Debt collectors can come calling years after a mortgage default

If Bankruptcy is in the future this is a good reason why to wait to file Last Minute!

IT IS IMPORTANT TO LIST THE “REAL” CREDITOR/LENDER/INVESTORS!

The banks have plans… YOU should too!

PIN THEM DOWN!

By Jim Wasserman The Washington Post
Saturday, March 27, 2010

Homeowners defaulting on mortgages today may be surprised to learn years from now that they still owe thousands of dollars — and that a collection agency is coming after them to get it.

That’s because lenders have been quietly selling second mortgages and home-equity lines left unpaid after foreclosures and short sales. The buyers: collection agencies, which in some states have years to make a claim.

If they win court judgments, these collectors could have years to pursue borrowers with repayment plans, and even to garnish their wages, said Scott CoBen, a Sacramento bankruptcy attorney.

“The only relief a consumer will have is entering into a debt-negotiating plan or filing for bankruptcy,” said Sylvia Alayon, a vice president with the Consumer Mortgage Audit Center. The firm provides mortgage analysis to lenders, advocacy groups and attorneys.

The phenomenon suggests an ominous, looming echo of the recent real estate collapse. As debt collectors seek at least partial repayment of millions of dollars in unpaid home loans, some say renewed financial stresses on tens of thousands of consumers could dampen economic recovery.

“I think there will be a lot of unhappy people when it hits,” said CoBen. “We saw this in the ’90s. This is not really new. Just when you think you’re back on your feet, you’re making money and the economy’s good, they hit you with this.”

Alayon said most people are so stressed out and exhausted by trying to save their homes now that they are unaware they could face another hit later. And many who are losing homes don’t get the advice necessary to prevent future fallout, say loan counselors at nonprofit organizations.

“You’ve got tens of thousands of people in California who have this hanging over their heads who don’t even know it,” said Scott Thompson, principal at for-profit Mortgage Resolution Services in California. He fears a new wave of bankruptcies might affect people just starting to recover from losing their homes.

“So many of these are people with 750 or 800 credit scores who made a bad decision,” said Thompson. “Or they’re people who suffered income cuts. These are people, in terms of the economy, whom we need to participate.” But an entire industry is gearing up to buy their debt at deep discounts and collect what it can, Alayon said.

“It’s a big business, and investors are coming out of the woodwork. It’s a very lucrative business,” she said. Real estate insiders and financial players know it as “scratch and dent.” One of the biggest players in the business, Texas-based Real Time Resolutions, did not respond to an inquiry on the subject from McClatchy Newspapers. Neither did Bank of America, which holds many defaulted loans made by its Countrywide affiliate during the real estate boom.

Banks made many “second-lien” loans, including those used to finance 20 percent down payments during the housing boom. A separate category of “seconds” includes home-equity loans and home-equity lines of credit. Nationally, about 3.4 percent of those loans are currently delinquent, according to Foresight.

Owners are generally, but not always, on the hook for the second loans left over from a foreclosure or short sale. Most investor mortgages, too, leave the borrower liable for potential unpaid debt.

In many short sales, experienced real estate agents or attorneys can negotiate away debt obligations for the second-lien loan. But many inexperienced borrowers don’t know that, and they sign final-hour agreements giving lenders the right to pursue them later.

“Seek advice,” counseled Doug Robinson, spokesman for national nonprofit mortgage counselor NeighborWorks America. He said nonprofit counselors can help.

“Often when you work with a real estate agent, they’re not really equipped to handle the repercussions. They’re set up to make the sale,” he said.

A new Obama administration short-sale program aims to prevent banks that hold second-lien loans from pursuing collections from homeowners after the short sale. It goes into effect April 5 and works this way: Sellers will receive notice that their servicer has steered part of the sales proceeds to secondary lien holders “in exchange for release and full satisfaction of their liens.” But this release would apply only to short sales done for people through the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program.

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More than Half of Foreclosures Triggered by Job Loss: NeighborWorks

BY: CARRIE BAY 5/28/2010 DSNEWS

According to a study released Friday by NeighborWorks America, 58 percent of homeowners who’ve received assistance through its national foreclosure counseling program reported the primary reason they were facing foreclosure was reduced or lost income.

NeighborWorks was created by Congress in 1991 as a nonprofit organization to support local communities in providing its citizens with access to homeownership and affordable rental housing. In January 2008, with the foreclosure crisis raging, Congress implemented theNational Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) Program and made NeighborWorks the administrator.

The organization says that over the course of the NFMCprogram, the percentage of homeowners who’ve cited wage cuts or unemployment as the primary reason they were facing foreclosure has steadily increased.

In November 2009, 54 percent of NFMC-counseled borrowers reported reduced or lost income as the main reason for default. Six months earlier in June 2009, it was 49 percent; in February 2009, 45 percent; and in October 2008, 41 percent.

These steady increases parallel the nation’s unemployment rate, which until the November 2009 employment report, had marched upward since October 2008.

“With unemployment numbers not likely to dip below nine percent in 2010, our report proves what many already believed to be true. Unemployment and reduced income are having a devastating effect on our nation’s homeowners,” said Ken Wade, CEO of NeighborWorks America.

The administration recently announced changes to its Making Home Affordable program to provide assistance to unemployed homeowners by temporarily reducing or suspending mortgage payments for a minimum of three months. The initiative becomes effective July 1, 2010.

The federal government has also awarded additional funding to states where unemployment is high to support localized mortgage relief programs for homeowners who are out of work.

Lawmakers too are on a push to help homeowners who’ve lost their jobs. Congress’ financial reform package includes a measure that uses $3 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) fund to make loans of up to $50,000 to unemployed homeowners to be used to make their mortgage payments for up to 24 months while they are looking for a new job.

Wade said, “While Congress and state governments have stepped up and extended unemployment benefits to help families survive this tough economic climate, it’s time for mortgage servicers and investors to make meaningful accommodations for homeowners facing foreclosure. If they don’t, we’ll see even more empty houses and devastated neighborhoods in our communities.”

NeighborWorks also noted in its report that 62 percent of all NFMC clients held a fixed-rate mortgage, and 49 percent were paying on a fixed-rate mortgage with an interest rate below 8 percent.

Nearly one million families have received foreclosure counseling as a result of NFMC Program funding. According to NeighborWorks, NFMC clients are 60 percent more likely to avoid foreclosure than homeowners who do not receive foreclosure counseling.