October 2011 Archives

October 20, 2011

Miami Real Estate Market Won't Be Recovering From Foreclosure Any Time Soon

The Miami Herald reports that official numbers indicate that there are 3.5 million homes for sale nationwide, but that number increases exponentially when looked at houses that are lurking in foreclosure court or being used by customers who are behind in their payments or not paying at all.

This has led to the prediction that the real estate market will take more time than expected to recover from the economy downturn that has left our country in a perilous state. What does this mean for homeowners who are stuck in foreclosure in Miami?
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Banks are struggling to process the millions of foreclosures on the market and at the same time deal with the millions of other loans they have outstanding. And they are being confronted by many Miami foreclosure defense lawyers who are calling them on their unethical practices of using fake documents and paperwork signed by people who have no knowledge of a person's situation.

While some counties are worse than others, Miami-Dade County has about four years' worth of inventory on the market, according to The Herald. South Florida has about 200,000 houses either heading for foreclosure or already owned by banks.

Housing prices have started to show signs of improvement, but the article suggests that with the secondary market of houses looming, prices will likely plummet when another round of foreclosures hits.

The Herald reports that while the official number of homes on the market in this country is about 3.5 million, the 'shadow' inventory would boost that number to 7.5 million. A healthy housing market has about 2.4 million homes -- or a six month supply.

It will take several more years for houses in foreclosure or on the cusp of foreclosure to work through that process, which will stall the economic recovery. The article states that banks have held many homes not for sale after taking them back from foreclosure in order to try to stabilize the fragile market.

For homeowners who are sinking a good chunk of their monthly budget into a house they don't intend to stay in for 30 years, this means that it may be smart to consider a strategic default or short sale or some other strategy that will get you out of a sinking ship. For those who are having financial difficulties and making a monthly mortgage payment on an upside down mortgage, this may also be a consideration.

But for those who want to stay in their home for the long haul, they must fight back against the banks. Financial institutions will use tactics to try to strip away a person's home, even if it means the bank is going to sit on it for years. Don't let lenders throw you to the curb if you really want to keep your house.

In all cases, your best defense is an aggressive offense.

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October 18, 2011

Occupy Movement Forces Bank's Hand and Helps Homeowner Get Loan Modification in Miami

A woman staged a protest, with some good friends from the "Occupy" contingent and forced her bank to modify her loan so she would stay in her house, MSNBC reports.

It's a bold move, but one that paid off. Most homeowners aren't so bold. Many are so beaten down by failed negotiations with the bank that they lay down and let the bank take away their home. For others, even seemingly aggressive tactics don't work with bank officials who are still looking to make a buck at any cost.
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The time is now to act. If homeowners close to losing their home to foreclosure in Miami want to keep their homes, they have to fight back. You can't sit back and hope the bank treats you well because they won't. They have millions of foreclosures to deal with and it takes more than a nice attitude to convince them to modify a loan or figure out a way to keep you in your home.

For many financial institutions, the foreclosure process is more profitable and you and your home are in the way of this quarter's profits. Miami foreclosure defense lawyers can level the playing field. Challenging who owns the house's note, how much money is owed, or looking at a loan modification or short sale are all options that must be discussed.

In La Puente, California, a woman had tried and failed to save her home from foreclosure for two years. She had tried to work out a modification to her loan to no avail. She tried working with bank officials to see if there was any way she could save her home, but they said no. Sept. 28 was the date they would come to evict her from her house.

But rather than pack up and give in, the woman and her family protested. They hunkered down inside their house and enlisted people from the Occupy Wall Street movement and media interest in her case to create a turn of fortune.

Fannie Mae canceled the eviction notice and offered the family a loan modification that allowed them to stay in their home. While Fannie Mae and loan servicer OneWest wouldn't discuss the case, the family's dramatic moves likely played a role.

When the family attempted to make a late payment, OneWest refused to accept it and told them to pursue a loan modification, a long process that ended in rejection. In the meantime, a family member who was contributing to the mortgage payments was killed in a shooting and another lost income as a state employee.

The family kept the money they would have used to make payments to the side in case OneWest would eventually accept their money. And after joining forces with Occupy L.A., protesters camped out at her house and 200 protested in front of OneWest CEO Steve Mnuchin's Bel Air mansion. With TV crews filming, the family's matriarch was arrested after protesting outside Fannie Mae.

Eventually, the companies decided to do the right thing and work with the family. This is what needs to happen in order for banks to listen. Maybe not protests, but certainly fighting back and showing banks they can't just walk over people is a move a Miami homeowner should always make.

Continue reading "Occupy Movement Forces Bank's Hand and Helps Homeowner Get Loan Modification in Miami" »

October 8, 2011

Don't Get Upset, Get a Good Attorney to Fight a Miami Foreclosure

A recent article in The New York Times looks at the effects of foreclosure that don't necessarily get reported in the mainstream media.

Among them is that people's health is taking a toll -- with missed doctors' appointments and unfilled prescriptions -- as their house is going through foreclosure. The article reports that 78,000 homes were issued first-time default notices in August, a 33 percent hike from the month before.
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Dealing with a Miami foreclosure can be extremely stressful, frustrating and even have ill effects on a person's physical health. But the worst thing you can do is lie down and let the banking industry treat you unfairly.

Instead, hire an experienced and aggressive Miami foreclosure defense lawyer who is on your side. An attorney can point out the possible problems with robo-signing that occurred in your case, the misplaced documents, the improper detailing of who actually owns the note on your house and other details that financial institutions may have taken for granted.

Banks are now charging their customers more and more fees to make up for all the money they've lost as a result of the sub-prime mortgage disaster that has had negatively affected our country's economy and peoples' lives.

According to the Times article, a 2008 survey in Philadelphia found that of 250 people in foreclosure, 32 percent reported missing doctors' appointments. Forty eight percent said they let crucial prescriptions go unfilled, both higher percentages than their neighbors.

More than one in three homeowners facing foreclosure had symptoms of major depression. Suicide attempts in high-foreclosure neighborhoods were also up. Anxiety-related emergency room visits are also on the rise.

And when moneymakers get ill, they miss work, lose jobs and incur expensive medical bills that can leave them further in debt and closer to foreclosure in Miami.

Mortgage counselors have been hired through federal grants to help homeowners and banks try to find a resolution to their financial issues, and 37 percent surveyed in January said they have worked with at least one suicidal homeowner.

But treating depression and other illnesses is the first step in making an unemployed homeowner more marketable. The Times suggests that if the 50 states negotiating with the big banks over their robo-signing and other errors end up coming to a settlement, some of the money should go toward health care.

The banks only care about making money and they will do anything to make it happen. They don't care if homeowners facing foreclosure in Miami are considering suicide because of the whole situation, all they see is green.

But if you are struggling with foreclosure, there is some good news. An experienced Miami foreclosure lawyer can step in and fight back the banks, keep you in your home, possibly even rent-free for a time, and cause problems for the banks. Taking an aggressive approach and fighting back is the only way to go when dealing with these greedy banks.

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October 5, 2011

Bank of America Punishes Employees For Spotting Miami Mortgage Fraud

A recent story from Bnet.com, a CBS company, highlights the ridiculousness of the banking industry. In the article, the author reports that Bank of America, one of the largest banks in the world, punished its employees who spotted mortgage fraud.

Just when you thought banks couldn't get any more evil. The same lending institutions that have denied wrongdoing and yet taken billions of dollars in bailouts in public money, are the same banks that have taken away people's homes by using made-up documents and falsely signed paperwork.
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And now a new low -- punishing employees who were honest enough to bring forward the problems going on in the company at a time when the bank had a record number of foreclosures in Miami and nationwide. This is just another reason why hiring an experienced and aggressive Miami foreclosure defense lawyer is critical if you are facing foreclosure in Miami.

Banks will stop at nothing to take away people's homes. As the Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog recently reported, a Countrywide auditor was fired and recently awarded nearly $1 million in a retaliation suit after bank officials shut down her internal investigation into fraudulent actions. Shocking that Bank of America bought Countrywide in 2008. Apparently the attitude in those companies is that banks can do what they want, when they want and to whom they want.

The BNET article piggybacks on another recent article cited in the recent blog post about Countrywide firing its investigator. But it goes into more detail about the U.S. Labor Department report that resulted in the big payout for the Countrywide investigator who was doing her job in investigating internal problems.

After management got wind that the investigation into fraud was ongoing, it brought in members of the team headed by the investigator, who was an executive vice president at the time. One person was grilled for three hours by a member of the "Employee Relations" department to try to get them to say something bad about her.

After Countrywide was bought by Bank of America, she thought the investigation was dead, but Bank of America then fired her. They offered her a $230,000 severance if she would keep quiet about the fraud she discovered. She refused and was fired for "poor judgment as a leader" and "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior."

While she since has gotten a job with a credit union, she has granted few interviews with the media, even as others have come to her defense and the government has ruled in her favor.

The scary thing about all this is just how far these banks are willing to go to protect their fraud, robo-signing and false documents in Miami foreclosure cases. They will blow through employment and whistleblower laws to get rid of people even within the walls of their buildings to keep hidden from the public the efforts they have gone to in order to defraud the American people.

Continue reading "Bank of America Punishes Employees For Spotting Miami Mortgage Fraud" »

October 2, 2011

Fannie Mae Ignored Robo-Signing Abuse in Miami Foreclosure Cases

A recent article in The Palm Beach Post reports that Fannie Mae, the federal mortgage giant, was told five years ago that its attorneys were filing robo-signed documents, but it chose to do nothing about it.

Well, isn't this super. While the government has come out condemning these actions by banks and setting up unsuccessful programs to help homeowners, it knew all along this was going on in foreclosures in Miami and elsewhere.
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They hypocrisy in government is amazing to Miami foreclosure defense attorneys, who have seen banks attempting to strip away people's homes through robo-signed documents, other faulty paperwork and an unwillingness to negotiate despite all of their shady actions.

Homeowners must be willing to fight back against foreclosure in cases like these. Banks try to bully homeowners, but end up getting kicked in the teeth when homeowners fight back and hold them accountable for their actions. Many homeowners have been able to live -- rent free -- for years in houses where banks haven't been able to prove who actually owns the house because of their own ineptitude.

And the same goes for the federal government. Fannie Mae -- created after the Great Depression to keep the secondary mortgage market going -- has now been caught red-handed.

According to an inspector general report, an outside law firm Fannie Mae hired to investigate allegations of wrongdoing confirmed that "unlawful" practices were occurring. The report found that attorneys hired to try to take away people's homes were signing inaccurate documents to move them through the foreclosure process faster. Despite learning about this fact, Fannie Mae did nothing to improve the oversight of these firms working for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, The Palm Beach Post reports.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy loans from banks and flip them to investors, providing a guarantee to cover losses if loans default. The mortgage giants were taken over by the government in 2008. Plantation-based David J. Stern wasn't mentioned in the report but was the largest law firm used by Fannie Mae in Florida cases. The firm closed last year after allegations of robo-signing surfaced. More than 100,000 cases statewide were abandoned after the firm shut down.

Employees told Fannie Mae that notary stamps were passed along and used by people not certified as notary publics, signatures were forged, mortgage assignments were created after foreclosure judgments were entered and employees hid filed from auditors seeking to check on the process.

As of June 30, Fannie Mae had a principal balance of $180 billion in unpaid home loans in Florida alone. Roughly 12 percent of the state's Fannie Mae loans are delinquent.

The bottom line here is that law firms hired by the government and banks to take away people's homes, as well as loan servicers, were using robo-signed and unauthorized means to steal away people's homes without due process.

What does the government do in response? Look the other way. So, people have lost their homes, had a judge sign off years ago, and the bank sold it at auction all while using false documentation. And that's fair?

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers vow to do everything possible to fight for a Miami homeowner's property. Bringing up evidence of robo-signed paperwork, missing documentation and illegal practices is a good start in saving your home from foreclosure in Miami.

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