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Mortgage Modifications In The Post-HAMP Era

Posted on: March 1, 2017 by in Bankruptcy, Loan Modification, Real Estate
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The government’s Home Affordable Modification Plan went away at the end of 2016, but there are still mortgage modification options available to the vast majority of distressed homeowners.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both participate in the Flex Modification plan. The process is much the same. Homeowners must have a documented hardship, like a serious illness or job loss, that caused them to temporarily fall behind on their house payments. There are a slew of home modification companies who can basically wait on hold with the mortgage lender and help the homeowner compile the required documents, but these companies cannot expedite the process and cannot represent borrowers in court if the lenders try to foreclose on the loans.

According to some estimates, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae own or have a controlling interest in as many as 90 percent of the residential mortgages in the United States.

Mortgage Modification Without Bankruptcy

In a nutshell, obtaining a loan modification outside bankruptcy is a frustrating process, to put it nicely. Typically, the lender requires the borrower to resubmit financial documents every 90 days in order to maintain eligibility, and the final decision is usually made strictly according to the numbers.

Many lenders deny eligibility because of a failure to comply with these strict technical requirements. If one document is one day late or faxed to the wrong location, or if one trial payment is one day late, the lender usually denies the application regardless of any good faith on the borrower’s behalf. Furthermore, if the DTI (debt-to-income ratio) is even slightly off, the lender normally denies the application no matter what the borrower is willing to do to make the arrangement work financially.

Mortgage Help in Bankruptcy

If an interest rate modification is the answer, and it often is if the debtor underwent a temporary hardship that is now over, bankruptcy judges usually refer the matter to mediation. Before a mediation, the lender has a duty to negotiate in good faith, which means that instead of a knee-jerk denial, the lender must articulate a legitimate reason for the decision. Many times, such a reason simply does not exist, and the bank would rather change the loan terms than litigate the question.

Many times, an interest rate modification is not the answer, because if the delinquent amount is more than a few thousand dollars, the monthly payments may actually increase. Instead, Chapter 13 repayment is normally a better option. Debtors have up to five years to catch up on mortgage payments, and during the protected repayment period, the automatic stay prevents moneylenders from undertaking any foreclosure proceedings or other adverse action unless the bankruptcy judge grants a special exception.

Bankruptcy lawyers are also skilled negotiators, and they are strong voices during talks with the bank, so distressed homeowners often receive relief through bankruptcy that they may not have even known was available.

Contact Experienced Lawyers

Bankruptcy helps people with past-due mortgages get fresh financial starts. For a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Chicago, contact the Bentz Holguin Law Firm, LLC. Convenient payment plans are available.


Still Far From Over

Posted on: December 18, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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RealtyTrac is a real estate information company and marketplace for foreclosed properties founded in 1993 and based in Irvine, California. RealtyTrac publishes a monthly U.S. Foreclosure Market Report which finds that despite improvements in employment and a rising economy, the foreclosure crisis in the United States is still far from over. If you are a homeowner in the Chicago area and your home is at risk for foreclosure – or if you believe it will be soon – speak as quickly as possible with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer.

Foreclosures increased in 34 states in October and went up by 12 percent across the United States, representing the largest monthly jump in over four years. Housing lenders initiated foreclosures on more than 48,600 properties in the United States in October. In Illinois, new foreclosures increased by 20 percent over the previous month. That means a lot of homeowners are struggling with debt in the Chicago area and throughout the state. If you are a homeowner struggling with debt and you are at risk of having your home foreclosed, it is imperative to know your legal rights and options. Let an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer help.

Bankruptcy is one of several options for homeowners who face foreclosure. An automatic stay is issued immediately when you file for bankruptcy, and it legally blocks a mortgage lender from acting or continuing to take action against you. Let an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer discuss bankruptcy and your other legal options for protecting your family and your home. After evaluating your situation, a good foreclosure lawyer can suggest the most effective and practical solutions available to you. Whether you use bankruptcy or another strategy to protect your home from foreclosure, it’s imperative to have the insights and help that an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer can provide. When foreclosure becomes a real possibility, make the call immediately.

Defend Your Home From Foreclosure

Posted on: December 14, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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If you are a homeowner in the Chicago area and you are struggling with overwhelming debt, your home may be or may become at risk for foreclosure. You won’t be alone. Foreclosure affects thousands of families in Illinois each year. If foreclosure becomes a possibility, get legal help and contact an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer without delay. One Montana man not only recovered his home, but in November, he also recovered $2 million with an lawyer’s help. However, his family lived through a nightmare first. Jason Norman and his wife purchased a home in Billings in 2010 from Deutsche Bank National Trust Company. They paid the full amount in cash.

In 2013, however, the Normans were told by the Montana Department of Revenue that Deutsche Bank had foreclosed on the house and sold it to a company named MOM Haven 6 LLP. A mistake had been made on a quitclaim deed for a different house. The Normans sued, and with good legal assistance, they eventually prevailed. In the greater Chicago area, if your home is at risk for foreclosure, it’s imperative to speak as quickly as possible with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer. Mistakes on quitclaim deeds and similar mistakes are more frequent than you might think, and an experienced foreclosure lawyer knows how to find those errors.

Some homeowners will find that bankruptcy is their only defense against foreclosure. Other homeowners may have other, more practical options. Deutsche Bank had no authority to foreclose on the home in Montana, and it’s rare, but “wrongful foreclosure” does sometimes happen. It’s vital for homeowners to know their rights regarding foreclosure. A good foreclosure lawyer can recommend the options that offer the most protection to your home and your family. If you own a home in the Chicago area and foreclosure becomes a concern, contact an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer as quickly as possible.

For International Homebuyers

Posted on: October 27, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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International homebuyers are purchasing more residential properties in the United States than ever before. From April 2013 through March 2014, U.S. home sales to international homebuyers totaled $92.2 billion according to figures from the National Association of Realtors. That figure represents a 35 percent increase over the previous twelve months. About seven percent of all home sales in the U.S. are now made to international buyers. In the greater Chicago area, international homebuyers can benefit from the advice and services of an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer. A good real estate lawyer ensures that your long-term interests are protected in a real estate transaction, anticipates potential difficulties, and sees to it that Illinois law is complied with at every stage of the process.

Financing can be a challenge in today’s economy. Since the recession of 2007-2008, mortgages have become tougher than ever to obtain. A community bank or some other independent financier may be easier to work with than a conventional lender. International homebuyers must have a current, valid visa, the ability to travel freely in and out of the United States, and proof of residence in your home country. Have an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer guide you through the various tax and legal complexities that are a routine part of every real estate transaction.

When you find a residential property that attracts you, examine the foundation, heating, plumbing, air conditioning, and have a professional home inspection conducted – your real estate lawyer can probably recommend someone. The most vital move you’ll need to make, however, is retaining the advice and services of a knowledgeable Chicago real estate lawyer who has considerable experience working with international homebuyers. You real estate lawyer works for you and you alone, protects your interests, and guides you through many challenges of purchasing a home in the greater Chicago area. If you’re buying a home here or considering it, make the call promptly.

Buyer or Seller, You Need A Real Estate Lawyer

Posted on: September 14, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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It’s a good time to buy a home. Both locally and across the nation, all of the economic signs are encouraging. If you do it the right way, buying and selling real estate in the Chicago area doesn’t have to be fraught with anxiety. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate investor, many of the same rules will apply. With an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer on your side, you’ll know that everything in a real estate transaction complies with the law and with your own best interests. Unlike real estate agents and brokers, a real estate lawyer isn’t paid by commission, so your lawyer can be genuinely objective and fully dedicated to “watching your back” and advocating on your behalf through the transaction and closing. Before you launch any real estate transaction in the Chicago area, the smart move is to consult first with an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer.

Illinois real estate law requires mandatory disclosure. Sellers of a residential property must disclose specific defects and any other problems with the property. Mandatory disclosure assures that buyers know exactly what they’re buying and keeps sellers from being sued for nondisclosure. Whether you are buying or selling a residence, it’s critical to have an experienced real estate lawyer explain how mandatory disclosure affects your particular real estate transaction.

Real estate closings are complicated. Without knowledgeable legal guidance, unless you are trained in real estate, you may expose yourself to unnecessary risk. But if you retain the counsel of a good real estate lawyer at the beginning of the process, you’ll avoid or reduce most of your risks. Don’t wait until the closing to make the call. Real estate is a wise investment. Hiring an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer is also a wise investment. If you’re buying or selling or only now considering a real estate sale or purchase in the greater Chicago area, make the call as quickly as possible.

Loan Modification Scams – Be On The Lookout

Posted on: August 26, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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Homeowners facing a major financial hardship that could lead to a foreclosure may qualify for a loan modification that changes the terms of the mortgage so that the borrower may afford the payments. A lender may allow a homeowner to refinance the loan, pay a lower interest rate, extend the term of the loan, skip payments and add them to the total loan amount, or roll past-due payments into the total loan amount. To obtain a loan modification, you should work directly with the lender or alongside an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer. Criminal con artists are everywhere offering to help homeowners qualify for and obtain loan modifications. Don’t be a victim. Here’s are four ways to avoid loan modification scams:

Be skeptical: Scammers try to present themselves as legitimate. Be extremely cautious, even when a solicitation or correspondence looks official. Some of the criminals present themselves as affiliated or associated with the government, and they aren’t.

Ignore promises of easy solutions: Crooks promise to make foreclosure issues go away quickly. Don’t believe them for a minute. Foreclosure is always a difficult and lengthy procedure.

Don’t pay scammers a cent: Typically, these criminals will charge you fees while promising help that will supposedly save your home. Instead, the crooks take the money and disappear.

Don’t transfer the deed: This is critical, and you can lose your home if you’re not careful. Con artists sometimes promise to buy your home and “agree” to let you rent it with an option to buy it back later. Do not fall for this. In some cases, the crook sells the home to someone else. In other cases, the scammer takes the title, any equity in the home, and your fees before disappearing and leaving the home to default.

If you are facing foreclosure or expect to receive a foreclosure notice soon, you need help that you can trust. Instead of dealing with someone that you aren’t sure about, make the call to a trustworthy and experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer as quickly as possible.

What Is A Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure?

Posted on: August 7, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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A deed in lieu of foreclosure is a legal device whereby a borrower transfers all interest in a property to the lender to satisfy a loan that is in default and avoid foreclosure proceedings. The deed in lieu of foreclosure offers several advantages to both parties. The borrower is immediately released from most or all of the debt associated with the defaulted loan and avoids a foreclosure proceeding. The lender saves the time and cost of foreclosure. In the Chicago area, if you are overwhelmed by mortgage debt, one of your options may be a deed in lieu of foreclosure. If the lender agrees, the lender will require several documents: tax returns, bank statements, and a hardship verification letter. If you’re struggling with mortgage debt, let an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer help you decide if a deed in lieu of foreclosure is the option that’s in your best interests.

Even if a deed in lieu of foreclosure may be right for you, your lender must also agree to it. Because a deed in lieu of foreclosure must be voluntary, lenders often will not act upon a deed in lieu of foreclosure unless they receive a written verification from the borrower that specifically states that the deed in lieu of foreclosure is voluntary. While a deed in lieu of foreclosure lets a lender avoid the inconvenience of foreclosure proceedings, the disadvantages for a lender may outweigh the benefits. A good Chicago foreclosure lawyer can negotiate with your mortgage lender regarding a deed in lieu of foreclosure as well as other alternatives.

If you are facing or anticipating a foreclosure on your home in the Chicago area, a deed in lieu of foreclosure is one possible option; bankruptcy is another. Your wisest first move is to review your circumstances and your options with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer who routinely helps homeowners in the Chicago area. If foreclosure is threatening your home and your family, or if you simply need advice regarding your options so that you can plan for the future, make the call to a Chicago foreclosure lawyer as quickly as possible.

Retired And Facing Foreclosure

Posted on: August 5, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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Of all the financial threats that are facing retired workers – such as having enough savings and paying for healthcare – you can add foreclosure to the list. Millions of retirees are struggling to make mortgage payments. Over the past two decades, as many employers have eliminated conventional pensions, workers have been compelled to manage their own retirement savings. Unfortunately, many now reaching retirement age didn’t save enough, made bad investments, or have already exhausted their retirement accounts. If you are retirement age, and if you’re facing or anticipating foreclosure in the Chicago area, discuss your circumstances and options right away with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that 30 percent of homeowners age 65 and older, or about 6.5 million people, were paying mortgages in 2013, up from 22 percent in 2001. People age 75 and older carrying home loans increased from 8 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2011. The median mortgage held by those 65 and older has more than doubled, from $43,400 in 2001 to about $88,000 today. And a substantial number of retired workers are paying a mortgage that exceeds their home’s value. In 2012, the AARP reported that 1.5 million Americans age 50 and older had lost homes between 2007 and 2011. Foreclosure rates are highest for those age 75 and older.

Bankruptcy is one option that homeowners have for stopping a foreclosure. An automatic stay is issued when a bankruptcy is filed, and that stay prevents mortgage lenders from continuing any action against you. Bankruptcy is not your only alternative, but if you are retired and you’re having difficulty making mortgage payments in the Chicago area, arrange at once – before your situation grows desperate – to speak with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer. The longer you wait, the fewer options you have, so make the call as quickly as possible.

Protect Your Family From Foreclosure

Posted on: July 29, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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In the state of Illinois, if you default on a couple of mortgage payments, the mortgage lender will probably take legal foreclosure action against you. Before that happens, you should arrange to speak with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer about your mortgage situation. In Illinois, filing for bankruptcy can halt a foreclosure, but an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer can usually suggest effective options other than bankruptcy. A judicial foreclosure in Illinois routinely happens in these stages:

  • – A lender may foreclose after one late payment, but almost everyone is late sometime, so lenders typically wait to foreclose until you miss several payments and can’t catch up.
  • – You’ll receive a notice of intent to foreclose from the lender. Typically it will provide you with a last chance to make payments, usually in a ten-day window.
  • – The lender may then file a foreclosure lawsuit against you. You’ll know when it happens.
  • – You can choose to respond by filing for an emergency bankruptcy. See a good Chicago bankruptcy lawyer immediately if this is the option you choose.
  • – If you do not act to stop the foreclosure, and the foreclosure moves forward, the property may be sold at an auction and the lender may initiate eviction proceedings. Alternatively, in a slow real estate market, you may be able to remain in the residence until the market improves, but that’s not something you can count on.

Bankruptcy will stop a foreclosure. When a bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay is ordered, and it stops mortgage lenders from taking action against you. If you are having difficulty with mortgage payments in the Chicago area, bankruptcy may not be your only option. Speak at once with an experienced Chicago foreclosure lawyer before your situation becomes worse. When you delay, fewer options remain open to you, so if you are being threatened with foreclosure, do not wait to make the call.


Making A Home Attractive To Buyers

Posted on: July 20, 2015 by in Blog, Real Estate
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In the greater Chicago area, seek the advice of an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer before entering into any real estate transaction. When you sell a home or any other property in Illinois, an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer will help you make the best possible deal and protect your long-term best interests. While home improvements can make your home more attractive to buyers and increase its value, some improvements will add more appeal and value than others, and some of the smartest things you can do are relatively inexpensive.

Cover the basics first. Potential buyers don’t want to be faced with costly repairs. The roof, furnace, AC, plumbing, electrical system, and windows must all be in good working order to attract buyers and command top dollar. If any of these are broken or faulty, fix them. If any of them are nearing the ends of their useful lives, replace them before putting your home on the market.

For some sellers, beautifying the facades and outsides of their homes will be a priority. Landscaping the front lawn, adding some new plants and shrubs, and generally cleaning up the exterior can make a big difference in the way a home is seen by prospective buyers. If it’s time to paint either the interior or exterior or both, do it. Cleaning the windows and power-washing a home’s exterior, driveway, and sidewalk are always good ideas. Keeping weeds pulled and hedges pruned is imperative. Little things like replacing your old welcome mat with a new one can make a subtle difference.

Bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms can almost always use an upgrade. Replace anything that obviously outdated, like old wallpaper. If you’re a do-it-yourself enthusiast, that’s great, but some projects are going to require professional contractors. Ask for references and be sure that a contractor has the necessary permits, licenses, and insurance coverage.

Selling real estate isn’t like selling anything else. You must have the best advice available. With accurate knowledge, a good agent, and the services of a good Chicago real estate lawyer, you should be able to sell your home – and protect your interests – without any legal problems or personal regrets. If you’re selling or thinking about it, call an experienced Chicago real estate lawyer as quickly as possible.