The news lately seems to be somewhat buzzing about an uptick in the economy–that more jobs were added, that the stock market is getting back to levels that haven’t been seen since before the Great Recession, and that the housing market, and hence foreclosures, are improving. Macro economic numbers are fine, but do they really reflect the reality on Main Street? I can tell you anecdotally that as a foreclosure defense lawyer, I’m still seeing plenty of homeowners hurting.
Well, a story recently came out in the Dallas Morning News that made me even more suspicious of the talking heads’ opinions of the housing market. According to the recent study, almost 1 in 10 Texans missed a mortgage payment in the last part of 2011. That adds up to over 276,000 homeowners.
If there is a positive spin to this story, it is the fact that the number of Texas homes actually in foreclosure was 1.78 percent, compared to 4.4 percent nationally. But even that figure works out to more than 54,000 homes in foreclosure in the Lone Star State.
In my opinion, the most discouraging statistic in the story was that about 3 percent of Texas homes were 90 days late or more on their mortgage payments. When homeowners fall this far behind, it usually means that a foreclosure is not far off. Banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, AHMSI, CitiMortgage, U.S. Bank, PNC, and many others simply don’t make much effort at working with homeowners at preventing foreclosure at this point. Oh, they might go through the motions of a modification application, but usually homeowners can only get a call center on the phone, and they are regularly told that they need to submit “additional paperwork for consideration.” In the meantime, a notice of foreclosure sale shows up in the mail, and homeowners are left wondering which story from the bank is the right one.
As I’ve posted on this blog many times before, the best way to avoid foreclosure and get a satisfactory result from your bank is to go on the offensive with them. Don’t wait until you get a notice of default or notice of foreclosure sale to start acting. If you’re behind, take action–even if the bank hasn’t threatened you yet. I can promise you this, you may fall through the cracks at the bank for a while, but eventually, they will notice nonpayments. And when they do, they will most likely pursue foreclosure aggressively at that point.
When clients come to me, one of the first things they usually ask is whether we’ll be able to save their home. I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell them the answer, but I don’t. But I do offer this bit of advice: If you do nothing, you’ll lose your home for sure; if you fight, you may just be able to save it.