Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Avoiding Foreclosure: The Emerson Law Firm Discusses Ways to Save Your Home

Earlier this month, Sandy Emerson talked with Illinois Homes about how the Emerson Law Firm can help consumers who are facing foreclosure.  Back in 2000, Sandy Emerson established the firm after “witnessing the rampant abuses in the debt collection and mortgage servicing industries.”  While the firm focuses on consumer law today, the attorneys at the Emerson Law Firm continue to assist clients with foreclosure defense, loan modifications, real estate matters, and other consumer issues.
Homeowners Can Stop a Foreclosure
Many struggling homeowners operate under the misconception that there’s nothing to be done about a foreclosure.  Yet it’s important to know that, at the Emerson Law Firm, the dedicated foreclosure defense attorneys stop foreclosures every day.  In her interview for Illinois Homes, Sandy Emerson emphasizes that, unlike other foreclosure defense firms, the Emerson Law Firm is “a home preservation firm.”
What does that mean?  In short, the consumer attorneys at the Emerson Law Firm will not simply litigate in order to “buy time” before a foreclosure.  Instead, there are a number of options that a foreclosure defense attorney can help you with to ensure that you get to keep your home.  For example, if you’re eligible for a loan modification, we can help you to get your mortgage payment modified.  You also may be able to prevent foreclosure with a deed in lieu or a short sale, but many other loss mitigation options exist, too.  We have years of experience helping Chicago residents to stay in their homes, and we understand the many different options that exist for clients who face foreclosure.
In some cases, a lender won’t comply with all of the state and/or federal foreclosure requirements, and the foreclosure defense attorneys at the Emerson Law Firm can help.  For instance, if a loan servicer doesn’t comply with certain notice requirements under state or federal law, you might be able to use that as a defense to foreclosure.  A foreclosure defense attorney can assess whether a loan servicer has violated notice requirements under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Code of Federal Regulations.
However, it’s important to remember that defenses to foreclosure must be brought within a particular period of time.  The longer you wait to raise a defense, the greater the likelihood that you won’t be able to use that defense at all.  As such, you should speak to an experienced foreclosure defense attorney as soon as possible.
Foreclosure Regrets
When it comes to facing foreclosure, homeowners often regret that they didn’t speak to a foreclosure defense attorney sooner.  The sooner you talk with a foreclosure defense lawyer, there’s a better chance that you’ll be able to raise defenses to the foreclosure.
According to Sandy Emerson, many clients call the Emerson Law Firm just a day or two before their homes are being sold through a foreclosure auction in hopes of stopping the sale.  Short of filing for bankruptcy, it’s difficult to save homes that have reached this stage.  The key to stopping a foreclosure is speaking to an attorney as soon as possible.  Sandy Emerson explains that, “if a homeowner wants to save the home, we have the most bargaining power when we are involved early in the case.”
Contact a Foreclosure Defense Lawyer
You can reach the Emerson Law Firm by phone at (708) 660-9190 or by filling out an electronic message form.  If you are at risk of losing your home because you’re having difficulty making mortgage payments, contact a foreclosure defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are Big Banks Overcharging Foreclosure Fees?

According to a recent article in Reuters, it’s possible that at least five large banks may have “overcharged the government for expenses incurred during foreclosures on federally backed home loans.”  Which banks have been implicated?  Based on filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the banks involved are PNC Financial Services Group Inc., PHH Corp., MetLife Inc., Santander Holdings USA Inc., and Citizens Financial Group Inc.  Citizens is the U.S. “unit” of the Royal Bank of Scotland.  The banks have all received subpoenas that seek to uncover information about the fees at issue.
Foreclosure rates are continuing to wane across the country.  And although Illinois is still near the top of the list of states affected by foreclosures and delinquencies, the market is bouncing back.  However, the fact that the real estate market is in recovery doesn’t mean that banks can get away with fraud or overcharging for expenses related to foreclosures.  Indeed, the recent investigation suggests that the SEC and other organizations continue to investigate lending and foreclosure practices from the peak years of the housing crisis.
If you have questions about foreclosure fees and your rights as a borrower, it’s important to get in touch with an experienced Chicago foreclosure defense lawyer.  An attorney at the Emerson Law Firm can speak to you today.
Details of the Bank Subpoenas and Foreclosure Expenses
Based on information contained in the Reuters article, it looks as though the U.S. Attorney’s office has issued subpoenas to those banks in order to obtain “information on claims on foreclosed loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”
Why are the subpoenas coming now, in a period that Reuters describes as “years after the height of the foreclosure crisis”?  In short, the SEC, along with many different consumer advocacy groups across the country, is attempting to really “clean up” the mortgage-servicing industry.  Given all the problems involving mortgage servicers and consumer fraud over the last six years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that consumer rights groups continue to look into these matters.
But what is distressing, according to Ira Rheingold, the director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, is that consumer rights advocates are “seeing the same servicing problems over and over.”  Indeed, Rheingold contends that overcharging is a practice that has been “built into” mortgage-servicing procedures.  As a result, servicers have learned “to charge as many fees as they could.”
The new interest in fee-related practices has also arisen with renewed use of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act.  As of late, the Justice Department has been relying on that law to “pursue cases against banks.”  And for many advocate groups, it makes sense to take a closer look at these banking practices now that we’re out of the woods with regard to the economic crisis.  Given the extremely high percentage of loans that were delinquent or in foreclosure between 2009 and 2012—a total of approximately 10 percent—between $6 trillion and $7 trillion are connected to loans connected to the economic downturn.  It’s important to know whether those mortgages have been affected by bad banking practices.
Do you have questions about foreclosure or mortgage-servicing practices in Illinois?  Contact an Oak Park foreclosure lawyer today.
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