Way Signs "Bailout - Collapse"As the third round of foreclosure review checks went out Friday, my office is inundated with calls as to what these checks represent, and more importantly, will depositing them waive the borrowers rights to pursue banking and lending violations by the lender?

As of April 25, 2013, 1,150,328 recipients have cashed or deposited $1.1 billion in checks from the settlement reached in January between 13 servicers and federal regulators.  The servicers include Aurora Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, MetLife Bank, Morgan Stanley, PNC, Sovereign, SunTrust, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.

This new agreement, which  replaces the poorly structured and obsolete “Independent Foreclosure Review process”, which required consent by the borrower, automatically calculates the amount of funds owed the borrower based on the amount of the loan, and arbitrarily remits checks by mail to the borrower.  Unlike the Independent Foreclosure Review, the new settlement is based on the “unpaid balance of the loan” and not the amount of assistance provided to the borrower.    This shifts the focus to assist higher priced homes with larger unpaid balances.  About 2.3 million borrowers will receive $300.00.

The payments will range between $300.00 and $125,000.00, depending on how much harm a borrower potentially suffered as a result of actions by the mortgage servicer.  The vast majority of the recipients of the $300.00 check, include borrowers who had a loan modification request approved but still ended up in foreclosure.  They also include more than 800,000 borrowers whose servicers did not participate in the loan modification or failed to offer any help, when their loan clearly merited it.

It is estimated that up to 1082 borrowers who lost homes in foreclosure even though they were protected by the military services may get up to $125,000.00 as well as those who lost homes in foreclosure and were not even in default. As crazy as that sounds, it has occurred.

Borrowers who were in an active bankruptcy  and the foreclosure sale went through anyhow, may be eligible to receive between $62,500.00 and $31,250.00 .

Overall, borrowers will only get a fraction of the amount they are truly entitled to based on bad banking practice and violation of law.

The banks that did not join the settlement include OneWest, EverBank and GMAC Mortgage.

The new agreement also does not require banks to fix a borrowers credit, specially if it was reported erroneously.  The borrowers would need to go after the bank independently to get any erroneous information removed or corrected.

The settlement will do little to repair the long standing effects of wrongly filed foreclosures, or sales of properties in foreclosure that should have never been sold. However, it is a start.

The final million dollar question remains …” will depositing the check result in a waiver and release of claims by the borrower against the servicer”.  As with all legal settlements, you are urged to consult with an attorney to review the specific terms of your particular settlement in advance of depositing any check, to see what, if any rights, are being waived.

Call us for a free consultation regarding your eligibility.

Law Offices of Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA

706 S. Dixie Highway

Second Floor

Coral Gables, FL 33146

305  |   669  |   5280




BankruptcyFrequently in my practice I am asked by borrowers seeking foreclosure defense and mortgage modifications, what the Statute of Limitations is with regard to mortgages and notes entered into by borrowers who have now stopped making mortgage payments.  The new word on the street that is quickly penetrating neighborhoods and water coolers alike is Statute of Limitations, and those that have had the good fortune of being advised by their attorney that their lender or note holder has not sued within the period of time required by law and they  may now own the house free and clear, are spreading the news like wildfire.

If a lender fails to bring suit within the prescribed “statute of limitations,  the borrower may technically keep the house free and clear of any mortgage encumbrance.  Perhaps a word seldom used by many in this community except lawyers or those in banking and business sectors, now the word Statute of Limitations has become  a household word that everyone is curious about.

The Statute of Limitations in Florida, which means the time the bank has to take you to court after nonpayment of your mortgage note, is FIVE YEARS (5) from the time you stopped making mortgage payments and went into default.  For further clarification, if you made your last mortgage payment on January 1, 2008… if the lender has not filed suit against you by January 1, 2013, then the lender may be forever barred from pursuing that debt against you.  This is where the skill and expertise of a knowledgeable real estate attorney is absolutely crucial to analyze every detail of the loan and payments and make sure that the bank is forever barred from pursuing that mortgage debit against you.

Deficiency balances are a separate matter.  A deficiency balance is the amount of mortgage left over (unsatisfied) or unpaid AFTER the property is either sold at the foreclosure auction or in a short sale and property closing.  If a property sells at auction for $150,000.00 but the bank had obtained a judgment against you, the borrower, for $200,000.00, the a $50,000.00 “deficiency balance” remains unsatisfied and collectible.

If your property has been foreclosed, then the Statute of Limitations starts the date of the foreclosure sale.

if your property was sold in short sale or other closing, the Statute of Limitations begins to toll as soon as the lender obtains their money from the proceeds of the sale.

If the property was returned to the lender through a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the Statute of Limitations will start from the date the Quit Claim Deed is recorded.

As with all matters dealing with Florida Statutes and governing law, homeowners are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified real estate attorney to analyze your mortgage documents and provide the best possible advise for your situation.

Contact the Law Offices of Jacqueline A. Salcines, PA for a thorough review of your mortgage, note and closing documents to see what  you may be eligible for.

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Loan Modification Green Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

In a push to simplify mortgage modifications and assist homeowners that could not previously qualify under the traditional modification and Making Home Affordable Program, the FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) announced on March 27, 2013, a new simplified modification program.  Called the Streamlined Modification Initiative, the program was created for all Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac backed loans,  to assist borrowers in maintaining homeownership.  Many borrowers who were ineligible or disqualified on the traditional HAMP plans, may now qualify since certain requirements, such are documenting hardship, are now waived under this new initiative.  This will encourage borrowers that have ceased making mortgage payments on their homes, to seek modifications, avoid foreclosures and stay in their homes. And as with HAMP modifications, principal reduction of the mortgage balance may be possible.

The program involves Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages and in order to qualify, preliminarily, the following criteria must be met:

  • Must be at least 90 days to 24 months delinquent on the mortgage payment
  • Loan must be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • First loan must be at least 12 months old
  • May not have modified more than two times previously

“The key difference is that borrowers will not be required to document their hardship or financial situation, but will be able to accept a Streamlined Modification Offer by simply making the trial period payments and agreeing to the terms of the modification.”

Source:  Federal Housing Finance Agency News Release March 27, 2013.

The Streamlined Modification Initiative Program is set to begin on July 1, 2013.  As of that date, servicers whose loans fall under the above parameters must identify the loans/borrowers that qualify and send them an “OFFER LETTER” which will include the “modified proposed payment“.

As with HAMP Modifications, principal reductions may be available depending on ratios and values determined by the lender.

Unfortunately, those borrowers that are more than 24 months past due on their mortgages will not qualify.  The FHFA has determined that with such a high deficiency/arrearages, the loan to value ratios will eliminate them from the program.

Second home loans owned and/or serviced by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also eligible under the Program as well as investment properties.

To find out more, visit our website at WWW.SALCINESLAW.COM or call attorney Jacqueline A. Salcines, Esq. at (305) 669-5280 for a no cost consultation, to see whether your loan is owned/serviced or guaranteed by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and whether you qualify.