Posts Tagged Foreclosure

Attorney Meenu Seth gets Another Post-Foreclosure Eviction Abated in Denton County

Denton County Court abated an eviction of a homeowner who was facing a lock-out after an alleged wrongful foreclosure on his house. Foreclosure Defense Attorney Meenu Seth filed the lawsuit in State District Court against Deutsche Bank, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc., (AHMSI), Homeward Residential, Inc., and American Home 4 Rent, challenging the authority of Deutsche Bank, AHMSI and Homeward to foreclose on the homeowner. Attorney Meenu Seth then filed the Motion to Abate in the eviction proceeding, pending in Denton County Court. Attorney Seth argued that the issues of title are pending in the State District Court and these title issues are crucial to be adjudicated before the County Court decides the issue of possession. After hearing Attorney Meenu Seth’s arguments and arguments of the opposing counsel, Denton County Court decided in homeowner’s favor and stopped the eviction, during the pendency of the lawsuit filed by Attorney Meenu Seth, on behalf of homeowner in State District Court.

The goal of Attorney Meenu Seth and other attorneys at Duke Seth, PLLC is to help the homeowners know their rights and to educate them about their options, either before foreclosure or post-foreclosure.

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Dallas Foreclosure Defense Attorney stopped another lock-out by obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order in Tarrant County against Wells Fargo and Fannie Mae

The homeowner in Tarrant County, approached Dallas/ Fort Worth foreclosure defense attorney Meenu Seth, 20 hours before the lock-out was scheduled. Attorney Meenu Seth, partner at Duke Seth, PLLC, reviewed all the mortgage related documents, drafted a lawsuit, filed it with the court and obtained the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) within the next four hours after the very first meeting with homeowner. In the lawsuit, attorney Seth challenged the authority of Wells Fargo to foreclose on homeowner and Fannie Mae’s right to possession. Ms. Seth argued that it was a wrongful foreclosure. If the foreclosure conducted by Wells Fargo is void, then Fannie Mae does not get the right of possession just by virtue of filing substitute trustee’s deed with the County Clerk. The Court, after listening to the arguments and reviewing the documents, granted the TRO. The TRO stopped Wells Fargo and Fannie Mae from evicting the homeowner from his property.

The homeowner is still in possession of his property and Ms. Seth has been approached by the attorneys for Wells Fargo and Fannie Mae to settle the case. The settlement discussions are on going.

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Texas Foreclosure Attorney stopped two foreclosures scheduled for August, 2013, by obtaining Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO)

Dallas based foreclosure defense attorney, Meenu Seth, stopped two foreclosure sales scheduled for the month of August, 2013. Ms. X contacted attorney Meenu Seth at Duke Seth, PLLC to stop the threatened foreclosure of her house situated in Collin County. Ms. X received the notice of sale from the JP Morgan Chase Bank stating that her property will be foreclosed on August 6, 2013. Ms. Seth filed a lawsuit in Collin County District Court challenging the authority of JP Morgan Chase to conduct the foreclosure as JP Morgan Chase is not the lender pursuant to the mortgage documents. Court, after carefully listening to Ms. Seth arguments granted the temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the foreclosure sale.

Mr. & Mrs. G are residents of Tarrant County. They received the notice of sale from Recontrust, servicer for Bank of America. They approached Dallas/Fort Worth based foreclosure defense attorney, Meenu Seth. Ms. Seth filed a lawsuit in Tarrant County District Court raising issues as to the right of Bank of America to foreclose on Mr. & Mrs. G’s property. Ms. Seth very artfully explained her concerns regarding the authority and title of Bank of America to foreclose. Court decided in favor of homeowner and granted the temporary restraining order (TRO) and the foreclosure was stopped.

Ms. Seth also stopped two more foreclosures in Dallas County by just making phone calls to the Lender’s attorneys and discussing other work out options. Not to mention, our clients are very thrilled, so are we.

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Fewer Foreclosures in Dallas/Fort Worth

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that the number of Dallas-area home foreclosures continues to fall.  In February 2013, 1.2 percent of homes were in foreclosure, which was down from a year ago.  The report estimates that approximately 11,100 homes have gone through foreclosure in the past year.  For the first few months of 2013, the number of foreclosure filings (which does not necessarily equate to foreclosures completed) is almost 50 percent lower than the same period one year ago.

As a foreclosure defense attorney, I’m thrilled to see these numbers.  I would imagine that the biggest reason for the decrease is an improving economy and lower unemployment.  But I am hopeful that at least some of this decrease can be attributed to lenders finally “getting it” and working with homeowners.  I have been calling out the big banks for years–in court, on this blog, and to their face.  I’ve been fighting them tooth and nail on behalf of homeowners.  And I know I’m not alone.  It seems to be having some effect.

Nevertheless, the overall statistics and trends don’t matter much if your home happens to be in that 1.2 percent (or whatever percentage is applicable at any given time).  For that homeowner, the only number that matters is 1–you.  If keeping your home is important, I would encourage you to fight.  Stand up to the bank and don’t be railroaded into a foreclosure.

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New Rules for Mortgage Servicers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently laid out new rules for mortgage servicers, such as Ocwen and Nationstar.  For most homeowners, it is the servicers who they actually interact with.  Mortgage servicers are the ones who collect your payments, who you talk with (or, more accurately, sit on hold for) if you have an issue, and who hound you if you’re late or miss a payment.  Some banks do their own servicing, with Wells Fargo being the largest.  However, there are independent servicers who management mortgage payments but do not hold notes, such as Ocwen, Nationstar, Litton Loans, American Home Mortgage Servicing, Inc./AHMSI/Homeward Residential.

The actual rules are fairly lengthy and dry.  But you can follow them here if you’re a rules geek like myself and find this stuff interesting.  If you don’t want to wade through these changes to RESPSA (the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act) and TILA (Trust In Lending Act), here are the major changes.

1.  Restrictions on dual tracking: Dual tracking is the term used when servicers move forward on a foreclosure at the same time they’re working with the borrower to avoid foreclosure. Many homeowners have painfully learned that they were foreclosed on by the same servicer they were working with to find an alternative. Under the new rules, servicers cannot begin foreclosure proceedings against you until your payments are 120 days behind.

2.  Pursuing modifications and other loss mitigation: The dual tracking restrictions give homeowners some time to assess their situation and apply for a modification or other option.  If homeowners apply within the 120-day window, the servicer cannot begin foreclosure until the loan modification application has been addressed.  If an agreement is reached, the servicer cannot start foreclosure proceedings unless the homeowner doesn’t uphold their end of the agreement.  Even if homeowners apply while facing foreclosure, the servicer cannot complete the foreclosure while the application is pending so long as it has been submitted at least 38 days before the foreclosure sale is scheduled.

3.  A periodic statement for homeowners:  One of the new requirements defines a periodic statement for residential mortgages. The statement comes every billing cycle and covers basics like an explanation of the amount due, payment and transaction history, account information, and contact information for the servicer. It doesn’t apply to some mortgage types (like reverse mortgages), but it does apply to most home purchases and refinancings. The servicer does not have to provide a monthly statement if homeowners have a fixed rate loan and pay with a coupon book, but the information that would be on the monthly statement needs to be available nonetheless.

4.  Early outreach when a borrower falls behind: If a borrower becomes delinquent, the servicer has to make a good faith effort to reach out to them. The servicer also has to assign people to their case and make those people available by phone so the borrower has a clear and consistent point of contact.

5.  Warnings before interest rate adjustments:  If a homeowner took out an adjustable rate mortgage, the servicer must provide notification about the first interest rate adjustment at least seven months in advance of when the borrower owes a payment at the adjusted interest rate. The servicer has to provide an estimate of the new interest rate and payment amount, alternatives that may be available, and how to access a HUD-approved mortgage counselor. In addition, for the first interest rate adjustment, and all subsequent rate adjustments that result in a different payment amount, servicers must send an additional advance notice telling you what the new payment will be.

6.  Crediting payments in a timely manner: When homeowners make a full payment, the servicer must credit it to their account as of that day. If you request a payoff statement in writing, the servicer has seven business days to issue the statement.

7.  Force-placed insurance:  Force-placed insurance is insurance that the servicer buys on the property when the borrower no longer has property insurance. Without insurance, whoever holds the mortgage would be at risk if the house were to be damaged or destroyed. But the borrower may actually be responsible for the costs of the force-placed insurance policy. This has led to unexpected or duplicate expenses for people who already have their own insurance policies. Under the new rules, servicers need a reasonable basis to believe borrowers lack their own insurance, and they must determine this on a case-by-case basis. The servicer also has to notify the borrower before purchasing the force-placed insurance policy and annually before renewing the policy.

These rules take effect in early 2014.

One of the biggest things that I take away from these rules changes are the mandatory loan modification provisions, and that servicers are limited in the foreclosure proceedings they can undertake if you are in the process of a loan mod.  This underscores the importance of being proactive with your mortgage.  Getting ahead of things can buy you additional time.

I’m encouraged that new rules have been promulgated to help homeowners get a fair shake from their servicers.  It’s only a shame that it’s taken the bad acts of these servicers over the past 4-5 years to finally get to this point.

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Don’t Be Deceived by Bank of America’s Claim of Providing $15.8 Billion in Homeowner Relief

CNBC.com is reporting today that Bank of America is about half way to its requirement of providing $7.6 billion worth of consumer relief in connection with the mortgage fraud mass settlement (reached in connection with potential liability for robo-signing and other nefarious acts).  Bank of America claims to have completed or approved a total of $15.8 billion in consumer relief for about 164,000 homeowners as of September 30, 2012.  In case you’re wondering how $15.8 billion equates to half of $7.6 billion, the bank does not get dollar-for-dollar credit for their efforts.

On its face, it sounds like Bank of America is finally stepping up and working with homeowners.  That is, until you look a little deeper.  Only about 30,000 customers have gotten relief in the form of first-lien loan modifications.  On the grand scale of all of Bank of America’s millions of loans (which includes the portfolio of Countrywide loans they acquired), that’s not very many.  Of the $15.8 billion in relief the bank touts, $7.4 billion of that was in the form of short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.  Short sales and deeds-in-lieu were the “relief” for over 62,000 BoA customers–over twice as many as those that received modifications.

In my experience as a foreclosure defense attorney, short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure (also referred to as cash-for-keys) are rarely considered success stories for homeowners because they mean that the homeowner loses their home.  Short sales and cash-for-keys are often the consolation prize when the bank refuses to work towards a solution that keeps the homeowner in their house long-term.  In other words, they are the best option when the bank refuses a loan modification or realistic reinstatement.  Don’t get me wrong–in some instances, short sales or cash-for-keys is the perfect solution.  But that tends to be the exception rather than the rule, since these options clash with most homeowners’ goal of keeping their house.

When I see that the biggest chunk of Bank of America’s “relief” for homeowners is a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, I know that it’s just business as usual for BoA.  They aren’t interested in working with homeowners and providing real relief.  And it’s confirmation that the mass foreclosure settlement was little more than a big PR move for all the banks.  Maybe BoA has provided $15,8 billion in “relief” on paper.  However, that may be as simple as waiving a $450 “foreclosure inspection” fee or $275 “underwriting fee.”  That’s not real relief, in my opinion.

Don’t be fooled by the headlines.  Bank of America, as well as all the other suspects, are still foreclosing on homeowners.  Fortunately, the number of foreclosures appears to be decreasing, but that’s more likely the result of an improving economy (albeit VERY SLOWLY improving) than anything else.  Don’t assume your lender will work with you.  If you are facing foreclosure, it is important to go on the offensive rather than simply hoping they will work with you.

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Attorney Walker M. Duke Stops Foreclosure with TRO Against Ocwen and HSBC

It was another good day for a Texas homeowner as foreclosure defense attorney Walker M. Duke obtained a temporary restraining order stopping Ocwen and HSBC from foreclosing.  The temporary restraining order, or TRO, was obtained in connection with a lawsuit against these two entities.  In the lawsuit, attorney Duke alleges that the homeowners note and promissory note had supposedly been securitized, or sold to an asset-backed trust to become part of a series of mortgage-backed securities.  The only problem is that the representations that HSBC made to the local county clerk did not match up with the representations HSBC made to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“In my view, HSBC is lying to someone–either the SEC or the County Clerk,” Duke said.  “Either way, something doesn’t smell right.”

This particular attempted foreclosure came in the wake of reports that foreclosure filings in at least the North Texas area are down considerably.  Overall trends don’t mean much, however, when it’s your home that the bank is trying to sell.

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