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Lenders go after money lost in foreclosures

By Dina ElBoghdady
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 16, 2010

After the bank foreclosed on Fernando Palacios’s Gainesville home in March, he thought he was done with what he described as the most stressful financial situation of his life.

The bank sold the home for far less than Palacios owed on it, as often happens with foreclosures. What Palacios did not see coming was the letter from his lender demanding that he pay the shortfall: $148,064.02. “I really thought I was through with this house,” said Palacios, who fell behind on payments when the economy soured and his cleaning business stumbled.

Over the past year, lenders have become much more aggressive in trying to recoup money lost in foreclosures and other distressed sales, creating more grief for people who thought their real estate headaches were far behind.

In many localities — including Virginia, Maryland and the District — lenders have the right to pursue borrowers whose homes have sold at a loss to collect the difference between what the property sold for and what the borrower owed on it, also called a deficiency.

Before the housing bust, when the volume of foreclosures was relatively low, lenders seldom bothered to chase after deficiencies because borrowers had few remaining assets to claim and doing so involved hassles and costs. But with foreclosures soaring, lenders are more determined to get their money back, especially if they suspect borrowers are skipping out on loan they could afford, an increasingly common practice in areas where home values have tanked.

Palacios said he was committed to staying in his house, which he bought in 2005. He sunk $20,000 into improving it and hoped to raise his children there. But his lender refused to modify his loan, he said. To avoid personal liability for the deficiency, Palacios is filing for bankruptcy protection, as many people do who are in similar situations, said Nancy Ryan, his bankruptcy attorney.

“I am definitely seeing more people come through my door who walked away from houses a year or two ago and thought they were as free as the dead,” Ryan said. “They’re stunned when they realize they’re not.”
Several lenders contacted for this story declined to say how often they pursue deficiencies. But many said they try to collect the debt if they conclude the borrower can repay all or part of it.

“Lenders are not going after people who face a hardship,” said John Mechem, a spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association. “If they can’t pay their mortgage because they have a loss of income, there is no point in going after them.”

Those who had a second mortgage, such as a home-equity line of credit, in addition to their primary mortgage may find themselves particularly vulnerable, especially if they tapped into the equity line for cash.

Second lenders are last in line to get paid when a distressed property is sold. There’s usually little or no money left over for them, making it more likely that they will pursue large deficiencies, several attorneys said.

Gretchen Somers said she and her husband understood the risks last year when they completed a “short sale,” a transaction that allowed them to sell their Manassas home for about $150,000 less than they owed on it. But they felt they had no other options.

Somers said her family hung onto the house as long as possible. They tried but failed to sell it when her husband was transferred to Arizona for his job in early 2006, just as home prices were softening. They moved back into the house then tried to sell it again in 2008, after their adjustable-rate mortgage reset and their monthly mortgage payment nearly doubled. But home prices had plunged further by then, making it even tougher to sell.

Last year, their first lender and their home-equity line lender granted permission for the short sale. But the second lender reserved the right to come after the couple. Six months later, a collection agency called demanding $85,000 for related losses.

In hindsight, Somers said she and her husband should have just walked away from the house. “We took care of the house because we wanted it to sell,” Somers said. “If they were going to come after us anyway, we shouldn’t have done them the favor of making sure it looked good and cutting the grass even after we moved out, We should have mailed them the key and said: ‘Here you go.’ ”

Carlos Cortez and his wife managed to escape that fate after their second lender came after them for $70,000 when their short sale was completed on his Manassas Park townhouse in 2008.

Cortez knew that was a possibility, but he went through with the sale because his real estate agent said the lender was engaging in scare tactics.

James Scruggs, an attorney at Legal Services of Northern Virginia, said the lender appears to have backed off after Cortez argued that that the loan officer falsely qualified him and his wife for a home-equity line by fabricating key details about their finances.

A handful of states do not allow lenders to pursue deficiencies, nor does a federal program that took effect April 10. Lenders participating in that initiative are paid for approving short sales and as a condition, they cannot go after outstanding debt.

In many states, lenders can go after deficiencies, though laws vary widely, said John Rao, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. Some states limit how long the banks have to file a claim or collect the debt. Others may calculate deficiencies based on the fair-market value of the house, Rao said. For instance, if a home sells for $200,000 yet its fair market value is $250,000, “the borrower who owes $240,000 on the mortgage would not have a deficiency,” he said.

Borrowers should get a waiver in writing from their lenders to protect themselves, said Diane Cipollone, an attorney at the nonprofit Civil Justice. “Nobody should assume the deficiency is forgiven,” she said.

A shorter wait to buy after deliquency

To encourage distressed borrowers to agree to deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure, Fannie Mae is reducing the waiting period — from four years to two years — for them to become eligible for a new mortgage.

The new policy, which will apply to loan applications submitted after June 30, requires a minimum downpayment of 20 percent from borrowers who have agreed to a deed-in-lieu within the past two years. Borrowers with a deed-in-lieu in the past two to four years will be required to put 10 percent down to be considered for a Fannie Mae-backed loan.

Borrowers who lost their homes due to “extenuating circumstances” beyond their control — such as the loss of a job, illness or divorce — can put as little as 10 percent down after two years.

Those loan-to-value ratios will also apply to borrowers who have been involved in short sales and who were already subject to a two-year waiting period.

Bankruptcies and foreclosures are expected to damage millions of borrowers’ credit scores, leaving many unable to obtain a mortgage for years to come (see Inman News series: “Rebuilding homeownership”).

Fannie Mae generally requires five years for borrowers to re-establish credit after a foreclosure, but they may qualify in as soon as three years if they can document extenuating circumstances. The minimum wait for borrowers who have filed for bankruptcy is two to four years, depending on the type of relief sought.

Fannie Mae said the waiting periods for borrowers who have declared bankruptcy or been foreclosed on will remain in effect, and issued new guidance on requirements for re-establishing credit after a bankruptcy, foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

After the waiting period has passed, only borrowers with traditional credit will be approved for loans, the policy said — nontraditional credit or “thin files” will not be accepted.

Borrowers who have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation must generally wait for four years after closure of the bankruptcy proceeding before Fannie Mae will consider them for a loan. The waiting period can be as short as if extenuating circumstances can be shown.

Those who have paid off all or part of their debts through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may be eligible within two years of having their cases discharged. If they fail to complete their Chapter 13 plan, they are required to wait four years after their case is dismissed.

Understanding the HAMP & HAFA program

This is a great video which will give you a very good understanding of how the HAMP & HAFA programs work and what you need to do to get approved.

The Price Group have completed many short sales in Pinellas & Manatee, we are ready to assist you with the HAMP & HAFA programs, so if you need advice call us today!

If you found this infomation useful please forward to a friend or retweet using Twitter.

SFR certified (Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource agent)

I’m a pleased to announce that in addition to successfully negotiating and closing over 40 short sales in the past 24 months, I’ve also completed the “Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource course” The only course approved by the Board of Realtors. I’m now SFR certified, yes…

Over the past 2 years I have developed a system to help my clients through this changing market, often I’m referred clients from other real estate agents both at Coldwell Banker and other offices because of my proven track record and success in negotiating short sales. There are still many agents who don’t know what they are doing or don’t want to deal with short sales. I didn’t want to pass off my clients to someone else, and I love a challange and wanted to do all I can to help people in need.

So don’t loose your home to foreclosure and suffer the huge credit hit and the inability to purchase a home for 5 years or more, with our holp we can help you keep your credit and put you in a position to purchase a home in just 24 months taking advantage of the low home pricing I feel will still be around.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a confidential consultation today.

Short Sale VS Foreclosure VS Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure; which of these is the best choice for a homeowner in distress

The foreclosure process can be very stressful for homeowners; some home homeowners get so depressed, that they do nothing, some 57% of homes get foreclosed on and the owner never called their lender to work out a loan mod or ask for help!. While others who are proactive sometimes end up being given the wrong advice or make decisions that are not well informed. If you are a homeowner dealing with this situation, you will have to make a decision on whether to get your property sold as a Short Sale usually at the discount approved by your lender, or give the property back to them as a Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure or just let them complete the Foreclosure. You need to decide which of these three options is the best for you both in the short and long term? Deciding which option to take might be tough especially if you do not know how each will affect your credit and ability to buy a home in the future.

Short Sale VS Foreclosure VS Deed-In-Lieu of Foreclosure
A short sale transaction occurs when a lender agrees to a discounted payoff on the loan balance, due to the financial hardship experienced by the homeowner and/or a decrease in the resale value of the property. A short sale is the best option if you are facing foreclosure because it is a lesser financial loss. You get to avoid foreclosure, reduce the adverse effects on your credit and increase your chances of getting a loan to buy a home within a shorter period of time.

Foreclosure occurs when a lender sells or gets back a parcel of real property, after the owner failed to conform to their mortgage or deed of trust agreements. The estate becomes the absolute property of the lender. The foreclosure process generally starts with a formal demand for payment in the form of a letter called Notice of Default (NOD) issued from the lender. It varies from state to state but in most cases the lender usually issues this notice when the homeowner has been 3 months irregular on their mortgage payments. The notice is typically a warning that they will sell your property if you do not make your payments current.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is the alternative to a foreclosure. This is a settlement, which is voluntarily made, and in good faith in which the borrower surrenders their house to the lender and moves on with nothing owed. The main advantage for the borrower is that it immediately releases them from the debt associated with the defaulted loan. The borrower also avoids a painful and time consuming foreclosure. The main advantage for the lender is a reduction in the time and cost of repossessing the property. In most cases a lender will only accept a deed in lieu if there are no other liens attached to the property or these liens can be significantly reduced. The reason is because they do not want to be responsible for the other liens that are attached to the property; this is why most lenders will push for a foreclosure instead because it removes all junior liens.

How does each of the three options affect your credit and the length of time it will take to buy another home?

Short Sale: This the best option for a homeowner facing foreclosure due to its reduced adverse effects on their credit and their ability to get a loan to buy another home in a shorter period of time.
Short sale credit reporting options are:
• Paid Settlement – In which, credit score will drop 50-150 points or more depending on the number of missed payments.
• Paid, As Agreed – in which, won’t hurt the score at all as long as the borrower is paying regularly.
• Unrated – In which, may drop a few points.

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac guidelines states that the waiting period before you can buy a new home is 2 years from the date the proceeding is completed. And there is no exception for extenuating circumstances.

Foreclosure: This is the least advantageous of all of the three options; it will remain in the credit report for 7 years from completion date and the credit score will drop from 50-250 points. Another disadvantage is that when Deficiency Judgment or Tax Lien is filed the credit score may drop an additional 100 points.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac current guidelines state that the waiting period is 5 years from the date of foreclosure completion proceedings.
Below are requirements in addition to the 5 years up to 7 years after completion date:
• Purchase of a primary or principal residence is permitted, 10% minimum down payment and the minimum credit score is 680.
• Purchase of a second home or property investment is not permitted.
• No cash-out refinance is permitted.

Extenuating circumstances are acceptable such as loss of employment and severe medical crisis and if approved the waiting period is 3 years from the date of foreclosure completion proceeding. The same additional requirements are applied as above except the minimum credit score of 680 is not required.
FHA Guidelines state that the waiting period for a foreclosure is 3 years from the foreclosure completion proceedings. However if foreclosure is a result of extenuating circumstances such as serious illness or death the lender may grant an exception.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure: Credit scores will carry the same serious effects as Foreclosure because most lenders report a deed in lieu of foreclosure as foreclosure. However the reality is that what is reported can actually be negotiate with the lender. It will remain on the credit report for 7 years from settlement completion.
Deed in Lieu credit reporting options:
• Paid Settlement – In which credit scores can drop up to 150 points
• Paid as Agreed- Credit scores show a dropped over 100 points due to default in payment but with this option borrower could purchase a home in a short period of time.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac guideline state that the waiting period for a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure is 4 years from the date of completion proceedings.
Additional requirements after 4 years up to 7 years from completion date:
• Greater than 10% minimum down payment required for the transaction or purchase of investment property, principal residence or a second home by a borrower.
• There is a limited-cash-out and cash-out refinance are permitted if eligible and meet the requirements.
• Extenuating circumstances, physical condition such as medical crisis or other factors such as loss of employment that caused a borrower to choose the option Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure, the waiting period is 2 years from the completion proceedings.

In summary, the guidelines stated above clearly show the advantages for you to choose to short sale your property compared to allowing it to go into foreclosure or deed in lieu because the adverse effects to your credit is reduced and also, you will just have to wait 2 years to get a loan to buy another home instead of 4 years with the deed in lieu option or 5 years with the foreclosure.

If you have additional questions please feel free to email or call me.

What you should know about home foreclosure

The Story below is something that isn’t just an isolated case, I’ve heard of people’s financial advisors advising clients it makes more sense to walk away and take the hit on their credit than wait 10-15 years to get their home value back to their mortgage amount. Something needs to be done to help more underwater homeowners from feeling this is the only way out.. But before you walk away you need to have all the answers. See below.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Feb. 24, 2010 – After more than six months of wrangling with her bank to get a reduced mortgage payment through a federal loan modification program, Debra Jacobs has had enough.

The West Palm Beach resident is walking away from her home of 14 years.

“I’m just going to wait here until they put a padlock on the door,” said Jacobs, 58. “I’m so over it, I have to let it go. It’s too painful.”

As homeowners grow increasingly frustrated by the nation’s struggling foreclosure prevention programs, more may consider walking away as a viable alternative.

But there’s more to it than just stopping your mortgage payments and handing over the keys.

Boca Raton real estate attorney Marlyn Wiener says there’s no “right way” to walk away from a home.

Knowing the consequences, however, will at least help the borrower make an informed decision, she said.

“There is an analysis that each homeowner should do to find the best way for them to proceed,” Wiener said. “There isn’t a speed lane.”

The biggest gamble in walking away is whether a lender will try to seize a borrower’s assets to pay for its losses, Wiener said. Lenders have up to 20 years in Florida to collect a deficiency judgment.

But banks are more likely to go after borrowers who strategically default – a term meaning the homeowner can afford the mortgage but decides to stop paying because the home is no longer a good investment.

Moral dilemmas aside, Wiener said it can make financial sense in some situations to “pull the plug and regroup” if the mortgage is underwater.

Scott Haft, who oversees the mortgage modification and foreclosure defense division at the law firm LaBovick & LaBovick, said some lenders are willing to forgive a mortgage debt if a borrower voluntarily turns over the home without going through a lengthy court foreclosure.

“We say, ‘We’ll give you the keys on Monday, but you have to waive your right to pursue my client in the future for deficiencies,’ “ said Haft, whose company has offices in West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. “Many times, the lender is only interested in regaining the property.”

Another concern is whether the homeowner will have to claim forgiveness of debt on tax returns for the amount of money owed the lender.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 temporarily exempts people who lose their primary residence from having to claim the canceled debt, but the act is scheduled to sunset Dec. 31, 2012, and can’t be applied to investment properties.

“Everybody’s relationship with their properties and their loans is different,” Wiener said. “People need to take a look at where they are in life before they decide to walk away.”

One thing Wiener asks clients is whether they will need good credit in the near future to secure a car or student loan. A foreclosure can knock up to 300 points off a credit score – damage that can take years to repair and will stay on your report for seven years.

Lenders have recently stepped up efforts to ease the foreclosure process and avoid the complications when a homeowner walks away.

Citigroup launched a program this month that allows some borrowers to stay in their homes for six months without paying. In return, the homeowner turns in the keys at the end of the time period and keeps the home in good shape.

The federal Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program, announced in November, gives lenders incentives for offering deed-in-lieu of foreclosure and for approving short sales.

But for Jacobs, the alternatives are “too little too late.”

“Not only do I not know the options, I don’t care anymore,” she said. “It’s really sad it’s come to this.”

Lifeline needed for underwater homeowners!

I’m meeting more and more homeowners who just don’t want to wait for the market value of their homes to catch-up to the price they paid or the mortgage they have. If your home has a lost a lot of equity and your underwater, maybe you are struggling to make the payments, their is hope, really! check out making homes affordable to see if you can get help.

If you don’t qualify for this government program try contacting your lender to see if they can assist with a loan modification if you don’t get help from the lender DON’T walk away! Lenders are pushing for more people to short sell their home because you are helping them solve a problem and saving the bank money. Yes, you are helping the lender solve a problem, both you and the lender have a problem. You can’t afford the house and they are not getting paid. Some lenders are also giving borrowers (the seller) cash at closing to help move. Wells Fargo offered one of my clients $2,500!

Check out a video I did on short sales to see why it’s better for to short sell your home than walking away! Video Link

NEW YORK – Feb. 4, 2010 – An estimated 4.5 million homeowners owe more than their homes are worth. That number is likely to peak at 5.1 million in June, affecting 10 percent of homeowners and making them increasingly likely to just walk away.

“We’re now at the point of maximum vulnerability,” says Sam Khater, a senior economist with First American CoreLogic, the firm that conducted the recent research. “People’s emotional attachment to their property is melting into the air.”

Consultants at Oliver Wyman calculated that 17 percent of owners defaulting in 2008 –about 588,000 – chose to default even though they could pay.

First American estimates that it would cost around $745 billion – about the same as the original 2008 bank bailout – to restore all underwater borrowers to the break-even point.

Doing so would be seen as highly unfair by many taxpayers, says Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, but doing nothing would be another blow to a fragile economy.

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (02/022010)

Are you living the American Nightmare! Why others Profit?

The Problem:
►Wall street got too greedy.
►ARM, Alt-A ARM, Option ARM, Prime ARM, Sub-prime ARM, these adjustable rate
mortgages will continue reset to higher monthly payments which many homeowners will
not be unable to afford.
►Millions of mortgage brokers originated these types of loans across the nation.
►Now the banks are literally overwhelmed and don’t have enough people to clean up
the mess.

The Numbers:
►More than $250 billion in 2008 another 350 billions in 2009 and another $700 billion
will reset in 2010 and beyond, this is according to a First American study.
►Now here is the recipe for disaster.
►It’s estimated that 60% of all arms borrowers pay only the minimum payment and can
not afford a higher payment.
►According to Freddie Mac 62% of all loan modifications become delinquent within 60
days after a modification takes place.
►Loan modification is a disaster; it’s PROVEN it doesn’t work without principal
►Right now according to credit Suisse banks have approximately 900 thousands
properties in their books. Not listed for sale with an agent.
►As per Credit Suisse banks and GSE’s must avoid foreclosure in 4.2 million loans
until the end of 2010 in order to have a recovery.
►Highest unemployment rate in over 30 years.

The FDIC is selling off failed Bank and making crazy deals with the new owners, like this deal with failed IndyMac Bank to OneWest Click to Watch This Video Why would these banks want to help the average homeowners who is fighting to keep their homes when they can make more money doing short sales. Does this seem right to you?

Let me know your thoughts.

Lifeline needed for underwater homeowners – Is Walking away the only option?

Link To Lifeline Needed For Underwater Homeowners

I’m meeting more and more homeowners who just don’t want to wait for the market value of their homes to catch-up to the price they paid or the mortgage they have. If you’re home has a lot of equity and you’re underwater, maybe you are struggling to make the payments. There is hope, really! Check out making homes affordable to see if you can get help.

If you don’t qualify for this government program try contacting your lender and see if they can assist with a loan modification (CLICK HERE FOR ANSWERS) if don’t get assistance from the lender, DON’T walk away from your home the problems don’t disappear! Infact it will get a lot worse.

Lenders are willing and advising borrowers to short sell their homes because you are helping them save them money. It cost the bank on average $50,000-$80,000 to foreclose on a home. By Short Selling you’re home you are helping the lender solve a problem they have. Both you and the lender have a problem, you can’t afford the house and they are not getting interest paid on the loan. Some lenders are also giving borrowers (the seller) cash at closing to help move. Wells Fargo offered one of my clients $2,500!

Check out a video I did on short sales and why it’s better for you than walking away and facing a foreclosure!
I’m here to help so feel free to call me anytime or shoot me an email.

FHA to provide early relief to struggling homeowners

WASHINGTON – Jan. 25, 2010 – At-risk homeowners with FHA-insured mortgage loans are now eligible for loss mitigation assistance before they fall behind on their mortgage payments. Previously, homeowners weren’t eligible until they missed payments.

The Helping Families Save Their Home Act of 2009 expanded FHA’s authority to use its loss mitigation tools to assist FHA borrowers avoid foreclosure, including those facing “imminent default” as defined by the Secretary.

“Loss mitigation assistance is beneficial to both borrowers and FHA because it helps borrowers retain their homes while protecting the FHA insurance fund from unnecessary losses,” says FHA Commissioner David Stevens. “Now servicers will have additional options for those borrowers who seek help before they go delinquent.”

The change is effective immediately under FHA’s Home Affordable Modification Program (FHA-HAMP) ( with the following rules:

• FHA defines “FHA borrower facing imminent default” to be current or less than 30 days past due on the mortgage obligation and experiencing a significant reduction in income or some other hardship that will prevent him or her from making the next required payment on the mortgage.

• A forbearance agreement allows the loan servicer to postpone, reduce or suspend payments due on a loan for a limited and specific time period.

• FHA-HAMP allows qualified FHA-insured borrowers to reduce their monthly mortgage payment to an affordable level by permanently reducing the payment through the use of a partial claim combined with a loan modification. The partial claim defers the repayment of a portion of the mortgage principal through an interest-free subordinate mortgage that is not due until the first mortgage is paid off. The remaining balance is then modified through re-amortization and, in some cases, an interest rate reduction.

The borrower must be able to document the cause of an imminent default, which may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following types of hardship:

1. A reduction in or loss of income that was supporting the mortgage loan, e.g., unemployment, reduced job hours, reduced pay, or a decline in self-employed business earnings. A scheduled temporary shutdown of the employer, (such as for a scheduled vacation), would not in and of itself be adequate to support an imminent default.

2. A change in household financial circumstances, e.g., death in family, serious or chronic illness, permanent or short-term disability.

Loan servicers must document the basis for its determination that a payment default is imminent and retain all documentation used to reach its conclusion. The servicer’s documentation must also include information on the borrower’s financial condition.

Additional information and guidance can be found on HUD’s website. (