A Columbus Consumer Protection Attorney Discusses Foreclosures and Loan Modifications
A home mortgage exemplifies the best definition of good debt. Not only does borrowing to buy a house put a roof over one’s head, it delivers an investment that usually grows in value over time and provides a place a family can call its own. Falling behind on a home loan, however, can produce negative consequences that are just as great as the benefits of home ownership.
Unfortunately, many unavoidable events can leave a mortgage holder unable to make monthly payments and keep up with property taxes. An unexpected injury, illness, layoff, natural disaster, or death of a loved one can leave even the hardest-working and most fiscally responsible person facing foreclosure and needing a loan modification. Banks, loan brokers, and even the government agencies charged with helping home owners come through hard times with their houses and credit intact often prove unwilling to work with borrowers. When that happens, the consumer protection attorneys at the Columbus office of Leist Warner can be of assistance.
Contesting a Foreclosure
Never fight a house seizure and eviction in the Buckeye State without first speaking with a Columbus, Ohio, foreclosure defense lawyer. Lending laws and borrowers’ rights vary from state to state, so any person at risk for losing his or her home needs legal representation from a local expert.
Under Ohio statutes, no mortgage lender can begin formal foreclosure proceedings until a loan holder misses three consecutive monthly payments. This does not mean a financial institution has not set in motion its own internal systems for declaring a default and taking over a property well before the 90-day waiting period. Contacting a lender as soon as possible after keeping up with debt service becomes difficult is imperative. Evidence that a borrower has made good faith efforts to pay creditors counts a great deal if a debt case goes to court.
A bank or other mortgage loan issuer must file a notice of its intention to foreclose on a property with the county court of common pleas for the location where the affected homeowner lives or has property. The financial institution also must alert the loan holder by mail that this litigation step has been taken. If any of this paperwork is not completed, a foreclosure process can be temporarily or permanently halted.
A homeowner who receives a foreclosure notice then has a total of 28 calendar days to respond to the common pleas court. This is definitely the time to secure representation from a plaintiff’s attorney. As the Ohio Housing Finance Agency explains on its Save the Dream website, “You also may request mediation during this time. If you fail to file an answer, your mortgage lender will move quickly to summary judgment and sheriff’s sale.” No one should face the legal team from a bank or mortgage lender without their own advocate, nor let the march toward a property seizure proceed without roadblocks. Completion of a sheriff’s sale can leave the occupants of a foreclosed home as little as seven days to move out.
A lawyer working on behalf of an owner or family facing foreclosure can take several actions to delay or stop the process. The most practical is to negotiate a loan modification, as described in more detail below. Other strategies include arranging for a short sale, surrendering the deed, declaring bankruptcy to excuse all debt but the home loan, and transferring the debt to a party who can service it without requiring the current occupants of the home to vacate the property, which is how most reverse mortgages work.
Fighting for a Home Loan Modification
Mortgage loan modifications can be requested before or after foreclosure proceedings begin. Succeeding in having a loan issuer lower payments, extend the length of the note, or suspend payments for a short time is usually easier when proposals are offered pre-foreclosure, but only a little. Even getting a bank or other financial institution to take a loan modification request seriously can require an attorney’s assistance, even if going through a program like the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, which is better known as HAMP, or Ohio’s Save the Dream, which was originally called the Restoring Stability program.
Qualifying to have the terms and conditions of a home loan changed requires filing hundreds of pages of complicated forms. The paperwork must be accompanied by evidence of financial need or disability, as well as proof of the borrower’s ability to continuing making payments at a reduced rate or for an extended period. Making sure all the right forms and records reach all the right offices on time and in as complete a version as possible can go easier when a lawyer experienced in the process helps. Such a legal representative can also serve as an advocate during negotiations and mediations over the financial standing of a loan holder and the value of a house or property.
Call a Foreclosure and Loan Modification Lawyer at Leist Warner Today
Fewer than four months can pass from the day you miss you first mortgage payment until a sheriff is standing on your porch demanding that you vacate your home. Do not let that nightmare scenario become your reality. Work with a Leist Warner consumer protection attorney to get your home loan modified or to have an already started foreclosure derailed. We cannot accept every case, but we offer free consultations to all mortgage borrowers about their rights and options regarding loan modifications and foreclosures. Call us at (614) 222-1000 or tell us your story using this form.