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Should I Stop Making My House Payments?

Should I Stop Making My House Payments?

The other day, I got a call from a seller facing a Michigan foreclosure who said the words that always make me sick: “I was told to stop making my house payments”. The person who gave the advice is sometimes the lender, sometimes a person offering to negotiate a short sale or a loan modification, sometimes a REALTOR® or family member. In my humble opinion, the only person who should be giving advice on whether you make your payment or not is an attorney because they are the only ones who can tell you the legal implications of breaking the contract you have with your lender. After all, you signed a promise to pay back the money when you got your loan to buy the house, and this is the contract you are breaking when you stop payments.

All the other (non-attorney) people may be well-intentioned, but from the calls that I get from homeowners who heed this advice, the outcome is usually not what was expected.

  • Many find out their lender has started foreclosure since they are not receiving payments
  • Many find out too late that they cannot do the work out and now they are so far behind it is a monumental task to get caught back up.
  • Many find out that their credit is being hurt by the missed payments.

The other trap that people fall into is to decide they are going to stop making payments (when they can afford to make them) because the house is not worth what they owe. Out of anger or frustration or despair, they decide to break their agreement to pay the bank. Again, unless this decision is made in consultation with an attorney, tread lightly or you could set yourself up for a Michigan foreclosure.

We will never tell you to stop making payments. This is something that you and your attorney (if you chose to consult one) must decide. We will be glad to discuss your options and help you figure out your goals and share our knowledge with you but we will never tell you to stop making payments. Be wary of anyone (besides an attorney) who is ready to tell you to stop making payments.

If you are facing a Michigan Foreclosure, give us a call. We will not charge you a fee and we will keep all your information confidential. We can help keep you out of traps that will seriously limit your options. We can help get you back on the road to better days.

Ann

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Facing the WHY’s Behind Lenders and Their Actions

Facing the WHY’s Behind Lenders and Their Actions

After talking with struggling sellers for years, the questions why lenders do what they do come up in every conversation:

  • Why won’t my lender give me a break and reduce my loan?
  • Why won’t my lender just give me a few months and I’ll get caught up?
  • Why don’t lenders send people a certified letter when they are going to foreclosure/sheriff sale?
  • Why do they give me the run around?
  • Why aren’t there other options for me in my tough financial situation?

The questions are endless and always start with WHY. Read more…

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Three Key Components to Surviving Michigan Foreclosure

Three Key Components to Surviving Michigan Foreclosure

Some sellers think that if they just give the keys to the lender, they can walk away and start fresh. Just a reminder that you did sign a binding contract for your mortgage and it is big bucks. Your lender can wait until you are in better times and may make efforts to collect that debt. It’s a tough fact to face but you can protect your financial future. So how do you survive a Michigan foreclosure? Here are some key components:

Don’t make rash decisions based on fear and panic. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make and can be the most damaging. Take a piece of paper and write down the issues and weigh everything out. Is it inevitable that you will need to move? Then you must accept and move towards that goal.

Don’t do nothing! The ol’ “Head in the Sand” plan is not the right move . On the contrary. Keep your eyes and ears very keen and sharp and learn all you can about foreclosure options. One will fit your situation. If you make some money, you might be able to do a loan modification but the odds are unfortunately low (less than 6% was the last statistic that I saw). If you have lost most of your money, you need to get a plan together to move on and find out about alleviating the debt. That will lead you to a short sale which is also the most popular solution when a loan modification doesn’t succeed.

Pursue a solution. Above all else, don’t be shy to ask questions from experts in the field. We offer our services to hundreds of sellers, at no charge, because we know there is a lot of misinformation out there. Grab a pad of paper and call. We will help you decide what solution is best for you and your family to lead to a better future and make the pain go away.

Jeannie

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It’s Now Illegal If You Are Being Charged Up Front For Foreclosure or Loan Mod Assistance

It’s Now Illegal If You Are Being Charged Up Front For Foreclosure or Loan Mod Assistance

If you are a homeowner facing a Michigan Foreclosures, you need to be aware and beware of MARS. Not the planet Mars, but MARS: “Mortgage Assistance Relief Services” Rule.

If you are using a third party to help you with your distressed house situation, be aware that unless they are an attorney, they need to comply with this FTC rule (effective December, 2010) and this means not charging you a fee up front for services. We are not attorneys so check this out with your own attorney. We are just updating you on the latest regulations to affect Michigan Sellers.

The following is from the FTC’s press release about the MARS Rule: “The FTC is issuing the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule to protect distressed homeowners from mortgage relief scams that have sprung up during the mortgage crisis. Bogus operations falsely claim that, for a fee, they will negotiate with the consumer’s mortgage lender or servicer to obtain a loan modification, a short sale, or other relief from foreclosure. Many of these operations pretend to be affiliated with the government and government housing assistance programs. The FTC has brought more than 30 cases against operations like these, and state and federal law enforcement partners have brought hundreds more.”

The MARS Rule regulates:
– Charging / Payment of fees by homeowners
– Disclosures that must be included in both contracts and advertisements
– Claims a “Mortgage Assistance Relief Service” are prohibited from making

The good news in all this confusion is that we are MARS compliant. We will never charge you a fee (upfront, during the process, or at closing). We keep everything about your situation confidential and we will not put you in a worse situation. So, call an attorney to find out more about MARS if you are already getting help from a third party, especially if they are charging you fees. Give us a call if you are not using a third party and want someone who is current on the regulations and complying. Just another way we work harder than anyone to help get you back to better times!

Ann

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Myths About Michigan Foreclosure Can Affect Your Financial Future

Myths About Michigan Foreclosure Can Affect Your Financial Future

The pain is so great when you realize that you are going to lose the house. You’ve talked to your lender until you are in need of some Valium; you’ve lost a ton of sleep. Now your health and marriage is affected. It’s time to get off the merry-go-round and solve this problem. Before we solve it, let’s look at some facts:

MYTH #1: “I’ll work out a Loan Modification with my lender” There are some cases of loan modifications working but they are few and far between (less than 10% using the government’s own statistics). If they worked, you wouldn’t see so many bank owned properties littering our cities. Remember, you owe several months behind in your payment. That’s a lot of money and the lender is not going to forget that.

MYTH #2: “I’ll make partial payments until I can catch up.” Save your money! Lenders will more than likely send it back anyway. They want full payments or you are going into default and facing foreclosure anyway. Many times they return full payments if you are behind.

MYTH #3: “I’ll just hand over the keys to the lender and walk away from the debt. What can they do to me? I don’t have the money.” Unfortunately you can’t just walk away from your debt in Michigan. You signed a binding contract with your lender to borrow a huge amount of money. That doesn’t just go away. Somehow you have to get the bank to agree not to pursue you for the money. They can come after that money for 7 years into your future! They can garnish your future wages, tack liens on to future properties…not pretty. We’ve got answers though. Read on.

There are few options for struggling homeowners facing foreclosure but there is one hope that works for many. You can short sale the house. That means selling the house for what a buyer will buy it for in today’s market and negotiating with your lender to forgive the rest of the debt. Forget what you’ve heard about short sales (and the national 10-20% success rate). We have an 85% success rate in short sales negotiating.

Contact us to discuss your situation and see what will work for you! We are here to help!

Jeannie

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Myth Busting: “The Michigan Sheriff Sale”

Myth Busting: “The Michigan Sheriff Sale”

I attended the Kalamazoo County (Michigan) Sheriff Sale (foreclosure auction) today for the first time in over a year. It seemed fitting to blog about common questions concerning the Sheriff Sale to dispel some myths. When a person gets behind on their house payment and is facing a Michigan Foreclosure, they will eventually get a foreclosure letter from an attorney notifying them that a sheriff sale has been scheduled. This notice is also taped to the front door and also published for 4-5 weeks in a county newspaper.

Myth Bust #1: “I can’t remove the Michigan Foreclosure notice Read more…

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Get A Grip on Your Michigan Foreclosure

Get A Grip on Your Michigan Foreclosure

I’ve been negotiating for folks with late mortgage payments and personal heartache for a long time and Michigan has been especially hard hit. The good news is that there is “the other side” of your personal financial tragedy. Keep reminding yourself of that. You are only going through a problem and with some help, you don’t have to be there for very long.

The key is that your decisions today will affect your financial freedom and future of tomorrow. Making the right decisions is critical and hard to do when you are emotionally wrought. So take these steps to insure Read more…

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A Thanksgiving Blog

A Thanksgiving Blog

I think we are all familiar with the story about the first Thanksgiving – how about 400 years ago, the pilgrims were forced out of their European homes by religious persecution and came to the “new world” where the Native Americans helped them to learn the ropes about surviving in this strange world. Survive they did, and a year after they arrived they had a bountiful harvest.  They celebrated their good fortune with the first Thanksgiving dinner to give thanks for all the good that had come to them.

If you are facing a Michigan foreclosure, hopefully you will find some inspiration in this story this Thanksgiving holiday.  Like the pilgrims, your home is being threatened and you may feel like you have nowhere to turn for help.  Fortunately, you don’t have to sail half way across the world to find help.  We are right here in Michigan, only a phone call away.  We have been helping families “learn the ropes” of the Michigan foreclosure and short sale processes for more than 5 years.  We will charge you no fees and will work harder than anyone to help you.

I realize that someone facing a Michigan foreclosure may feel like they have nothing to be thankful for or to celebrate this Thanksgiving.  After all, there obviously has been a hardship in your recent past that is probably putting a damper on festivities.  Our Thanksgiving wish for you is that you have the courage to face your hardship, find solutions and take action just like the Pilgrims did a long time ago.  In a year, you too can be celebrating the return of better days.  We can help you do that (only if you call us before it’s too late), and that indeed is a reason to be thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving!!

Ann

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Tips to Sell from the Media – Really? Let’s Get Real!

Tips to Sell from the Media – Really? Let’s Get Real!

I recently read an online article listing some of the reasons people cannot sell their houses and providing some suggestions to that end. Here are a few examples:

  • You haven’t picked the right REALTOR®.
  • You need to get an appraisal so that you’ll know what a buyer’s lender will approve.
  • You need to get comparative list prices (or “comps”) which include foreclosure listings so you know at what price houses are actually selling in your neighborhood.
  • The house needs to be attractive and have “curb appeal”.
  • The house needs to be “staged”. This means you would hire someone to analyze and address any cosmetic or décor problems that are preventing your house from being aesthetically pleasing to potential buyers.
  • You need to make sure the house doesn’t need any work.

Now, many of these tips are good and useful. You want to have an agent who is reputable and dedicated. As for the appraisal and “comp” tips, I could not agree more; a house is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, regardless of debt or perceived sentimental value. And, of course someone is more likely to offer on a house that is attractive and to pass on one that is not. Again, these are good ideas, but more than half of them require spending money, and who in this economy has the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to spend on these recommendations?

My point is that although I agree with the thoughts and intentions in this list, for many families here in Michigan, needing a short sale to avoid a foreclosure, these suggestions are simply not feasible or affordable. If you are struggling to sell your house, call us – we’ll see what sort of practical solution we can help you find.

Melissa

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All in a Day’s Work – Many Michigan Sellers Want Short Sales

All in a Day’s Work – Many Michigan Sellers Want Short Sales

Let me tell you about some calls I took yesterday to show you what goes on around here in a typical day.

Colin called (not his real name). He had talked to us back in May when he was already several months behind on his house payment. At that time, he wanted to do a work out and try to save his house and he was going to work with another company. However, he was unsuccessful because the financial hardship he had experienced (cut back in hours at work) was not over and the bank would not work with him – he simply needed a payment far less than what was possible. Now, he has been notified that he is facing a Michigan Foreclosure and he wants to do something to at least save his credit, since he is not able to save the house. Fortunately for Colin, we should be able to help him with that by writing an offer to purchase it right away and negotiating the short sale without charging him.

Patty called (not her real name). She missed several months of work due to a disability and got behind on the house payment. Now she is back to work and able to make the house payment again. The lender is willing to work with her and reinstate her loan if she can come up with several thousand dollars to bring the loan current. She called looking for advice on how to find the money if a relative is not able to help. I referred her to Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services (read about them here)  since her situation is something they are better equipped to handle than we are. She was grateful for the referral.

Jason called (not his real name). He owns a business and business has been bad for many, many months forcing him to live on his savings. His savings is almost depleted and he is now several months behind on his house payment and facing a Michigan foreclosure. Jason was very anxious about the letters he has been receiving from his lender’s attorneys. I was able to explain to him what is happening and what to expect going forward with the foreclosure process. I explained to him about the Michigan redemption period and his options before and after the Sheriff auction. I even arranged to send a REALTOR® over to his house (one that specializes in distressed properties) to give him an accurate value of what the house is worth (since he doesn’t know the value in today’s market). Jason has some decisions to make on what he wants to do and now he has the information to make informed decisions. I could hear the relief in his voice as we hung up.

From my perspective, yesterday wasn’t so unusual, as we have been helping Michigan homeowners like Colin, Patty & Jason daily for 5 years now. It sounded like yesterday was unusual for Colin, Patty & Jason because they finally got some answers and direction. From their feedback and feedback I get from others, apparently there aren’t a lot of companies/people out there willing to listen and take the time to educate and discuss options with homeowners facing a Michigan foreclosure. That is why we are here, to help. We will never ask for any money and we keep all information confidential. Give us a call today and see how we can help you. Come on, make our day (and yours too)!

Ann

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