Monday, November 9, 2009

Owners in Foreclosure Need Lawyers

Foreclosure is everywhere. Seeking solutions, some homeowners try "self help" while other homeowners turn to non-lawyer for-profit "loan modifiers" with no formal legal training. Some of these for-profit loan modifiers have been investigated by the Illinois Attorney General's office or the Federal Trade Commission.

Why do these homeowners shy away from seeking help from lawyers who concentrate their practice on helping such homeowners? Cost! Some homeowners have the misguided perception that a lawyer will cost more than a loan modifier. The old adage is still true: you get what you pay for.

Non-lawyer "loan modifiers" have no formal legal training, cannot represent a homeowner in court, are not trained to advise homeowners on foreclosure defenses, and may charge the homeowner without providing any benefit.

Lawyers on the other hand, have years of formal legal training and typically have many years more legal experience dealing with foreclosures and foreclosure defenses. In the end, I put my money on the trained and skilled lawyer to get the job done and not the "loan modifier" who operates out of the trunk of his car and meets you at the local McDonalds.

Below is an interesting article written by Rita Pearson and published entitled "Leading Illinois attorney offers foreclosure advice." I found the article enjoyable, I thought you would too:

"Homeowners facing foreclosure should call a lawyer for help, the head of the Illinois State Bar Association said Thursday during a trip to the Quad-Cities.

John G. O'Brien, new president of the state bar association, is a veteran real estate attorney from Arlington Heights. He also is founder and chairman of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association, an organization dedicated to the interests of real estate attorneys.

As Mr. O'Brien travels around the state on ISBA business, he is stopping to talk with media about foreclosures and other real estate legal topics, and offers steps homeowners can take to avoid foreclosure.

Lawyers can help renegotiate the terms of their client's payment terms if the homeowner still has a job, Mr. O'Brien said.

Those who no longer have jobs -- hence the reason for falling behind on their mortgage payments -- may benefit from other strategies, such as a real estate short sell or a deed in lieu of foreclosure, he said.

In a short sale, the homeowner sells the property for less than they owe on it if the lender agrees and will accept the sale price. A deed in lieu of foreclosure is when the homeowner hands over ownership of the property to the lender before the property enters foreclosure.

No matter what, the goal for the homeowner is to come out with a full release from the bank or financial institution, Mr. O'Brien said. The property owner does not want to owe thousands of dollars on the original home loan that will follow him or her around later, he said.

Don't wait until the last minute to call for help, Mr. O'Brien said. The foreclosure process takes many months to complete. "You have time; use it wisely," he said, adding that a lawyer will help find the best solutiuon.

Mr. O'Brien founded the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers Association in 1996, covering 2,000 lawyers in Illinois. He said many real estate attorneys will work at no cost, or low cost, to help people who can't afford legal services.

Foreclosure actions in Illinois show little signs of letting up, he said. In September, 7,174 Illinois homeowners received default notices from their lenders. Mr. O'Brien did not have data on the number of defaults or foreclosure cases for Rock Island County.

The number of Cook County foreclosure cases so overwhelmed the court system last August that the court had to stop taking new cases for a time to allow the clerks to catch up with the processing, he said.

"We hope we've seen the worst, but we know we've not seen the end of it."

Mr. O'Brien was in Moline to attend the swearing-in ceremony of about 50 new Quad-Cities area lawyers with Illinois Supreme Court Judge Tom Kilbride presiding at the i wireless Center in Moline. Nearly 2,500 new Illinois attorneys were admitted for practice in similar swearing-in ceremonies statewide."

Warmest Regards,

Bob Schaller

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