Where Do We Go From Here?in HPN Blog
Oy, has it been so long? My days have been an endless mash of arising, going to work, and packing. I’ve made time to do a few fun things, but time seems to slip away from me every day.
Gosh, life is funny sometimes. How different things can look when we just flip the telescope in the opposite direction. Wasn’t it just a few months ago that I was dreading having the sheriff ring my doorbell? Well, now I’m anxious to have my doorbell rung! After weeks of waiting, packing in preparation, and living with towers of boxes around my home and only a minimum of necessities, it is almost agonizing to be in such suspense, knowing it’s coming, but not knowing when.
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A friend of mine has been facing difficulties maintaining payments on her home, and says that it will be going into foreclosure in 50 days. It is heartbreaking to hear and see her agony. I know what it’s like to face foreclosure, to drain your savings to save your home, to try to figure out where to can go if you have to leave – without having the funds for a rental. I know the anger, mortification and despair. I know the sleepless nights, listless days, and strained smiles.
Yet, her experience is slightly different from mine because she was not told by her mortgage company to stop making her payments. She simply had to stop making them because she ran out of money. I thought my mortgage company was working with me to keep me in my home. She has been luckier because she stopped making payments in October, so the bank has given her 11 months before initiating the foreclosure.
Learning of her situation made me realize that I had hoped to help people through this blog, but most of what I have written about has been my particular case, which I’m afraid may only help those being told by their lenders to strategically default.
Here’s the thing – if you’ve run out of money, or your payments have ballooned beyond your means, there are still avenues you can take. In my opinion, you should not just throw up your hands and walk away. There are many government programs out there. Yes, I know most of them have not shown to be worth the time to many, but as an eternal optimist, I can only hope that the rules may change as you are going through the process, or Obama might get some cojones and make it mandatory for all lenders – including Fannie May and Freddie Mac to do whatever it takes to make homes affordable. People just now going into foreclosure have the pioneers to thank for getting angry and getting at least some concessions and laws changed – it’s still not enough, but I feel encouraged by hearing more and people acknowledge that homeowner’s rights have not been adequately protected.
Another, last ditch effort would be to research your property’s records at your County Recorder’s office. (And, actually, this tip pretty much applies to every homeowner, regardless of whether you are in foreclosure, in danger of foreclosure, or sitting pretty.) These tips come from Foreclosure Fraud, and you can read how to research your records for evidence of forgery, fabrications, and fraud here.
This is why you should do this: if the lender collecting money from you cannot produce a valid note, you may not owe anything at all, and the lender cannot legally foreclose on you! It’s a scary fact – just because you’re receiving a mortgage statement or receiving default notices doesn’t mean that the particular bank named owns your loan. If you didn’t walk into a bank lobby and apply for a loan, most likely your loan was securitized. If you took out your initial loan 25 years ago, then refinanced without walking into a lobby, your refi may have been securitized too. The truth is that the plan to securitize pools of mortgages was not thought out very well. They were all thrown into the pool, to be shared. And no one can draw a solid line from the homeowner to the bank that owns the mortgage. Even the kiddie’s menu at Denny’s lets you draw a solid line from one end of the maze to the other!
A significant number of cases have been won solely on the basis that the lender cannot prove they own that particular mortgage. Another significant number of cases have been won on the basis that the signatures attached are forged. Make sure you review the note the lender holds – you may simply find a page attached to the end of the note with 4 to 6 lines for printed names and signatures that don’t even identify what the signatures are for. The signature page must identify what document the signatures are being affixed to. I have seen cases where the signatures have been obviously whited out and re-signed – including the home owner’s signature.
Now, just because you discover forgeries, fabrications, or fraud doesn’t mean you won’t have a battle ahead of you. If you discover this before the foreclosure sale, you can file a Lis Pendens with the courts, which prohibits your lender from selling the property. Or, you can file a suit against the mortgage company for taking your payments despite not owning the loan.
Believe me - if you can be proactive, it is better than trying to fight off an Unlawful Detainer (eviction) action, because the majority of judges go with the standard argument that the holder of the note has the right to the property, regardless of how they obtained the note. And eviction cases move very, very quickly.
This is imperative to do, especially now, with experts predicting that foreclosures are due to begin ramping up again. On my local news station the other night, a guy who helps people find homes for purchase or rent was decrying the lack of homes available because there aren't many foreclosed properties left out there. Really?!?
It is amazing to me, but only 10% of people contest their foreclosures. Can you just imagine, out of the millions and millions of foreclosures happening around the country, just a small fraction of people have put up a fight? It’s true that many people just don’t have the resources to fight. But it is possible to represent yourself successfully, if you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the laws and how to prepare filings. As one author I recently read questioned (my words) - if you knew you could get away with it, wouldn’t you file millions of foreclosures knowing only a few people would object through the court systems? If you knew you would win 90% of the time, would you do something heinously illegal? If you knew no one, including the President of the United States was going to lift a hand to stop your behavior, what would you, a greedy bankster, do?
Much of the latest news still shows many fraudulent and unethical actions being taken by banks, but with the small uptick in the number of laws dealing with Citizens United and student loan debt being decided in favor of the little people, I am finding a glimmer of hope. It is my fervent hope that some massive changes will roll up out of these smaller, individual ones within the next year. As Alexander Pope wrote a few hundred years ago, “Hope springs eternal…"
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Have you spent all your money to save your home then had to move out? If so, what did you do?