Banks Paying Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosure

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Delinquent HOA Assessments – Who’s Responsible?

Investors of a foreclosed property often ask if they will be liable for delinquent HOA assessments that came due prior to their purchase of the property from the court.  In 2007, the Florida Legislature chimed in on the issue by passing Florida Statute 720.3085, which states (among other things) that “a parcel owner is jointly and severally liable with the…

Fish in the Pool?! A REO Cautionary Tale

Recently, we encountered a transaction where a real estate investor purchased a REO property, and after closing, discovered tens of thousands in code enforcement liens against the property.  The buyer was never told of the liens prior to purchase and was fully responsible to pay the liens.  It turns out the liens were due to…

Foreclosures on the Rise: Clarifying the Statute of Limitations

In 2013, after the Florida legislature significantly overhauled the foreclosure statutes, new foreclosure filings in Florida nearly came to a complete halt.  Now, however, we are seeing an increase in foreclosure filings, as the banks have modified their procedures to comply with the new statutes.  With this influx of foreclosure filings, we are also encountering…

How Long Does a Lender Really Have to File for Foreclosure?

As any person involved in the real estate industry is well aware, there were hundreds (if not thousands) of foreclosure cases filed in 2007 and 2008 which were dismissed due to improper documentation or non-compliance with Florida’s foreclosure statutes.  Recently, many lenders have been re-filing these previously dismissed cases with better legal counsel or more…

FHA “Back to Work Program”

We all know how difficult it is to financially recover from a traumatic financial loss following a property foreclosure, or even a softer loss following a short sale.  In most cases, a homeowner who lost a property to foreclosure may not be able to qualify for a new conventional mortgage for up to seven (7) years after losing a home.  Under Federal Housing Administration…

Time to Get Your Head Out of the Sand and Pursue that Short Sale

Most everyone is familiar with the terms “strategic default” and “deficiency balance.”  In fact, over the years Berlin Patten has repeatedly addressed the importance of getting legal representation in foreclosure actions, short sales, and debt negotiation.  However, we have seen countless instances of people choosing to essentially bury their heads in the sand and ignore…

Follow Up To “New Catch-22 In Short Sale Negotiation”

We have received tremendous feedback to our recent blog concerning lender(s) who are now forcing sellers to use auction companies to further market their property as a precondition to short sale approval.  Our previous suggestions to attempt to address the situation were (a) encourage the seller to incorporate language in their contracts to permit the…

The New Foreclosure Legislation is Now Law and Affects More Than Just Foreclosures

On July 1, 2013, many revisions to the Florida foreclosure statutes went into effect. While many of the new provisions are technical in nature and primarily effect attorneys practicing foreclosure law, the overall effect is a dramatic change in the foreclosures process and the rights of struggling homeowners. Also, most of the changes are retroactive,…

House Bill 87 And The Impact Of Florida Mortgage Foreclosures

As you may have read, House Bill 87 (H.B. 87) was recently passed by the Florida legislature and proposes to make significant changes with respect to the Florida Statutes regarding mortgage foreclosure actions.  As of now, H.B. 87 will become new law unless Governor Rick Scott decides to exercise his veto power, which seems unlikely…

Tips on Inspection Periods for Short Sale Transactions

As most of you have likely seen, the demand in today’s market for short sale properties is very high, with decreasing inventory and a large pool of buyers.  In fact, property prices are increasing in many areas because of this high demand, and short sale sellers are often receiving many offers – some possibly even…

Substituting Contract Pages

We have noticed an increase in a practice, that if not done with full and proper disclosure, could lead to substantial trouble for the parties involved, including civil liability, license forfeiture, or worse yet, criminal sanctions.  The practice involves changing and/or substituting pages to a fully executed contract.   While we recognize the reality that…

Dealing With Entities As Buyers In Investment Properties

As most of you are aware, more and more investors are coming to this area to invest in distressed properties. The result is an increasing number of short sale contracts in which the buyers are entities (such as LLCs) rather than individuals. Typically, short sale lenders require the seller to provide a slew of documentation,…

Navigating a Short Sale – Tips & Reminders

With the extension of deficiency waiver tax relief, we have seen no slowdown with respect to short sales, and do not anticipate a slowdown in the foreseeable future.  With that in mind, we wanted to remind anyone who routinely handles short sales to consider the following: Do not forget about how critical it is to…

Bankruptcy Follow-up: Short Sales Post Bankruptcy

Originally Published by Berlin Patten on October 12, 2012 With the proliferation of bankruptcy filings over the last several years, we have received a number of inquiries regarding the completion of a short sale following a bankruptcy.  Yes, there are lawyers who may suggest that a homeowner who has been discharged from a bankruptcy (and…

Removal of Second Mortgages in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases

Previously, the general rule in bankruptcy was that if a homeowner wanted to “strip off” or remove a second mortgage, he or she could only do so in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  However, that has now changed. In McNeal v. GMAC Mortg., LLC (In re McNeal), 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9589 (11th Cir. 2012), the…

Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA) Short Sale Update

Originally Published: 6/19/2012 Effective June 1, 2012, the following changes were implemented in the HAFA Program: TIME FRAME EXTENDED: The program has been extended to Dec. 31, 2013. The HAFA short sale can be initiated up to Dec. 31, 2013; however, the transaction must have a closing date on or before Sept. 30, 2014. ELIGIBILITY…

Cancellation of Foreclosure Sale by Filing Bankruptcy

Originally Published: 6/13/2012 In many cases, during the process of negotiating a short sale, the lender may have already begun foreclosure proceedings. When that happens, a race begins between the seller and the bank: either the lender forecloses first, thus preventing the short sale, or the seller completes a short sale before foreclosure. Many sellers,…

SHORT SALE CONTRACT DEPOSIT DEADLINES – EFFECTIVE DATE OR UPON SHORT SALE APPROVAL?

Originally Published: 5/4/2012 With 2012 being the year of the Short Sale, you need to be familiar with differences in the contract forms being used in the marketplace. Typically, in a short sale transaction, we are seeing the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar (“FR/BAR”) As Is Residential Contract form (“As-Is Contract”) being used along with either the…

Bank of America Process Changes

Originally Published: 4/13/2012 Several Florida legislature bills, including HB 213, are attempting to make Florida a non-judicial foreclosure state, which would allow banks to foreclose on properties in certain instances without filing a lawsuit or otherwise using the judicial process. This may preclude homeowners from the opportunity to defend foreclosure, which many experts believe is…

Deficiency – What is it and How Much Time Does My Bank Have to Sue?

Originally Published: 3/27/2012 When an underwater home is sold in a short sale or a foreclosure, the greatest concern is almost always over the remaining mortgage balance owed by the homeowner (known as a “deficiency balance”) and how long the lender has to try to collect it.  When a property is sold in short sale,…

How Bankruptcy Can Backfire on Homeowners in Foreclosure

Originally Published: 3/12/2012 Many homeowners resort to filing bankruptcy in order to stop an imminent foreclosure on homestead property when no other legal options are available.  While, in most cases, the mortgage holder can still foreclose on the property, it cannot do so until the property is released from the bankruptcy estate.  This can take…

Backup Offers

Originally Published: 2/22/2012 Most short sale addenda have provisions for backup offers if you check the appropriate box. It is our opinion that, generally speaking, you should not check the box permitting backup offers when dealing with a short sale. It creates too many unnecessary legal and practical issues. Most importantly, many lenders and their…

Foreclosure Update in Florida

Originally Published: 2/7/2012 Several Florida legislature bills, including HB 213, are attempting to make Florida a non-judicial foreclosure state, which would allow banks to foreclose on properties in certain instances without filing a lawsuit or otherwise using the judicial process. This may preclude homeowners from the opportunity to defend foreclosure, which many experts believe is…

Cautionary Tale Regarding Wells Fargo

The Sarasota Herald Tribune recently published an article that stated that Wells Fargo had a short sale incentive/fast track program in place. The article, which is consistent with other published articles we have seen, suggested that Wells Fargo would be willing to fast track short sale approvals and even make payments to short sale sellers…

Foreclosure Update

As most are painfully aware, Florida foreclosures suffered tremendously last year after the discovery of apparent rampant fraud by both lenders and foreclosure attorneys in prosecuting foreclosure actions. Many existing foreclosure lawsuits came to a sudden halt, and new filings dropped significantly. As a result of this, along with the poor foreclosure practices of many…

Bank of America Short Sale Seminar Summary

The Berlin Patten short sale negotiating team recently attended a Bank of America Short Sale Seminar.  The following is a brief summary of what Bank of America advised its seminar’s attendees:  Short sales are about two primary things to Bank of America:  Hardship and net proceeds Investors are reluctant to postpone foreclosures as the buyer…

Response to Anonymous Blog Entry: Title Agents should still not be conducting short sale negotiations

On or about September 30, 2011, an anonymous reader provided a response to a blog Berlin Patten had sent to its readers regarding who can or should be engaged in the negotiation of short sales. While we debated whether or not to further comment on the subject (as the blog response did not really specifically…

Short Sale Negotiations

We have been asked by several real estate agents to investigate whether or not a title company or title agent can conduct short sale negotiations. One of Berlin Patten’s contacts at the Florida Department of Financial Services, Bureau of Investigation, Title Services, responded to our inquiry as follows: “The license for a title insurance agent does not…

Fraud Investigation – A Top Priority for Freddie Mac

In previous blogs, we have discussed our concerns about short sale fraud and the warning signals to watch for.  According to Freddie Mac’s Mortgage Fraud Officer, Short sale fraud has also become the top priority for Freddie Mac’s fraud investigation unit as well. Per the attached article, recent trends that Freddie has been alerting Real…

Assignable Contracts & Specific Buyers

Please be advised that short sale lenders are getting very strict about approving the specific buyer identified on the contract. As such, lenders are carefully scrutinizing assignment provisions in contracts. Short sale lenders who are reviewing contracts (that permit the contract to be assigned) are kicking back the contracts more and more frequently.) Lenders are…

Berlin Patten’s Short Sale and Bankruptcy Services

Real Estate professionals are frequently confronted with listing a short sale property encumbered by two or more mortgages and a seller who is strongly considering bankruptcy as its “exit strategy.” We have struggled with that same scenario… working on a short sale for months, and then the seller decides to file for bankruptcy. At that…

HAFA Policy Changes for Servicers

Lenders’ inconsistent eligibility requirements seem to be the most consistent thing we have seen with respect to the Federal Government’s HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) Program.  The Federal Government seems to have taken notice. On August 9, 2011, the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program adopted certain policy guideline changes.  The changes, we presume, are in…

The Importance of a Municipal Lien Search

Performing a municipal lien search is crucial when purchasing property in this day and age. In many cases there are unknown or undisclosed fees, costs or other issues that will impact a buyer post-closing. In addition a municipal lien search generally will assist a seller in complying with contractual terms to avoid a default. Examples…

Short Sales – Working with Second Lenders

Anyone who works with short sales knows that it can be very difficult to get short sales approved when there is a second (or even third lender). To successfully complete a short sale, ALL lenders (among others) must agree. The problem is that in many instances, they do not. In fact, we have seen situations…

A New Buyer Can Be Substituted for One Who Walked

We have learned of a very interesting development with respect to Bank of America. Bank of America has advised that it will permit a new buyer to step into the shoes of a buyer who has walked away from a transaction.  Furthermore, Bank of America has advised that the process will not have to begin…

Deficiencies and Deficiency Judgements

We spend a great deal of time counseling prospective short sale sellers regarding the advantages of attempting to pursue a short sale rather than allowing their property to go through the foreclosure process. Many people do not realize that the foreclosure process is a two step process. The first step is the sale of the…

Bank of America Realtor/Broker Listing Agent Certification – Questions and Answers

The new Bank of America Realtor/Broker Listing Agent Certification (the “Certification”) has fostered some significant concern among real estate agents. The most common questions and our comments/responses are as follows: 1. Question: Does paragraph 1 of the Certification mean that Bank of America will not pay a commission. Answer: No! Bank of America never paid…

Wells Fargo Short Sale Addendum

As expected, Wells Fargo has followed suit with Bank of America and has put out a new Short Sale Affidavit (attached hereto). Similar to the agreements recently published by Bank of America, Wells Fargo appears to be getting more aggressive in trying to curb flips and low offers and is now requiring realtors and closing…

Bank of America Document Warning

Please be advised that Bank of America is now requiring the parties to a short sale transaction to execute certain form documents before they will consider your short sale for approval. The buyer and seller will be required to execute a new addendum, and somewhat interestingly, the agents involved in the transaction will also need…

Nonlawyer Assisting the Short Sale Seller: Ministerial Acts or UPL?

As you know, short sale negotiations (and negotiators) are coming under great scrutiny by local and federal authorities. There are significant new disclosures for non-attorneys, and now the Florida Bar is weighing in on the subject. In essence, various proposals under consideration by the Florida Bar suggest that a great deal of the short sale…

FTC Issues New Rules for MARS

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new rules that might impact real estate practitioners who represent clients involved in short sale transactions. The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”) regulations define anyone providing services which assist or attempt to assist the consumer in negotiating a short sale as a “MARS” provider. Depending on certain factors,…

“No Cost” Short Sales

You may have seen solicitations from companies announcing “NO COST” Short Sales that can be closed quickly, sometimes as quickly as 45 days. We suggest that you use great caution when engaging these companies or recommending these companies to short sale sellers. First, there is no such thing as a free ride. In most cases,…

Fighting Foreclosure

There are differing opinions concerning homeowners who contest foreclosure proceedings in an effort to continue to stay in their homes without making mortgage payments. A recent article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune offers one perspective. The article titled “Fighting a foreclosure may beat the alternative” written by Tom Lyons reads “Staying, it appears, can be…
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