Congress Approves $1 Billion for Homeowners Who Need Help Paying Mortgages

July 29, 2010

Homeowners facing a job loss or health problem who need short-term help making mortgage payments will be pleased to know that Congress included a $1 billion provision in the Wall Street reform bill which is aimed at helping homeowners with their mortgages.

The Emergency Mortgage Relief program will make more than $1 billion in federal funds available to families about to lose their homes. Homeowners may borrow up to $50,000 if they can show they have a reasonable prospect of resuming mortgage payments within 24 months.

Read the rest of this entry »


Announcing New $225 Flat Fee Educational Consultation with an Attorney Regarding Your Foreclosure, Short Sale, and Bankruptcy Options

July 19, 2010

Are you facing a foreclosure? Considering bankruptcy or a short sale?

If that sounds like you, you should obtain legal advice regarding your individual options.  In order to help homeowners and individuals who are experiencing financial difficulties with the loss of a job or a pending foreclosure, Plastiras & Terrizzi is announcing a new discounted rate one-time consultation with an attorney to answer questions, evaluate options, and strategize a unique approach tailored to your personal situation.

While the consultation will focus on your concerns and questions, your meeting may include any of the following topics:

The consultation with an attorney from Plastiras & Terrizzi will include a one-time, 45-minute meeting either in person or via phone for a $275 $225 flat fee.*

In order to be sure the consultation is as productive as possible, please bring with you copies of all relevant documents and correspondence between you and all of your mortgage lenders, or send copies to our office prior to the meeting if doing the consultation by phone.

While we encourage loan modifications when feasible, our firm does not handle negotiations with creditors or mortgage lenders. However, we often assist clients in determining whether or not such loan modifications are likely to be successful.

To set up an appointment, call us today:

Attorneys At Law
24 Professional Center Parkway, Suite 150
San Rafael, CA 94903
Phone: (415) 472-8100
FAX: (415) 472-8110

*  This information may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under applicable laws and ethical rules. The material above has been prepared by Plastiras & Terrizzi. The material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  Plastiras & Terrizzi does not perform loan modification services or other loan forbearance services for residential real estate or collect advance fees for helping negotiate residential loan modifications.


S.F. Chronicle publishes John Corcoran op/ed: “Feds should reject California’s loan modification rule”

April 19, 2010

The San Francisco Chronicle today published Plastiras & Terrizzi attorney John Corcoran‘s op/ed, “Feds should reject California’s loan modification rule”:

Shortly before April 15, California lawmakers passed a bill that will provide relief to Californians who have lost their home to foreclosure, sold their home in a short sale or obtained a loan modification by conforming state tax policy to federal rules that do not tax homeowners for forgiven mortgage debt. That bill is a step in the right direction, but earlier legislation, SB94, which prevents anyone from taking up-front fees to negotiate a loan modification, definitely is not.

And now the Federal Trade Commission wants to take that bad law nationwide.

SB94 by Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello (Los Angeles County) was designed to crack down on greedy loan modification companies that took thousands of dollars from desperate homeowners but produced few or no results for them.

Those consumers need protections. That’s why the measure passed by an overwhelming margin.

But the bill contained major flaws that have resulted in unintended consequences….

You can read more by clicking here.

The Chronicle published another article on the front page today which discusses the increasing frequency with which banks are pursuing second mortgage debt for individuals whose homes have already been foreclosed on:

California is a nonrecourse state, meaning lenders cannot pursue borrowers for unpaid balances on home-purchase loans. However, home loans not used for the purchase – home equity lines of credit and second loans taken out after purchase – are recourse loans, which means lenders are legally entitled to collect the unpaid balance. Depending on the type of loan, they have four to six years to pursue borrowers.

You can read the full article here.

John Corcoran is an Associate with Plastiras & Terrizzi law firm in San Rafael, California (Marin County).  He advises clients on real estate matters, small business issues, estate planning, and general civil litigation.  He may be reached at jcorcoran@ptlegal.com or (415) 472-8100 x211.


It’s a Great Time to Buy a Home, And Also the Worst Time

November 17, 2009

It seems like it’s a lot easier to buy a house today than it was just a few years ago.  Home prices have plummeted, more homes are on the market, and fewer people are looking to buy a home due to the sluggish economy.  Washington D.C. has made buying a home easier by extending through 2010 the maximum dollar amount for “conforming loans,” which should increase availability of loans for buyers in expensive real estate markets such as New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Pres. Obama also just signed an extension and expansion of the first time homebuyer tax credit, which now applies to anyone who hasn’t owned a primary residence in the past three years and includes a new $6,500 tax credit for buyers who have lived in their home for five years or more.

Forrest Thomas, son Tyson, 14 months, and wife Samantha, potential buyers of a home in a short sale (Photo credit: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Unfortunately, for each barrier that comes down, it seems another is quickly erected. Read the rest of this entry »


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.


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.