The current economic crisis has hit Florida as hard as any state in the country. The bankruptcy filings in Florida have reached staggering numbers. If you are considering bankruptcy you are not alone and you should not participate in the process alone.
Bankruptcy laws and procedures are quite complicated. If you place the wrong or incorrect information on your bankruptcy petitions it could have serious consequences. Experienced bankruptcy counsel is necessary to navigate the procedural waters.
Be watchful of so called bankruptcy lawyers who claim to specialize in this complicated area of the law. Because the bankruptcy filings in Florida have dramatically increased over the last year many lawyers are jumping on the band wagon and claiming to be what they are not. We strongly recommend that you someone who concentrates in the area of the law:
1. How long has the attorney practiced Bankruptcy law?
2. You want an attorney that actually handles the case themselves and does not simply refer the case out to another lawyer. The reason for this is that the initial bankruptcy consultation is vital and immediately determining whether you are a candidate for bankruptcy is crucial.
3. Ideally, you want your lawyer to be able to handle both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. This is important because this allows the lawyer to advise you as to what chapter you should file. If a lawyer does not handle both, he may not be able to determine what chapter is right for you.
4. You want to inquire of your lawyer if he is licensed in federal court because this means that he has completed a series of examination that allow him to practice law in federal court as bankruptcies are filed in federal court.
5. Finally, you want to ask you lawyer how many bankruptcies he has filed as this will allow you to gage his experience.
Positive answers to the above questions will help you in hiring the right lawyer for you.
Ray Garcia, Esq.
This month Bank of America unveiled a new approach to the HAMP modification program. The new “Earned Principal Forgiveness” Program will forgive up to 30 percent of some customers’ total mortgage balances. The homeowners must have missed at least two months of mortgage payments and owe at least 20 percent more than their home is currently worth, with a current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 120 percent or higher. Bank of America will first offer to set aside a portion of the principal balance, interest free. That principal can be forgiven over five years, if homeowners don’t miss any payments. The maximum decrease in principal will be 30 percent. The forgiveness allows a homeowner to bring a mortgage balance back down to 100 percent of the home’s value.
The key components to the Earned Principal Forgiveness Program include:
1. An interest-free forbearance of principal that the homeowner can turn into forgiven principal over five years resulting in a maximum 30% decrease in the loan principal balance to as low as 100 percent LTV.
2. In each of the first five years, up to 20 percent of the forborne amount will be forgiven annually for borrowers that remain in good standing on their mortgage payments.
3. Forgiveness installments for the first three years are set at the 20 percent level.
4. In the fourth and fifth years, the amount of forgiveness will be dependent upon the updated value of the property, so that the LTV will not be reduced below 100 percent through principal forgiveness.
The Earned Principal Forgiveness Program promises to help homeowners with severely underwater mortgages with some of the highest rates of delinquency–specifically sub-prime loans, pay-option ARMs, and prime two-year hybrid ARMs that are 60 days or more delinquent with a principal balance of 120 percent or more. At the same time, the Earned Principal Forgiveness Program also recognizes and addresses the interests of mortgage investors by ensuring that forgiveness is tied to the homeowner’s performance, reducing the probability of a future default under the modified terms, and adjusting the total amount to be forgiven in light of any gains in property values that might occur in an economic recovery.
Ray Garcia, Esq. Board Certified in Real Estate Law by the Florida Bar
If you are falling behind on your mortgage payments and foreclosure of your Miami-Dade County, Florida homestead property is imminent; or if your homestead property is already in foreclosure, your lender may be required to participate in a mediation before proceeding in Miami Dade County courts.
In May of 2009, the 11th Judicial Circuit enacted the Circuit Homestead Access to Mediation Program (“CHAMP”). The CHAMP program mandates mediation of homestead properties in foreclosures filed after May of 2009. If your homestead property has been foreclosed on in Miami Dade County, Florida and you have not participated in mediation, your lender may be violating your legal rights.
Due to Florida’s foreclosure crisis, and the limited judicial resources in Miami Dade County, Florida, the CHAMP program was enacted to facilitate improved communication between homeowners and lenders and better manage the crowded Miami-Dade dockets. The program also provides the homeowner the benefit of sitting down with the lender and attempting to work out a settlement arrangement that may ultimately keep the homeowner in his home. It also forces the lender to review your financial situation in good faith and communicate with its own lawyer about your financial situation. This is done in the presence of a skilled mediator whose job it is to get both parties to compromise and resolve the matter.
Contacting a Florida foreclosure defense attorney is the best way to protect your Miami Dade County, Florida Homestead. Even if the foreclosure of your homestead was filed before May of 2009, a foreclosure defense attorney may assist in compelling mediation and saving your homestead.
South Florida Mortgage foreclosures have reached unrealized levels. In fact, Florida is one of the top five states in number of foreclosure filings. If you are facing a mortgage foreclosure you are not alone and you should not participate in the process alone.
Most banks in Florida are represented by a handful of foreclosure law firms who specialize in this area of the law. Even though, Florida has a judicial foreclosure process, these law firms’ goal are to get you out of your property as quickly as possible through an automated and expedited process. When facing a foreclosure, you may believe that you have no options. You simply fail to respond to the foreclosure action. Then, the bank obtains a Final Judgment and ultimately your house is set to be sold at a foreclosure sale. In most cases, failing to respond to the foreclosure action is the worst decision you can make. Fortunately, there are several options available to protect the rights of homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure. Remember, if you have been served with a foreclosure complaint, you will probably want to hire an attorney as soon as possible. In the State of Florida, you only have twenty (20) days to respond to this notice. It is vital that you meet with a knowledgeable foreclosure defense lawyer to discuss the legal options available to you.
Be watchful of so called foreclosure defense lawyers who claim to specialize in this complicated area of the law. Because the foreclosure filings in Florida have dramatically increased over the last year many lawyers are jumping on the band wagon and claiming to be what they are not. We strongly recommend that you hire an expert, someone who is board certified in real estate law. Some points to look for are as follows:
1. How long has the attorney practiced real estate law.
2. You want an attorney that also practices real estate litigation, not just a lawyer who does real estate closing and is now doing litigation because closings are far and few between
3. Ideally, you want your lawyer to be board certified by the Florida Bar in real estate.
4.You want to inquire of your lawyer if he is licensed by any title insurance to offer title insurance in the state of Florida because this means that your lawyer has had advanced training in the origination of a loan. In Florida, there have been many fraudulent loans originated and an understanding of the origination process is important to better develop your defenses to a foreclosure action.
5. You want to ask your lawyer if he is familiar with certain lending laws such as the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Florida Fair Lending Act.
Positive answers to the above questions will help you in hiring the right lawyer for you.
Ray Garcia Board Certified in Real Estate Law by the Florida Bar http://www.raygarcialaw.com
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ray_G._Garcia
Just because you are not able to pay your mortgage it does not mean that you do not have a right to defend a foreclosure in Florida. Since Florida has had a large number of fraudulent loans originated, when defending a foreclosure, it is imperative to review all of the documents that you have in your possession from your closing. There are various federal laws and state laws that require lenders to comply with in closing a home purchase, such as the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Florida Fair Lending Act. Furthermore, during the real estate boom, it became common practice for lenders to inflate the income of homeowners in the Uniform Residential Loan Application in order to qualify the borrower for a larger loan than he or she could afford. Additionally, lenders and brokers falsified the employment of the borrower and the assets titled to the borrower.Lenders in the State of Florida were notorious for this. Don’t forget that in Florida you have rights and one of those rights is to defend your foreclosure.
Many loans originated in the State of Florida, especially South Florida were pooled together and ultimately transferred to securitizied trusts which then sold their individual interest to investors. During this process many notes were losts or transferred to securitizied trusts that did not exist at the time of transfer, were never actually transferred or the transfer violated the rules of the trust. These issues create many defense for you in the foreclosure. Be cognizant of who is suing you because you may be able to properly defend your foreclosure through a skilled legal understanding of the various state and federal lending laws along with an understanding of how banks have transferred loans in recent years.