Many mortgage companies are offering assistance - but BEWARE - most are only offering forbearance of payments. Forbearance means you don't have to make your payment for a few months, but it doesn't mean the scheduled payments are no longer owed. In fact, as soon as the forbearance is lifted in a few months, ALL the payments you’ve missed may be due in full. If you aren’t able to make all the payments at once, you’ll be in default and your house will go into foreclosure.
While a foreclosure moratorium is in effect on federally-backed mortgages (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) through March 31, 2021, that does not apply to all mortgages. Not sure if your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac? Find out at the Making Homes Affordable Website.
Payments on mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae can be under Freddie Mac's COVID-19 Payment Deferral program for up to 12 months, with missed payments being added to the end of the loan. Fannie Mae has a similar COVID-19 Payment Deferral program.
If your loan is not federally-backed you’ll likely have to apply for a loan modification in order to stay in your home as banks can’t just automatically tack on payments to the back of the loan without your consent and paperwork being signed. If you can’t qualify for a modification due to inability to pay (or for any other reason), they can (and likely will) move forward with foreclosure and kick you out of your home as soon as legally possible.
That’s when you may need the professional services of a real estate property foreclosure lawyer to help slow down the foreclosure proceedings and negotiate a loan modification, short sale, or other negotiated settlement such as a Deed in Lieu of foreclosure. Bankruptcy may also provide you relief, but in most cases should be used as a last resort.
Tips to avoid default and foreclosure:
Your home is your castle, a safe haven for you and your family. If you are facing foreclosure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a divorce, job loss, hospitalization or death, it threatens the stability of your home life. Once the foreclosure process has started, you typically have just a few short months to act before your property is sold at auction. The banks have lawyers to protect their rights...so should you!
We understand you want to slow the foreclosure process or stop foreclosure altogether. At The Lane Law Firm, we offer strong defense representation to homeowners in the Houston, Dallas / Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, and throughout most of Texas.
The best way to stop foreclosure is typically with a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), but in some cases it may not be necessary at all. While we do have a very high success rate in obtaining relief for our clients through temporary restraining orders, a judge ultimately decides each case based on its unique merits, so success can not be guaranteed.
In the rare instances a TRO is not granted, an attorney can still seek alternative remedies such as bankruptcy, but typically we don't recommend such a drastic measure unless absolutely necessary.
Once relief through a TRO is achieved, an attorney must immediately work to negotiate a resolution that will keep you in your home or allow you to exit gracefully if you desire.
When our clients engage us early enough in the process, a Houston foreclosure attorney at our firm can typically delay the foreclosure or lawsuit long enough to seek a resolution without having to seek a temporary restraining order.
Depending on your situation, an attorney may be able to:
Contact us today to find out how an attorney can help this or other mortgage matters. We offer free, confidential consultations where we'll demystify the legal process and you understand your options. We'll also develop a legal strategy specifically with your goals in mind and provide a free cost estimate of what it will take to accomplish them.
When facing foreclosure, many people think bankruptcy is the only way to stop it. While bankruptcy does provide an automatic temporary stay to avoid foreclosure, it causes considerable damage to one's credit so it is advisable to consider all other remedies first.
At The Lane Law Firm, we believe that bankruptcy is not the best foreclosure defense option for most of our clients. So before an attorney will recommend bankruptcy, we will first explore other options including a Temporary Restraining Order with loss mitigation strategies such as a loan modification or short sale that will have less of an impact on your credit report and financial future.
If you have overwhelming debt from your mortgage and other creditors, bankruptcy may be your best option. Click here to find out more about our bankruptcy services.
Even if you know you can't afford your mortgage, we encourage our clients to remain in their house. If you leave, the mortgage company will consider the property to be abandoned and they will not treat you as favorably when it comes to your loss mitigation options. Also, remaining in the property protects it from deteriorating, becoming vandalized or broken into, and keeps squatters from taking up residence. Any devaluation of the property will increase the loss the bank may incur, which increases your liability should you be sued for a deficiency.
Remaining in the property is in your best interest as well as you will not incur the extra expenses of living elsewhere while investing in the legal help you need to get out of your situation as favorably as possible.
If you've fallen behind on your payments and are now able to make payments again - but don't have the ability to pay the full amount due - you may be a good candidate for a loan modification. While it is possible to achieve a modification directly with your servicer, often times a more favorable modification can be achieved in less time with the support of an experienced negotiator such as those at The Lane Law Firm.
A loan modification is an agreement between the borrower and the mortgage company to change the original terms of the mortgage - including the payment amount, length of loan, interest rate, etc. The goal is to prevent foreclosure and keep the homeowner in the house by lowering the payments so they are affordable according to their current situation, without having to pay the entire amount they are behind.
A modification may be an option if:
You are ineligible to refinance due to delinquent payments in the past 24 months
You are facing a long-term hardship that impacts your ability to pay
You are several months behind on your mortgage payments or likely to fall behind soon
You have the ability to begin making modified payments
The most frequent cause for foreclosure is a sudden and temporary change to the financial condition of a household. In most cases this may be a birth or death in the family, an extended and unexpected hospital stay, caring for loved ones, divorce, change in job or working conditions. If your temporary situation has passed but your mortgage servicer is no longer accepting payment or moving to foreclose then you could benefit from the advice of a foreclosure attorney.
In spite of the fanfare and political promises, achieving a meaningful loan modification without professional assistance has proven to be an extremely difficult task. While The Lane Law Firm does not modify your mortgage, a modification by the servicer or lender of your mortgage may be a favorable settlement outcome of your litigation.
If you own a home that is facing foreclosure in Texas, you may have received a letter starting that process, stating that your property will be foreclosed on in 21 days. This does not give much time to save your house without intervention! With guidance from The Lane Law Firm, you can stall or even stop the foreclosure process completely while a modification is negotiated.
Often, when considering alternatives to foreclosure, homeowners often have concerns regarding the costs involved with either a short sale or loan modification. In essence, the question comes down to, do you want to stay or move out of your property. If you have the ability to pay principal, interest and payments on a mortgage, it may be a good option. If you are unable to make regular payments, then you are able to sell your property through a short sale.
Our foreclosure attorneys are experienced in all aspects of mortgage litigation including loan modifications and an attorney can negotiate with your lender to get you back in good standing through a solution that is best for you. The bank may offer loan modification in attempt to settle mortgage litigation claim, if you have the necessary income to qualify. As with any legal situation the outcome cannot be guaranteed as the mortgage company does not have to offer a loan modification and will only do so if they feel it is in their best interest - which is where an attorney can help.
If you have little-to-no equity in your house and you don't have the financial ability or desire to seek a loan modification, a short sale may be a good option for you. It is possible to obtain a short sale without the assistance of a law firm, but if you are behind in making payments the mortgage company will seek to foreclose on you even if you are working to secure a short sale.
A Short Sale, or Pre-Foreclosure Sale, is when the bank agrees to allow a house to be sold for less than what they are owed. The "Short" in Short Sale refers to the payoff being less than what is owed, not the amount of time required to complete the process. In fact, Short Sales can be quite lengthy, averaging 3-9 months or more to complete.
Possible benefits to the homeowner of a properly negotiated Short Sale:
Typically a Short Sale house is marketed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) by a professional real estate agent or REALTOR®. He/she obtains a competitive offer and submits it to the bank along with a complete Short Sale packet as required by the mortgage company. They then decide if the offer is sufficient and approves or negotiates the offer. Once approved, the property closes with a title company and possession passes to a new owner.
Negotiating a Short Sale can be very difficult. With so much as stake, it's recommended that the homeowner align themselves with an experienced team consisting of a REALTOR® and a Foreclosure Relief law firm. The Lane Law Firm is the largest and most experienced law firm in Texas with an experienced team of Houston foreclosure attorneys, legal support staff, and seasoned client relationship managers. We've helped over 1,000 families complete a Short Sale since 2009, and we want to support you too!
If you want to find out if a Short Sale can benefit you in your situation, contact Steven Schwinger, Senior Client Relationship Manager, at 713-595-8203 or schedule an appointment here.
Although it is strongly preferable to stop foreclosure before it is finalized, there are legal steps you can take even after it is finalized in some cases where it was conducted improperly.
Most foreclosures in Texas are not redeemable, meaning there isn't an automatic process for reclaiming the property following the sale at auction. Some notable exceptions include it's due to the failure to pay ad valorum property taxes or by a home owners association. Following a proper foreclosure, homeowners are typically given only seven days to move out or they face eviction and the auction of their belongings. A skilled attorney can advocate for more time for you during this transition.
If your foreclosure is pending, The Lane Law Firm can take measures to delay or even prevent it from happening altogether in most cases. Our firm will closely evaluate your situation to determine if the bank has followed the rules during the process. For example, an attorney will evaluate the following: