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.

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Biggest Defaulters on Mortgages are the Rich

July 9, 2010

The NY Times is reporting that wealthy homeowners are quickly becoming the most common homeowners to go into default and foreclosure.  The article stated that homeowners with mortgages over $1 million are much more likely to stop paying, with 1 in 7 of these wealthy homeowners currently seriously delinquent, compared to 1 in 12 for homeowners with mortgages below the million dollar level who are currently seriously delinquent.

The article stated:

Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.

This is consistent with what I have seen throughout San Francisco and the Bay Area.  In my experience advising clients on various real estate and land use issues, I have seen numerous wealthy homeowners with properties and mortgages far north of $1 million who have fallen upon hard times.  For many of these homeowners, their own option is to stop paying their mortgages.  Sometimes homeowners are fortunate to have many years of ownership and equity built up, so they have options such as selling the property.

When they don’t have equity, then they need to consider attempting a short sale or a loan modification.  Unfortunately, due to the passage of SB 94 this past fall, homeowners attempting a loan modification are very unlikely to be able to hire an attorney to advise them on how to accomplish a modification.  That leaves a short sale or simply walking away as the most likely option.

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.


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.


Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs SB 94 into law

October 12, 2009

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB 94 by Sen. Ron Calderon into law.

SB 94 prohibits anyone, including loan modification agencies or attorneys, from collecting up front fees for mortgage loan modification services for residential properties.  The bill also prevents anyone from collecting any security to guarantee future payment (such as a lien) or collecting a “Power of Attorney” for the purpose of negotiating with lenders to perform a residential loan modification.  The bill sunsets in 2013.

SB 94 has received both praise from consumer groups who argue it will crack down on fly-by-night loan modification outfits which take money from desperate homeowners, and criticism from attorneys who argue that the bill will make it more difficult for homeowners to find an attorney who will represent them.

Although it is not clear yet what the long term affect of SB 94 will be, the bill will likely help by immediately inhibiting unscrupulous loan modification companies that have cropped up offering “loan modification” services for a fee without ever following through on their promises.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the many law firms (see here and here) which have become a cottage industry during the mortgage crisis of the past year, offering services such as loan modifications and foreclosure litigation.  Other law firms have already been shut down.


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.