New Analysis of 2009-2011 Census Data: For Wealthiest 7%, Assets Increased 28%, but for Remaining 93%, Assets Decreased 4%

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelp

A new analysis of Census Data by the Pew Research Center reveals that the wealth gap in the United States continues to grow, and that the “economic recovery” is mostly benefiting wealthy people.

For example, the mean net worth of the eight million households in the upper 7% increased by an estimated 28%, from $2.4 million in 2009 to $3.1 million in 2011.  In comparison, people in the lower 93% (111 million households) saw their mean net worth decrease 4%, from $139,896 in 2009 down to $133,817 in 2011.

This large difference is due mostly to the differences in assets.  For example, for households with a net worth of more than $500,000, 65% of their wealth is from financial holdings like stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts, while only 17% of their wealth is based on their home value.

In contrast, for household with a net worth of less than $500,000, half of their net worth is from their home, and only 33% is from financial holdings like retirement accounts.

The analysis also examined the time period from 2005 to 2009 (when the housing market crashed), and found that mean net worth declined by 12% for “households as a whole but remained unchanged for households with a net worth of $500,000 and over.”   For the over $500,000 group, they had a mean net worth of $1,590,075 in 2005; $1,585,441 in 2009, and $1,920,956 in 2011.

This data was interesting in light of the work we do at ForeclosureHelp- for many homeowners who live here in San Jose and Sunnyvale and who contact our program, they have already attempted at least once to ask their bank to modify their mortgages.  Unfortunately, modification requests don’t always go smoothly the first time (paperwork gets lost, etc), and many homeowners cite a list of reasons they don’t want to apply again (it’s been referred to as “modification fatigue”).

However, the analysis above clearly demonstrates that a house is the largest asset for most Americans, and that’s why we encourage homeowners to meet with one of our housing counselors who is certified in foreclosure prevention counseling.

The counselors know the programs like HAMP, HARP, or Keep Your Home California, and can work with you to understand your eligibility for these programs and to submit a modification request- even if you’ve asked for a modification before and were unsuccessful.

For more reasons working with a housing counselor makes sense, visit our earlier blog post:  Five Reasons Working With A Housing Counselor is Better Than “Going Alone”

En Espanol: ¿Por Qué Trabajar Con Un Consejero de Casa?

This post has also been popular with our blog visitors: Helpful Resources if You’re Facing Foreclosure By Foreclosure Help SCC

To read the full Pew analysis, visit: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

Foreclosure Help is a 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.

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.

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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 to request this accommodation.

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Another Possible Loan Modification Scam: They’re Alive and Well in California in January 2013

District Attorney cracks down on Loan Modificatoin Scams

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager, Foreclosure Help

According to a January 25, 2013 article in the Santa Maria Times, (DA’s office investigating loan modification/foreclosure fraud case) a fraud case involving an alleged loan modification/foreclosure consultant in the Santa Maria area is being investigated by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the article, the organization may have operated under the names Hermandad Hispanic Group, Crown Point Education, and America Asset Management.

If you are a homeowner who believes you have been taken advantage of by this company, the District Attorney’s Office is requesting that you contact District Attorney Investigator Jennifer Glimp at 737-7871. For Spanish speaking homeowners, contact District Attorney Investigative Assistant Maria Chavez at 346-7519.

If the allegations are true, this will be yet another sad case of homeowners who believed something that was too good to be true.   When homeowners ask us about loan modification companies, we remind them that it is illegal in California to charge an upfront fee for a loan modification.

Red lights for homeowners to look out for include:

  • A company that is being pushy and trying to sell their services
  • A person who promises to stop a foreclosure
  • Anybody who guarantees a loan modification

For homeowners who have been illegally charged an upfront fee here in Santa Clara County, Foreclosure Help will make referrals to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office (Real Estate Fraud Division) and we also will refer the homeowners to the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley who can work with homeowners and pro bono attorneys to seek restitution.

As a reminder, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  There is absolutely nobody who can truthfully promise or guarantee you a loan modification.   Your bank or servicer is the only entity that will make the decision about whether or not your loan can or will be modified.  It’s also important to know that your bank or servicer may be limited from granting a modification because of the investor who actually holds your mortgage.

When you stop paying your mortgage payments, the bank or servicer will file a Notice of Default, which is the first step in the foreclosure process.  This Notice of Default is public record (It’s filed at the Santa Clara County Recorder’s office- you can search records by name by clicking on the left side of the screen “official documents” and searching by grantor/grantee name), and so you will likely start receiving LOTS and LOTS of mail, phone calls, visits, etc. from “experts” who want to “help.”   Services like Foreclosureradar.com allow people to obtain contact information (and info about their mortgage) for homeowners in default and then contact them.

If you’re not sure where to turn, we recommend speaking with a HUD approved foreclosure counselor.  They can help you identify your options, discuss programs like Keep Your Home California or HAMP with you and make a plan forward.  The best part is that the counselors don’t have a financial incentive to guide you towards a certain outcome.  This means they can give you a unbiased, clear analysis of your situation and your options to avoid foreclosure.

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.

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.

La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California

La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en CaliforniaLa Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California se convirtió en ley el 1ro de Enero de 2013 para asegurar prácticas de préstamos justas para los propietarios en California.

Las leyes han sido diseñadas para garantizar un proceso de embargo de hipoteca justo y transparente para los propietarios. Las provisiones más importantes incluyen:

1. Restricción del seguimiento doble en el proceso de embargo: Las agencias que dan servicios hipotecarios están restringidas de continuar con el proceso de embargo si el propietario está trabajando un proceso de modificación del préstamo. Cuando un propietario completa la aplicación para una modificación, el proceso de embargo es pausado hasta que la aplicación haya sido completamente revisada.

2. Garantiza un punto de contacto único: Los propietarios se les garantiza un punto de contacto único mientras navegan el sistema y tratan de mantener su vivienda. –una persona o un equipo en el banco que conocen la verdad de su caso, tiene los documentos y pueden obtener una decisión sobre su solicitud de modificación de préstamo.

3. Verificación de Documentos: Los prestamistas que registren múltiples documentos no verificados serán sujetos a una penalidad civil de hasta $7,500 por préstamo en un recurso iniciado por un fiscal civil. Los prestamistas que estén en violación serán sujetos también a una sanción por parte de los organismos de otorgamiento de licencias incluyendo el Departamento de Corporaciones, el Departamento de Bienes Raíces y el Departamento de Instituciones Financieras.

4. Cumplimiento: Los prestatarios tendrán la autoridad de acceder a una compensación por violaciones “materiales” en las nuevas protecciones del proceso de embargo. Las reparaciones por mandato judicial estarán disponibles antes de una venta de embargo y la recuperación de daños estará disponible después de la venta.  (AB 278, SB 900)

5. Derechos de los inquilinos: Los compradores de casas embargadas están obligados a otorgar a los inquilinos un mínimo de  90 días antes de iniciar el proceso de desalojo. Si el inquilino tiene un contrato de arrendamiento por un tiempo fijo con fecha de inicio anterior a la transferencia del título de propiedad, el nuevo dueño deberá honrar el contrato de arrendamiento a menos que pueda demostrar que se aplican las excepciones con el fin de prevenir fraude. (AB 2610)

6. Herramientas para combatir legalmente el fraude hipotecario: El límite legal para procesar legalmente los crímenes relacionados a las hipotecas ha sido extendido de uno a tres años permitiendo a la oficina del Fiscal General investigar y procesar crímenes de fraude hipotecario mas complejos. Adicionalmente, la oficina del Fiscal General puede utilizar un gran jurado estatal para investigar y procesar a autores de crímenes financieros que involucren víctimas en múltiples condados. (AB 1950, SB 1474)

7. Herramientas para evitar la plaga: Los gobiernos locales y las entidades encargadas por mandato judicial tienen herramientas adicionales para combatir la plaga causada por múltiples casas no habitadas en los vecindarios, desde mayor tiempo para que los propietarios arreglen las violaciones al código, hasta medidas que obligan a los dueños de propiedades embargadas a pagar por el mantenimiento. (AB 2314)

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.

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.

Nuevos Detalles de la Revisión Independiente de los Embargos Hipotecarios: Que Bancos están incluidos y que bancos no están.

Revisión Independiente de los Embargos HipotecariosMas detalles salen a la luz acerca del remplazo de la Revisión Independiente de los Embargos Hipotecarios y seguiremos actualizando a manera que la Reserva Federal y la Oficina del Control de la Moneda anuncien mas información. Estimamos que serán varias semanas antes de que se sepan los detalles del programa actual y ha habido sugerencias de que los pagos a los propietarios no empezaran por lo menos hasta Marzo 2013. Los propietarios deben continuar revisando loa pagina web de la Revisión Independiente de los Embargos Hipotecarios Independent Foreclosure Review website y sospechamos que mayor información será publicada para finales de Enero de 2013.

1. ¿A cuanto asciende el nuevo acuerdo?  $3.3 billones serán distribuidos en pagos directos a los prestatarios elegibles, mientras que $5.2. billones adicionales serán otorgados en compensación a través de modificaciones de préstamos y perdón de juicios de deficiencia.

2. ¿Como se determinará la compensación? El Huffington Post (Foreclosure Review In New Settlement Leaves Homeowners In Banks’ Hands January 7, 2013 ha reportado que los bancos y las agencias que prestan servicios hipotecarios revisarán los casos de los 4.4 millones de propietarios cuyas viviendas fueron embargadas entre los años 2009-2010 y

harán una clasificación general de 11 categorías dependiendo del nivel de fraude durante el proceso de embargo. Prestatarios con préstamos embargados que están en la categoría de prioridad mas alta, como embargos ilegales hechos a miembros de las tropas de los Estados Unidos mientras en combate fuera del país, calificarán para pagos de hasta $125,000. Aquellos en el grupo de menor categoría, tales como préstamos con errores administrativos calificarán para al menos $250.

3. ¿Qué bancos están incluidos? De acuerdo al comunicado de prensa de la Reserva Federal e Federal Reserve press release, los participantes en este nuevo acuerdo “cumplirán con los requisitos de las acciones de implementación que manda que las agencias que prestan servicios hipotecarios retengan consultores que conduzcan una revisión independiente del proceso de embargo” ( en otras palabras, esto remplaza la Revisión Independiente del Embargo Hipotecario para estos bancos y agencias de servicio hipotecario)

  • Aurora Loan Servicing
  • Bank of America
  • Citibank
  • HSBC (added on Jan. 18th)
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • MetLife Bank
  • PNC
  • Sovereign
  • SunTrust,
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wells Fargo

4. ¿Qué bancos no están incluidos? De acuerdo al artículo publicado por el Huffington Post citado anteriormente, los siguientes bancos no están incluidos en el nuevo acuerdo y las revisiones continuarán para los propietarios cuyos préstamos fueron manejados por estas compañías:

  • Ally Financial,
  • EverBank,
  • OneWest Bank (formerly IndyMac bank)

El comunicado de prensa emitido por la Reserva Federal menciona “Las agencias continuarán trabajando para alcanzar acuerdos similares en principio con las otras agencias de servicio hipotecario que no son parte de este acuerdo anunciado el día de hoy, pero son también sujetos a acciones de ejecución por prácticas de servicio de hipotecas y proceso de embargos deficientes”

5. ¿Qué sucederá con los clientes de Litton y Saxon?  16 de enero 2013 Update: Litton y sajones han acordado llevar a cabo un proceso similar al de los 10 bancos / administradores mencionados al principio de este post, se puede ver una nota de prensa sobre sus asentamientos aquí: Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have reached agreements in principle with the Federal Reserve Board to pay $557 million in cash payments and other assistance to help mortgage borrowers.

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.

Independent Foreclosure Review Program is Replaced With New Settlement

Independent Foreclosure Review is Replaced

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

It is now official, the Independent Foreclosure Review program is being replaced with a program that will provide direct cash payments to homeowners that were foreclosed on inappropriately between 2009-2010.

According to a Federal Reserve press release: “A payment agent will be appointed to administer payments to borrowers on behalf of the servicers.  Eligible borrowers are expected to be contacted by the payment agent by the end of March with payment details.  Borrowers will not be required to execute a waiver of any legal claims they may have against their servicer as a condition for receiving payment.  In addition, the servicers’ internal complaint process will remain available to borrowers. “

Is this a success?  It’s difficult to say.  The administration of the Independent Foreclosure Review, and the outreach to eligible borrowers was roundly criticized, so this may be a better way to actually get the money to people who dealt with robo-signing issues.  For example, our program was still receiving phone calls from people after the December 31 deadline, asking how they could apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

Comments on our petition also highlighted the weaknesses in the outreach of the program, with one homeowner explaining that the letter she received looked like a scam letter, so she had tossed it aside until she saw a news program about the Independent Foreclosure Review the night before the deadline.

On the other hand, there is also a question about the actual amount of compensation that homeowners will receive.  Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times (“Surprise, Surprise, the Banks Win” January 5, 2013) suggests that depending on the number of people who receive the compensation, this may not be as beneficial to individual homeowners as the money they could have received from the Independent Foreclosure Review:

Some back-of-the-envelope arithmetic on this deal is your first clue that it is another gift to the banks. It’s not clear which borrowers will receive what money, but divvying up $3.75 billion among millions of people doesn’t amount to much per person. If, say, half of the 4.4 million borrowers were subject to foreclosure abuses, they would each receive less than $2,000, on average. If 10 percent of the 4.4 million were harmed, each would get roughly $8,500.

This is a far cry from the possible penalties outlined last year by the federal regulators requiring these reviews. For instance, regulators said that if a bank had foreclosed while a borrower was making payments under a loan modification, it might have to pay $15,000 and rescind the foreclosure. And if it couldn’t be rescinded because the house had been sold, the bank could have had to pay the borrower $125,000 and any accrued equity.

As a reminder, a study released in November 2012, found that 800,000 more homeowners should have qualified for the HAMP program, except that a few large banks and servicers were not modifying mortgages at the same rate as their more efficient peers.

ForeclosureHelp will continue to post information on our blog as we receive updates, but as of right now, it looks like March 2013 will be one of the big dates with this new settlement, when a payment agent will be appointed.

We are also hopeful that information for homeowners who had their loans serviced by Litton Loan Servicing and Saxon Mortgage will soon be posted to the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

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 Joseand 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.

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.

Helpful Resources if You’re Facing Foreclosure By Foreclosure Help SCC

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

As 2012 draws to a close, it’s worth taking a quick snap-shot of the past year.  Pete Carey wrote earlier this week in the San Jose Mercury News about the reduction in foreclosures during the month of November, and we hope that this trend continues.

We also want to highlight a few blog postings written for homeowners by the certified housing counselors who staff the ForeclosureHelpSCC program:

Time Sensitive issues for homeowners:

Independent Foreclosure Review:  The deadline for this program is December 31, 2012.  To learn more about this program (eligible homeowners could receive $500 to $125,000 plus lost equity), visit our earlier blog postings:

California Foreclosure Refund:  Also designed for homeowners who dealt with an improper foreclosure, but this program is limited to the big five banks.  The deadline for this program is January 18, 2013.  For more information, read our blog on it: California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement

Keep Your Home California: Unemployment Assistance Program.  Aurora Olivares, one of the housing counselors who staffs the Foreclosure Help program, wrote an excellent overview of this program: “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?”  With recent estimates that 400,000 Californians could lose their unemployment benefits unless Congress extends them, it is particularly important for homeowners who are unemployed to get their applications in NOW while they are still receiving unemployment.  A homeowner WILL NOT qualify for Keep Your Home California Unemployment Assistance program unless they are receiving or are approved for unemployment benefits.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act: This has not yet been extended, but we are hopeful that it will be tied into the current negotiations about the fiscal cliff.  For more information about why this is so important, visit: “Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side”

General Resources for Homeowners from our blog this year (A big THANK YOU to the certified housing counselors from Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, Project Sentinel, and SurePath Financial Solutions for writing these posts).

1) Credit Repair, Credit Issues, Rebuilding Your Credit, Pulling Your Credit Report:

2) How to work with your bank when you are seeking a modification:

3. Advantages of Working with a certified housing counselor from a HUD-approved agency:

4) Renting after a foreclosure or short sale:   Help with rental assistance after a foreclosure – What’s out there?

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.