Category Archives: Are You Behind on Your Mortgage Payments

Be Very Careful If You Argue Your Deed Of Trust Or Loan Are Invalid So You Do Not Owe Anything On Your Home

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Over and over again during the mortgage meltdown and now even years after the mortgage meltdown I have potential clients still wanting to argue that they owe nothing on their primary residence because of some issue with the loan, recording or assignment of the loan. Do not get me wrong. There is an exception to every statement anyone makes like this, but it is rare. What I can prove to you is state court lawsuit after state court lawsuit getting dismissed after you the homeowner were lied to about your chances of actually being successful at arguing you owe nothing even though you did not pay the loan off in full. I can also prove to you relief from stay after relief from stay granted by bankruptcy courts when someone files for bankruptcy protection and is behind on their mortgage payments then tries to argue I owe nothing. Since there still seems to be some confusion let me be clear.

If you do not pay your mortgage payment each month at some point your mortgage company will seek foreclosure and if you have filed for bankruptcy protection and do not pay your mortgage on time your mortgage or loan company will get relief from stay to start the foreclosure process in the real world. Hopefully the following provides some more detailed information about why to not argue you do not owe any money on your house. I do not think bankruptcy attorneys mislead potential bankruptcy clients about this topic but state court litigation attorneys still do.

A recent Ninth Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel case from the Central District really highlights the issues with this argument and applicable law in the bankruptcy world. See BAP CC-18-1015-FLS.

Mortgage Company Can Assign or Transfer the Right of Collection of the Note Secured by the Recorded Deed of Trust

In this particular case here is the list of secured creditors for the bankruptcy filer regarding his deed of trust for his house in chronological order.
1. November 2014: GMAC Mortgage Corporation DBA ditech.com is the original loan company with recorded deed of trust for $315,000 and provides Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. (“MERS”), as “nominee” for GMAC and its successors and assigns, was the beneficiary under the Deed of Trust;
2. June 2010: Through nominee MERS GMAC assigns deed of trust to GMAC Mortgage, LLC;
3. January 2011: The borrower and bankruptcy filer entered into a loan modification with MERS, nominee for the then-current holder of the Note, GMAC Mortgage, LLC;
4. May 2013: GMAC Mortgage, LLC assigned the Deed of Trust to Green Tree Servicing, LLC;
5. February 2016: Green Tree Servicing, LLC (which was then known as Ditech Financial LL) recorded the notice of default when mortgage payments were not made;
6. December 2017: Ditech Financial assigned the deed of trust to U.S. Bank Trust, N.A., as Trustee for LSF9 Master Participation Trust 13801; Servicer Caliber Home Loans, Inc. as its attorney in fact.
The assignments continued even after the borrower defaulted on payments and filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Ditech Financial filed the proof of claim in the bankruptcy case but U.S. Bank and Caliber as the servicer filed the motion for relief from the bankruptcy automatic stay for permission to continue to enforce their state court rights outside of bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filer and/or borrower unfortunately argued U.S. Bank/Caliber had no standing or no right to request relief from stay and that he was current with all post-bankruptcy filing mortgage payments.

The Motion For Relief From Stay

U.S. Bank/Caliber sought relief from the automatic stay under Section 362(d)(1) for cause alleging the borrower and bankruptcy filer failed to make over $19,000 in mortgage payments after the chapter 13 bankruptcy case was filed. First the borrower/bankruptcy filer argued that U.S. Bank/Caliber was not the “real party in interest.” Second that the Deed of Trust was defective at its inception given the original lender was listed as “GMAC Mortgage Corporation dba ditech.com,” but only “GMAC Mortgage Corporation” is registered in the state of Pennsylvania, while the fictional name “ditech.com” is not. Third, the borrower/bankruptcy filer claimed that the January 2011 modification agreement was invalid.

1. Real Party In Interest

In the bankruptcy world the key term regarding this issue “colorable claim” to enforce an alleged debt/claim. A claim is extremely broadly defined and I have written about this issue in a prior article. But a mere colorable claim is all that is required in the bankruptcy world.
See Arkinson v. Griffin (In re Griffin), 719 F.3d 1126, 1128 (9th Cir. 2013) (citing In re Veal, 450 B.R. at 915); see Edwards v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. (In re Edwards), 454 B.R. 100, 105 (9th Cir. BAP 2011)
“A party seeking stay relief need only establish that it has a colorable claim to the property at issue.” A party filing a motion for relief from stay or movant must have a colorable claim sufficient to bestow upon it standing to prosecute a motion under § 362 if the party/movant either: (a) owns or has another form of property interest in a note secured by the debtor’s (or the estate’s) property; or (b) is a ‘person entitled to enforce’ . . . such a note under applicable state law”). The borrower and bankruptcy filer argues that the stamp signature on one of the loan documents invalidates the documents. There does not need to be a lengthy discussion about this issue given an endorsement of a negotiable instrument does not require a “live” or “wet” signature. See U.C.C. § 3-204(a) and U.C.C. § 1-201 providing “signed” includes any symbol executed or adopted with present intention to adopt or accept a writing. Or more commonly known as “make your mark” for a valid signature or endorsement of a document. The alleged “stamp” signature argument fails.

2. Failure to Registered a Fictitious Business Name

This is an interesting argument. The borrower and bankruptcy filer also argues that GMAC Mortgage Corporation dba ditech.com did not register or fill out and file a fictitious business for ditech.com. The problem is that cannot invalidate a lender’s ability to make and enforce thousands upon thousands of dollars of loans…..
The borrower and bankruptcy filer then attempts to argue the various assignments between the parties listed above are invalid. This issue has been analyzed before, see: Veal v. Am. Home Mortg. Servicing, Inc. (In re Veal), 450 B.R. 897, 906 (9th Cir. BAP 2011). The Ninth Circuit provides a service has standing to seek relief from the automatic stay when the borrower files for bankruptcy protection.

3. I Did Pay All The Alleged Missed Mortgage Payments

Finally the borrower and bankruptcy filer argues he made all of the post-petition mortgage payments in a declaration but failed to provide any proof the mortgage payments were paid. As a bankruptcy attorney trying to help someone prevent relief from stay being granted this has to be the most frustrating thing to deal with. If mortgage payments are paid there has to be proof of the payment readily available. If you are behind on your mortgage payments most likely the only thing that can prevent relief from stay being granted is a plan the mortgage company will accept to pay back the missed mortgage payments and that means ALL of the missed mortgage payments up to when the motion for relief from stay is filed within a reasonable time. As a side note; most motions for relief from stay are filed for cause or missed mortgage payments regardless of the amount of equity a property has. Cause exists for relief from stay is you missed mortgage payments and cannot pay them back within a reasonable amount of time there is not much anyone can do for you.

If You Are Having A Problem With Your Home Loan Payment Call a Bankruptcy Attorney

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One of the most frustrating parts of my job is over and over again talking to people that file Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases to stop a foreclosure or eviction without proper legal advice from an actual bankruptcy attorney. By the time they speak to me there is usually too much water under the bridge for me to get involved and actually obtain them relief under the Bankruptcy Code they are entitled to. I say entitled to because the Bankruptcy Code is the law. You just have to follow it and get relief. Most skeleton Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions should never have been filed to begin with.

Five Steps To Help Prevent Getting Scammed

These five steps cannot guarantee you will not get scammed, but they will limit your risk to getting scammed, losing your house and paying too much for the services provided to you.

1. Never ever wait until the last minute to start getting information; the problem did not come up overnight, so the solution will not come overnight either….
2. Make sure the person helping you signs the documents filed with the court; not you;
3. Only do business with someone that is local in your area and not hundreds of miles away;
4. Only do business with someone you have actually met in person and they have an office you can walk into if you want;
5. Google the phone number, fax number, email address, name of person or business name you are dealing with … basically Google each and every bit of identifying information you are given . . . most likely someone has already complained about them and Google will find it for you.

The Automatic Stay is a Jewel to be Coveted, Not Abused

The automatic stay is the backbone of the bankruptcy process and is the single most important and precious jewel to be coveted, not abused. Section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code provides the very lengthy law of how the automatic stay is implemented. A general description is the automatic stay stops almost all collection activity by creditors to give the bankruptcy filer breathing room to figure things out and reorganize or discharge their debts according to the Bankruptcy Code. That includes lawsuits, repossession, foreclosure, wage garnishment, levies, phone calls, letter and on and on. The automatic stay is the most powerful tool for a Bankruptcy Attorney to help people or businesses in financial distress. There are many limits in the automatic stay and for purposes of this article I will focus on the people filing their own cases with advice from the wrong people. What I find is multiple bankruptcy petitions filed by people trying to save a house more often than not. The first petition filed for relief they receive an unlimited automatic stay. There are no timing restrictions as long as the case remains open and not dismissed. This is what everyone should want, the bankruptcy case, whether Chapter 13, Chapter 7 or some other chapter of the Bankruptcy Code, to progress properly and the bankruptcy filer is not in jeopardy of the automatic stay not being in place. The single best way to ensure this is retaining an experienced bankruptcy attorney to file your case. If your home is in jeopardy do not trust a realtor or some other non-bankruptcy professional to help you.

Danger of Multiple Bankruptcy Filings

What I see over and over again with bankruptcy filers getting bad information is there case is just dismissed for not filing the proper documents in the beginning or not timely filing the proper documents after the case is filed. What the unscrupulous realtor, attorney or company will do is tell you or give you the basic forms to file a skeleton bankruptcy petition to obtain the automatic stay. That includes the voluntary petition, statement of social security number, creditor matrix and most likely an application to pay the $310 court filing fee in payments. The really horrible people will not even tell you about the application to pay the court filing fee in payments and make you waste the entire $310 even though they know the case will just be dismissed. They know the case will be dismissed because the forms described above are all they are going to help you with. That is it. You will have 14 days from when the court enters an order for you to file the rest of the documents to actually complete the petition. So the bankruptcy filer is now representing themselves and has only filed the basic forms to get the case started and does not know what to do next…… The bankruptcy filer will have paid whatever the unscrupulous person charge, usually well over a thousand dollars or more, plus the court filing fee of $310 and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is dismissed usually within three weeks.

If your first case is dismissed for some reason and you file a second case within a year you only get a 30 days automatic stay unless the stay is extended within that 30 days. There is no guarantee the court will extend the automatic stay and if a creditor objects to the extension it is even less likely the automatic stay will be extended. The third case filed within a year gets absolutely no automatic stay unless the automatic stay is imposed. Again, there is no guarantee the court will impose the automatic stay.

Required Credit Counseling Course Completion Prior to Filing a Bankruptcy Case

Another trap that realtors and unscrupulous people do not tell the bankruptcy filer is that they must complete the credit counseling course prior to filing for bankruptcy. The credit counseling only takes a few hours to complete and should cost less than $10.00 to complete. Skeleton Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition after skeleton bankruptcy petition is filed without the bankruptcy filer completing the credit counseling course prior to the filing of the case. I am a Bankruptcy Attorney that has either filed or been involved in literally thousands of bankruptcy cases and I only know of one or two circumstances in which the court allowed someone to take the credit counseling course after the bankruptcy case was filed or waived the requirement entirely. Since 2005 BACPA changes to the Bankruptcy Code, Section 109(h)(1) requires the completion of credit counseling within the 180-day period prior to the filing of the petition. Section 109(h)(3) provides a temporary exemption from that requirement if the bankruptcy filer submits a certification that: (i) describes exigent circumstances that merit a waiver of the requirements of [section 109(h)(1)]; (ii) states that the bankruptcy filer requested credit counseling services from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency, but was unable to obtain the services referred to in [section 109(h)(1)] during the 7-day period beginning on the date on which the debtor made that request; and (iii) is satisfactory to the court. Section 109(h)(4) provides a total waiver if the Court determined, upon notice and hearing, that the debtor is unable to complete the credit counseling requirement due to incapacity, disability, or active military duty in a military combat zone. If you have in jeopardy of losing your home just complete the credit counseling course before filing the bankruptcy case and do not play around with attempting have the court give you more time or waive the requirement. It is just not worth it.

Do Not Fall For the Mortgage Litigation Scam

The mortgage litigation scam is only a ploy for criminals to get around the laws making it a criminal act to take money upfront to do a loan modification and a ploy to get around only charging you $150 as a bankruptcy petition preparer. I keep writing about this and it keeps happening. I do not know what the solution is. I try and educate people to enforce their rights and apparently they do not take my advice. Or there are just more and more of these unscrupulous people replacing the ones that go away. If you missed mortgage payments and owe thousands and thousands of dollars because you did not make the mortgage payments rarely are there issues for you to litigate. Especially if you are a consumer and this is regarding your home. We keep finding people in the Bay Area doing business with businesses in Southern California to litigate mortgage issues that appear to be purely scams. If you are litigating a mortgage problem that is legitimate you should not be directed to file a skeleton bankruptcy petition that you sign and file yourself. That makes no sense. When an attorney takes your money to do something they are supposed to sign and file the documents on your behalf because they are representing you and take on the liability for their work. That is how it is supposed to work. Also, why do business with someone that is hundreds of miles away that will most likely never give you your money back when you figure out it was a scam? Are you going to sue them for the $1,000 – $4,000 you gave them already? I seriously doubt it and I have yet to see it.

Are You Behind on Your Mortgage Payments?

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If you are behind on your mortgage payments bankruptcy can help.  If you can afford to pay back the arrears over time in a chapter 13 plan of reorganization, one of the questions you may have is whether you will have to pay interest on the arrears in your Chapter 13 plan.

Your Chapter 13 plans can last three to five years which spreads your missed mortgage payments out to make them affordable.  The length of the Chapter 13 plan is determined by each individual’s circumstances.  If your household income is below the median for the number of people in your household, you can choose to be in either a three or five year
Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.  If your household income is above the median for the number of people in your household, you will have to have a five year Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan.  Normally, the longer the length of the plan, the lower your monthly Chapter 13 plan payment will be given that you have a longer period of time to repay the arrears.  All of the pre-petition mortgage arrears will need to be accounted for in your Chapter 13 plan payment to be feasible.  Remember, you will need to pay the arrears in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case on top of your regular mortgage payments.

Normally, when your mortgage lender files a proof of claim in your Chapter 13 case, they include the pre-petition arrears, interest and penalties for late payments, escrow payments, and attorney fees to review and file a proof of claim.  Some mortgage lenders include property inspections in the pre-petition arrears.  Note that pre-petition interest for the late payments is already included in the arrears.  Almost all deeds of trust securing payment of your mortgage do not include a provision that requires you to pay interest on the mortgage arrears in bankruptcy.  Not having to pay interest on the arrears while paying them back in a chapter 13 bankruptcy will save you thousands of dollars.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies allow you to pay the arrears off at zero percent interest unless the underlying contract or deed of trust indicates that the mortgage lender is allowed to collect interest on the interest payments.

If you you are behind on your mortgage payments let our experienced Fremont bankruptcy attorney or bankruptcy attorneys file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to help you keep your house.  Please call us at 877-9NEW-LIFE or 877-963-9543 to schedule a free consultation.