Plastiras & Terrizzi in the Marin Independent-Journal and Contra Costa Times

September 25, 2009

The Marin Independent Journal and the Contra Costa Times both mentioned Plastiras & Terrizzi’s new addition of associates Thane Schultz and John Corcoran.

As the Marin IJ reported:

Marin attorneys Thane Schultz and John Corcoran have joined the San Rafael law firm of Plastiras & Terrizi.
Schultz, a longtime
Marin resident, will focus on family law and general civil litigation. His previous work experience included stints with a civil litigation firm and two years running a family real estate development business in Australia.
Corcoran, a Tiburon planning commissioner, previously worked for a Silicon Valley law firm focusing on estate planning, employment law and small business representation.

Marin attorneys Thane Schultz and John Corcoran have joined the San Rafael law firm of Plastiras & Terrizi.

Schultz, a longtime Marin resident, will focus on family law and general civil litigation. His previous work experience included stints with a civil litigation firm and two years running a family real estate development business in Australia.

Corcoran, a Tiburon planning commissioner, previously worked for a Silicon Valley law firm focusing on estate planning, employment law and small business representation.


Short Sales

September 23, 2009

Short Sale approvals seem to be declining.  Buyers simply cannot hang out long enough to wait for approval from the Lenders these days.  Also, Sellers need to be prepared to contribute cash or a promissory note at closing.  Lenders are simply not walking away without some type of contribution from the Seller.  Patience and persistance is key.  Be prepared to call the Lender every 2-3 days, and you may need to fax your short sale package to the Lenders multiple times (4-6 times in some cases). 

The Short Sale package should consist of:  Hud 1, Buyers Closing Statement, Accepted Offer to Purchase and Agency Disclosures, hardship letter from the Seller, Financial Statement, 2 months bank statements, 2 years tax returns, if self employed, current Profit and Loss Statement.

Current processing times are 30 days to receive the package, 20 days to be assigned to Phase I negotiator, another 15-20 days per negotiator level (sometimes up the Phase III Negotiator), plus 20 day investor review and approval.  Keep in mind that at any time, your file could be lost, closed in error, or simply sitting and not being reviewed.

If your file is languishing, you can ask for your file to be expedited.  Does this help?  Not really, but it makes you feel better, as you are now in”expediated” status.

Good Luck.

If you need help, call me.

Jodi Azevedo 415-472-8100 ext 203

New Bill Prevents Attorneys From Taking Upfront Fees for Loan Modifications

September 18, 2009

The State Senate recently passed a bill which will significantly crack down on “fly by night” “loan consultant” operations which promise to modify people’s mortgages for a fee, but could also have the unintended consequence of making it harder for legitimate hardship cases to find a lawyer to represent them.

The bill, which Gov. Schwarzenegger is expected to sign, passed with wide margins in the State Senate, benefiting from the political backlash against loan modification outfits.  SB 94 forbids anyone, including attorneys, from taking a retainer for the purpose of negotiating or attempting to negotiate residential loan modifications or for “other forms of mortgage loan forbearance” (presumably this language prevents attorneys from helping borrowers obtain a short sale as well).  It also bars persons, including attorneys, from obtaining a power of attorney from a borrower for the purpose of negotiating a loan modification, a document which is often crucial in order to get banks to communicate with the attorney about the borrower.  It also prevents these service providers from charging for their services until all services are complete and bars them from taking any lien of any type to guarantee payment.

Any person who does provide loan modification services must provide a large statement regarding loan modification fees prior to obtaining a signed fee agreement which warns the consumer that it is “not necessary to pay a third party to arrange for a loan modification or other form of forbearance from your mortgage lender or servicer. You may call your lender directly to ask for a change in your loan terms.”

While the Legislature is well intentioned in cracking down on disreputable companies which have taken advantage of homeowners in trouble, the problem with this bill is that it doesn’t recognize legitimate cases of individuals who have lost a job, received a cutback in hours at work, or gotten sick, and who legitimately need help negotiating a workout with their mortgage lenders.  Attorneys commonly take a retainer in advance of providing services which must be deposited in the attorney’s client trust account.  These retainers ensure the attorney will be paid and, in cases involving debts or a bankruptcy filing, this is often the only way people can obtain legal assistance, as attorneys would otherwise not risk not getting paid for their time and services.  Many borrowers don’t have the time or patience to spend months and to follow up dozens of times with banks which have ever-changing requirements for mortgage relief, frequently lose paperwork provided to them, and/or flat-out refuse to help their borrowers out.  Nonprofit housing counseling agencies are currently overwhelmed with people who have these kinds of problems and they can’t keep up with the demand.  By passing legislation which is over-inclusive, it’s certain that some legitimate cases are going to find it more difficult to get an attorney to represent their interests.

UPDATE 9/19/09: Evidently, federal regulators at the Federal Trade Commission are also considering passing a ban on up-front fees for mortgage modifications.  Hopefully the federal action will crack down on fraudulent mortgage modification offers without hurting legitimate situations in which homeowners in trouble desire to hire an attorney to assist them.

Plastiras & Terrizzi Announces Addition of Two New Associates

September 14, 2009

SAN RAFAEL, CA – Plastiras & Terrizzi, a San Rafael-based general civil law firm, has announced the expansion of its existing operations with the addition of two new attorneys with deep ties in the San Francisco Bay Area, Thane Schultz and John Corcoran.

“We’re thrilled with the addition of both Thane and John,” said managing partner Basil Plastiras.  “They are a great addition to the firm, and will allow us to expand into new practice areas, including family law and estate planning.”

A long-time resident of Marin County, Schultz has been practicing law since 2003, with a focus primarily on family law and general civil litigation. He also has experience working in construction defect, insurance defense, contract and real estate litigation, and medical malpractice.  Schultz also has extensive experience in business, having spent two years helping to run his family’s real estate development business in Australia.  Schultz is a graduate of the Santa Clara University School of Law and the University of San Francisco.

Corcoran joins Plastiras & Terrizzi after working for a law firm in Silicon Valley, where he focused on general civil litigation, small business representation, estate planning, employment law, and real estate law.  He previously worked as a public affairs consultant, working with various clients including as a consultant to the County of Marin on the successful effort to establish the Marin Energy Authority.

Earlier in his career, Corcoran served in the White House during the Clinton Administration as a Writer in the Office of Presidential Letters and Messages and as a Speechwriter and Press Aide in the Office of the Governor in Sacramento.  Corcoran is a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law and UC Santa Barbara, and he currently serves as a Planning Commissioner for the Town of Tiburon.

California Supreme Court Requires Attorneys Without Malpractice Insurance to Directly Notify Clients

September 13, 2009

Attorneys in California who do not have malpractice insurance are used to walking on a tightrope, but the California Supreme Court has just made things harder for them to continue their ways.  In August 2009, the California Supreme Court changed the disclosure requirements for attorneys who do not carry malpractice insurance. Attorneys without such insurance to directly notify their clients about their lack of coverage. Attorneys who do not have malpractice insurance coverage after the rule goes into effect must disclose the lack of insurance in writing to all of their existing clients. Attorneys who decide to drop coverage they previously held will be required to advise clients in writing within 30 days of the end of their insurance coverage.
The new rule will take effect on January 1, 2010.

Growth of “Master-planned communities” Create Problems for Homeowner Associations

September 11, 2009

Homeowner Associations have experienced tremendous growth in recent years both nationwide and here in California.  All of that growth is creating problems for local communities, reports The Signal.  Although many master-planned communities have designed local services into their communities, habits and consumerism have driven more Californians to drive rather than to walk or bike when they need to travel from place to place.  Homeowner Associations are having to adopt to their own residents’ habits after communities have already been developed and built out, creating unique legal issues.

Judges Growing More Frustrated With Small Number of Loan Modifications

September 11, 2009

The New York Times reported recently that federal bankruptcy court judges are becoming more frustrated with mortgage servicer companies like Wells Fargo for the slow pace of mortgage modifications.

As the Times reported:

“With consumers complaining about the difficulty of getting any response from their mortgage servicers, the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s plan to provide homeowner relief is being threatened. As they wait for an answer on whether they might qualify, homeowners are succumbing to foreclosure and bankruptcy proceedings and winding up in courts — at times in front of judges who are also frustrated.”

Many homeowners are experiencing the same frustration.  Many lenders are either overwhelmed, intentionally dragging their feet, or simply avoiding their own customers, putting up numerous hurdles in the way of a modification.  As a result, thousands of homeowners are being forced into a foreclosure or bankruptcy which could have been avoided.

If you or someone you know is facing foreclosure and having difficulty obtaining a loan modification from your lender, please free to contact us for a free consultation today at (415) 472-8100.