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Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Bankruptcy or Foreclosure Looming?

Let The Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act Help you!

New Mortgage Foreclosure Program for the State of Washington.

A little known Mortgage foreclosure program went into effect in Washington State in 2011.  It is called the Washington foreclosure fairness act (FFA).  This program is for you if you need help paying your mortgage and need to renegotiate with your lender!  This program was designed to help homeowners facing foreclosure and lenders to reach a resolution about foreclosures.

The Washington foreclosure fairness act also helps homeowners in that it requires lenders to notify “borrowers” before the foreclosure process of the possibilities of counseling and mediation.

You need a referral by a Housing Counselor or an Attorney to use the Washington foreclosure fairness act program!  The reason for this is so that you will have representation when you sit down with the lender’s attorneys.  When you are referred to the program, you will then be in the Mediation process.  This process can be a very timely solution for you and your lender’s problems with the right people to support you.  Having a knowledgeable law firm like Advantage Legal Group on your side can help you find your best option in a timely matter.

Related: 4 Ways to Raise Your Credit Score in 6 Months

Stopping the foreclosure process.

Once you are in the mediation process for the Washington foreclosure fairness act program the foreclosure process halts!  You must act in “good faith” to stay in the mediation process.  You and your legal representative will go through the mediation with your lender and their legal representative.  The mediator will aid both sides to come up with a plan that will benefit both parties.

Remember, that if at any time the mediator believes you are not acting in “good faith,” your mediation can be canceled and your lender can proceed with a foreclosure.  Your legal counsel will help you to know what you need to do.  Examples of not acting in good faith: not turning in the appropriate paperwork on time, not paying the mediation fee on time, and not responding to e-mails or calls from the mediator.

Other Important Information

Free Seminars, Free Consultations, and Informative Videos!

If you have been thinking about bankruptcy or you are seeing a foreclosure in your future check out Advantage Legal Group to help with your legal options.  Advantage Legal Group offers free seminars in the Seattle/ Puget Sound area.  These free seminars cover legal options all the way from Foreclosure Defense Strategies, Mortgage Mediation, Deed in lieu of Foreclosure, Mortgage Modification, Short Sales, to the Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act.  Attend these free seminars in Bellevue, Lynnwood, or Tacoma.  Attendees also learn about their legal options for their specific financial situation.  You are under no obligation to do anything by attending the seminar.  After the seminar, if you choose, you can schedule a free consultation with Seattle Bankruptcy Attorney Jonathan Smith to discuss even more specific their financial situations.

Contact Us Immediately

 

Should I Use My Stimulus Check for Bills?

Should I Use My Stimulus Check for Bills?

Like millions of Americans, most of us will be getting some sort of a stimulus check in the next couple of weeks. When we hear the word stimulus we understand that it is to stimulate the economy but that doesn’t mean going out and buying the latest television or blowing it on something nonessential. Stimulating the economy means keeping up with your bills, mortgage payments, and rental payments. Remember, someone is suffering from not getting the funds they need and you might think that utility companies and big mortgage companies are faceless entities, but eventually, someone will need to get paid. I ran across this post on Facebook I thought it was very poignant to bring up here.

1. To Tenants: If the government says you don’t have to pay your rent and there’s a ban on evictions, you better do whatever you can to pay your rent. There will be major repercussions when eviction bans are lifted. Don’t think you’ll get a free ride out of this.
PAY YOUR RENT! Your landlord has bills to pay too.

2. To Homeowners: If the government tells banks to stop mortgage payments, DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO PAY YOUR MORTGAGE!. Some lenders are saying you don’t have to pay for 3 months, but on the 4th month, all four payments are due in full. Do not take a chance and not pay. Major foreclosures will come from all this. The banks didn’t help homeowners in 2008-2009 and in 2020, it’s still the same.
Pay your mortgage.

3. If the utility company suspends payments, you better pay any amount you can! They are like banks, they will want their money eventually and when all this clears up, you’ll owe an exuberant bill and still won’t have any utilities. Pay whatever you can.

4. If you get a government stimulus check, this check is to help pay your bills. That means you pay your rent, your mortgage, your utilities, your insurance, your car payment, your bills.
This is not for frivolous spending.

5. The real problem is, many who will get the stimulus check….won’t pay their bills then will be crying and wailing saying
“They evicted me. They cut off my power, they repossessed my car…”
All while you’re broke and carrying that empty purse you bought with your stimulus check.

There’s always FREE cheese 🧀 in a mouse 🐁 trap!

It’s important to understand your rights, your financial situation, and the reality of the future. If you feel that you cannot make your mortgage payment it’s time to contact them immediately. You need housing first and foremost and then food. Pay your mortgage or your rent first and then food. Credit cards are frivolous spending but you do need heat, electricity, and power. These are things that you want to stay on top of. If you feel you need a real estate attorney, mortgage modification or mediation, or foreclosure is in the not so distant future, contact us immediately.

If you are at risk of losing your home due to foreclosure, mortgage mediation and modification might be your best solution. Contact us anytime to learn more information about Western Washington mortgage mediation, the fairness act, and how to avoid foreclosure.

 

20 Tips for Getting a Job During a Pandemic

20 Tips for Getting a Job During a Pandemic

This coronavirus health crisis has seemed to rock the job market overnight. Businesses are laying off workers, folks are worried about paying their mortgage and their bills, and about six and half million people have filed for unemployment. So what is this mean for folks that may have already started looking for jobs?

Those already on the hunt may want to put their job search on hold but others may have no choice. There are ways to look for jobs and tips to getting the right job during a pandemic. According to MSN Money, here are 20 tips for getting a job during the coronavirus pandemic.

#1. Review your online resume and profiles.

Double-check that all of your online resumes and profiles are up-to-date and that they all match. You want to ensure consistent messaging across the board.

#2. Update that LinkedIn profile with your accomplishments.

Get as many endorsements as possible and make sure that your linked in profile has the presence that you want spotlighting all of your achievements and accomplishments.

#3. Create a master resume and then trim when necessary.

Not every job application needs to have everything on it so have one master resume with everything and then scale it down when necessary depending on what the job is looking for.

#4. Update your resume and cover letter to reflect the current state.

It’s okay to pay attention to industry trends and update and adapt your cover letter based on things that are currently happening as well is the job that you are applying for. Are you able to adapt to the current state and quickly learn new ways of doing the job?

#5. Emphasize remote work skills.

Can you do your job completely remotely? Consider adapting the resume to highlight any previous remote work experience if possible.

#6. Consider a video resume.

A video resume can make you stand out from the competition and it should be less than a minute featuring you looking happy, professional, and talking about points in your resume that directly affect the job you are applying for.

#7. Consider an online course.

Simply by taking and completing some online courses it can give you the edge over the competition. Sharpen your skills or re-skill for a career change.

#8. Research the jobs that are in high demand.

You have to get strategic during this time. There’s a huge demand for delivery and healthcare workers as well as grocery store attendance and warehouse attendance. They may not be your ultimate dream job, but they are in high demand right now and you’re likely to get a job sooner rather than later.

#9. Stick to applications on companies that are actually hiring.

It may be difficult to get your dream job right now but stick to applications on companies that are actually hiring.

#10. Apply to 10 jobs every day.

Set aside time to apply to at least 10 jobs per day.

#11. Apply directly to a company website.

Off-site companies that post your resume such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Zip Recruiter, and Monster may be inundated with so many resumes that it’s a blur to potential employers. If you can go directly to the website, do it.

#12. Be flexible and open-minded.

If you’re serious about getting a job you need to keep an open mind about the opportunities you might find. You may not find a chance of a lifetime or you might… Your open mind can make the difference. You never know where an interest job may lead in the future, and maybe a more immediate future at that.

#13. Create a pitch deck.

Don’t focus on the past but focus on creating value immediately. This quick 3 to 4 slide presentation can outline what you may be able to accomplish in the first 30 days. This will really set yourself apart if you accompany it with your resume.

#14. Always be networking.

Even though you can’t meet with people face-to-face it doesn’t mean that you should stop actively networking. Set up 15 minute calls, Skype or Zoom at meetings, message people on LinkedIn, and build relationships. Someone is always hiring.

#15. Engage with potential companies on social media.

If you know what kind of job you want, zero in on the company’s leaders on social media without being annoying. You want to establish a good rapport by following them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media to become a member of their inner circle and social media tribe.

#16. Practice your video interview.

Most interviews will be done over the phone or over video so you might need to practice before that phone call comes in.

#17. Don’t lead with the reason you’ve been laid off.

Try not to focus on negative circumstances surrounding your last job. Employers obviously know you’re looking for a job and whether that means you’ve been fired, laid off, you’ve quit, or you currently have a job, may not be as important as why they need to hire you now.

#18. Don’t get greedy.

Many companies are on a tight budget right now so it’s important to be realistic. If you are aggressively negotiating or using the crisis for financial gain, employers will quickly shoot you down. You want to address your compensation needs, not wants early in the process.

#19. There may be a delay in correspondence… And that’s okay.

Companies may not get to you right away because of the current hiring climate but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t actively keep applying for jobs. As I mentioned before, apply to about 10 jobs a day and keep them organized in a spreadsheet so you know who you’ve applied to, when, and if there’s any correspondence in return.

#20. Be patient and stay positive.

There may be setbacks and disappointment because these uncertain times can leave a lot of things up in the air but have some grace, go easy on yourself, and take this opportunity to learn and grow to the process.

If you are at risk of losing your home due to foreclosure, mortgage mediation and modification might be your best solution. Contact us anytime to learn more information about Western Washington mortgage mediation, the fairness act, and how to avoid foreclosure.

Homeowner Relief from COVID-19

Homeowner Relief from COVID-19

While some of us still might be getting a paycheck others of us may not and with your mortgage payment looming that can be extremely stressful. With the outbreak of coronavirus, homeowners may find themselves in challenging situations unable to make their mortgage payments. 7 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck and have less than $1000 in the bank. This can bring on stressful times for those of us that still need to make our mortgage payment. So what kind of homeowner relief from COVID-19 is available?

According to Fannie Mae, if Fannie Mae owns your loan, their Disaster Response Network can help navigate the mortgage relief process and offer other solutions to financial challenges. If you need mortgage help, Fannie Mae is available.

If the coronavirus has caused you to lose your job or income there are options. Homeowners may be eligible for forbearance plans to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

Homeowners will not incur late fees during this time.

The credit bureau reporting of past-due payments of borrowers that are currently in a forbearance plan is suspended as well.

After the forbearance, a servicer must work with the borrower/homeowner on a permanent workout option to help maintain or reduce monthly payment amounts as necessary. This might include a loan modification.

Foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers are suspended for 60 days.

While we don’t think that this outbreak and quarantine will last for 12 months, it is important to act quickly. If you have a Fannie Mae loan and are unable to make your mortgage payments, you can contact their Disaster Response Network for assistance. Their HUD-approved housing counselor can assist you in your needs and come up with a personalized action plan.

If your mortgages to Freddie Mac, similar forbearance assistance may also be available.

CONTACT US TODAY

Because new mortgage rules with the coronavirus can change daily, it’s crucial that homeowners communicate with their lender about the latest options available to them. What might not have been available last week could be available today. The important thing is to keep you in your home, prevent or avoid foreclosure, and develop a plan for the next year ahead.

For more information on loan modification, questions on bankruptcy, and mortgage mediation, contact our office at any time.

Fear losing your home? Foreclosure looming?

Fear losing your home? Foreclosure looming?

You held out for this long but your lender has finally sent you the” letter.”  However, the letter talks about consumer debt counseling and mediation.  This is part of the Washington Foreclosure fairness act.  Lenders must inform you of your rights before a Foreclosure can be processed.  Bankruptcy is a valuable option to consider.  Understanding and knowing your options will help you to come out ahead.

Bankruptcies are on the decline?  You might think so as the economy recovers but bankruptcies are actually on the rise in many areas.  If you have recently been sent a letter from your bank or lending institution, it is time to contact an Attorney or consumer debt counselor that is recognized by the court system.

Whether you have been laid off, had medical issues with bills piling up, or just got in over your head with consumer debt, you are not alone.  Now you are afraid you are going to lose your home.  There are ways to help save your home.  Check out the New Washington program to help people just like you.  It is called the Washington foreclosure fairness act.  This act helps homeowners just like you to help are you negotiate with your lender.  It requires a wonder to notify you of the process before the foreclosure process starts.  The process includes consumer debt counseling and mediation with the lender.  You will need to have an Attorney or a debt counselor on your side to go into the mediation process.  Advantage legal group out of Bellevue can help you find your best option, walk you through the process, and hold your hand through the process.

It will become much clearer through the Washington foreclosure fairness act and with the aid of an attorney to be knowledgeable about your rights and responsibilities, and how to save your home.  First being in the mediation process actually stops the foreclosure.

Advantage Legal Group offers free seminars in Seattle and around the Puget Sound area.  These free seminars cover many options for distressed homeowners.  Knowing what options are available to you and what makes sense for your family will give you the confidence to go through the foreclosure process, mortgage mediation process, or short sales process.  These are only a few of the strategies that the seminar covers.  Understanding your financial situation and the types of strategies that are out there for you will help you to figure out your defense.  Is mortgage modification the option for you?  What is your best option, deed in lieu of foreclosure, mortgage modification, short sales, mortgage mediation, and what will your Foreclosure defense strategy be.

If after the seminar, you need more information Jonathan Smith a Seattle Bankruptcy  Attorney will schedule a free consultation with you to go over even more specific situations.

Additional Financial Resources:

 

Preventing Bankruptcies

Preventing Bankruptcies

We are in some unusual and unprecedented times right now but that doesn’t’ mean you can’t prepare and still have some time to plan.

People use the phrase “Practice good money management.”  However, what does this really mean?  Terms like impulse spending, realistic budgeting, and no high-risk investment are not part of the “good practice.”  Understanding what is good money management practices can help you in preventing bankruptcies.  Bankruptcy might be your only option but there are ways to prevent it.

How do you avoid impulse spending? 

  • Impulse spending is spending money on anything that is not a NEED.  Steps you can take to avoid impulse spending:
  • Cut up credit cards so you cannot use your credit.
  • Take your credit cards out of your wallet so you have time to think about a purchase you are going to make.
  • Ask yourself do I need this item or just want it.
  • Can I get this item somewhere else for less money?  Is an item available on Craigslist, E-bay, or a thrift store?
  • Discipline yourself to use credit only when you know you have money in the bank to pay off the total at the end of the month.
  • Tear up credit card offers.
  • Tear up credit card checks that your credit company sends in the mail.
  • If you have to use credit cards and you are not in a position to pay the total off at the end of the month pay more than the minimums.  If you can pay more than you put on the card that month.
    • Say you have$ 5000 in debt on a credit card and you bought $500 in stuff this month.  Pay $500 plus more when the bill comes.  This way you didn’t add anything to the card and if you did pay more then you are on your way to reducing the outstanding debt on the card.

What is Realistic Budgeting?

  • Write down what you pay each month for bills:  House payments, electricity, garbage, water, natural gas, home insurance, life insurance, medical insurance, car payment, cable, phone, internet, and whatever else is a reoccurring monthly expense.
    • Some expenses are every other month like garbage and natural gas.  Set aside an amount so that the total bill can be paid when it is due.  (If your natural gas bill is around 200 every other month set aside 100 on the month it is not due that will be used in the next month)
  • Budget for food, entertainment, gas, and misc. expenses
    • Know what your average spending is for food, entertainment, gas, and misc expenses.
    • Create a set amount (budget) for each category and stick to it.
      • This might take some collecting of receipts or writing down each purchase.
      • Some people have taken out money from their paycheck, put it in an envelope, and that is the money for food for the month.
      • Whatever will work for you, to stick to a set amount, and do it!

What are high- risk investments and how can I avoid them?     

  • Don’t incur debt with others who have questionable financial habits.
    • If they walk out on a debt your credit rating will be effected
    • Co-signing on loan is a high-risk investment – it might be helping a family or friend out but if anything happens to them, you are left holding the loan!
    • Interest-only loan payments are high-risk investments.  If you can only afford to make an interest-only home payment, then the house is out of your price range.

You may be looking at how to get out of debt and bankruptcy seems like the only way just remember these ideas so you will not have to file for bankruptcy again.  Contact advantagelegalgroup.com for more help.

Schedule a Consultation

 

Additional Financial Resources:

 

What Happens if the Bank Forecloses on My Short Sale?

What Happens if the Bank Forecloses on My Short Sale?

It happens quite often…more than you realize…that a home in process of a short sale is foreclosed on. It is a common misconception that the lender won’t file a foreclosure lawsuit against you if you are currently in the process of negotiating a short sale or loan modification.

Example:

Debbie lists her home for a short sale in November and receives a contract from a buyer. While waiting for the bank’s approval, at the end of April gets served with foreclosure papers. How can this be if she has a contract on the property?

It can be. And again, it is quite common. You should expect to get served with a foreclosure lawsuit four months or so after you stop making mortgage payments. When you try to complete a short sale, it more often than not takes a month or two to get it under contract and 45 to 90 days to get approval from the lender. If you fail to respond to the foreclosure within 20 days, you will be in default and will have waived valuable rights in defending the lawsuit in case the short sale falls through. It is recommended that you see an attorney about responding to the lawsuit.

With the right and proper sequence of actions, it is possible to get foreclosure postponed so that you can successfully short sale your home. It takes knowing when and how to be proactive.  Advantage Legal Group can help you determine the best course of action for your foreclosure situation.

For more information on mortgage mediation, foreclosure, short sales, bankruptcy and all things related to personal finance, check out Bellevue Bankruptcy Blog. These topics and issues can be confusing and stressful, but help is available! Contact us today!

More tips on Short Sales:

 

Defined Contribution Plans Offer Employees Great Retirement Potential

As a business owner, if you work with federal contracts, you already know that the landscape is riddled with potential compliance landmines. The government is very focused on compliance with all of the provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act. One area that companies often find troublesome relates to Defined Contribution Plans.

According to the United States Department of Labor, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) covers two types of pension plans: defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans. A defined benefit plan promises a specified monthly benefit at retirement while a defined contribution plan, does not promise a specific amount of benefits at retirement.

For you the business owner, that is an important distinction.  Often, contract employees might not understand that while the amount of money contributed by the employer, the employee or both is set as a percentage of total earnings, the fund is an investment and returns are subject to market related gains or losses.

What are Defined Contribution Plans? Well, two commonly known plans are 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Profit-sharing plans and employee stock ownership plans are also listed in this category.

In essence, individual accounts are set up for participants. The amount of benefit is determined by salary percentages and may come from contributions made by the employee or the employer. The yield of this kind of program is determined by the success of the investment earnings and is not guaranteed to grow. In fact, the principle values may actually be lessened if market trends are poor.

There are tremendous benefits for companies that use contracted labor, but compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act is essential for attaining and maintaining government contracts. Defined Contribution Plans are a great way of offering employees the potential for growth in their retirement accounts.

 

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Mortgage Mediation or Foreclosure?

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Mortgage Mediation or Foreclosure?

Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Mortgage Mediation or Foreclosure? – If your lender has failed to approve previous effort to modify your loan, often mediation is the best way to go. What is mediation? Foreclosure mediation is a meeting where a homeowner and mortgage lender negotiate potential modifications or other alternatives before an impartial Judge in an attempt to reach an agreement. And this kind of mediation requires the expertise of a lawyer.

Related: What to Expect in a Bank-Owned Home

Why hire a lawyer? The most common question asked when someone is facing foreclosure is, “What will give me the best chance to avoid this?” Although circumstances involved always vary greatly, the answer ALWAYS remains the same. And that answer is this, ” to fully and most completely use all your rights and remedies including foreclosure defense, loan modification, mortgage mediation, and bankruptcy, you MUST be represented by a foreclosure lawyer…an EXPERT foreclosure lawyer.”

Schedule a Consultation

You need a lawyer with TONS of experience and you need one NOW.  So, be sure to ask your potential representation how long they’ve been representing clients like you, how long their practice has been devoted to foreclosure prevention and then review evaluations of recent clients.  Remember, get to work on this immediately as delay, indecision and denial are the enemies of foreclosure prevention.

Beware of scams and make sure your lawyer is an expert. Anyone who generally guarantees they’ll save your home is either a scam artist or ignorant or both. Additionally, the person at the bank may be a brand new hire who knows nothing or someone who actually knows what they’re talking about. Either way, the next time you call, you may get the new hire. You want an expert, the same expert, and throughout the whole process.

An expert can help you understand the debt and tax consequences of a short sale, protect you from pitfalls and scams, assure you that, should foreclosure happen, you have the right to stay in your home for as long as your rights and remedies allow and enable you to plan where you’ll live next without fear of the sheriff showing up and ordering you to leave. An expert lawyer can also, in most cases, help you to be debt-free when you leave should foreclosure be inevitable in your case. And of course, an expert lawyer can help you come to an agreement with your lender that avoids foreclosure altogether.

Yes, these kinds of lawyers can be expensive but hiring an expert almost always benefits you not only financially but emotionally. The benefit of avoiding the loss of your home is obvious. But should you lose your home, remember, as mentioned before, there are pitfalls and scams to avoid and knowledge to be learned about debt and taxes that come with certain mediation agreements.

To contact an expert representative today, visit Advantage Legal Group.

Schedule a Consultation

The Foreclosure Fairness Act

The Foreclosure Fairness Act

The Foreclosure Fairness Act

A little known law helps protect homeowners from foreclosure even when their situation may seem dire. The Department of Commerce is trying to spread the word about this law and Advantage Legal is here to help.

The Washington State Department of Commerce put out a press release to let people know about this Act that helps primary residential owners go into mediation with banks via a counselor or lawyer and look at alternatives to foreclosure. It’s a great way for homeowners to get help without the frustration of getting lost in the paperwork.

What is the Foreclosure Fairness Act?

“The Foreclosure Fairness Program provides homeowner foreclosure assistance by offering free housing counseling, civil legal aid, and foreclosure mediation. The program, created by the 2011 Foreclosure Fairness Act, helps homeowners and lenders explore possible alternatives to foreclosure and reach a resolution whenever possible. The Act requires lenders to notify homeowners, prior to initiating foreclosure, of the availability of foreclosure counseling and the potential for mediation, and to participate in mediation with homeowners who have been referred to the Mediation Program. The program is funded through fees paid by financial institutions recording notices of trustee sale on owner-occupied residential real property in Washington state (some financial institutions are exempt from this fee).” [Source]

 

This Act is huge for homeowners who are scared of losing their home or frustrated with the process of trying to save it. This Act along with experts like those at Advantage Legal Group brings happiness and relief to many Washington families.

Each individual case is different but the Foreclosure Fairness Act and Advantage Legal were able to help one particular family who hasn’t paid their mortgage since March of 2015 and their unpaid amount plus their principal balance totaled approximately $511,488, with the help of the Act and Advantage Legal they were forgiven the amount of $256,488. WOW! That’s forgiveness of almost half of what they owed. They were also able to get their monthly payment cut almost in half and their interest rate went from 8% down to 5%.

These kinds of results are almost impossible to get on your own without the help of experts like Advantage Legal.  If you’re not sure if you qualify under this law,  you can go to advantagelegal.com or call their office at 1-877-mediation to get a free consultation to discuss your situation.

Start the Process or Learn More

For more information on related topics check out:

Should I File Bankruptcy?

What If I’m a Year Behind in My Mortgage Payments?

 

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