January 28, 2014

Miami Foreclosure Recovery Not Nearly as Robust as Reported

While many analysts have offered commentary on the "rapidly-recovering" housing market in Florida and throughout the country, the reality is those figures are largely misleading.
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New home sales, which serve as one indicator of the market health, have been steadily rising in recent months. However, this seemingly positive indicator is undercut by the fact that many of these sales are not going to traditional home buyers. In reality, these are all-cash buyers - hedge funds, foreign buyers, private equity investors.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers know that most first-time home buyers have no shot at competing with these entities, which are snapping up properties by paying for them in full, in cash, upfront.

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January 23, 2014

Florida Foreclosures Still Lead the Nation

Following the passage of legislation in Florida that allows lenders and judges to sail quickly through the foreclosure process, the number of filings in the state has soared, making us No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of homes in some stage of repossession.
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Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that while some state officials are spinning this as good news (Hey, we're cutting through the backlog!) the reality isn't quite so sunny.

According to RealtyTrac's latest figures, Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one out of every 33 homes in some stage of the process (either new filings, scheduled auctions or repossessions). It was even worse for those in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County region, where the rate was 1 out of every 25 homes.

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January 20, 2014

Florida Foreclosure Aid Programs Not Helping Homeowners As Promised

While state and federal regulators have touted programs like Florida's Hardest-Hit Fund as a way for homeowners to seek foreclosure relief, the truth is that not only are these operations failing to help as much as promised, they may actually be pushing some people closer to losing their homes. redwalk.jpg

According to a recent in-depth report by The Guardian, billions of dollars have been poured into these so-called "relief funds," and yet reality is that homeowners are being misguided by the kind of support these programs can offer.

The intended purpose of these programs is to intervene with the banks on behalf of the homeowner, not only are they failing in this regard, but our Miami foreclosure lawyers have learned that non-lawyers are apparently giving legal advice to many of the borrowers seeking help. What's more, some are finding that it's very poor legal advice.

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January 13, 2014

Miami Foreclosure Watch: New Mortgage Rules Go Live This Month

Six years post-mortgage crisis, new housing rules, written by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are taking effect this month.
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One of the primary intentions to is protect Americans from the kinds of abusive lending practices that caused so many to plummet into foreclosure in recent years. While some have voiced concern that fewer people will be able to purchase homes as result of these new stringent regulations, economists believe this is the foundation for sustainable home ownership, characterized by the ability of home buyers to afford the loans they are given.

Of particular interest to our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys are the new protections announced for those who still have trouble paying their mortgage and ultimately default.

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January 6, 2014

Bank of America CEO Declined to Help Desperate Homeowners

Countless people hoping to avoid foreclosure in Florida and across the country took their fight public. They contacted legislative representatives, the news media, the attorney general.
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When this happened in cases involving Bank of America, the financial giant would forward their complaints to the Office of the CEO and President. Finally, borrowers thought, we are going to get somewhere. Their case had reached the upper echelon, and maybe someone would finally listen.

The reality was the bank had no intention of taking those complaints more seriously. Instead, they were funneled to subcontractors Urban Settling Solutions in Colorado. This is quite a distance from the company's headquarters in North Carolina.

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January 4, 2014

Banks Profit From Foreclosures Through Booming Rental Market

Despite the fact that banks are supposed to offer solutions to distressed homeowners - either through home loan modification or interest reductions - there appears to be strong incentive for these firms to push these properties into foreclosure.
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The latest reason our Miami foreclosure lawyers have noted is the booming rental industry. Lenders have effectively created another market for themselves. The roughly 7 million foreclosures that have occurred in the last few years have left many people homeless and with poor credit. They aren't in a position to buy again. So what do they do?

Rent.

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January 1, 2014

Foreclosure Lawsuit Filed by Los Angeles Against Wells Fargo, Citigroup

Discriminatory mortgage lending practices prior to the housing bubble resulted in a flood of foreclosures in minority neighborhoods when the crisis hit.
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That's according to the Los Angeles city attorney's office, which is suing both Wells Fargo and Citigroup on the allegations. In two different federal lawsuits, the city alleges that the mortgage lending practices of these two firms involved an intentional and continued discriminatory intent, which directly violates the Fair Housing Act.

Our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys understand that both firms are accused of "redlining' and then "reverse redlining." First, the lenders would decline to extend any mortgages at all in largely minority communities. Then after some time had passed, the lender would target those in HIspanic and black neighborhoods and sell them loans that were predatory in nature.

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December 29, 2013

New CFPB Mortgage Lending Rules Effective Jan. 10, 2014

Banks and mortgage servicers are in a for a rude awakening come Jan. 10, 2014. Few have seemed to take much note up until recently, but that is the date that the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's new rules on mortgage loan servicing.
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Specifically, the government regulator is implementing provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act through the amended Truth in Lending Act's Regulation Z and the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Acts Regulation X.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers know that these changes represent a major win for borrowers who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure. It's also very bad news for bankers and mortgage servicers.

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December 24, 2013

The Wrong Way to Fight a Foreclosure

Foreclosure is a terrible situation and it is extremely upsetting to lose the home that you have saved and worked to buy for yourself and your family. There are solutions to fighting foreclosure and you may be able to save your home or at least save your credit with the help of a Miami foreclosure lawyer. It is important to look for productive solutions and not to let the fear of foreclosure cause you to take desperate actions that don't help matters. bomb-1141797-m.jpg

Recently, one sad story reported in the Atlanta Journal-Constitutional told of a man who pled guilty to making bomb threats at two court houses to try to save his home from foreclosure. The man was sentenced to 10 years, with one year to serve in prison, after admitting to four counts of transmitting a false public alarm. In addition to the jail time, the man was also required to pay restitution of $7,500 for expenses incurred.

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December 22, 2013

Extensive Subprime Mortgage Scam Revealed in Lawrence E. Jaffe Pension Plan v. Household International Inc.

Although many talking heads have espoused in recent years the theory that the housing market tanked because banks were forced to lend to borrowers who couldn't afford it, the facts revealed in Lawrence E. Jaffe Pension Plan v. Household International Inc. should put that line of thinking to rest once and for all.
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Although the case against the HSBC-acquired Household International Inc. was tried back in 2009, with the fraud reportedly occurring between 1997 and 2002, the court recently entered a judgment of $2.46 billion against the firm. It got little play amid the record-setting judgment against JP Morgan Chase for $13 billion for its extensive mortgage fraud activities.

As a recent Rolling Stone report lays out in detail, Household case is important because it reveals the extent to which financial institutions aggressively pursued borrowers who were not qualified. What's more, our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that these companies did this not because the government was pressing them to do so, but rather because they made a lot of money doing it.

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December 20, 2013

Home Equity Loans Could Make for the Next Foreclosure Mess

During the housing bubble, many homeowners took out home equity lines of credit to tap into the equity in their homes. Now, an increasing number of those home equity loans have been outstanding for 10 years, which means that borrowers are required to start paying back principal while before they were just able to pay the interest on the loans. Many homeowners are having a hard time making the higher payments, which means that their homes are potentially at risk of being foreclosed on. bricks-and-money-4-208866-m.jpg

For those facing this problem with the home equity loan coming due, they are not alone. MSN has indicated that the trend of missed payments could actually lead to another foreclosure crisis and more trouble for the big banks in the United States. Miami foreclosure lawyers can help those who are getting caught up in the home equity loan mess to hopefully avoid losing their homes even if their home equity payments rise.

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December 16, 2013

U.S. Homeowners Continue to Struggle with Foreclosure as Iceland Launches Debt Relief Package

The United States government has tried to take steps to help homeowners who are facing foreclosure, but the federal legislative efforts have provided only limited assistance. The Making Home Affordable Program makes it possible to lower payments on first and second mortgages and even refinance homes that are underwater, but it does not provide direct debt relief to homeowners or, in most cases, reduce the balances on mortgages owed. Miami foreclosure lawyers know that many homeowners continue to face debts they cannot pay, and continue to live with the worry that their bank or lender is going to take their home.

Not every government, however, has chosen this indirect approach to helping homeowners by simply encouraging them to work with lenders to take advantage of relief. Reuters has announced that Iceland has launched a debt relief package for households, which will be financed by tax hikes on financial institutions and which will be financed by a haircut on $4 billion in debts that are owed to overseas investors who had money in the country's banks that collapsed in 2008.

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December 12, 2013

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Requires AMEX to Refund Millions

Our consumer rights attorneys in Miami know that big banks and creditors sometimes do dishonest things to defraud consumers of money, to charge consumers more than they should or to obscure the terms of deals that they are trying to convince consumers to enter into. Yet another example of this type of behavior can be seen in the actions of American Express, which violated consumer protection laws through illegal credit card practices. cut-expenses-2-1176252-m.jpg

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has recently taken action against American Express in light of these violations. A multi-part federal investigation revealed that American Express had engaged in violations of the law at every step of the customer experience, from marketing its cards to collecting debts, and now AMEX will have to pay for this bad behavior. The credit card company's three subsidiaries that engaged in the wrongful practices are being required to refund an estimated $85 million to around 250,000 customers.

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December 8, 2013

Bigger Banks Make Foreclosure Defense Tougher

The number of U.S. banks has fallen to its lowest number since The Great Depression, presumably at least the partial result of a stagnant economy and stiffer regulation.
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According to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal's Randy Tracy, the number of federally-backed banking institutions across the country fell to just under 6,900 in the third quarter of this year, marking the first time that figure fell below 7,000 since the mid-1930s, when the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. began keeping track.

At its peak, there had been more than 18,000 federally insured banks in the mid-1980s. The FDIC reports that some 10,000 banks were absorbed in mergers and consolidations. Another 17 percent failed.

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December 5, 2013

Wall Street Scandal Again Ignored By Mainstream Media

Malfeasance on Wall Street is apparently nothing new to the country's largest news outlets - none of which apparently saw fit to call out a U.S. private equity firm for an incredibly shady credit default swap that it paid another firm to trigger.
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The news was broken by Bloomberg, but no other print or television media outlets found the deal worthy of coverage. This was despite the fact that similar actions by almost anyone other than a financial giant would net prison time.

Once again, satirist Jon Stewart at The Daily Show gave far more attention to the issue than the major networks and print outlets. Correspondent Samantha Bee even went so far as to interview a New York Times financial reporter as to why the story was unworthy of coverage. The reporter explained she was "drowning" in other material regarding Wall Street wrongdoings.

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