Articles Posted in Loan Modification

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The news these days is all about Coronavirus: from television news to social media, the number one topic of the day is COVID-19.  Our screens and feeds are flooded with news about how Coronavirus has devastated the American economy.   Just this morning, NBC News had the “breaking” news that  U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 4.8% in the first quarter of the year–the biggest decline since the Great Recession.  This is probably is not much of a surprise to most of us.  Economists predict that  the worst is yet to come. Nearly Americans know that the economy has slowed down since millions of us have been laid off, furloughed, or had our incomes slashed. People without jobs and people worried about losing their jobs don’t have money to spend or are hesitant to spend it .  Because of this uncertainty, consumer confidence plunged in April.

Many Floridians are worried about how they will pay for necessities like housing, food and transportation. By now, most Americans who are eligible to receive the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Stimulus payments have received their money. In Jacksonville, there will soon be an additional $1,000 available to each Jacksonville household that earns under $75,000 and can show they’ve taken a 25% income loss due to coronavirus.   This program will be run by the city of Jacksonville, but funded by the Federal Government. The city will be issuing payments cards to 40,000 households. One household member must apply for the assistance online or by phone and then go downtown in person (the Main Library on N. Laura Street or the Ed Ball Building on N. Hogan Street) to an appointment to receive the payment. You will go to an auditorium, while practicing social distancing.

In order to get an appointment, residents must show that they had employment as of February 29, and that the Coronavirus epidemic caused them to lose at least 25% of their income. This test should be easy to meet for “non-essential” workers, who lost jobs or income because of the governor’s or mayor’s mandated shutdown.  City Council President Scott Wilson  said he expects the website to be up and running soon, and that “the goal is to start cutting checks — and what we’re going to do is give debit cards or credit cards, gift card type things — within the next seven days.”

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Bringing your mortgage current though Bankruptcy in Jacksonville, FL might be a possibility. But you must first take into account your income, how far behind you are on you mortgage payments, as well as all of your other debts. Bringing your mortgage current through Bankruptcy in Jacksonville, FL is a three to five year commitment that comes with its own challenges.

In order to bring your mortgage current through Bankruptcy, you must first file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy even if you qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is a reorganization of your debts through a 60 month payment plan; referred to as a Chapter 13 Plan. Based on your income and family size, you make payments to a trustee. The trustee then distributes these monthly payments proportionally to your creditors. Whichever debts have not been paid off at the end of the 60 months are discharged.  Continue reading →

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rsz_underwaterhouse-150x150When Texas and Florida, along with several other states along the eastern seaboard of the United States, were hit by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, many mortgage companies offered their borrowers who had been affected by these storms participation in a forbearance program. A forbearance program is where your mortgage company agrees to suspend your mortgage payments for a set period of time. Forbearance programs are usually good for borrowers who are going through a short-term financial situation. The forbearance of mortgage payments is meant to allow the borrower the time they need to get back on their feet and then recommence their regular mortgage payments. The idea behind the forbearance programs after the hurricanes was to allow homeowners time to repair or rebuild their homes that had been damaged by the storms.

Unfortunately, not all forbearance programs have reached their goal. What I have come to learn through the last several months as forbearance programs are coming to an end, is that some of these programs require the borrower to bring their mortgages current at the end of their forbearance period. This means that borrowers must make all missed mortgage payments at one time when their program ends. The issue that many borrowers who have chosen to take advantage of one of these programs is that they were not aware that they would have to make all of the payments at the end of the designated time period. By the time they learned they would be expected to pay their mortgage company all of the payments that were deferred through the forbearance program, it is far too late for them to prepare for such a large payment at one time. This has put many borrowers between a rock and hard place, because they are unable to bring their mortgages current. Continue reading →

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Police are currently investigating a loan modification and debt consolidation business in Florida. The owners supposedly presented themselves to clients as attorneys but were not licensed attorneys at all. The Boca Raton company claimed to be an industry leader in foreclosure and pre-foreclosure litigation in South Florida.

According to authorities, the two men convinced homeowners to stop paying their mortgages and to ignore notices from their mortgage holders to let them negotiate with the lenders. The scheme tricked homeowners into paying high upfront monthly legal fees for legal services that were not performed or supervised by a Florida attorney.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has also filed a lawsuit against these networks of fraudulent attorneys for the unlicensed practice of law.   Bondi claims the network, which held itself out to be a group of 100 attorneys, posed as lawyers to take advantage of vulnerable clients.   The people behind the scheme also duped inexperienced young attorneys into working for them, and the defendants even used real names of actual Florida attorneys without their knowledge. Continue reading →

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Home Foreclosure Defense in BankruptcyWith about half of Jacksonville, Florida homes under water combined with the decrease in overall income for people across the country, it comes as no surprise that people are getting behind on their mortgage payments. Many of those people, especially those in homes that are seriously underwater, would probably benefit most from a mortgage modification or the surrender of the property altogether. However, there is a segment of the population whose home is still worth near if not more than their mortgage(s). Some of these people think that the only way to catch up on their home mortgage is to convince a bank to grant them a modification -often the kind where there are lots of penalties and fees and where the arrearages are tacked on the end of the loan as a balloon payment. These mortgages are not always available and can take so much time to achieve that the penalties become unmanageable.

In many cases, filing a traditional Chapter 13 bankruptcy will help these people catch up on the arrearage on their home. This is especially helpful if there has been a recent increase in income. In a Chapter 13 we submit a plan for repayment which includes the regular monthly mortgage payment, but also amortizes the arrearage to a sixty month period to make payment more manageable. This way, if the debtor can afford it, they can catch up on their mortgage without the arduous frustration of trying to negotiate with the lender.

Filing a bankruptcy stalls any collection attempts so a case filed the morning of a foreclosure sale will cancel the sale or, if the sale occurs, will require the Judge to vacate the sale upon motion by the debtor’s counsel. As long as the debtor intends to catch up on their home mortgage and indicates the ability to do so in their bankruptcy plan, the foreclosure will end there.

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Mortgage Modification through Bankruptcy MediationNearly half of Florida homes that have mortgages are worth less than the mortgage debt on the home. This, combined with the nation-wide decrease in incomes has lead to one of the greatest recessions our country has seen.

A home mortgage is essentially a contract. You promise to make payments according to the contract’s terms, and the lender promises to transfer the home’s title to you when you finish making your payments. The government regulates these contracts by creating laws that set out procedures for things like foreclosures. Of course, there is still an element of free contract which allows lenders and borrowers to negotiate the terms of their agreement at any time. The government is limited in how much they are allowed to interfere with contracts so instead of trying to force banks to offer mortgage modifications, they make programs like HAMP, which offers lenders tax deductions or other benefits to make deals with borrowers. Personally, I think that the government isn’t offering the lenders enough in benefits because banks aren’t particularly helpful in getting borrowers into the program. HAMP mods are done in-house by the banks and “can” lower a borrowers mortgage payments to 31% of their gross income if you qualify. But what if you don’t qualify, and what if your payments are already below 31% of your gross income?

This is where lenders will begin the foreclosure process. They may offer you a so called, “in house modification”, but offer or no, the foreclosure process will continue until either you are somehow successful in obtaining an in-house modification or your home is sold on the courthouse steps. This is because the judiciary can’t force a bank to modify your loan. Honestly negotiated terms that were created in accordance with the laws can’t usually be modified by the government due to our rights to free contract as citizens. That being said, a recent program out of Orlando creates an opportunity for people facing Jacksonville bankruptcies and foreclosures.

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Debt, Mortgage, Laid off, BankruptcyJacksonville bankruptcy attorneys, and attorneys everywhere have faced record numbers of new clients with debt problems. The last five years have been devastating, with home values plunging and politicians screaming across the country that they have new solutions to help us from drowning in debt. There is no doubt that the economy will be the largest issue of the upcoming Presidential Election.

Statistics are a staggering example of our economic squalor. There were 1.4 million bankruptcies across America in 2011, up about a million cases from 2007. A million extra cases per year in only four years is a motivating factor, but what can we do about it?

Most people aren’t sure what to do. Their jobs have lowered their pay or laid them off altogether, many of them are coasting by on savings and hoping for the economy to pick up. Many are depending on loan modifications that may never be granted. Even the government’s Home Affordability Modification Program (HAMP) has been called a Scam.

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If you want to reaffirm a debt after filing for bankruptcy, your must executed a new agreement with your creditor. This reaffirmation agreement must be written and must be signed by both you and the creditor. Should you sign this reaffirmation agreement? Here are some pros and cons.


First, if you want to keep the property, you must sign the reaffirmation agreement. Also, if you do sign, you will be certain what your payments will be, what your interest rate is, etc. Signing a reaffirmation agreement may also help rebuild your credit, since you are taking responsibility for a pre-filing debt and are making regular payments on a debt.

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Zero Interest Rate Bankruptcy HomeThe Federal Housing Finance Agency is reviewing a proposal that would permit Judges of Chapter 13 cases to give 0.00% interest rates on FHFA loans during the duration of the five year cases. Since about 90% of all U.S. Mortgages are FHFA backed, this would allow nearly all mortgages to have zero interest rates for five years. This comes on the heels of the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s plan to allow Chapter 13 bankrupt to enter modifications and attempt to reduce their principle balances.

The proposal comes with two caveats: 1. The home must be worth less than it’s mortgage (46% of Florida homes are underwater) and 2. whether or not to grant the modified interest rate would be up to the bankruptcy judge.

White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage told the Financial Times that the administration is not considering this particular idea. Fortunately, this bill can become law without approval from the White House. Even if a President were to use their veto power, the bill could still be passed by a 2/3rds majority vote by both houses of Congress.

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Beyonce Home Underwater, BankruptcySinger Beyonce Knowles, recently sold her Miami, Florida condo for nearly 25% of what she paid for it. According to TMZ, Beyonce bought the 190 square foot condo in 2002 for $465,000 only to sell it this November for $110,000. This is a $355,000 loss on what TMZ suggests was essentially a private restroom. This is a far greater loss than most mortgage holders face, but this also wasn’t Beyonce’s homestead, it was a luxury property. With so many homes underwater in Florida, it’s no wonder the star lost out on this investment. One things is for certain, with an income like hers, a small property like this won’t be irreplaceable.

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