. It comes as no surprise that we lead the nation when it comes to discussions about testing, social distancing, and money.

 

As the stimulus checks arrive many people will want to catch up on bills and make payments that are overdue.

 

In an interview with personal finance Guru Suze Orman she said there are two things that you must do with your money during the pandemic.

 

The First Thing You Must Do With Your Money

 

First she recommends not to pay off your credit cards in full. Anybody that knows Suze Orman knows the number one thing that she does suggest it’s always pay down credit card debt.

 

The reason she’s saying not to pay down two credit cards is that credit card companies began decreasing people’s credit limit back in 2008 when the Great Recession hit. She thinks it’s going to happen again. You may even get calls to close down your card all together. A strategy right now is to call the credit card companies and ask if they can give you a 0% interest rate or lower your interest rate she says to try it.

 

So if you get that stimulus payment or unemployment check, whatever you do keep your eye on your credit and continue to make the payments if you can and see if you can get a 0% interest rate for the longest. In case you do get sick from coronavirus or lose your job there will be something to fall back on .

 

The Second Thing You Must Do With Your Money

 

Second thing she says to do is to not make extra payments on the mortgage. Again this is something new for Suze Orman because she generally recommends that people make an extra payment every single month. Now she’s encouraging people to save as much cash as possible.

 

It is a good idea to contact everyone that payments are currently being made to ask for a postponement.  As an attorney here are some facts based on experience related to personal finance that my clients have run into.

 

Know Your Rights With Debt Collectors

 

In some cases you may have accounts put into collection by debt collectors.  I remind everyone that there is something called the fair debt collection practices act, FDCPA, and there are laws still in effect that control how people may contact you with regard to collecting a third party debt. So don’t automatically assume that when you get a phone call about a debt that it is valid. You have to go through the steps to make sure that is valid. You can read more about this here.

 

This is especially important when it comes to the stimulus payments that may be hitting your bank account, hopefully soon. These funds are exempt from debt collectors. Debt collectors are known to garnish, and freeze bank accounts. If this happens get in touch with me as soon as possible. I can help you.

 

It is important to contact all of your creditors to let them know that you need to postpone payments. However having done that does not mean that they will postpone payments. This is especially true of mortgage servicing. One way of postponing payments on a home loan is to request a forbearance.

 

Find Out if a Forbearance is Right For You

 

If you’re going to take an FHA forbearance please take a moment and read my post about the FHA forbearance and things you need to look out for here.

 

If you’re not taking the FHA forbearance because your home loan is not eligible for a FHA forbearance, please make sure to contact your bank and either request a forbearance otherwise they will be expecting monthly payments to continue.

 

Most people are unaware that Governor Murphy has negotiated with mortgage servicers for private mortgage loans to agree to allow consumers to take a forbearance.  Information about these programs can be found here.

 

If you can’t make the monthly payment, and have not taken the forbearance, late fees and credit injury will accrue. By the third missed payment you will be at risk for foreclosure and will receive a notice of intent to foreclose by the third month. Please read my post what to do when you receive a notice of intent to foreclose, here.

Is a Mortgage Forbearance Under the CARES Act Right for You?

April 22nd, 2020 by

A forbearance of payments on your mortgage may or may not be right for you. Here is a breakdown of the hidden pitfalls and opportunities built in that you need to understand before making this decision.

FHA Back Mortgage Loans and Forbearance

Postponing or reducing loan payments while interest continues to accrue is a forbearance.  FHA backed mortgage loans may be put under forbearance as a result of the CARES Act. You can look yours up here to see if your mortgage is still FHA backed.

Are non-FHA mortgages eligible for forbearance?

Mortgage servicers operating in New Jersey offer forbearance as a result of negotiations with Governor Murphy. Here is a list of cooperating mortgage servicers to see if your non-FHA mortgage is eligible for the forbearance

Forbearance is not a modification. At the end of a forbearance period, all the back money not paid to that point through the forbearance is still owed. Virtually no one taking the forbearance is going to be able to make up those payments all at one time.

Will taking forbearance cause default and foreclosure?

Almost certainly not.

The mortgage servicing industry is going to tell you otherwise because the industry is in terrible straits.  A mortgage servicer must make payments every month to the owners of the mortgage loans that they service.  They can’t collect on the monthly payments from those people taking the forbearance (or simply refusing to pay for other reasons).

The notifications you are going to receive are all going to warn you of the dire consequences coming at the end of the forbearance period.

But they are not telling you the truth.

Modifications Available for FHA Backed Mortgages

If you have reasonable income sufficient to cover the monthly payment, a modification is nearly assured of an FHA mortgage.

We can help you with the loan modification process to assure your chances of getting a fair deal as the law protects your right to file a modification application, and have it reviewed.

About Modifications for non-FHA Mortgages

Non-FHA mortgages may not have a modification process in place, at least as of this writing. Ideally, loan servicers would be proactive to try to help you now rather than wait and see what the government does for them.  In 2008 mortgage servicers automatically foreclosed on homes after 3 months of non-payments and a default on the loan whether there was a loan modification worked on or not.

Dual-tracking no longer allowed

This practice, known as dual-tracking, is no longer allowed.  We have experience with this mortgage servicing violation.  We have successfully sued the mortgage servicer for damages for this violation. In some cases, this action also got the homeowner the loan modification.

We Anticipate Servicing Errors on Loan Files

There is one other scenario coming up that is frightening the mortgage servicers.  We’ve looked at literally thousands of loan files where stopped, missed,  or changes in payments caused servicing errors. The probability of a servicing error increases with changes in handling the file. A mortgage servicer’s uncorrected servicing errors can result in a lawsuit unrelated to default.

File a Request for Infomation

A loan must be 100% correct when reinstated and payments resumed or the loan servicer can be sued. We aren’t guaranteeing that this will happen.  It is logical to assume that there will be a percentage of files where this will happen.

Check loans coming out of forbearance for any irregularities with a Request For Information. This is something you can do yourself, or we will help you at no charge.

More Resources to Prevent Foreclosure

Our Foreclosure Guide and the Foreclosure Infographic will help educate you as to the process and ease concerns.

Federal Housing Finance Agency Coronavirus Assistance Information

 

STOP Debt Collectors from Freezing Accounts!

April 22nd, 2020 by

Debt Collectors Are Still Garnishing Wages

Fairmont resident Tracy Fowler noticed her latest paycheck appeared to be smaller than usual, despite her working the same amount of hours as always. Upon investigation, she found a notice of garnishment on her workplace ADP account. She provided proof of the garnishment notice via email to the Times West Virginian.

 

Debt Collectors Are Freezing Accounts

Preston County resident Cheri Long works as a nurse at an assisted living facility.  When buying groceries the supermarket declined her debit card. Suddenly, she discovered a lock on her bank account by WVU Hospitals due to unpaid medical debt.

 

The Flaw in The System

The way the debt collection system presently works is after they get a judgment against someone they can go freeze all the debtor’s bank accounts. I am working to change this, I promise.

 

The debtor gets 10 days in which to go to Court to demand the release of the money that is ‘exempt’. Exempt means that the collector is not allowed to have it.

 

This is the problem: WE ARE UNDER A STAY AT HOME ORDER, and not allowed to go to Court. And, for that matter, the Courts are mostly closed.

 

So … how does our nurse go to Court?

 

The Answer: She DOESN’T, and the debt collector uses the Executive Order (and her 12 hour shifts in the emergency room) to line their pockets with our COVID-19 money!

 

How do we fix this?

I want to file an emergency, statewide Order to Show Cause to stop all debt collectors from freezing ANY accounts pending the resolution of the Covid-19 crisis and the lifting of the stay at home orders and the reopening of the Court system.

 

Otherwise, the debt collectors are seizing funds that they know they are not allowed to have at a time when people lack the fundamental right to challenge thefts of exempt funds.

 

Everyone – through the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution – has a right to a hearing before someone takes your money.

 

The collection industry is intentionally freezing accounts full of CARES Act money. They are confident that no one will have the practical ability to challenge the seizure.  This is theft, pure and simple. I want to force the Courts to make a decision: Protect our Rights, or Serve the Debt Collection Industry.

 

In the past, New Jersey, unfortunately, has sided more often than not with the industry.

 

All I can do is push the Courts to the test.

 

If you know someone who needs help…

If you know of anyone who had their stimulus payment raided by a debt collector we want to know about it because we will fight for them.  For all health care professionals, out there working to save all of us, patient by patient, I want to try to help you.

If I can help you, I will do it without requiring any money from you for my services.  I will even cover the court costs. Just reach out to me. Maybe I can help alleviate some of your stress while you work to keep us all safe and healthy.

CARES Act Protects Against FHA Forbearance Violations

April 16th, 2020 by

CARES Act Protects Against FHA Forbearance Violations

What is RESPA and how does it relate to your mortgage, your FHA Forbearance, and the CARES Act?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) is the federal statute that governs the mortgage servicing industry and protects your rights under the CARES Act.

It is an extremely complex and nuanced statute such that few New Jersey attorneys have experience prosecuting RESPA violations.

Under RESPA, mortgage servicers are prohibited from violating the law (and being unfair and abusive) during mortgage servicing.  However, actually bringing a claim even after a violation is discovered is not so simple.

A Consumer Rights Attorney can do this for you, usually for a fee. You can also protect yourself with only the cost of mailing a single letter.  I will walk you through what you need to know.

 

What you need to know about claiming a CARES Act violation:

Before you can sue a mortgage servicer for violating your rights, you MUST serve the mortgage servicer with a letter that:

  1. Explains what the violation is and
  2. Tells the servicer how you want the violation fixed and
  3. It gives them time to solve the problem.

Note: In some cases, depending on the violation, you must serve the loan owner as well.

The letter must be in writing.  Since many of these letters go missing, it must be sent via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. Send it to the address that each mortgage servicer identifies as the only valid address for service of a Notice of Error.

This is a very complex and nuanced statute. It is the only statute available to protect your rights under the CARES Act.

 

How does the CARES Act Forbearance impact your mortgage?

Under The CARES Act, if you have an FHA backed mortgage, you have the right to a grace period of your mortgage payments – known as CARES Act Forbearance.  During this time the mortgage servicer may NOT report you to the Credit Reporting Agencies.

Mortgage servicers may not implement the proper procedures to protect your credit rating during your forbearance period.  That, when it happens, will be a violation of the rights of every borrower affected.

 

What you can do if you’re facing a CARES Act violation:

In order to help people who face this problem, I am providing a copy of the Notice of Error letter.  Copy the letter, insert the name of your mortgage servicer, your account number and your name and address.*

The letter must be sent only to the address that your mortgage servicer has set aside for receiving Notices of Error.

In order to make this process even more complicated and difficult, mortgage servicers change this address from time to time. You must use the latest address listed by the mortgage servicer to send your Notice of Error. Here is how to find the most recent and correct address.

*A Consumer Rights Attorney can do this for you but usually for a fee. You can also protect yourself for the cost of mailing a Certified Return Receipt letter.

 

How to ensure you serve a notice to the correct address:

RESPA requires the servicer to publicize the address for accepting the Notice of Error and making it easy to find.  You can find the address by:

  1. looking at the mortgage statement you get every month. The address will be in small print on the back of one of the pages
  2. finding the latest and most correct address on Google search

 

How to Use Google search to find the correct mailing address to send a Notice of Error to a mortgage servicer:

  • Let’s use Bank of America one of the largest mortgage servicers in the country as an example. Do a Google search on ‘Bank of America Notice of Error’ and you will probably get to this page:

Bank of America Notice of Error

 

 

  • Click on the down arrow ( which we have highlighted in yellow) to the right of Refinance. You will see a Menu of the FAQs that Bank of America makes available. In this case, it is the last item on the Menu at the end of the list of  FAQs.

NOE BOA

 

  • Click on  ‘Notices of Error & Requests for Information’ and you should see the correct and most latest address to mail the Notice of Error:

Notices of Error and Requests for Information

Please, do not rely on the above. Search for the current address as Bank of America can change this address at any time!

 

Once you are sure you have the correct address:

Print the letter, sign it, and send it via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested and await a response.  If, after 30 days, you do not have a satisfactory solution, you are ready to talk to a consumer rights attorney.  Any attorney of any experience in the area will give you a free consultation and, if you have a claim, will take it on a contingency arrangement.