Articles Posted in Help for Homeowners

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has firmly stated she will not run for President in the 2016 general election. However, she is still vying to keep her U.S. Senate seat, and she is continuing her staunch advocacy for consumer protections.
Among these efforts is to preserve the agency she helped start – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which numerous Republican party candidates have vowed to dismantle. She has put forth a petition, asking the public to help protect the agency from attempts to weaken or even kill it.

In her call to action, she notes government agencies offer protections of all kinds. They ensure toys aren’t made with lead paint, that medicine isn’t tainted with poisons and that cars aren’t manufactured without functioning brakes. There is even an agency that protects against exploding toasters.
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One might have thought we had seen the worst there was in terms of bankers’ greed at the height of the housing bubble. Banks were recklessly packaging toxic mortgages to unsuspecting investors, saddling homeowners with unrealistic mortgages and generally cutting whatever regulatory corners they had to in order to make a buck.
Since then, banks have reluctantly conceded some degree of contrition in the form of sweetheart deals extended by the U.S. Department of Justice and a smattering of state attorneys general. Yes, these deals cost banks billions, but they were structured in such a way that no real consequences were suffered – certainly not by individual bankers.

It’s that “too big to jail” mindset that seems to be tainting whatever remorse bankers may have had. A recently-released study conducted by the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business suggests to us it’s not going to get better. In fact, it’s getting worse.
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For its role in hawking defective mortgage investments during the subprime housing boom, Citigroup Inc. has agreed to fork over $7 billion, in a combination of cash and consumer relief, to settle numerous state and federal investigations.
Our Miami foreclosure lawyers understand this could mean relief for those who are on the verge of a foreclosure and possibly compensation for those who have already lost their homes.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department indicated Citigroup’s actions were part of what was at the core of the housing market bust: mortgage-backed securities that were marketed as safe investments, despite internal knowledge that they were doomed to collapse. When they did, the economy imploded like a house of cards, leading to a financial crisis from which the world is still recovering.
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Reports of a declining national foreclosure rate may be of little comfort to many who are still facing a Miami foreclosure amid stagnant wages, stubborn unemployment and rising prices for just about everything.
In fact, Florida continues to have the highest rate of foreclosures in the country. While the national rate fell to a little over 1 percent last year (from 2.23 percent in the midst of the housing market crash), according to RealtyTrac, that still means that one out of every 96 homes had a foreclosure filing in 2013. In December, 19 percent of all houses in the U.S. were “deeply underwater,” which meant homeowners owed at least 25 percent more on their mortgages than what their home was worth.

In this climate, it’s easy to understand how so many homeowners could fall victim to predatory scams targeting struggling homeowners. These are companies or individuals who, through telemarketing or some other advertising, promise to help homeowners stop an impending foreclosure or lower their monthly mortgage payment.
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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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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.
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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Eminent domain occurs when the government takes private property for public use. The owner of the property must be compensated but cannot refuse the sale to the government of the property. Eminent domain was traditionally used when a city or state needed land to build a highway or accomplish another similar goal to help the public. Now, however, our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that cities have begun exploring the possibility of using eminent domain to stop foreclosures and help people to keep their homes. padlock-1-960877-m.jpg

Many cities have considered the use of eminent domain as a solution to foreclosure problems plaguing homeowners, but no plan has yet gone into effect. Threats from real estate interests and Wall Street have largely caused cities that have considered eminent domain to back away, in part due to concerns that residents of areas that embrace this solution will find it difficult or impossible to get mortgages. However, the New York Times reports that interest in the use of eminent domain is growing and that while cities are still in the early stages of forming plans, this could end up being a solution, especially in the hardest hit areas where something needs to be done to protect property values and reduce blight.
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Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that Florida was one of the states hit hardest by the subprime mortgage crisis and resulting foreclosures. Because of the tremendous damage done to the housing market in the state of Florida, the Sunshine State was provided with funds from the federal government to help boost the market. house-for-sale-1235157-m.jpg

Unfortunately, new evidence indicates that Florida used only a very small amount of the money allocated to help struggling homeowners. Florida is not the only state that has had trouble spending the money effectively either, as it has proved difficult for many of those awarded funds to spend money that the federal government provided at the beginning of 2010.
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The suicide of a 53-year-old Spanish woman being evicted from her home after falling behind on her mortgage payments has sparked a fury of outrage from Spanish citizens, prompting government officials to promise measures to prevent such a tragedy in the future. lockflower.jpg

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know there are a great deal of similarities between the housing markets in Spain and South Florida. Both areas, in 2008, suffered a major property bubble burst. Banks in Spain have repossessed some 400,000 homes since then, and the country has sank into a deep recession. This has further caused millions of Spanish homeowners to become unemployed and fall behind on mortgage payments.

Spanish citizens have also become angered by what they view as a complete lack of compassion from banks in Spain, a number of which actually reaped a fair amount of benefits from taxpayer bailouts, which have been organized by the country’s elite political powers.

Eerily familiar, right?

This woman, a former Socialist counselor who had been residing in the northern part of the country, killed herself by jumping from the fourth story of her home as bailiffs tried to evict her due to foreclosure.

In one of the many protests being held across the country, one Spaniard held a sign that read, “They’re not suicides. They’re murders. The banks and politicians are accomplices.”

The country’s economy minister has vowed that no family “in good faith” that has fallen behind on mortgage payments should have to be homeless – especially when so many homes are currently sitting empty as a result of the market crash. Minister Luis de Guindos has said there were literally millions of unoccupied homes in the country.

No specifics have been offered about how the government plans to address this problem, though some are suggesting the country fast-track negotiations to reform current eviction laws.

One possible tactic is to grant mortgage payment moratoriums for homeowners whose financial situation is dire. Members of the Spanish Banking Association said it was open to the possibility of putting a two-year hold on eviction cases involving those who are in great need.

Property prices in Spain have fallen by about 30 percent.

Compare that to Florida, where the Case-Shiller index shows that home values are down 47 percent across South Florida since the top of the housing bubble six years ago. Also to, single-family sales are down about 20 percent since 2004.

In Spain, even when a borrower gives the home back to the bank, they are still legally responsible for the entire remaining mortgage owed. A number of citizens had organized a group called “Stop Evictions,” and they organize literally hundreds of people to stop court employees from physically removing families from their homes. Spanish police unions have said they will actively support officers who refuse to participate in evictions.

It shouldn’t take a suicide for banks to realize the effects of their greed.

But whether you’re in Spain or Florida, those facing foreclosure are up against a mighty establishment. Having a good lawyer means you have the ability to fight back.
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The only generation alive that might remember the Great Depression is now more frequently than ever being swept up in the Great Recession – victims of a widespread foreclosure crisis that does not discriminate. brokenglasses.jpg

A new study by the AARP indicates that more than 1.5 million Americans over the age of 50 lost their homes due to foreclosure in the years between 2007 and 2011.

Miami foreclosure defense attorneys know that senior citizens are sometimes more likely than younger homeowners to struggle to keep their homes. There is often a sense of pride, a desire to maintain the familiar and a determination not to fail.

And there is nothing wrong with wanting to try to keep your home – and the truth is, it is often possible and workable. The problem is, the autonomy for which their generation is known and admired is working against them because they fail to seek experienced legal help.

Of those older homeowners who are falling victim, those who have been hit hardest, according to the AARP study, are over the age of 75.

This is a subset of our population that has historically been viewed as one of the most financially stable groups across the board. That’s changing.

The report indicated that while people who are younger than 50 are the most likely age group to face foreclosure, older Americans are the fastest-growing group.

In fact, foreclosures for those over age 75 increased eightfold during the study period. The truth of the matter is, these individuals are holding more mortgage debt than they ever have before. Right now, today, at least three million Americans over age 75 are at imminent risk of losing their homes, and even more are battling just to keep their heads above water financially.

In your Golden Years, this is the last thing you should have to worry about. Miami foreclosure lawyers can help.

AARP’s study was based on loan data from across the country, but we know that Florida has been particularly hard-hit in the housing crisis and we have a higher population of older residents than most other states.

There is one key difference, however in foreclosures for older folks versus those in the younger age group, and that is the reason behind it.

While most of those younger underwater homeowners are being foreclosed upon due to subprime, or predatory mortgages, older Americans are generally struggling more due to spiking costs for medical care, falling property values and pension cuts. Additionally, they aren’t saving enough money, and the economy has a lot to do with that. The Federal Reserve has indicated that about 50 percent of those between the ages of 65 and 74 don’t have any money in their retirement accounts.

Credit counselors have reported that the average age of those who call seeking assistance has inched up from 43 to 49.

One example cited in the New York Times detailed a 69-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman who, after losing her job as a real estate agent, subsists on Social Security checks of $1,200 a month – not nearly enough to keep up with the mortgage payments. Her home is now in foreclosure, and with no nearby family members, she’s unsure where she’ll live – or how she’ll bounce back without a job.

The truth of the matter is, a number of older homeowners have been able to eek out a negotiation with the bank in order to stay in their homes. However, those outcomes were the result of long, protracted battles, and when you don’t have an experienced foreclosure attorney at your side, those results don’t always reflect the most favorable possible outcome.

We can help.
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