Oct 18, 2010

Q&A: Foreclosure Procedures Undergo Extensive Review

Great Q&A, in USA Today about the current foreclosure freeze!

Foreclosure procedures undergo extensive review
By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY

Recent revelations about mortgage lenders filing possibly faulty court papers to foreclose on homes has sparked a public outcry and called into question tens of thousands of foreclosures. Here's a look at the issue and its impact.

Q: How did this come to light?

A: Lawyers for homeowners fighting foreclosures took depositions from officials who prepare legal documents to get court approval to foreclose. The document signers — who have now been dubbed robo-signers — said they signed thousands of affidavits without reviewing the supporting papers or having the affidavits signed in the presence of a notary. Both are supposed to be done before foreclosure papers are submitted to courts in about 23 states that require judicial approval for all or most foreclosures. Some lawyers allege there were instances of fraud, too, including backdated documents and forged signatures.
Q: What's happened so far?

A: Some major banks have suspended foreclosures while they review their procedures; others are proceeding while doing their reviews. Bank of America has suspended foreclosures in all 50 states. GMAC Mortgage has suspended evictions and foreclosures in the states that call for a judge's approval and is reviewing foreclosure practices in the others. PNC Financial Services and Litton Loan Services are reviewing their practices. JPMorgan Chase suspended foreclosures in 56,000 cases in the judicial approval states and is reviewing its practices in a handful of the other states.

Q: Who is investigating this and what could be the outcome?

A: State attorneys general have launched a joint investigation. The Justice Department is reviewing the matter. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates the nation's largest banks, said Friday that it is examining banks' foreclosure procedures, and the Federal Housing Administration is conducting a review. The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a Nov. 16 hearing.

Possible outcomes include civil penalties, criminal prosecutions, the creation of an independent monitor to oversee foreclosure practices and legal settlements under which lenders agree to do more to get struggling borrowers into mortgage workout plans to help them avoid foreclosure.

Q: What about a national moratorium on foreclosures?

A: Some members of Congress have called for one, but the Obama administration has rejected that idea out of concern that a blanket halt to all foreclosures could damage the fragile housing market's recovery and, with it, the economy.

Q: Why is this controversy important?

A: Lawyers and consumer advocates for homeowners say that if banks are found to have acted illegally, courts could see a wave of challenges in both current and past foreclosure cases.It could lead to title claims in courts, where former homeowners who lost their homes in foreclosure actions assert they still own them, even after the homes have been sold. Banks say that even if procedures were not followed correctly, there's no mistake that the homeowners are in default and that the banks have the right to foreclose.

Q: What impact could this have?

A: Foreclosures already take a year or more to complete in some states and could slow further as judges review documents more thoroughly and banks tighten procedures. That could keep some homeowners in their homes longer but might also postpone the sales of homes that have been abandoned or that banks have repossessed, keeping them vacant longer.

Delays could be costly for banks and taxpayers, because banks and government-owned mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae all must continue to pay maintenance and other expenses on foreclosed properties they can't sell. Freddie and Fannie own or guarantee more than half of all first mortgages.
Q: What could this mean for the housing market?

A: If foreclosures are delayed significantly, economists say the housing market recovery could suffer.

Significant delays in completing foreclosures could mean it will take longer for prices to recover, economists say. About 30% of all house sales now are foreclosures or other distressed properties that sell at substantially lower prices than homes whose owners aren't in financial difficulty. That pulls down market prices overall.
The longer home prices stay depressed, the longer millions of homeowners will be underwater, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. About one in four properties are underwater, making it difficult for the owners to sell their properties or refinance their mortgages.
Q: Should I buy a foreclosed home?

A: Real estate experts say buyers shouldn't avoid foreclosures. But you may want to buy a title insurance policy to protect against a claim stemming from a previous foreclosure, says Guy Cecala of Inside Mortgage Finance.

Lenders generally require title insurance before they'll approve a mortgage.

Short sales — where lenders agree to let owners sell houses for less than they owe — should not be affected by the foreclosure controversy, says Rick Sharga of RealtyTrac.

Christopher Immel, a lawyer at Ice Legal, a Florida law firm that represents homeowners challenging foreclosures, says prospective buyers of foreclosed properties should examine court case files for missing documents and incorrect dates.

He recommends hiring an attorney to review the file.





Oct 15, 2010

Billion-Dollar Foreclosure Mess Took Root at $75K House - Developments - WSJ

"Lawyers around the country are now looking at this case as a model for further litigation," writes Mr. Streitfield."

Billion-Dollar Foreclosure Mess Took Root at $75K House - Developments - WSJ

How much will the foreclosure mess cost? Estimates are still forming, writes Mark Gongloff in Friday’s WSJ.

Some $154 billion in mortgages could be affected by foreclosure delays, according to an estimate this week by Laurie Goodman, senior managing director at mortgage-bond trader Amherst Securities Group LP in New York.

Morgan Stanley trading-desk analyst Greg Gore estimated in a conference call on Tuesday that as much as $134 billion of mortgage bonds held by the nation’s four biggest banks could ultimately be affected by foreclosure delays.

That’s a lot of money for a problem that the NY Times traces back to a $75,000 house in Denmark, Me. The article, by David Streitfield, looks at a home Nicolle Bradbury bought seven years ago; a tiny little house near the New Hampshire border.

A couple of years ago, Ms. Bradbury lost her job and could no longer make the $474 monthly payments. But her run-of-the-mill foreclosure became anything but when it landed in front of a lawyer at a nonproift group who had worked in the foreclosure industry for years–helping to foreclose on homes that small business owners had put up as collateral.

The lawyer, Thomas Cox, succeeded in getting the deposition of a GMAC ‘robo-signer’ who admitted that he didn’t read through the 400 foreclosures he signed each day.
Mr. Cox then laid out in a court filing what he’d heard from robo-signer Jeffrey Stephan:

When Stephan says in an affidavit that he has personal knowledge of the facts stated in his affidavits, he doesn’t. When he says that he has custody and control of the loan documents, he doesn’t. When he says that he is attaching ‘a true and accurate’ copy of a note or a mortgage, he has no idea if that is so, because he does not look at the exhibits. When he makes any other statement of fact, he has no idea if it is true. When the notary says that Stephan appeared before him or her, he didn’t.

The judge hearing Ms. Bradbury’s foreclosure case was persuaded. He rejected GMAC’s request for a foreclosure without trial. Even when given the chance to file amended documents, the judge noted, GMAC still didn’t even include the actual street address of the Maine house.

Lawyers around the country are now looking at this case as a model for further litigation, writes Mr. Streitfield.

Don Saunders of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association tells the New York Times: “This ammunition will be front and center in thousands of foreclosure cases.”

A $75K bullet to take down a billion-dollar industry?

Hold on to your seats! We are in for ONE long ride!






Oct 11, 2010

Mass. Homeowners Could get $50,000; Some Loans May Not Have To Be Repaid

Are you one of the countless people who have lost their jobs through no fault of your own and temporarily lack the steady income to pay your mortgage?

Well there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Read the Boston Globe article below for more information on this interest free loan from the US to help you keep current on your mortgage.

And REMEMBER we can help and get you all the information you need and see if you qualify.

Contact Us TODAY for a free private consultation

US offers mortgage aid to the jobless

Mass. homeowners could get $50,000; Some loans may not have to be repaid

By Jenifer B. McKim, Globe Staff
October 6, 2010

Unemployed homeowners may be able to borrow up to $50,000 to help them make monthly mortgage payments — and in some cases not have to pay the money back — under a federal program unveiled yesterday that allocates $61 million to Massachusetts.

The zero-interest loan program will benefit several thousand homeowners in the state who are facing foreclosure because they lost their jobs and have depleted their savings. Nationwide, about $1 billion is being allocated to assist 50,000 homeowners struggling to keep up with their mortgages, said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“Countless people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own temporarily lack the steady income they need to pay their mortgage,’’ Donovan said during a news conference at Urban Edge Community Development Corp. in Roxbury. Nonprofit community groups such as Urban Edge will be involved in administering the program.

“We can fight foreclosures and unemployment and we can help our communities recover,’’ he said.

Long-term unemployment is now considered a primary reason for the escalating number of foreclosures in the United States.

The federal effort, called the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program, supplements a $7.6 billion campaign the US Treasury Department launched earlier this year to help out-of-work homeowners in 18 states, and the District of Columbia, that were hardest hit by the recession. The Treasury program also is aimed at homeowners whose mortgages are underwater, meaning they owe more than what their properties are worth.

The new HUD program announced yesterday expands assistance to the remaining 32 states, as well as Puerto Rico.

US Representative Barney Frank, who attended the news conference yesterday, said unemployed homeowners are innocent victims of the country’s foreclosure crisis.

Frank, a Newton Democrat, said he lobbied to get a $2 billion loan allotment for jobless homeowners included in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhaul Congress passed last summer, but the amount was later reduced to $1 billion. He said he hopes to increase funding for the program eventually.

“These are not people who made imprudent decisions,’’ Frank said. “These are people who made good mortgages. They made responsible decisions.’’

In some cases, the government loan could actually turn into a gift, officials said. Under the program, as much as $50,000 can be borrowed over two years, depending on the applicant’s qualifications. Borrowers who remain in their homes and stay current on mortgage payments for five years after that will not have to pay back all of the money; for those borrowers, the government will reduce their loan balance by 20 percent annually until it is eliminated, according to HUD.

The news of the mortgage-loan funding for Massachusetts was lauded by local housing advocates who have pressed the government to assist unemployed homeowners. The state’s unemployment rate is 8.8 percent, compared with 9.6 percent nationally.

During the first eight months of the year, 9,887 Massachusetts homeowners lost their properties to foreclosure, surpassing the 9,269 recorded during all of last year, according to Warren Group, a Boston company that tracks local real estate.

“These homeowners face unemployment largely due to the recession that was largely caused by speculation by big banks and Wall Street investment companies,’’ said Lew Finfer, executive director of the nonprofit Massachusetts Community Action Network. “Preventing foreclosures helps homeowners, helps lessen neighborhood deterioration and declining property values.’’

To qualify for a loan, borrowers must show their income is no higher than 120 percent of the Boston area’s median income, or $110,150 for a family of four. They are also required to provide documentation proving that their income has dropped at least 15 percent and that they are at least three months behind on mortgage payments.

Borrowers also must have a “reasonable likelihood of being able to resume’’ paying their mortgage after two years by proving they did not have a high amount of debt before they became unemployed.

Yesterday’s announcement was made as Massachusetts’ attorney general, Martha Coakley, urged four of the nation’s largest lenders — GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America Corp.— to cease foreclosures in Massachusetts until they can prove that their paperwork is accurate. Last week, Bank of America became the latest national lender to say that it will temporarily halt foreclosure proceedings in 23 states that require a judge to sign off on bank seizures. Massachusetts does not require court approval for foreclosures.

At the Roxbury event, Donovan said federal regulators also want to make sure lenders are abiding by the laws governing foreclosures. “Nobody in this country should lose their house because of [a paperwork] error,’’ he said.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, who also was at the news conference, said lenders need to work harder to help homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments.

“I believe they have an obligation to help the communities they are in,’’ Menino said. “That is not going on.’’
Jenifer B. McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.



Oct 10, 2010

Coakley asks for foreclosure moratorium - The Boston Globe

Letter From SSHomeSolutions: 
Dear Homeowner in Foreclosure,

Please take a moment and read the "Coakley asks for foreclosure moratorium" article from The Boston Globe.

What does this mean for you?
How do you use this time to your advantage?
Remember it's only a temporary...

This means that you have a chance to start getting more information on your distressed situation without a looming auction date.

It also means you can start exploring your options to Avoid Foreclosure to make the best decision for you and your family!

Remember, this is a temporary moratorium and your foreclosure will resume. But our hope is that the bank is willing to work with you in a more fair and timely manner. And our other hope is that we can help you be prepared.

So, Contact Us for a free, private, NO obligation consultation!

Sincerely,

Marina P. Hauser, Owner
South Shore Home Solutions, LLC


AG asks for halt to foreclosures
Coakley wants banks to prove they comply

By Megan Woolhouse
Globe Staff / October 6, 2010 .

Attorney General Martha Coakley called for a moratorium on Massachusetts home foreclosures yesterday in a letter to four major lenders, saying she wanted proof that each is properly reviewing homeowner foreclosure documentation as required under state law.

Coakley said she wanted Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo, and GMAC Mortgage, a part of Ally Financial, to suspend foreclosures and sales of foreclosed properties after revelations that some lenders had signed off on foreclosures for thousands of homeowners in other states without reading or verifying the documents, a process nicknamed “robo-signing.’’

“If they’re not complying with the law, it doesn’t give consumers enough time or opportunity to modify the loan or do anything short of foreclosure,’’ Coakley said in an interview. “If that’s what’s happening, it’s pretty outrageous.’’

Officials at Wells Fargo and Bank of America did not return calls yesterday. A spokesman at JPMorgan Chase declined to comment. GMAC/Ally declined to comment on Massachusetts specifics.


“As we have previously stated, we are confident that the processing errors did not result in any inappropriate foreclosures,’’ Jim Olecki, GMAC/Ally spokesman, wrote in an e-mail. He said the company “takes this matter very seriously and are acting with urgency to resolve the issue.’’

Several large banks have halted foreclosures in 23 states that require judicial review of foreclosures, after evidence surfaced last week that employees were signing and notarizing foreclosure documents without reading or reviewing them. The banks, however, did not halt foreclosures in states that do not require judicial review, drawing the ire of public officials in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

In one of the strongest pushes so far for federal intervention into the problem, more than 30 House members from California have called on federal regulators to investigate whether mortgage companies broke the law by using paperwork that may have contained errors. Led by Representative Zoe Lofgren and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the lawmakers have urged bank regulators and the Justice Department to initiate a probe into how borrowers’ requests for assistance have been handled.

Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has also asked more than 100 mortgage companies to determine whether foreclosure documents they approved contained errors and to reveal their findings. Attorneys general in Delaware and Texas called on lenders to suspend foreclosures until banks can ensure they have followed proper procedures. Last week, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut asked a state court to freeze all home foreclosures for 60 days.

Menendez and Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota have also asked Congress’s investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office, to examine whether federal regulators overlooked the problems.

In Massachusetts alone, there were 2,713 foreclosure petitions in August, a 13.2 percent increase from August 2009, according to Warren Group, a real estate tracking firm in Boston.


Coakley has asked the banks to respond by Oct. 15.

Lewis Finfer, executive director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, a housing advocacy group in Boston, said he applauded Coakley’s leadership, because it could help struggling homeowners.

The banks’ actions “were instrumental in the foreclosure crisis and their hands have not been clean in this,’’ he said. “This is very serious. These are people’s homes at stake.’’

Oct 8, 2010

UPDATE 1- BofA Halts Foreclosures


Fri Oct 8, 2010 11:39am EDT

* Sales of foreclosed properties also halted
* Bank conducting review of foreclosure process

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Oct 8 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) is halting foreclosures and sales of foreclosed properties in all 50 U.S. states pending a review of its internal processes, the bank said on Friday.

BofA, the largest U.S. mortgage servicer, is the first U.S. bank to suspend foreclosures in all 50 states. The step comes amid a growing furor over how the largest U.S. mortgage lenders are repossessing the homes of delinquent borrowers.

Critics contend the banks' use of "robo-signers" and other automated processes is unfairly pushing residents out of their homes.

A spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based BofA defended the bank's previous foreclosures.

"We will stop foreclosure sales until our assessment has been satisfactorily completed," the spokesman, Dan Frahm, said in a statement. "Our ongoing assessment shows the basis for our past foreclosure decisions is accurate."

Last week, BofA, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Ally Financial Inc's GMAC Mortgage announced plans to suspend foreclosures in 23 states pending a review of foreclosure procedures. (Reporting by Joe Rauch; editing by John Wallace)

Oct 7, 2010

Massachusetts Law About Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings

Thinking about purchasing a foreclosed home/building with a tenant in it?

Well, guess what? As of August 07, 2010 they are considered to be tenants at will and protected by the government! Check it out:

"Section 13A. Upon a foreclosure of residential real property pursuant to chapter 244, a tenant, occupying a dwelling unit under an unexpired term for years or a lease for a definite term in effect at the time of the foreclosure by sale, shall be deemed a tenant at will. Foreclosure shall not affect the tenancy agreement of a tenant whose rental payment is subsidized under state or federal law."

Knowledge is Power!

Read all about Massachusetts Law About Tenants in Foreclosed Buildings

Oct 4, 2010

Massachusetts Foreclosure Laws

Behind On Your Mortgage Payments?
Facing Foreclosure?



Knowledge is power, so make sure to read the Foreclosure Laws in Massachusetts and always rememeber that YES, YOU DO HAVE OPTIONS! And YES, all consultations are completely confidential and absolutely free.





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Bank of America Stalls Foreclosure Process - Zacks.com

Bank of America Stalls Foreclosure Process - Zacks.com

In a bid to unload foreclosures, Fannie Mae showers thousands on buyers, brokers - Boston Real Estate - Boston.com

In a bid to unload foreclosures, Fannie Mae showers thousands on buyers, brokers - Boston Real Estate - Boston.com