The Home Affordable Modification Program’s Paltry Lifeline

A Slack Lifeline for Drowning Homeowners

JULY 31, 2015 By GRETCHEN MORGENSON

“After Lucy Circe became disabled and could no longer work, she applied to Bank of America for a mortgage loan modification on her Vermont home. Over more than two years, starting in 2012, the bank repeatedly requested copies of documents that had already been provided, asked for proof that she was no longer married to a man she did not even know, and made other errors, like asking why Ms. Circe had indicated that she didn’t want to keep her property when she had actually told the bank she did….” READ MORE HERE.

Contact an Aggressive Foreclosure Defense Lawyer at Shaffer & Gaier Today

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Foreclosure Settlements for Pennsylvania Homeowners

We recently settled two contested cases involving a family home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The set of facts required that I file an action against Chase Bank in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and it is my belief that the Federal Court litigation is what spurred the global settlement.

My clients had owned their home for nearly 20 years and always paid their own local property taxes. My client was out of town for three months tending to her elderly mother and they missed a tax payment by two weeks. They quickly made up the late payment, but when Chase found out that it was late, Chase took it upon itself and mailed its own tax payment to the township. This then caused a domino effect of confusion, but ultimately ended up in Chase charging my client an additional $20,000 for the next year of taxes (so Chase could hold it in reserve), even though my client was always ready, willing, and able to pay the taxes. My client spent hours and days on the phone with Chase trying to explain that it was a one-time occurrence and therefore was no need to surcharge her the $20,000. She got nowhere.

While my client was trying to work things out with Chase, Chase filed a foreclosure action in Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. I responded to that lawsuit and we litigated that case for about 18 months; at the same time, I filed a lawsuit against Chase for wrongful foreclosure, claiming that my client did not breach the mortgage contract, but rather it was Chase that did. We conducted depositions and engaged in extensive motion practice, but then Chase reached out with a settlement offer which reduced the principle balance on my client’s property by $235,000. Chase, however, required that my clients pay off the mortgage in full (this is called a short-payoff) and my clients are able to do that by securing other sources of financing.

We stipulated in the settlement agreement that Chase would file a mortgage satisfaction, which was done approximately 45 days after my clients paid off the loan.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

U.S. Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Homeowners

In 2007, a couple from Minnesota, Larry and Cheryl Jesinoski, refinanced their mortgage with Countrywide. Exactly three years later the Jesinoskis tried to rescind the loan by writing a letter to Bank of America Home loans, which purchased Countrywide during the housing crisis. This meant that Larry and Cheryl, through the Truth in Lending Act, had the right to cancel their mortgage as long as they did so within three years after the transaction was completed.

Yet, Bank of America tried to block the rescission and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled in favor of the bank, stating that the borrower must not only give notice but also file a lawsuit within three years. However, on Tuesday Jan 13, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the couple, with Justice Antonin Scalia interpreting the law, stating that it without a doubt requires only a notification of rescission within three years and not litigation. Please note that when a loan is rescinded, however, the homeowners often have to give the mortgage loan funds and fees back to the bank or lender.

Contact Philadelphia Foreclosure & Mortgage Modification
Attorneys Shaffer & Gaier

To set up an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Your first consultation is free of charge. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Wells Fargo Foreclosure Lawsuit

My client was offered a loan in 2007 by a broker who worked with Wells Fargo. His income at the time did not really support the loan, and he was hoping that the real estate would lift the value of his home. This, unfortunately, did not happen and over time, he was no longer able to keep up with his mortgage payments. As required by law, the bank sent a Notice of Intent to foreclose which notified my client how much he owed on the mortgage in order to make it current. Wells Fargo filed a Foreclosure lawsuit in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in 2010. I defended the lawsuit, and after motion practice and quite a bit of discovery, Wells Fargo withdrew the lawsuit. Three months later, however, Wells Fargo initiated a new lawsuit, again in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

Wells Fargo, however, did not send my client a new and updated Notice of Intent to foreclose before they filed the second lawsuit. After discovery, the bank filed a motion for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion which gave the bank the right to foreclose. I argued that Wells fargo was required to send my client a new, updated Notice of Intent, and since they did not, then the foreclosure was unlawful.

I filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court on the grounds that the lender was required to send an update Notice of intent before they filed a second lawsuit. Wells Fargo opposed the motion by claiming that it was nothing more than a formality and since the first Notice of Intent was sent, there was no need to send a revised one.

The Superior Court agreed with me and reversed the trial court’s order of summary judgment. Wells Fargo filed a motion for reconsideration which was denied on January 4th, 2015. I expect there will be an appeal to the Superior Court. The current status is Wells Fargo is attempting to take ownership of the home upon which they wrongfully foreclosed so I am considering filing a lawsuit against Wells Fargo to redress my client’s damages. -Michael Gaier

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Make Your Home Affordable

According to the US Census bureau, there are over 75 million homeowners in America; homeowner, however, is a broad term used to encompass many Americans on all different “levels” of homeownership. Based on a study conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, of these 75 million homeowners, only 40% of the homes were paid off. Therefore 60% of US homeowners are essentially still paying a monthly bill for their homes and do not hold the deed that equates to actual ownership.

Be it that 45,000,000 American homeowners do not in fact actually own their homes, foreclosure is an ominous threat lurking at a vast number of doorsteps. With the aftershock of the recession still weighing heavily on our economy, an increasingly large number of Americans are finding their once affordable monthly mortgage payments are now incredibly unaffordable. As overwhelming as it is to realize that once seemingly reasonable mortgage payments now exceed your budget, it is important to never forget that help is available through a variety of channels for homeowners just like you. Specifically, a loan modification is a permanent change in the original terms of your loan that result in a payment you can afford. The Home Affordable Modification Program, commonly known as H.A.M.P., is a federal program specifically designed to offer loan modifications to eligible homeowners in mortgage debt

Been turned down before? Don’t panic. Many changes have been made to these programs to maximize the eligibility and assist as many borrowers as possible in retaining their homes. Don’t lose your home to due to circumstances out of control. It’s worth it to get the help that you deserve.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Your first consultation is free of charge. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Foreclosure – Not so Straightforward

Based on a recent study conducted by RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings for the year 2013 totaled 1.36 million properties in the continental United States. Although this number has decreased by approximately 26% from 2012, the total number of Americans facing foreclosure is vast. Although it has been calculated that 1 million Americans are involved in active foreclosure proceedings of all stages, these numbers fail to account for homeowners living in fear of foreclosure proceedings that have not yet been instituted.

Although the term “foreclosure” is becoming ever prominent in the daily vocabulary of far too many Americans, the actual legal steps of the process still remain a mystery for the Americans directly involved in this nationwide crisis. Furthermore the help that is available feels elusive for those who are in desperate need of it. If you find yourself facing foreclosure, know that you are not alone and do not wait any longer to seek the help that you deserve. Take advantage of the many private and government funded programs that will allow you to retain your home. Help is available to you no matter what stage of foreclosure in which you find yourself.

In fact, Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that offers state-funded loan programs designed to help homeowners who, because of extenuating circumstances, have found themselves trapped in the foreclosure process and are worried about losing their homes. Pennsylvania even offers a specific state assistance program and there is help available for everyone through government programs that are specifically designed to help homeowners retain their homes.

HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, is one of these types of programs. Originally developed in 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Department of the Treasury, this program is designed for homeowners who owe more than the estimated worth of their home. As the foreclosure crisis grew in America following 2009 HARP grew too; this program was expanded in 2011 in order to maximize eligibility and help as many homeowners as possible. These are not the only options to help homeowners currently involved in this nationwide crisis. The point is, however, that homeowners should deal with foreclosure issues as soon as possible, but if need be, help can also available in the later stages.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

PA SUPREME COURTS ALLOWS DEFAULT TO STAND AGAINST BANK OF AMERICA

As an update to a blog I posted in January, 2014, in which I discussed a default judgment I secured for my client against Bank of America, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just ordered that the default judgment shall remain in place. I filed a lawsuit against Bank of America in Delaware County, PA for predatory lending and unfair trade practices. The bank failed to answer the lawsuit and I moved for a default judgment. Of course, the bank appealed, asking the trial judge to allow it to file an Answer, but the trial judge refused. The bank unsuccessfully appealed to the Superior Court and then to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, also unsuccessfully.

This means that the case can now proceed to a jury trial to determine the amount of my clients’ monetary damages. Certain discovery issues need to be worked out; primarily I am in the process of securing testimony from a Bank of America Corporate Representative regarding the net worth of the company in 2012 and 2013.

This is because I included a claim for punitive damages, which are used to punish the defendant for wrongful conduct. One of the ways that a jury is allowed to and able to determine an appropriate dollar amount for damages is to consider the net worth of the defendant. The Bank is, of course, objecting to such an inquiry, and is not agreeing to produce such a representative; again, the trial judge will decide the scope of the deposition testimony. I am hopeful for trial in January/February 2015. I will keep you posted.

Contact the law firm of Shaffer & Gaier, LLC

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

Rental Property Foreclosure Lawsuit – Philadelphia

We represent a woman who owns a rental property in Philadelphia. I took the case over from a lawyer who responded to the bank’s lawsuit, but there was very little done in the way of discovery. The case was called for trial on July 8, 2014, and the bank, Bank of America, flew in one if its corporate witnesses to testify at the trial. In my client’s Answer to the foreclosure lawsuit, her previous lawyer admitted that she signed a Mortgage Note to repay Bank of America $93,000. Based on this, the bank’s witness did not bring the original Note to the trial.

The problem for the bank, however, is that the plaintiff in the lawsuit was a Wall Street trust, U.S. Bank National, as trustee, who acquired the Note in the securitization process. This means that the Mortgage was owned by the Trust, and not by Bank of America. Without bringing the Note to trial, which presumably would show that the Note was “negotiated” or transferred from Bank of America to the trust, I moved for a non-suit during the trial at the close of the bank’s evidence. I successfully argued that the Plaintiff did not prove that it had standing to enforce the Mortgage and Note because there was no evidence before the court that Plaintiff’s trust owned the Note (or the debt). The Honorable Idee Fox requested legal briefs on the issues, and then after oral argument, the court granted my motion for a non-suit and the foreclosure action was dismissed. It is not expected that the bank will appeal this action, and their only recourse will be to start the entire process over and file a new foreclosure lawsuit.

Contact Our Office

We provide a free initial consultation to anyone with concerns about foreclosure or who is involved in foreclosure proceedings. To schedule an appointment, call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660 or contact us online. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home if necessary to meet with you.

FORECLOSURE ERRORS CONFIRMED

On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, a Federal regulator confirmed that the biggest banks committed widespread errors when dealing with homeowners who faced foreclosure at the height of the mortgage crisis. The report released by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was really a post-mortem of the earlier-released Independent Foreclosure Review, a very expensive review though limited in scope, of how the banks mistreated homeowners in the foreclosure process.

Almost 10% of the errors discovered in the review involve situations when banks improperly denied loan modifications that would have prevented a foreclosure filing in the first place. Many of these errors involved administrative flaws and improper fees being charged to the homeowners during the foreclosure process. In 2013, however, 15 banks settled with banking regulators making payments that totaled $3.9 billion, paid out to more than 4 million homeowners (averaging about $1,100 per household). These settlements ended the Independent Reviews, and the banks agreed to pay homeowners regardless of whether they had been harmed. The banks and regulators agreed to halt the review process because it was so expensive and lengthy, even though only a small fraction of the mortgage files were reviewed.

The report released on April 30 showed that the banks had made even less progress in the reviews than was previously disclosed. For example, Bank of America reviewed only 6% of its files, yet revealed a financial error rate of nearly 9%. Wells Fargo examined less than 10% of its records, and found an error rate of nearly 11.5%. Parties on both sides of the crisis were not pleased, and one reason could be that the decision to cut short the review left regulators with limited information about actual harm to borrowers, even though there was a multi-billion dollar settlement.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier – Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

New Jersey Resident Wins Damages Against Predatory Lending Practices

The average homeowner does in fact have recourse against the big banks when it comes to mortgage fraud and foreclosure defense. Goods news comes this past January from a ruling by New Jersey Chancery Judge Peter Doyne that says Wells Fargo committed actionable fraud and predatory lending.

The case involves Oscar Montesdeoca, of New Jersey. Evidently, Montesdeoca was persuaded to borrow $600,000 pus dollars for a three-bedroom home at interest rates that ranged from 7.75 percent to 14.35 percent.

The ruling is considered a significant victory in the battle against predatory lending practices in New Jersey, where another home foreclosure occurs every eight minutes! In the case in question, the mortgage for the home was $4800 a month. However, Montesdeoca earned between $500 and $600 a week, with his wife working for $7.00 per hour. They could not possibly have covered the mortgage, which ended up being $5700 a month, including insurance.

It was determined that the loan officer who worked with Montesdeoca had promised that “if he paid the loan and maintained good credit (for two years) he would receive refinancing” to reduce the high interest rates.

The couple couldn’t read the paperwork, which was in English, and learned only later that the bank listed their income as over $10,000 a month, when it was far from that amount. When the couple’s son requested that the bank refinance the mortgage in order to lower the high interest rate, as the officer had promised, the bank officer never responded.

The good outcome is that the bank was made to refinance the loans, and pay all the couple’s legal fees, as well as three times his damages, as required by New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier: Protecting Homeowner Rights

The law firm of Shaffer & Gaier protects the rights of those who are facing foreclosure or seeking mortgage modifications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. To set up a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or call our office location in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970.

Source: http://www.responsiblelending.org/tools-resources/headlines/opinion-nj-court-resurrects-american-dream-from-foreclosure-nightmare.html

Our Services

img

Our Latest News Posts

Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Nearly 50,000 patients die annually from traumatic brain injuries. Now a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania reveals that tiny blood vessels in the brain can offer clues to better treatment, according to an article from UPI’s Health … [Read More...]

Why Do ‘Slip and Fall’ Accidents Happen?

From misjudging steps to sliding on oily or wet surfaces, there are many causes of “slip and fall” accidents. But there’s one cause that’s highly preventable, according to a study by insurance provider CNA—and that is the type of flooring. The … [Read More...]