foreclosure

All posts tagged foreclosure

Foreclosure is not a fun process.

Losing your house for any reason is a stressful, disheartening experience. And banks are notoriously difficult to deal with. Mainly because they’re not really interested in working out a deal with you. Especially if you have equity in your house.

That being said, I’m greatly amused by people who get the better end of the foreclosure process, especially when it comes to Bank of America. (I’m not a big fan of Bank of America – I have my reasons…)

Bank of America filed for foreclosure on a house in Florida, about six months ago. The strange thing was that the homeowners, Mr & Mrs. Nyergers, owned their home free and clear. They had bought their house with cash. They had never had a mortgage on it.

In court the judge found the bank wrongfully tried to foreclose on them. Basically he said BofA was trying to scam them out of their home, and ordered the bank to pay their legal fees.

So how did the couple end up foreclosing on the bank?

After more than 5 months of the judge’s ruling, the bank still hadn’t paid the legal fees, and the homeowner’s attorney did exactly what the bank tried to do to the homeowners. He seized the bank’s assets.

According to CBS, the attorney said, “They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated.”

Sheriff’s deputies, movers, and the Nyergers’ attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller’s drawers.

After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees.

“As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice” said Allen.

The unfortunate sad part is that bank errors like this are quite common.

The couple’s foreclosure attorney said he sees happen a lot in court, because banks didn’t investigate the foreclosure and it becomes a lengthy and expensive battle for the homeowner.

At least this story had a happy ending.

Just read this news article from the Associated Press:

Tue Feb 23, 8:17 am ET

MOSCOW, Ohio – An Ohio man says he bulldozed his $350,000 home to keep a bank from foreclosing on it.

Terry Hoskins says he has struggled with the RiverHills Bank over his home in Moscow for years and had problems with the Internal Revenue Service. He says the IRS placed liens on his carpet store and commercial property and the bank claimed his house as collateral.

Hoskins says he owes $160,000 on the house. He says he spent a lot of money on attorneys and finally had enough. About two weeks ago he bulldozed the home 25 miles southeast of Cincinnati.

bulldozed_foreclosed_house_moscow-ohio
Ok, there’s nothing really humorous about this. But I thought it was a great story about getting back at the bank. Banks are notoriously difficult to deal with and after accepting billions in bailout money from the taxpayers aren’t really modifying very many loans. If you think that people who default on their mortgages are scumbags and deserve to lose their homes and that banks are just faultless victims, check this link about a foreclosure attorney who tried to help a couple modify their loan. Actually, regardless of what you think about banks or borrowers  you should still read the article. It’s very interesting.

You must have read the recent post about the New York Times economics reporter who is facing foreclosure himself. Edmund Andrews covered the US economy and Alan Greenspan for over six years, but despite his financial accumen still got suckered into a loan he couldn’t really afford. He hasn’t made a mortgage payment in 8 months and is wondering when the bank is going to throw him out of his house. Instead of making his payments, he has been busy spending money on a beach rental, clothes, gifts and other necessary expenses. At some point, I think foreclosure is inevitable.

But could he have avoided foreclosure?

I think so. Let’s review some of the financial mistakes he made. The real ones, not the excessive spending that set in once he stopped making house payments!

1. He divorced his wife of 21 years

This is always grounds for economic disaster. No matter who you are, the longer you stay married, the more it’s going to hurt you financially.  If you are going to divorce, do it like Tom Cruise and get out before the magic 10 year mark or before you have kids.

2. He paid almost 2/3rds his net income in child support

Ouch! Paying $4,000 in alimony and child support when your net income is $6,777 is a lot. Effectively, his take home income is $33,000 per year or about $16/hour. I think most people on that wage move back home to their parents basements.

3. He bought a house he couldn’t afford

If there’s one major recipe for disaster, it’s buying a $500,000 house when you’re only taking home $16/hour.  He really should have known better. But then again, he outsourced the analysis of his finances to his mortgage broker instead of doing it himself.  He was set up to fail from the beginning. I’m sure his broker knew in the back of his mind there was a chance Ed would face foreclosure at some point. But Ed really should have bought a cheap house instead.

4. Not spending enough time understanding the most expensive purchase of your life

A home mortgage is the most complex financial transaction you’ll probably ever undertake. So it’s easy to blow it off or let some one else do the heavy lifting for you. However, the mortgage broker doesn’t necessarily have your best interest at heart. They get paid on commission for every loan they close and are directly incentivized to get you into the largest, most outrageously expensive home loan possible. There is a tremendous conflict of interest and you should not let them dictate what you should do. Many people claim that a home loan is just too difficult too understand. True, but only if you don’t take the time to understand it.

I strongly recommend Randy Johnson’s stellar book How to Save Thousands of Dollars on Your Home Mortgage. If you don’t know what Yield Spread Premium (YSP) or Paid Out of Closing (POC) means on a HUD-1 you definitely should read this book. If you own a home and don’t know a HUD-1 is then get your spouse to smack you and then go buy the book! I promise you’ll save thousands of dollars on your mortgage.

Just in case, you missed that last paragraph, BUY THAT $12 BOOK ABOUT SAVING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON YOUR HOME MORTGAGE. You should buy it before you buy a house, before you even think of buying house, maybe before you even graduate from college. If you’ve already read it, you should buy a dozen copies of the book and gift it all your friends, co-workers, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews for Christmas. Unless you hate them.

The best way to prevent foreclosure from happening to you is to buy a house you can afford with a mortgage that is the cheapest over the life of the loan. That may mean paying extra points to buy down your interest rate, which means the cheapest loan is not necessarily the loan with the lowest closing costs. Learning about your finances, and how mortgages actually work is probably the best way to save money in the long run.

The lender has filed a Notice of Default on my condo. I knew this was coming. Ever since I sold the condo in summer 2005 at the peak to an investor who rented it back to me, I suspected I’d be able to buy it back for less than what I paid for it. I found out when the mortgage company sent a letter that said “You Will Lose This House If You Do Not Take Part In the Mortgage Reinstatment Program” which was delivered to me instead of the new owner.

The investor paid $352,000 for the 920 sq ft condo or $382/sqft, (and I paid 3.25% buyers agent commission to her niece – I sold it FSBO or For-Sale-By-Owner, so there was no sellers agent commission). The first lender filed an NOD for $283,000. The seller has been pocking my rent and not paying the mortgage since March 2008. Not applying the rents to the mortgages is called rent skimming, and is only illegal in California during the first year of acquiring a property. Unless the sellers cures the default, the house will be foreclosed upon and the second mortgage of about $35,000 will be wiped out.

Current comparable sales are about $225,000, which represent a 36% drop in prices. I wouldn’t mind buying it myself, but for a few issues.

1. I’m moving to Los Angeles and will be busy with my MBA. Do I want to get involved with yet another investment property.

2. I wouldn’t feel comfortable paying more than $150,000 for it. I think prices may drop another 30% from here, maybe more – who knows.

3. Its taking lenders up to a year to list REO properties that didn’t sell at the auctions. So working with the lender can be painful while I’m in LA.

I called up the mortgage servicing company that sent the letter and the guy on the line said I should stop paying my rent and save my money instead. This is blatantly wrong information. A rental contract is completely separate from a mortgage and there is no correlation between the two. I really doubt my landlord would take me the court, but he has the legal right to do so and an eviction/judgment on my credit history would make it a lot more difficult to find a rental in the future.

So what would you do?

1. Stop paying the rent and continue to live there.

2. Stop paying the rent and move out.

3. Continue to keep paying the rent as if nothing happened.