Friday, November 25, 2022

Ways to Stop a Foreclosure Before the Holidays

Facing foreclosure is extremely difficult at any time of the year, especially when the homeowner does not have any options for finding a new place to live and has a family to support. At the Emerson Law Firm, we know how devastating it can be to learn that you are at risk of foreclosure, and we also know how important it is to take steps in order to prevent the completion of a foreclosure. Even if you cannot remain in your home, you may be able to sell your property quickly without taking the impact on your credit that a foreclosure would have. In addition, you may be able to work out an agreement with the lender so that you will not still owe a significant amount of money on your mortgage and will not face legal action from the lender.

Whether you are currently facing foreclosure and it appears imminent, or you are behind on your mortgage payments and have concerns about your options for the near future, our experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys can discuss potential options with you.

File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, if you are eligible, can stop the foreclosure process before the holidays and give you an opportunity to catch up on your mortgage debt. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is often the best way to avoid foreclosure and to remain in your home.

Consider a Short Sale

If Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not a possibility for you, you should speak with an attorney about a short sale. With a short sale, you must get the lender to agree, and you will need to find a buyer for the property. How does this work? A short sale involves selling your property for less than what you owe on the mortgage but for an amount agreed upon by the bank. Then, with assistance from your lawyer, you can have the lender agree to forgive any remaining debt (i.e., the amount remaining when you subtract the purchase price of the house from the amount you owe on the mortgage). While a short sale will not help you stay in your home, it can allow you to avoid the credit consequences of a foreclosure, and you may be eligible to buy a home again soon.

Find Out About a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure

While it is often less appealing than a short sale, if your lender will not agree to a short sale or if a short sale does not seem possible or likely for other reasons, you may be able to consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure. With a deed in lieu, as it is commonly described, you will sign over your home to the bank in return for the bank agreeing to stop any foreclosure proceedings. Depending upon your circumstances, you may be able to work with an experienced foreclosure defense lawyer to reach an agreement with the bank, where they will forgive the mortgage debt you owe so that you will not face a lawsuit in the future.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Today

If you are struggling to make mortgage payments and want to learn about options to defend against foreclosure or to stop foreclosure before the holidays, our experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense lawyers can help. We have years of experience representing homeowners in foreclosure defense cases, and an advocate at our firm can speak with you today about your circumstances. Contact the Emerson Law Firm for more information about how we can assist you.



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Zombie Foreclosures are Returning to the Chicago Area

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Zombie Foreclosures are Returning to the Chicago Area

You may have heard about zombie foreclosures in the Chicago area in the past. According to a recent report from ABC 7 News, rates of zombie properties and foreclosures have increased in Chicago, while a report from National Mortgage Professional emphasizes that the number of nationwide zombie foreclosures has been “ticking upward again.” What should you know about zombie foreclosures and, ultimately, about avoiding foreclosure if you can? Consider some of the following information from our Oak Park foreclosure defense lawyers.

What You Should Know About Zombie Properties and Foreclosures

What is a zombie foreclosure? You might remember the term from a decade ago when the housing bubble burst and home foreclosures were common in Chicago. In short, a zombie foreclosure is a term that refers to a property where the homeowner knows the bank has initiated the foreclosure process, and they assume that foreclosure is inevitable, so they move out and abandon the property. In Chicagoland, many of those homeowners incur significant fines — sometimes tens of thousands of dollars that they would not have owed otherwise.

According to the report from National Mortgage Professional, zombie foreclosures are up by nearly 4 percent from this same time last year, and the overall rate has been growing incrementally over the previous quarters. Still, residential foreclosure rates are low, but the steady increase in zombie foreclosures could be a sign of bigger issues in the future.

You May Still Be Able to Avoid Foreclosure

Before you assume that a foreclosure is certainly going to take place, you may still be able to take steps to avoid foreclosure and protect your credit. To be clear, you should get in touch with an Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney before moving out of your house and assuming the foreclosure process is a foregone conclusion.

Depending on your circumstances, you could have a few options available. First, if you are eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it is possible that you could still have a path to keep your home. By filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will immediately have the protection of the automatic stay. The automatic stay will halt the foreclosure process at any stage, whether the bank has only just initiated the foreclosure process or your home is nearing a foreclosure sale. Then, through the debt reorganization process that is part of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you can catch up on mortgage payments and become current again with your lender.

Even if you cannot stay in your home, you may have options for avoiding foreclosure, even at a later stage of the foreclosure process. If your home could be sold to a buyer, you may be able to convince your lender to agree to a short sale, and your foreclosure defense attorney can help with this process. Through a short sale, you can sell your home to a buyer for less than what you owe, and you can have the bank agree to forgive the remaining debt. Or, if a short sale is not possible, the bank might agree to a deed in lieu of foreclosure. With a deed in lieu, you will reach an agreement with your lender that you cannot make payments, and you will voluntarily turn over your home to the bank. With a deed in lieu, it will be important to work with a lawyer to determine how you can avoid a deficiency judgment.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing foreclosure, you should seek help from one of our Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to get in touch to learn more about defending against foreclosure and protecting your credit from the effects of foreclosure. You may have more options than you think. Contact the Emerson Law Firm today for more information.


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What are the Steps in a Short Sale?
Foreclosure Filings Increase by More Than 15%

Friday, September 23, 2022

What are the Steps in a Short Sale?

If you are behind on your mortgage payments and you want to avoid foreclosure, one of the options you are likely considering is a short sale. For many homeowners, a short sale is one of the best ways to prevent foreclosure while avoiding added costs associated with a deficiency judgment. While it is not always possible to have the remaining debt forgiven by the lender, short sales allow many homeowners to avoid taking the serious credit hit associated with a foreclosure, which often means that they can be eligible to buy a home again on a much shorter timeline. When you are considering a short sale, you might know a little bit about the process but may be unclear about specific steps. While it will be important to work with an Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney on the specific facts of your case, the following are the general steps in a short sale.

1. Determine if You Have Other Options for Catching Up on Your Mortgage

Since a short sale will mean that you sell your house and move to another location, you will want to consider whether you have other options that might allow you to catch up on your mortgage. For debtors who are significantly behind on mortgage payments, another option may be to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you are eligible.

2. Make a Plan for Approaching Your Lender

You will need to receive approval from your lender to make a short sale since a short sale will involve selling the property for less money than you owe on it. Convincing your lender to agree to the short sale is often necessary. It will be important to show the lender that the short sale is necessary and to show, if possible, that unexpected circumstances resulted in your inability to make your mortgage payments. You will want to gather financial materials that provide evidence of your financial situation and the need for the short sale.

3. Ask the Lender for Approval

Next, you will need to request approval from the lender for a short sale. As an article in Quicken Loans explains, you will need to make this request through the proper channels. For most short sales, you will need to speak with someone in the loss mitigation department. At this stage, it is beneficial to have an experienced lawyer on your side who can deal with the lender on your behalf and can seek approval for the short sale.

4. Create a Short Sale Proposal and Set the Price

If the lender approves the short sale, you will need to create a short sale proposal and set the price. Ideally, you will sell the house for a price that is close to what you owe on the mortgage (or as close as possible to what you owe on the mortgage). The bank may be more willing to forgive a smaller amount of money rather than seeking a deficiency judgment.

5. Find a Buyer for Your Home

You will have to find a buyer with your short sale proposal. When you receive an offer from a buyer, you will need to obtain a purchase agreement to submit to your lender with your proposal.

6. Submit Your Proposal to Your Lender

Finally, you will submit your proposal, the purchase agreement, and all supporting financial materials to your lender. Your lender will need to approve the short sale and accept the offer from the buyer.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Attorney

If you have short sale questions, our Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys can help. Contact the Emerson Law Firm today for assistance.




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Foreclosure Filings Increase by More Than 15%

Top Five Advantages of a Short Sale

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Foreclosure Filings Increase by More Than 15%

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many commentators expected the rate of home foreclosures to increase across the country. However, moratoriums and economic aid largely prevented a significant rise in foreclosure rates, and many homeowners were able to remain in their homes despite facing job losses and furloughs. Yet according to a recent article in MarketWatch, that increase in home foreclosures appears to have begun. Indeed, the article reports that foreclosure filings have increased by more than 150% from July 2021, and since the start of 2022, foreclosure filings have risen by about 219%.

What are the likely implications of the rise in foreclosures, and what options might you have to avoid foreclosure?

Details of the Recent Foreclosure Surge

According to the article, about 96% of the largest metro areas in the U.S. have seen a rise in foreclosure filings and starts, and Illinois is near the very top of the list. When it comes to the overall rise in foreclosure rates, Illinois has the highest increase, and the state has the fourth-highest rise in foreclosure starts.

What does the increase mean for struggling homeowners? As the article points out, the rise brings the overall number of foreclosures back to a figure that is closer to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that foreclosures were markedly low over the last two years. At the same time, the dramatic increase in foreclosure rates suggests that many homeowners are struggling to pay their mortgages and that it is important for those struggling homeowners to learn about options to prevent foreclosure.

Options to Consider to Avoid Foreclosure

If you are facing foreclosure and you want to take steps to stop the foreclosure process, you should get in touch with an experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney who can discuss options with you.

In general, if you want to be able to keep your home and you qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, our firm can tell you more about how a reorganization bankruptcy can halt foreclosure and can allow the debtor to keep their home. For this option to be available, you will need to be able to show that you are a wage earner capable of making regular installment payments as part of a repayment plan. There is a debt limit in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, but even if your debts exceed the limits (unsecured debt of $465,275 and secured debt of $1,395,875 until May 2025), you could be eligible for Chapter 11 bankruptcy instead.

For debtors who want to avoid the credit hit associated with a foreclosure, there are a couple of options you can consider. First, you might be able to get the bank to agree to a short sale. With a short sale, you can sell the house for an amount less than what you owe, and the bank may forgive any remaining debt. Or, you might consider a deed in lieu of foreclosure, which involves signing over your house to the bank in exchange for the bank agreeing to stop the foreclosure process. A lawyer can explain the differences between a short sale and a deed in lieu, as well as the benefits and limitations of each of these options.

Contact an Experienced Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Lawyer

If you have questions about avoiding foreclosure or need help with your case, one of our experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys can speak with you today about your options. Contact the Emerson Law Firm for more information about how we can help.


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Top Five Advantages of a Short Sale

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Top Five Advantages of a Short Sale

Struggling to pay your mortgage and realizing that you could soon be facing foreclosure is an extremely difficult experience for any homeowner. Indeed, it can be devastating to recognize that you do not have options for staying in your home given the amount of debt you owe. There are a variety of options that could be available to you to avoid foreclosure, including a short sale. Our Oak Park foreclosure defense attorneys routinely help struggling homeowners with short sales in order to stop a foreclosure from happening, and we can provide you with more information about how a short sale might benefit you. In the meantime, the following are the top five advantages of a short sale.

1. Avoid Having a Foreclosure on Your Credit

One of the most obvious advantages of doing a short sale instead of foreclosure is that you will not have a foreclosure on your credit record or credit report. When a foreclosure happens, a consumer’s credit takes a significant hit, and it can be difficult to rebuild credit. While a short sale will still affect your credit, it will affect your credit significantly less.

2. You Will Have Greater Control Over the Process Than You Would in a Foreclosure

When you do a short sale, you will be able to have more control over the process and will be able to make plans to sell the home and to move into a new one.

3. You Can be Eligible for Another Mortgage Sooner

When a judicial foreclosure occurs, you may need to wait for up to eight years before you are eligible to get a mortgage. With a short sale, you can be eligible for a mortgage again on a much shorter timeline. Depending upon the type of loan you want to get, you may need to wait anywhere from two to four years before you are eligible again, according to Bankrate. That timeline is significantly shorter than if you lose your home to foreclosure.

4. You May Save Money

The costs associated with foreclosure can be high. According to Mortgage News Daily, the Joint Economic Committee of Congress estimates that the average cost of foreclosure to a homeowner is more than $7,000, while a short sale will incur minimal costs.

5. Less Stressful Than a Foreclosure

Given that you will have more control in a short sale than a foreclosure, and that you can begin rebuilding your credit in order to be eligible again relatively soon for a mortgage, a short sale is generally less stressful for the homeowner than a foreclosure.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Today

If you are behind on mortgage payments and you are facing the possibility of foreclosure, you should get in touch with an Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney who can provide you with more information about your options. We can help you through the short sale process, which can be complicated, and we can also provide you with information about other foreclosure defense options, such as a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Contact the Emerson Law Firm to learn more about how we can assist you.


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Does Bankruptcy Always Stop Foreclosure?

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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Does Bankruptcy Always Stop Foreclosure?

If you are struggling with debt and you are also struggling to make mortgage payments, you might have heard information about bankruptcy being able to stop a foreclosure. When you are at risk of your home going into foreclosure and one of your primary aims in filing for personal bankruptcy is to stop the foreclosure and to be able to remain in your home, you may be planning to file for bankruptcy to get back on track with your mortgage payments. However, it is important to understand that not all bankruptcy chapters have the same effect on foreclosures.

If you are planning to file for bankruptcy with a primary aim of stopping foreclosure on your house, it is critical to seek advice from an Oak Park bankruptcy lawyer about your case. We can provide you with more information about the ways in which bankruptcy and foreclosure can be connected, and we can help you to file for the type of bankruptcy that is best suited to your circumstances.

In the meantime, consider some of the following information that helps to clarify the ways in which bankruptcy has the ability to stop home foreclosures.

Automatic Stay Initially Stops Foreclosure in All Bankruptcy Cases

In every consumer bankruptcy case, the automatic stay will initially stop a foreclosure from moving forward or taking place. However, the automatic stay cannot stop foreclosures indefinitely in all types of bankruptcy cases.

You Cannot Keep Your House if You are Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Behind on Your Mortgage Payments

If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the automatic stay will initially stop a foreclosure, but it cannot permanently stop a foreclosure and allow you to keep your home. If you are behind on mortgage payments, you will likely need to plan for the lender to take possession of the property or to sell the house.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Stop Foreclosure and Allow You to Keep Your Home

If you want to use bankruptcy to stop a foreclosure and to keep your home, you will want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of reorganization bankruptcy will allow you to keep your home. How does it work?

The automatic stay will apply as soon as you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and the lender will not be able to move forward with any aspects of a foreclosure case—whether it is initially filing an action to initiate a judicial foreclosure or moving forward with an existing foreclosure case. Then, since Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a kind of reorganization bankruptcy, you can create a repayment plan that will allow you to catch up on back-owed mortgage payments and to remain in your home.

Contact an Oak Park Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

If you have questions about how filing for bankruptcy can stop foreclosure, or if you need assistance with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, one of our experienced Oak Park bankruptcy attorneys is here to help with your case. Contact the Emerson Law Firm to learn more about how we can assist you.


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Friday, May 27, 2022

How Can I Do a Short Sale?

If your home is currently at risk of going into foreclosure, or if you are unable to continue making your mortgage payments and want to take steps to avoid foreclosure, one of the options you might be considering is a short sale. It is important to understand that a short sale is different from a traditional home sale, and there are certain steps you will need to take if you want to do a short sale in Illinois. An experienced Oak Park foreclosure defense attorney at our firm can talk with you today about planning a short sale and moving forward with a short sale in order to prevent foreclosure. In the meantime, the following are the general steps you should be aware of when it comes to doing a short sale in the Chicago area.

Understand What is Involved in a Short Sale

Before you take any steps toward doing a short sale, it is essential to understand what is involved in the process. A short sale is generally for homeowners who have underwater loans and cannot make their mortgage payments. With a short sale, you will be entering into an agreement with your lender to sell your house for less than what you owe on the mortgage, and the lender will agree to accept the amount for which the house sells and, in most cases, forgive the remaining amount of mortgage debt. A short sale will impact your credit, and you will not be able to keep your home, but it will have less impact on your credit than if your house goes into foreclosure and is sold through a foreclosure sale.

Determine if You Need to Do a Short Sale

You should work with an attorney who can help you to determine whether a short sale is necessary. In most situations, it is possible to estimate the likely sale price of the house, and to account for the unpaid mortgage balance and any costs associated with the sale. If it looks as if you might still make any money from the sale or might come out even, a short sale is likely not necessary. If money will still be due after a sale of the house based on the estimated selling price, you may need to move forward with a short sale.

Contact Your Lender

Once you decide to move forward with a short sale, the first thing you will need to do is contact your lender. According to an article in The Balance, getting in touch with the right person can be difficult, and it often makes sense to seek help from a foreclosure defense lawyer immediately so that your lawyer can be in contact with the lender and negotiate the terms of the short sale.

Submit a Hardship Letter and Related Documentation

When you ask the lender to agree to a short sale and to forgive remaining debt, you will typically need to submit a hardship letter that explains your financial situation and why you are unable to continue making payments on your home loan. Along with a hardship letter, you will usually need to submit financial documentation to the lender, including information about any assets you have and copies of your bank statements.

Listing the House and Entering Into an Agreement

Finally, if the lender agrees to the possibility of a short sale, the house can be listed, you can submit a purchase agreement to the lender once you find a buyer, and the lender can approve the terms of the short sale.

Contact an Oak Park Foreclosure Defense Attorney Today

If you have questions about doing a short sale, one of our foreclosure defense attorneys in Oak Park can assist you. Contact the Emerson Law Firm to get started.


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