New Presentation Explains Why Organizations and People Across the US Oppose the OneWest and CIT Group Merger

Did you have a mortgage from IndyMac Bank, OneWest Bank, or a reverse mortgage from Financial Freedom? Federal bank regulators are holding a public hearing about a proposed merger of CIT Group and OneWest Bank. If you’ve had negative experiences with OneWest or Financial Freedom, you may want to take a look at this blog post and consider emailing the Federal Reserve and OCC so they have an accurate picture of OneWest’s servicing practices.

California Reinvestment Coalition

If you’re wondering why people are opposed the the merger of CIT Group and OneWest Bank, watch this short Prezi!

It outlines the many problems with this proposed merger.  If, after viewing it, you’d like to weigh in with regulators, please visit CRC’s Resource page to get the two email addresses for the regulators who are reviewing this proposed merger.

CIT Merger Presentation

View the presentation by clicking on the picture above, or by clicking here: CIT Group and OneWest Proposed Merger: What You Need To Know.

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How does the California Homeowner Bill of Rights Help You?

Did you hear the recent news about a homeowner in West Sacramento effectively using the new California Homeowner Bill of Rights to stop foreclosure on his home?  You can read about it in the Sacramento Bee: “West Sacramento homeowner uses new state law to stop foreclosure (5/23/2013)” The Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley prepared a summary of the California Homeowner Bill of Rights which homeowners can use when working with their bank or servicer to apply for a loan modification.

Creative Commons License“How does the California Homeowner Bill of Rights Help You?” by Fair Housing Law Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at https://foreclosurehelpscc.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/how-does-the-california-homeowner-bill-of-rights-help-you/. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.(Reproducing the text below for commercial purposes is NOT allowed.)

CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNER BILL OF RIGHTS

California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR) adds new protections to help prevent avoidable foreclosures.  HBOR requires loan servicers and lenders to provide additional notices so that borrowers will know their rights and how to contact their loan servicer to obtain a loan modification or other types of foreclosure relief.

HBOR prevents “Dual Tracking” where loan servicers put homeowners on the foreclosure track, even when a loan modification application is being evaluated.  HBOR requires that servicers provide for a single consistent point of contact to help the homeowner through the loan modification and or foreclosure process.  HBOR also requires lenders to provide proper documentation before they can foreclose, and it gives borrowers tools to enforce their rights.

Before filing a notice of default (NOD), and at least 30 days prior to recording a NOD, the mortgage servicer must send a written notice to the borrower stating that if the borrower is a service member, or a dependent of a service member, he or she may be entitled to certain protections. The notice must also let borrowers know, (both military and non-military), that they have the right to request and obtain key loan documents, and their payment history.

If the lender has already filed a notice of default (NOD), the mortgage servicer must send a letter to the borrower within 5 business days of recording the NOD, notifying the borrower that he or she may be evaluated for a foreclosure prevention alternative; whether an application is required to be considered; and the process by which a borrower may obtain an application.

Key Requirements and Protections under HBOR

  • HBOR requires servicers to acknowledge receipt of your loan modification application and prohibits them from proceeding with the foreclosure process while evaluating your eligibility.
  • If you submit a loan modification application, the servicer must give you written acknowledgement of receipt of your documentation within 5 business days of receipt.  The notice must also provides information about the application process, advises    you of any missing documents needed to make the application complete and gives you a deadline for submitting those documents.
  • You must be informed one way or the other of your lender’s decision.  Borrowers who submit a completed loan application must get a “yes” or “no” decision from their servicer before the servicer can begin or continue with the foreclosure process. A denial must include a detailed explanation for their decision.
  • HBOR stops the foreclosure while you wait for a decision.  Once you’ve submitted a completed loan modification application, your servicer cannot file or proceed with a filed foreclosure until your lender has given you a decision on your modification.
  • HBOR stops foreclosure if you qualify for, accept and keep current on a loan modification.  If your lender says you qualify and you accept an offer, the lender cannot proceed with foreclosure, as long as you keep paying on time and as agreed in the modification.

You have 14 days to accept an offered first lien loan modification.  If you do not accept the modification, your servicer can proceed with the foreclosure process 14 days after the first lien loan modification is offered.

Loan servicers cannot charge you a fee to apply for a loan modification or other relief.

Late fees cannot be assessed for periods during which a completed loan modification application is under consideration, during an appeal, or while timely loan modification payments are being made.

If you are granted a modification or other relief and the loan is sold or transferred, the subsequent servicer must honor the agreement.

HBOR does not require a servicer to offer you a loan modification if it does not participate in any such program, or if you do not meet the applicable eligibility requirements.

The duty to offer an opportunity to apply for foreclosure prevention alternatives, if available through the lender, is limited to first lien loans.

The Fair Housing Law Project is a member of ForeclosureHelpSCC, a community program that assists homeowners and tenants facing foreclosure.  If you are facing foreclosure, there are certified professionals who can help you understand your options to avoid foreclosure, including through a loan modification.  Call the hotline: 408-293-6000, visit the website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org, or send an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org

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Foreclosure Help is a coalition program funded by the city of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the city of Sunnyvale, and we can directly assist homeowners  and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are facing foreclosure.   However, we are unable to assist homeowners/former homeowners in other cities and states.  If you need housing counseling, we suggest using the interactive map on HUD’s website.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org Our housing counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nuestros consejeros puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir. Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org. fair_housing_logo FAIR HOUSING AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY It is the policy of ForeclosureHelp not to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religious creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status (households with children under the age of 18), source of income, disability, medical condition or age. Color or “ethnic group identification” means the possession of the racial, cultural or linguistic characteristics common to a racial, cultural or ethnic group, or the country or ethnic group from which a person or his or her forebears originated. As required by law, we agree to take the affirmative steps needed to further fair housing. ForeclosureHelp will consider any and all requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of its rules, policies, practices, and services, and in the use of its physical structures, in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws. You can ask ForeclosureHelp to consider any reasonable accommodation you may have. Please consult with the Program Manager (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

Homeowners Say Customer Service is Still a Problem when They Contact Their Bank or Servicer

Lost documents, robo-signing, getting different messages from different bank departments, broken verbal promises for modifications, loan servicing being transferred, and unexplained modification denials- are these all things of the past with settlements like the Independent Foreclosure Review, Attorney General Settlement, and here in California, the new Homeowner Bill of Rights?

Not exactly.

At the national level, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently made its complaint database public and complaints about mortgage loan servicing issues represent 55% of the 90,000 complaints. The Bureau is making the data public and asking for people’s ideas on how to use the data.  As an example, the Bureau created a sort-able spreadsheet that allows users to sort by the type of complaint, company, etc.

HousingWire recently touched on some of these issues in their April 23rd article, “Loan mods, inaccessible websites irritate servicing customers the most.” The article describes Craig Martin’s recent presentation where he said that loan modification and inaccessible/difficult to maneuver websites are two top complaints of homeowners.   Martin is with J.D. Power and Associates, which publishes an annual rating on mortgage loan servicers.

In J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent survey of 5,623 homeowners ,  BB&T, Regions Mortgage, SunTrust Mortgage, Chase, and PNC Mortgage were ranked the highest quality.  In comparison, the five lowest rated banks/servicers were Aurora Loan Services, OneWest Bank (formerly Indymac), Homeward Residential, Nationstar Mortgage, and Ocwen Loan Servicing.   You can see the full chart of all the banks on page 4:  J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Amid Record-Low Interest Rates and Improved Loan Modification Programs, Customer Satisfaction Increases

If you live in San Jose or Sunnyvale and you’re struggling with your mortgage, you may want to sit down and meet with a housing counselor from ForeclosureHelp.  At your appointment, they’ll review your mortgage, your income/monthly budget, and then help you understand your eligibility for programs like HAMP, HARP, in-house modifications, and Keep Your Home California– a program that over 600 Santa Clara County residents have already accessed and used.

The services at ForeclosureHelp are paid for through a federal Community Development Block Grant from the City of San Jose and from a grant from the City of Sunnyvale- so there is no charge to the homeowner.

 Other resources to review:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns mortgage servicers about legal protections for consumers when transferring loans

The CFPB takes action against mortgage insurers to end kickbacks to lenders

Maggie’s Five Rules for Working with Your Bank or Servicer

California Monitor (for Attorney General Settlement with 5 largest banks) Website

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Foreclosure Help is a coalition program funded by the city of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the city of Sunnyvale, and we can directly assist homeowners  and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are facing foreclosure.   However, we are unable to assist homeowners/former homeowners in other cities and states.  If you need housing counseling, we suggest using the interactive map on HUD’s website.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

Our housing counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.Nuestros consejeros puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

fair_housing_logo

FAIR HOUSING AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

It is the policy of ForeclosureHelp not to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religious creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status (households with children under the age of 18), source of income, disability, medical condition or age. Color or “ethnic group identification” means the possession of the racial, cultural or linguistic characteristics common to a racial, cultural or ethnic group, or the country or ethnic group from which a person or his or her forebears originated. As required by law, we agree to take the affirmative steps needed to further fair housing.

ForeclosureHelp will consider any and all requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of its rules, policies, practices, and services, and in the use of its physical structures, in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws. You can ask ForeclosureHelp to consider any reasonable accommodation you may have. Please consult with the Program Manager (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

ForeclosureHelp Update: CitiGroup and Wells Pause Foreclosures; MN Passes Homeowner Bill of Rights; NY AG Updates Complaint Against BOA and Wells for Violating AG Settlement

It has been a busy week for developments related to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.

On May 17th, American Banker broke the news (“Wells, Citi Halt Most Foreclosure Sales as OCC Ratchets Up Scrutiny”)  that Wells Fargo and Citigroup were halting foreclosures in some states after receiving new guidance from their regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. (read the guidance here). According to the article, JP Morgan Chase had suspended foreclosures, but has re-started them.

While this “pause” is temporary, it does raise questions from housing advocates and homeowners who have suggested that banks and servicers are still failing to comply with new regulations around mortgage loan servicing, and dual tracking (processing a foreclosure and modification at the same time) abuses.

For example, the California Reinvestment Coalition’s latest survey (they’ve done nine since the foreclosure crisis started) of housing counselors in California found that homeowners and housing counselors are still dealing with multiple contacts at the bank, instead of the “Single Point of Contact” (SPOC) that is mandated by the recently enacted Homeowner Bill of Rights: “Over 70% of responding counselors reported that SPOC’s were “never,” “rarely,” or only “sometimes,” accessible, consistent or knowledgeable.” Read the full survey here: “Chasm Between Words and Deeds IX: Bank Violations Hurt Hardest Hit Communities

Homeowners here in San Jose and Sunnyvale, California who contact ForeclosureHelp for our free housing counseling services (the program is paid for through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and through funding from the city of Sunnyvale) have reported similar issues with their Single Points of Contact and not receiving return phone calls from them.

As HousingWire reported earlier this month, (“California Homeowner Bill of Rights blocks BofA foreclosure”), the protection against dual-tracking under the CA Homeowner Bill of Rights was recently used for a California homeowner who obtained an injunction against Bank of America foreclosing on his home. His attorney told HousingWire that he estimates the expenses for Bank of America for this case could easily hit $60,000.

Joseph Smith, who is the National Monitor for the AG Settlement, is expected to release a report shortly that will detail if and how well the banks are meeting the requirements they agreed to under the national AG settlement. Meanwhile, the Attorney General for the state of New York, Eric Schneiderman, has announced that he is revising his complaint against Wells Fargo and Bank of America for their alleged 339 servicing violations under the AG settlement. From American Banker: “ N.Y. AG Revising Foreclosure Settlement Complaint Against B of A, Wells

The common sense protections included in California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights appear popular in Minnesota, with the Minnesota Star Tribune reporting that a bill with similar protections has just passed their House of Representatives and has already passed the Minnesota Senate: “House passes Homeowners Bill of Rights

We’ll close on a positive note from Freddie Mac, which announced that its new Streamlined Modification program is immediately available for homeowners who are facing foreclosure and whose loan is owned by Freddie Mac. Through this program, servicers will send modification offers to borrowers who are at least 90 days late, but no more than 720 days late, and whose loan is at least 12 months old. The borrower will have to make three on time payments during a trial period, and then they will be offered a modification. Servicers can reduce the monthly mortgage payment by lowering the interest rate, extending the loan to 40 years, and also through forbearing principal (not the same as a principal reduction- this is more like a balloon payment ). For more information, read their press release: “Freddie Mac Announces Immediate Availability of Streamlined Modification for Delinquent Borrowers

Foreclosure Help is a coalition program funded by the city of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the city of Sunnyvale, and we can directly assist homeowners  and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are facing foreclosure.   However, we are unable to assist homeowners/former homeowners in other cities and states.  If you need housing counseling, we suggest using the interactive map on HUD’s website.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

Our housing counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.Nuestros consejeros puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

fair_housing_logo

FAIR HOUSING AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

It is the policy of ForeclosureHelp not to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religious creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status (households with children under the age of 18), source of income, disability, medical condition or age. Color or “ethnic group identification” means the possession of the racial, cultural or linguistic characteristics common to a racial, cultural or ethnic group, or the country or ethnic group from which a person or his or her forebears originated. As required by law, we agree to take the affirmative steps needed to further fair housing.

ForeclosureHelp will consider any and all requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of its rules, policies, practices, and services, and in the use of its physical structures, in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws. You can ask ForeclosureHelp to consider any reasonable accommodation you may have. Please consult with the Program Manager (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

Six Things I wish I would have done differently: How to Avoid Foreclosure in San Jose and Sunnyvale

Foreclosure Regrets in San Jose and Sunnyvale

By Sean Coffey, Program Manger, Foreclosure Help

Unfortunately, some of the homeowners who call Foreclosure Help have already lost their house to foreclosure or are so close to a trustee sale that their only option to delay a trustee sale is to file bankruptcy.  Based on these conversations, we are providing a few points that might be helpful for people who are starting this process.  This is not legal advice/financial advice, and if you have questions, call us.

1) Deal with the problem earlier.   Meeting with a housing counselor can be one of the first steps to dealing with the problem.  Is the housing counselor going to have 100% good news?  Not necessarily, but they will provide you with a clear, unbiased,  analysis of your situation and what state programs (like Keep Your Home California) and federal programs (like the Making Home Affordable Program) could be helpful with your situation.  For example, if you were recently laid off, the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program, part of Keep Your Home California, could pay your mortgage for up to nine months while you secure a new job.   If keeping the home isn’t an option, counselors can discuss things you need to know about a short sale, and also discuss transition assistance programs, like Keep Your Home California’s Transition Assistance Program.

2) Made this process a priority.  There’s an old saying: “Nobody cares about your home like you do.”  If you are trying to address the situation, you’ll need to 100% engage in the process and “be in the driver’s seat” to make sure that the process continues moving forward.  You should not rely solely on your bank or your housing counselor to handle the problem for you. They are part of the process, but you need to be the driving force, making follow-up phone calls, checking in with your bank or servicer, and making sure that you spending sufficient time with the process, and that you are the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” 

 3)  Worked with a housing counselor from the beginning.  Our society has become very specialized- think about the number of specialized services that you rely on in a given week.  You have your car fixed by a mechanic because they know what they’re doing.  In working with a counselor from a HUD-approved agency, you are getting specialized services from a trained professional, who is bringing the skills, training, and contacts that can make the difference in getting your loan modified, getting honest advice about your situation, and escalating your case at the bank when necessary.   Housing counseling agencies are paid for through government and private grants, and this means they don’t have an incentive to “sell” you on a particular option.   Instead, they’ll give you an honest evaluation of your options and empower you to decide what you want to with your home.

 4) Got all of my paperwork together.   You are essentially asking the bank or servicer to re-write an IOU.  To do this, they are going to need all of your documents they requested, and you have a much higher chance of success if you get all of the documents together, send them all in at the same time, and have confirmation from the bank or servicer that they received the paperwork.   Are you going to send this paperwork in more than once?  Probably.   If you want the modification process to move forward, you need to get all of your paperwork together, organized, and into the bank or servicer, and getting it in a few days ahead of the deadline will give you a “buffer” in case the paperwork gets lost along the way.   Don’t forget to call 2-3 days after you mail in your paperwork, and confirm that they received all of the paperwork and that there is nothing else they need.

5) Not believed the “too good to be true” scam artist who promised to modify my loan.   It seems unbelievable that there are still scam artists going after homeowners in desperate situations.  And yet, we still see examples of these letters every week from homeowners who received them in the mail, with offers to modify loans or provide other “assistance.”   Phone calls, house visits, and even word-of-mouth referrals are another way that scam artists will contact you.

Reasons you should view all offers of “help” critically:

  • It is illegal in California to charge an upfront fee to modify a mortgage.
  • The foreclosure process doesn’t stop just because you hired a scam artist.   If you hire a scam company, and it takes you three months to figure out that they took your money and didn’t do anything, you are now 3 months into the foreclosure process, with fewer options, and more pressure from the bank.
  • If you’re spending money paying a scam artist, that’s less money that you have to pay your mortgage.
  • They will say whatever you want to hear, regardless of whether or not it’s true.  It would be great if 100% of people were going to get their loans modified, but the reality is that there are a number of other variables (like the NPV test, your income, who the investor is, whether or not your bank is participating in government programs, the size of your mortgage, etc) that will determine if and to what extent your loan is modified.  For these reasons, anybody who promises a loan modification is telling you a lie in order to get your business- and you should run away from them (and report them to the District Attorney).
  • There are FREE housing counselor services available that are paid for through a government grant. These skilled, experienced, counselors are from agencies certified by the federal government (HUD), and will provide you an unbiased analysis of your situation and options.

6)  Made a contact at the bank or servicer.  Think about all the jobs you’ve had.  Were there ever situations where your authority or discretion could help or hurt a customer?  Or, where you could share information with a customer that would help them better understand a process, product, or timeline?  Think of the waitress who tells you “No, you don’t want that meal, this other meal is our most popular.”  Now, apply that to your experience with the customer service person at the servicer or bank. If you can make “friends” with the person, they may be willing to share tips or strategies with you that can help you in this process.

While the new California Homeowner Bill of Rights  (Spanish: La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California and Vietnamese: Luật Dân Quyền cho Chủ Nhà ở trong Tiểu Bang) California mandates a single point of contact (and you should remind your bank or servicer about this), it’s also a good policy for you to try and develop a single point of contact at the bank who knows your story and who will be there throughout the process.

If you have questions, please contact your housing counselor directly, or call Foreclosure Help at 408-293-6000 or email us: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.  You can also visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

If you are struggling with foreclosure in San Jose or Sunnyvale, please give us a call. The sooner you pick up the phone, the sooner we can help, and the earlier you start in the process, the more options you will have to create a plan forward.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.

Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Five Important Policy Updates For California Homeowners and Tenants in 2013 Related to Foreclosures, Short Sales, and the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights

New Laws in 2013 for California Homeowners

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

1) Independent Foreclosure Review: The New York Times broke the news on December 31 that the Independent Foreclosure Review may be replaced.  The article explains that regulators and banking officials have been meeting in hopes of designing a less cumbersome, less expensive way of compensating homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by their banks or servicers.  During the few weeks leading up to the December 31st deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review, we received an increase in phone calls and google searches which went to our blog pages explaining how to apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

However, we were also very concerned about the many shortcomings of the review (read our compilation of media reports at a previous blog posting: “7 Reasons to Postpone the Independent Foreclosure Review”), and so we created a petition on Change.org asking regulators to postpone the deadline until after they had released the results of at least 215,000 cases.   The regulators in charge of the program have not yet released any information about their plans, and we suggest that homeowners and former homeowners continue watching the news, checking our blog, and checking the website for the Independent Foreclosure Review for any updates.

2) Mortgage Debt Forgiveness: Housing Wire reports that the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act was extended for another year.  This is an important policy win for homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages because without this extension, debt forgiveness from a modification, short sale, or foreclosure would have been taxed in 2013. For more information, visit our previous blog: Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side

3) Unemployment benefits were also extended as part of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations.  Homeowners in California who are struggling to pay their mortgage should consider applying for the Keep Your Home California Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.  More information at our previous blog here: “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?”

4) The California Foreclosure Refund deadline is fast approaching- it’s January 18, 2013.  As part of the Attorney General Settlement, there is a foreclosure refund for homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by one of the large five banks (Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).  For more information, see our previous blog: “California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement”

5) Homeowner’s Bill of Rights:  This set of laws went into effect on January 1, 2013, and are designed to address the many loan servicing abuses that homeowners have experienced since the foreclosure crisis began.  These include “dual-tracking” (processing a foreclosure while a modification request is also being considered), having to speak with multiple people at their bank or servicer (banks and servicers are now supposed to provide a single point of contact), and other provisions.  In addition, when a person purchases a foreclosed home in California, if there are existing tenants, the new owner must give them a 90 day eviction notice.  This is an additional 30 days more than the previous 60 day requirement.  For more information, visit the Attorney General’s website: California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

I wrote my master’s thesis on similar legislation enacted in North Carolina, and one of the big “take-aways” from my research is that these types of laws are only effective to the extent that homeowners know about their rights under the law, and have the knowledge to complain to regulators when the law isn’t being followed or the ability to hire an attorney and sue their bank or servicer.  So, ForeclosureHelp will be making strong efforts to educate homeowners about their rights under this new legislation.

California Homeowners should also know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also proposing mortgage servicing regulations, nicknamed the “no run-around” rules.  Homeowners can also file a RESPA request if they are seeking information from their bank or servicer, or if there is a dispute about payments being credited, etc.  For more information, see our previous post: “New Mortgage Servicing Rules Proposed- What Does it Mean for You? Part 2 of 2”

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.   Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.