Abraham Lincoln said “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”
Honest Abe was talking about legal representation when he said that, and a century and a half later his advice still rings true. President Lincoln was a lawyer himself and knew that it just doesn't make sense to act as your own attorney, even if you are one.
But some people have been doing exactly that in recent years while trying to avoid losing their most valuable investment, their home, through foreclosure. Seven million homeowners have experienced foreclosure since the housing crisis began and many of them don't have a clue about how to deal with it.
Their bewilderment is completely understandable. Foreclosure was never part of any homeowner's plan. Unfortunate circumstances beyond the control of any individual homeowner has made foreclosure something that millions of homeowners have been forced to learn about.
Some look into it and think they can handle everything on their own. “How hard could this be? I can answer a complaint and fill out a request for modification assistance without a lawyer.”
Others learn about the laws pertaining to foreclosure and the ways to avoid it and conclude that having an experienced attorney on their side is essential. While every person's situation is different, there are important reasons for everyone with mortgage problems to seriously consider hiring an experienced attorney:
Avoiding Customer Service
When you call the bank you will be dealing with a customer service representative. These representatives are often overseas and speak English as a second language, which can be frustrating. A good law firm will speak directly with the bank's loss mitigation department, not a customer service representative.
Sometimes being too close and emotionally invested in a situation makes it hard to make rational decisions about it. A house is most people's largest investment and the threat of losing it causes intense feelings that can work against you. Having a professional working for you takes care of that problem.
Benefit From Knowledge and Experience
An attorney's knowledge and experience are invaluable when dealing with foreclosure. A loan modification is the best hope many homeowners have to keep their home, but the majority of homeowners who apply on their own are denied. A law firm that has experience getting loan modifications for their clients will know what you need to show your bank to get approved. When your application is denied, your attorney should know exactly what has to be changed in order to get it approved. When you're doing it on your own you might just accept the denial.
The other way an experienced attorney's knowledge can benefit you is from various foreclosure defenses and alternatives that can stop foreclosure. If it can be shown that the foreclosing party lacks the standing to foreclose, then they can't take your home. There are many ways to stop foreclosure, including bankruptcy, but you have to know when they are appropriate and likely to be successful. A foreclosure defense tactic may only stop the sale of your home temporarily, but that time can be enough to figure out a permanent solution.
If it is not possible to keep your home with a loan modification, you may be eligible to leave it through a short sale or deed in lieu of foreclosure agreement. These agreements are preferable to foreclosure. However, you can still be sued for the difference between what your home sells for and what you owe on your loan unless you get a deficiency judgment waiver. What you don't know can hurt you.
Finding the Right Attorney
If you want an attorney to help you with your foreclosure, don't just pick the first attorney you find and think that they will be able to do what you need. You have to find someone with experience getting the results you want. Ask to see results of past cases that prove the firm you're considering hiring can accomplish what you need done.
It's always a good idea to do a little research into the background of the person you're hiring. Lawyers can be researched at their state bar association's website and lawyer review sites such as martindale.com. If your prospective attorney has numerous ethical violations on their record and a poor record from past clients then you may want to go with someone with a better reputation. You can find more tips on selecting the right attorney for your needs here.
Let's end with another quote from Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” When you hire an experienced foreclosure defense attorney, you have better odds of creating the future you want than if you act as our own attorney. There's simply no replacement for years of experience with the legal issues concerning foreclosure.
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