Amerihope Alliance Legal Services, which focuses on providing foreclosure defense and loan modification assistance, is proud to have accepted numerous awards for providing excellent service to our clients over the last 12 years.
When your bank serves you with a foreclosure complaint for not paying your mortgage, you have a right to answer it and deny its charges, which you should.
You should also include something called affirmative defenses in your response to the complaint because they are a vital part of a good foreclosure defense strategy.
What Is An Affirmative Defense?
An affirmative defense in a civil lawsuit is a fact that defeats or mitigates the consequences of a charge. For example, in a foreclosure complaint the plaintiff will charge that you haven't been paying your mortgage and they're entitled to foreclose because of that. An affirmative defense wouldn't deny that (though the answer probably would), but it would basically say that it doesn't matter for some reason, like the plaintiff doesn't have the right to foreclose.
If you tell people that you're trying to get a loan modification to avoid foreclosure and keep your home, inevitably some of them will offer advice, whether they know what they're talking about or not.
Acting on bad guidance for something so important can be harmful to your chances of getting the outcome you want.
Here's some of the worst advice we've heard about loan modifications and foreclosure:
"Stop paying your mortgage to get a loan mod"
Homeowners who are current on their mortgage have been told that they need to stop paying their mortgage to be eligible for a loan modification.
This is wrong.
You do need to show that you've had a hardship that's making it hard to afford your mortgage, but you do not have to be in default to get a loan modification.
You did the hard work of applying for a loan modification and making your trial modification payments. Congratulations!
After making that last trial payment, the only thing to do is wait for the bank to send you a final modification offer, then you can finally put your foreclosure nightmare behind you forever and move on with life. Right?
Unfortunately, your permanent modification offer may not come right away. Why is that?
Applying For A Loan Modification
Applying for a loan modification is no easy task. You have to submit a package of documents called a Request for Mortgage Assistance or RMA. Often the servicer will require the homeowner to continually resubmit newer versions of the same documents such as bank statements while the application is under review.
Bankruptcy could help you delay foreclosure or avoid it entirely. So, if you're facing foreclosure, does that mean that you need to file bankruptcy? And if so, when?
There are ways to deal with your mortgage default that don't involve bankruptcy, some of which may be better. Whether or not bankruptcy is right for you depends on what other options are available to you and how close you are to losing your home.
If you've just defaulted, you probably have time to work toward a solution that doesn't involve bankruptcy. But if you've been served with foreclosure papers (in a judicial foreclosure state), have a sale date in the near future, and no other options, then bankruptcy could be right for you.
If you're like most people, you probably get more junk email than you know what to do with.
That's a big problem when it becomes hard to sort through all the messages you don't care about to find the really important emails, like those from your lawyer.
When you hire a lawyer, it's because you need help with an issue that you can't handle on your own. When your attorney sends you an email, it's not just to say hi. It's because they either need to tell you about a development in your case or ask you for something they can't get without you.
Sometimes a homeowner will fall behind on their mortgage, but they don't actually lose their home to foreclosure for a long, long time. How long? We've had clients who were in foreclosure for 11 years before their case was resolved!
People who stop paying their mortgage but continue to live in their home for years without anything happening can get used to that. Mistake. While at times it may seem like nothing's going on, the wheels are turning.
Some homeowners forget how serious their situation is, and then they get a notice that their home is scheduled to be sold in a foreclosure auction, and they're shocked and unprepared and have few options available to them.
Remember that when you fall behind on your mortgage, your home will eventually be lost and you and your family will be evicted if you can't resolve your default. Don't let it happen to you!
If you want to keep your home after falling behind on your mortgage, your goal should be to find a solution, such as a loan modification, that will return your loan to “normal servicing” and allow you to avoid foreclosure.
What Is Loan Servicing
Loan servicing is the process by which a company collects money from a borrower and manages their loan. Your mortgage loan servicer is the company you send your mortgage payments to. They're like an accounts receivable department that collects your payments and distributes the funds to the investor that owns your loan, collecting a fee for themselves in the process.
You have no say in who services your mortgage, and servicing rights can transfer. One month you're making mortgage payments to Cenlar, the next it's to Ocwen. If you don't like it, too bad. You have no say in the matter.
One of Florida's biggest foreclosure defense law firms, Stay In My Home P.A., has declared bankruptcy. The roughly 4,000 clients of the firm will need to look elsewhere for legal services.
Mark Stopa, the founder of Stay In My Home, P.A. and a high-profile attorney in the field of foreclosure defense, is under criminal investigation for alleged “equity skimming”, which is a type of mortgage fraud.
Over the summer of 2018 Stopa was indefinitely suspended from practicing law for violating professional conduct rules. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement raided his offices, seized his firm's computers, and froze its accounts. With no way to make payroll “most of the attorneys and staff quit” the firm, according to an article in the Tampa Bay Times.
Not having enough money to pay your mortgage means making some tough choices. One choice that some homeowners find themselves pondering is whether or not they should take money from their retirement savings to make their mortgage payments.
Taking money from your retirement account is a big decision with serious consequences. Whether it's a good or bad idea for you depends on how much retirement savings you have and what's causing you to have trouble paying your mortgage.
When Spending Retirement on Mortgage Makes Sense
Taking a withdrawal from your retirement account to pay your mortgage could make sense if you have a ton of money in your retirement account and are experiencing a temporary hardship caused by a one-time expense.