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.
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.
In a Media Release on April 3rd 2020 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a video on How the mortgage forbearance works under the cares act.
Due to the Covid-19 Outbreak many mortgage lenders are offering Forbearance assistance. Forbearance means your mortgage lender or bank may be willing to pause or reduce mortgage payments for a limited period of time. It does not eliminate your payment or erase what you owe on your mortgage. With a mortgage forbearance missed or reduced payments must be repaid at a future date.
It is recommended that if you are able to make or keep up with your mortgage payments, do so. A forbearance only delays the payments to a future time when you’ll have to make them up on top of your normal mortgage payments.
Here is the video regarding How Mortgage Forbearance Works Under The Cares Act that was released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB.
For information or questions regarding legal assistance for your home mortgage, mortgage mediation, mortgage modification or bankruptcy in Washington State including King, Snohomish and Pierce counties and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, Olympia and Western Washington:
Contact Advantage Legal Group in Bellevue at 425-452-9797
Defending Against Foreclosure
If you are facing the loss of your home or fear that you may soon be facing a foreclosure, a law firm can help you to develop a strategy that may include defending against the foreclosure, negotiating a modification, refinance, short sale, or implementing a strategic default plan. A Foreclosure Defense Law Firm assists clients in all stages of the pre-foreclosure and foreclosure process.
30 Days to Respond
It is important to act or seek assistance as soon as possible to ensure that you do not lose some of the many options you have when faced with a foreclosure. There are deadlines in the foreclosure process as well as certain requirements that the banks must follow, in order to successfully foreclose on a home. Once you are served with a summons and complaint from the bank, you have only thirty days to respond and defend against the foreclosure.
Defenses to Foreclosure
Challenge a foreclosure by bringing a defense such as unconscionability or lender mistake. Homeowners and their attorneys are challenging foreclosure actions in many different ways. Here are some of the most common defenses to foreclosure.
How to Raise a Defense to Foreclosure
Courts are sympathetic to challenges to foreclosure actions; attorneys are raising many different types of defenses. Below is a description of the most common of these.
Common Foreclosure Defenses
The Terms of the Mortgage Are Unconscionable – It usually is not enough to simply claim that the foreclosure is unfair; rather, you have to come up with a specific justification for your position that has previously been recognized by the courts.
You Are a Service member on Active Duty – If a foreclosure is initiated while you are on active duty, you can automatically receive a nine-month postponement.
The Foreclosing Party Did not Follow State Procedures – If your challenge is successful, the court will issue an order requiring the foreclosing party to start over.
The Foreclosing Party Can’t Prove It Owns the Mortgage- If your mortgage has been sold and bought by many different banks, lenders, and investors, proving just who owns it can be difficult for the last holder in the chain.
The Original Lender Engaged in Unfair Lending Practices- You may be able to fight your foreclosure by proving that your lender violated a federal or state law. Lenders violate TILA law when they do not make certain disclosures in the mortgage documents, including the annual percentage rate, the finance charge, the amount financed, the total payments, the payment schedule, and more.
The right to rescind the loan – the key remedy in foreclosure actions is the borrower’s ability to retroactively cancel or rescind the loan.
State-law remedies for “high-cost” loans – A few states have special protections for people facing foreclosure on “high-cost” mortgages.
The Mortgage Servicer Made a Serious Mistake – You may be able to challenge a foreclosure based on mistakes such as:
- Crediting your payments to the wrong party.
- Imposing excessive fees or fees not authorized.
- Substantially overstating the amount you must pay to reinstate your mortgage.
To learn more about these defenses and other ways to avoid foreclosure contact a foreclosure Defense Lawyer. A Foreclosure Defense Lawyer will:
- Provide you with a free consultation
- Review your documents and information
- Outline a strategy to defend your home
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.
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:
- Better options than a huge down payment
- How long will a bankruptcy keep me from buying a home?
- 8 Smart Money Moves to Make Now
- Are All Debts forgiven in bankruptcy?
- How do I Start a Bankruptcy?
- Is Bankruptcy Embarrassing?
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.
For more information on related topics check out:
If you have no idea where to start with mortgage mediation and you’re on the brink of losing your home, there are options and steps to take immediately in order to save your home and reduce your mortgage.
Many people may not even know about the Washington State Fairness Act. This is largely due to the fact that banks and lenders won’t tell homeowners their rights and options and simply let the home fall into foreclosure.
Most banks want to push foreclosure out beyond the first of the year so over the last 6 weeks many of these notices have gone out, more than 3 times the amount we saw in summer. For those that are receiving, I notice now they will be foreclosed on until February or March. This is because lenders don’t want to be the bad guy around the holidays. The Washington state fairness foreclosure act forces banks to come to the table with the assistance of an attorney or a housing counselor in order to modify or mediate the current mortgage. Not even the state will inform people about it because they just don’t have the money to advertise this law, so many homeowners lose out on their home when that could be saved the mortgage mediation.
Banks, housing counselors or bankruptcy attorneys negotiate to find some way that the homeowners can stay in their home and this is usually through mortgage modification. At Advantage Legal Group, many people have Artie tried to do this on their own and without a qualified housing counselor or bankruptcy attorney legally cannot be done. You must have one of these two mediators with you when negotiating with the bank according to the fairness act.
When you enter into mortgage modification you can save the homeowner hundreds if not thousands of dollars each year. One of the most recent examples was an Ocwen loan where the original payment was $2087 at an interest rate of 4.65%. Advantage Legal Group was able to negotiate a new payment of just $1100 at a new interest rate of 3.375%. This helps people to become current on their mortgage again and save their home.
Even if we can’t lower the payments significantly we sometimes can negotiate a lower interest rate. One recent loan through Bank of America with an FHA loan with an interest rate of 6.275%. Advantage was able to lower that to 2%.
If you’re struggling with what to do first, simply call Advantage Legal Group. We offer free over the phone consultations to find out if you qualify for mortgage mediation. If you’ve been told that you don’t have the right paperwork or documents or simply do not get a response from your lender, it’s time to make the move and contact a mortgage mediator or housing counselor necessary and required in order to negotiate your mortgage payment.
MORE: Where Do I Begin with Mortgage Mediation?
Mediation is when the lender and the borrower sit down with a court-ordered mediator, a third party, to look at options. Modification programs are often limited and hard to execute. Mediation is a good way to play it safe when you’re almost out of options to help cure any deficiencies in the process. With so many delinquent borrows currently nationwide, there are many opportunities for mistakes to be made. Borrowers can also get lost in the process and mediation personalizes for expedition and avoidance of mistakes.
Once the lender initiates foreclosure, you have the right to request mediation. The lender must send a “request for foreclosure mediation” form. You then have 25 days to complete the form and file it with the circuit court in the county or city where your foreclosure has been filed to have your request granted. You must also send the form to the attorney handling the foreclosure for your lender.
THINGS TO KNOW:
1) a non-refundable fee of $50 must be paid by homeowners to the circuit court when they file a request for mediation.
2) The fee and the “request for foreclosure mediation” form must be sent to the same circuit court that your foreclosure was filed in.
3) This is your one and only chance to request foreclosure mediation. If you do not submit your fee and form within the 25 days, you will NOT be given another chance.
4)Homeowners must be living on the foreclosed property to participate in the mediation program. It must be your primary residence. The mediation program is not for owners of foreclosed, rental or commercial properties.
For more information on related topics check out:
Who Says Life’s Not Fair? Two Things to Know About the Fairness Act
Okay. Okay. So, life’s not fair. It’s true. However, when things come around like the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act, life seems to seem a little fairer, a little brighter. This act or law helps bring homeowners back from the brink of foreclosure by forcing lenders to enter into face to face negotiations. There are two things to remember about the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act:
1) You MUST have representation to advocate for you. You cannot make use of the Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act without good representation. Why? Because you must have someone ( your attorney/representation) make a referral on your behalf so that Washington State commerce stops the foreclosure long enough for you to enter into negotiations with the bank’s lawyers. The reason you can’t do it yourself without an attorney is because they want you to be prepared. This is an adversarial process. The attorneys on the other side are not there to help you, therefore it’s imperative to have someone there who is.
2) It often takes more than just one meeting. The Washington Foreclosure Fairness Act actually only provides for one three hour mediation session, but it usually takes two or three of these sessions. In these sessions your attorney presents a package to your bank’s lawyers and lets them know how much you make for a living and what you can afford. They then negotiate back and forth until an agreement is made.
Ready to schedule a consultation? 425-452-9797 Or Contact Us Here
Why You May Need an Experienced Lawyer During Foreclosure
Life, unfortunately, isn’t always full of brightly colored rainbows and delicate butterflies and we might end up finding ourselves in a position where we are unable to pay our mortgage and fear the potential of facing the Foreclosure process. While it is believed that this process comes and goes with no possible way out you often don’t think that you will need any legal help, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. By using an experienced team of lawyers you will be able to look into multiple different options that are available to you as well as discuss in detail and ultimately decide which option is the best fit for you and your family. Mortgage Mediation, Mortgage Modification, Short Sales and even Bankruptcy are all options when you are facing a Foreclosure.
Fighting battles alone can often lead to success, although the changes may be slim, but when you have people fighting along side you, you have a better chance of winning. The main thing to understand is that your options are not limited. As individuals, we are scared of the notices we may see being plastered to the front door of our home, however, one thing to cling to is that many of these notices are simply scare tactics and aren’t legally able to advance the process whatsoever. By hiring the right team to support you, you will be able to fully understand what notices to look for, what notices are just scaring tactics, and what each notice means and how to proceed. Don’t let the multiple notices on your door fool you and discuss each notice with a professional so you are fully knowledgeable and aware of how the processing is accelerating and at what speed.
There are three different notices that will be posted that you will need to keep an eye out for:
Notice of Pre-Foreclosure Options, Notice of Default, and finally, Notice of Trustee Sale. Notices with any other titles will not hold a legal merit and will likely be there as an attempt to make the process go faster by your foreseeable forfeit of your home. To ensure you stay ahead of the game, contact legal professionals before these notices are posted when and if at all possible. You will be aware if your mortgage payments haven’t been made so contacting a legal team before the process starts will allow you to have more time to discuss the processes and ask questions so that you don’t feel rushed once the ball starts to roll.
[Related Post: The Difference Between Selling to an Investor VS. with an Agent]
Not only will you be able to ask questions, get answers and have a team fighting for you but you will also get the best representation during your Foreclosure. Stay on top of the game and be ready to catch the curve balls that are thrown your way. Facing Foreclosure is not the end and it is most certainly not the only way to resolve the problems you are facing. If you are in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, King County, Snohomish County or Western Washington, click here to get in contact with the lawyers that are standing by to assist you.
Having a great team behind you is important if you are planning on avoiding a foreclosure but there may be other options. Having an investor buy your home outright may also be a viable option. – Thank you to Peter Westbrook REI for our guest post this week. Peter buys properties as-is in any condition throughout northern California.
Why Do Mortgage Investors Deny Loan Modifications
The care of your loan is much more complicated than it appears. To some, this may sound funny because many of us do not think of a mortgage as simple on any level. Usually, when making your monthly payments you only deal with the servicer. They are responsible for taking payments, crediting the accounts, and taking the steps for foreclosure if the loan is in default. There is another party involved in your loan you may not be aware of.
This other party is generally invisible to loan holders because they do not communicate with you. This silent party has the biggest stake in what happens in your mortgage and that is the investor. They own the mortgage and earn a profit on the interest paid. Many homeowners don’t realize there is another party involved with the mortgage until there is a financial hardship and payments have not been made when the servicer relays information that the investor will not allow modification.
So why would an investor deny an attempt to make a new payment agreement through modification?
The modification of a loan requires the permanent change of one or more of the loan terms. Some of those changes may come in the form of lowered interest rates, longer loan terms, principal reduced, and lowered monthly payments. All of these things can mean less money for the investor.
Usually, when an investor denies the request for modification it is because they believe they can make more money if they foreclose on the loan instead of modifying. Making money is the reason the investor owns the loan and it is strictly business so they are going to look for the option to make more money.
If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan or your lender is another GSE they are required to let the servicer consider you for the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program more popularly referred to as HAMP. Other big banks that received government funds in the big bailout are also required to consider homeowners for HAMP.
Private investors, however, can play by a different set of rules and it can be more difficult to get a modification from them. They are not bound to the government requirements so when and if they give a modification it can be less helpful.
What can you do if your mortgage investor has denied your loan modification?
Get the help of an experienced attorney that deals in loan modifications. Usually, when you speak with the servicer you may be speaking with someone that does not know all the programs available out there or your rights as a homeowner. There is so much information to know about the modification process and the best thing you can do is to have an experienced loan modification attorney on your side who knows all the information and can help you get the best results.
Being denied a modification does not have to be the end of your attempt to stay in your home. You can reapply after rejection. For more information on how legal representation can help with your modification please contact the team at Advantage Legal Group.
Check out this week’s video blog:
What If I’m a Year Behind in My Mortgage Payments?
You may be behind only two months in your mortgage payments or up to two years behind! Wherever you may find yourself on that scale, the question is, what do you do and what’s going to happen? First and foremost, let’s be clear that it is vitally important that you keep in good communication from the get-go or as soon as possible. The longer you avoid notices due to embarrassment or denial, the worse things can get.
Lenders are usually very willing to work with you UNTIL a Notice of Default is filed. Once one of these is filed, it is very hard to work with your lender as they are looking out to protect their interest. So, be sure to communicate early and often. Also, keep a clear record of every time you communicate with your lender: the day you called, the name of the person you talked to and what you talked about. This can only help you later down the road. Remember, lenders do not want to foreclose, so if you’re unable to fulfill your mortgage obligation, contact your lender immediately so they can give you options to help you.
Options may include:
- –time to make up your payments. You may be granted something called forbearance, an agreement from the lenders to not take action against you while you work out a repayment plan that is affordable for you.
- -forgiving a payment. The lender may grant you debt forgiveness, which means they may let you skip a payment or two if you can prove that you will be able to pay thereafter. However, this rarely happens.
- –repayment plan. Sometimes you can spread the missed payments out over a longer-term. For example, if your mortgage is $900, you may pay $200 more a month until you’re caught up, temporarily making your payments $1100.
- -change the terms of your loan. Maybe your interest rate can be adjusted or maybe your amortization period can be extended.
- –refinance. You may be able to add the back payments to the balance of your loan if you have sufficient equity.
- -partial claim. Some government loans have provisions that allow the borrower to apply for another loan to pay back the missed payments if they meet certain criteria.
The above are routes of action if a Notice of Default has not yet been filed. if one has been filed, your remaining options are to reinstate your loan, sell your home, consider a short sale or sign a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
To learn more, contact Advantage Legal Group.
Ready to schedule a consultation? 425-452-9797
Or Contact Us Here
- Is a Short Term Rental a Better Option?
- How to Say Goodbye to Renting and Hello to Buying
- Why do Mortgage Investors Deny Loan Modifications?