Posts Tagged foreclosure help

great story i read on kos today

this is a really great story of why we are in this mess, after you read it you see the numbers simply don’t add up and there is about a lot of money that never existed and never will exist, you might want to put some of that money under the mattress for safe keeping, and i’m not kidding btw!

Three Times is Enemy Action

by Devilstower
Sun Sep 21, 2008 at 06:03:41 AM PST

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is Enemy Action.”
— Auric Goldfinger

James Bond’s wealthy nemesis may have had an obsession with gold, but he judged, quite correctly, that if people keep putting your plans awry, that was likely their intent.

In 1982, the same year John McCain entered the Senate, a bill was put forward that would substantially deregulate the Savings and Loan industry. The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act was an initiative of the Reagan administration, and was largely authored by lobbyists for the S&L industry — including John McCain’s warm-up speaker at the convention, Fred Thompson. The official description of the bill was “An act to revitalize the housing industry by strengthening the financial stability of home mortgage lending institutions and ensuring the availability of home mortgage loans.” Considering where things stand in 2008, that may sound dubious. It should.

Seven years later, the S&L industry was collapsing. What was the cause? Garn-St. Germain handed the S&Ls a greatly expanded range of capabilities, allowing them to go head to head with full service banks, but it didn’t give them the bank’s regulations. Left to operate in an anarchistic gray area, S&Ls chased profits, indulged in amazing extravagances, and cranked out enough cheap mortgages to fuel a real estate boom. They also experimented with lots of complex, creative — and risky — investments, even though they didn’t have the economic models to really determine the worth of the things they were buying. The result was a mountain of bad debts and worthless “assets.” Does any of that sound eerily (or nauseatingly) familiar?

It wasn’t a foregone conclusion. In 1985, three years after the deregulation of the S&Ls, the chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board saw that the situation was already looking shaky, with the potential to become much worse. He instituted a rule to limit the amounts and types of investments S&Ls could carry on their books in an effort to head off disaster. However, many savings and loans — among them Lincoln Savings & Loan Association of Irvine, CA, which was headed by a fellow named Charles Keating — promptly ignored these rules.

Now enters a familiar cast of characters. First to pop up was the universally beloved Fed-chief-to-be, Alan Greenspan. Greenspan argued against the loan board’s new rules, and persuaded Reagan to appoint one of Keating’s pals to the board to blunt the requirements. A quintet of senators, among them John McCain, began having meetings with both the management at Lincoln and the regulators at the loan board. ] Alan Greenspan also helped out with a letter to the regulators, asking that Lincoln be exempt from the new rules. With their help of Greenspan and their pet senators, Lincoln was able to stay in business an additional two years, at the end of which they failed — taking the life savings of 21,000, mostly elderly, investors with them.

How involved was John McCain? McCain and Keating had known each other since 1981 and had become fast friends. Of all the “Keating Five,” it was McCain who moved into the life of the Lincoln S&L chief. The two men vacationed together multiple times, with the whole McCain clan (babysitter included) heading out for Keating’s private Caribbean property on Keating’s private jet. McCain didn’t think to actually report these trips, or pay for them, until the investigators were breathing down his neck. And McCain took his payment in the form of more than just vacations. Keating and other members of Lincoln’s parent company padded McCain’s pockets with $112,000 in campaign contributions.

In John McCain’s biography, he called his meetings with Keating and regulators “the worst mistake of my life,” though from the text you’d think this was a spur of the moment decision, not something that McCain did repeatedly over a space of years. Still, you might think that a “worst mistake” would stay fresh in his memory.

It certainly didn’t fade quickly for the country. Following the S&L crisis, the Resolution Trust Company was formed to swallow up the debt of Lincoln and 746 other S&Ls gone wild, and taxpayers were left with the $125 billion bill. The resulting budget deficit forced cutbacks in other programs. The artificial real estate boom collapsed and housing starts fell to their lowest levels in decades. Finally, the whole nation settled in for a period nasty enough that three years later someone could still campaign around the idea “It’s the economy, stupid.”

Even so, by 1999 Phil Gramm — who had entered the Senate two years after McCain and quickly become the economic guru of the Keating Five maverick — put forward the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This Act passed out of the Senate on a party line vote with 100% Republican support, including that of John McCain. (To be fair, the bill eventually passed again with a wide margin following revisions in the House.)

This act repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act. This may sound like a bunch of Congressperson soup, but the gist of it is that Glass-Steagall was put in place in 1933 to control the rampant speculation that had helped cause the collapse of banking at the outset of the depression, and to prevent such consolidation of the banks that the nation had all its eggs in one fiscal basket.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley reversed those rules, allowing not only more bank mergers, but for banks to become directly involved in the stock market, bonds, and insurance. Remember the bit about how S&Ls failed because they didn’t have the regulations that protected banks? After Gramm-Leach-Bliley, banks didn’t have that protection either.

Gramm wasn’t done. The next year he was back with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which was slipped into a “must pass” spending bill on the last day of the 106th Congress. This Act greatly expanded the scope of futures trading, created new vehicles for speculation, and sheltered several investments from regulation.

As with both Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Garn-St. Germain, large parts of this bill were written by industry lobbyists. This famously included the “Enron Loophole” that exempted energy trading from regulation and was written by (big suprise) Enron Lobbyists working with Gramm. Not coincidentally, Senator Gramm, the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Enron, was also key to legislating the deregulation of California’s energy commodity trading.

Thanks to this fortunate trifecta of Gramm-crafted legislation, Enron was able to create “EnronOnline” and trade electricity in California with absolutely no oversight or transparency. They quickly worked out how to game the system. Previously, there had been only one Stage 3 rolling blackout in the history of California. Within months, the system had been manipulated by traders to generate 38 such blackouts and wholesale electrical prices had gone up more than 3000%. Despite production capacity equal to four times the demand during winter, energy traders even engineered a blackout in mid-January.

During the confusion of these deliberate “shortages” and “price spikes,” the California administration of Gray Davis — blind to speculator manipulations because of the walls erected by Gramm’s legislation — was forced to sign energy contracts at enormous rates. There was little choice, because most of California’s public utilities were on the brink of bankruptcy from the rising wholesale prices.

In a single year, Gramm’s legislation allowed speculators to bring the state to its knees. Enron alone looted California of $11 billion. The manipulations of the energy market were also a major factor in Davis getting the hook, helped usher the governator into power, and they still have repercussions in California’s budget battles today. By the end of that year, the depth of Enron’s deception could no longer be hidden, and the whole company came crashing down in the largest bankruptcy in history — at the time. This brought more billions lost in mutual funds and pension funds across the country, and played a major role in the economic downturn of 2001.

But that was only the second act. The combination of Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was a toxic cocktail whose total damage was greater than the sum of its parts.

The first Act promoted bank buyouts and mergers that reached such an insane pitch that the average consumer could only keep up by tracking the changing names on their checks and credit cards. Mercantile buys Ameribanc and Mark Twain. Firstar buys Federated and First Colonial. US Bancorp buys Mercantile and Firstar. And, because it allowed brokerages and insurance companies to mingle with banks, the Act cemented a trend that was already (and illegally) underway in which all those terms had become rather quaint. Is Wachovia a savings bank, an investment bank, a brokerage, or an insurance provider? The answer is “yes.”

In allowing financial institutions to grow to Godzilla-sized proportions, Gramm-Leach-Bliley helped ensure that we would have financial entities that were “too big to fail.” Rather than choosing to enforce rules that kept these institutions apart, the deregulators chose to create monster bankeragasurances whose downfall (and existence) was enough to threaten the whole system.

But if Gramm-Leach-Bliley removed the limits on size and scope, these new institutions still needed fuel. With many financial transactions operating on razor thin margins, and increasing automation sapping the profits from trading of all sorts, they needed a new way to generate the funds required to swallow their brethren in the merged fiscal corporation pond. For that, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was a godsend.

Among those instruments which the CFMA sheltered from regulatory scrutiny was something called the “credit default swap.” A kind of insurance one bank could exchange with another, credit default swaps supposedly made it safe for banks to take on ever riskier forms of debt. The Act didn’t invent these swaps, though they were relatively new. Instead, by placing them in a state where they were not only unregulated but almost perfectly opaque, credit default swaps were turned into the perfect vehicle to fuel a Wall Street revolution. No one had any idea what these things were actually worth, they were traded “over the counter” without being administered by any exchange, and even the SEC could monitor their existence only indirectly.

Who would cheer for a new kind of financial instrument that was difficult to understand, invisible to regulators, and impossible for even the whizziest of Wall Street whiz kids to value? Guess.

More recently, instruments that are more complex and less transparent–such as credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and credit-linked notes–have been developed and their use has grown very rapidly in recent years. The result? Improved credit-risk management together with more and better risk-management tools appear to have significantly reduced loan concentrations in telecommunications and, indeed, other areas and the associated stress on banks and other financial institutions.
–Alan Greenspan, 2002

Get that? Greenspan loved credit default swaps. He opined again and again that such instruments would be the salvation of the industry by spreading around risks. To the mighty Greenspan, both their complexity and their lack of transparency were good things, since swaps would only be handled by the big boys who knew how to play with fire.

When questioned about his support of Gramm’s legislation, John McCain called his friend (and by then, campaign co-chair) Gramm “one of the smartest people in the world on the economy” and pointed out that Greenspan also favored the acts Gramm and his coalition of lobbyists had authored. If both Gramm and Greenspan were on his side, McCain couldn’t possibly be in the wrong.

Except, of course, that he could.

From the beginning, there were plenty of people in the financial community whose opinion of these unregulated credit swaps was not as rosy as that of Gramm, Greenspan, and McCain. Chief among those speaking in opposition was SEC Chairman, Arthur Levitt. Levitt argued that what the industry needed was more transparency, especially when it came to complex instruments like default swaps, and he testified to this before Gramm’s Senate Banking Committee,.

“In my judgment, the risk of this regulatory approach is simply unacceptable for America’s investors.”
–Arthur Levitt, 1999

Gramm paid no attention.

Credit default swaps did allow the banks to share risks. So much so, that banks raced each other in an effort to find more risks. They made it possible for the down payment on homes to become 3%, 1%, 0%. Skip the credit check, avoid the employment requirements, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! We’ve got a credit default swap, we can do anything!

The encouragement and “safety” that credit default swaps provided made the sub-prime mortgage market possible. Just as with the deregulation of S&Ls in the 1980s, the market was suddenly flooded with easy credit. The result was a real estate boom, soaring home prices, and a plague of “Flip that House!” shows on cable.

As the banks piled up crappy mortgages, they heaped on ever more of the credit default swaps — and they still had no idea how to value the things. Worse, they began to trade the swaps themselves as if they were an investment, treating them like something worth holding instead of a big bundle of cartoon bombs whose fuses were already lit. Since very few loans were falling into default at the time, owning a default swap seemed like a way to collect fees without ever paying out. Banks wanted more, and more, and more.

A secondary market for trading swaps exploded into existence, and swaps were traded with absolutely no consideration for the nature or quality of the underlying investment. Swaps changed hands a dozen or more times, growing in “value” as they went. Worse still, no one regulated who could buy a swap, so it was (and is) perfectly possible for a company to acquire swaps that theoretically cover billions of dollars in loans, even if that company doesn’t have a red cent on hand to cover those swaps should the loans default.

How big did this market become? Here’s business correspondent Bob Moon and host Kai Ryssdal on American Public Media’s Marketplace from back in the spring.

BOB MOON: OK, I’m about to unload some numbers on you here, so I’ll speak slowly so you can follow this.

The value of the entire U.S. Treasuries market: $4.5 trillion.

The value of the entire mortgage market: $7 trillion.

The size of the U.S. stock market: $22 trillion.

OK, you ready?

The size of the credit default swap market last year: $45 trillion.

KAI RYSSDAL: That’s a lot of money, Bob.

As in three times the whole US gross domestic product, Bob. And the truth is that Moon probably underestimated. The unregulated and poorly reported credit default swaps may have actually passed $70 trillion last year, or about $5 trillion more than the GDP of the entire world.

So, are you starting to get an idea of just how big a genie Phil Gramm and his pals unleashed?

With some regularity over the last eight years, fiscal whistle blowers have tried to raise their hands and register a protest. Um, sirs? Is it altogether a good idea to run up debts exceeding all the assets it’s even possible to hold? But so long as no one actually had to pay off on the swaps, the party went on. Even usually conservative (in the fiscal sense) companies like AIG started to worry that they were being left behind and leapt headlong into the swap pool.

Shortly after Greenspan’s departure in 2006, the Federal Reserve took the unusual step of issued a joint statement along with the SEC to warn about the risks associated with credit default swaps. But by that point, the damage was already severe. If swaps lost their value, most of those who had played the game would find their giant firms abruptly valued in pocket change. The only solution was to cover the problem with still more swaps and keep moving.

Then a funny thing happened. After years in which banks had handed out loans willy-nilly, guarded by the indestructible swap, people and companies started to really default on those loans. Credit slowed, home prices fell, and the whole snake started to eat itself tail first. Suddenly, credit default swaps were not sources of limitless cash. It turns out that an insurance policy — even a secret, unregulated policy — is occasionally expected to pay. Speculators started to look at the paper they were holding and for the first time realized it could all be worthless. Worse, it could (and did) represent a massive debt; one that no one had the funds to cover.

When Bear Stearns fell apart last March, it was only suspected that a big part of the effort in saving the giant investment bank was keeping their holdings in credit default swaps from unraveling and spreading to other institutions. Naturally, part of solving this problem involved creating a new credit default swap to cover Bear Stearn’s potential debt. But the all-purpose swap was starting to lose its power. Shortly after Bear Stearns went belly up, AIG reported the largest quarterly loss in the company’s history, taking a $11 billion hit on revaluing its holdings of swaps. The party was definitely coming to a close.

When AIG finally collapsed this week, there was no doubt about the primary cause of its failure. The previously well grounded company had “gotten itself involved with something called credit default swaps.” Point of irony alert: Arthur Levitt now serves on the AIG board… or at least he did until the government had to take over most of AIG to salvage the company from the very idiocy Levitt had warned of in 1999.

This week, the Bush administration announced the beginnings of a plan to salvage what remains of the financial markets. At first glance, it appears that the plan will consist mainly of creating a kind of “garbage pit,” a fund or group of funds — cousins of the Resolution Trust that was created during the S&L crisis — into which those people who have dabbled in bad debts can toss their problems. Only this time the cost to the taxpayers is at least $700 billion… and a big bite out of representative democracy.

The expansion of unregulated Savings and Loans in the 1980s brought on the collapse of that industry, a crippling of the economy, and left taxpayers holding the bag. Maybe that was only happenstance. Those pushing for the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act may not have known what they were doing.

The deregulation of the California electricity market, along with the protections provided to Enron through Phil Gramm’s lobbyist-written legislation brought blackouts, fiscal and political chaos, and left taxpayers holding the bag. But the people who engineered that event — people like Gramm and Greenspan — had already seen what happened with the S&Ls. They should have known better. Still, perhaps that was only coincidence.

The sub-prime mortgage crisis that has not only come so close to utterly destroying the markets, but has ruined the value of many people’s homes and left millions with mortgages they can’t pay, was also the outcome of the deregulation created by these men. The very predictable outcome. When taxpayers are left holding the bag for $1 trillion this time around, it’s hard to believe it’s any sort of accident.

This is enemy action. This is a bullet deliberately fired into the economy by men willing to exercise their ideology regardless of the cost to taxpayers. Men who have every expectation that they can plunder the system again and again, while the public picks up the tab. John McCain may not have had his finger directly on the trigger, but he was there. He assisted. These were his personal friends and philosophical comrades. He may not be the high priest, but he has been a loyal acolyte in the cult of deregulation.

It may come as a surprise to the champions of deregulation, but nobody likes regulation. The restrictions that were placed on banks, S&Ls, and other institutions in the 1930s weren’t put there because someone thought it would be fun. They were put in place because they addressed problems that had just been clearly and painfully revealed. They were put in place because they were necessary.

It’s bad enough if John McCain didn’t know that. It’s far worse if he did.

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The Bubble in Graph Format.

Here are home values adjusted for inflation

Here are home values adjusted for inflation

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Fed takes major step toward stalling foreclosures

what are you thoughts on this article today in reuters?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Tuesday took a step toward easing mortgage foreclosures threatening millions of Americans, announcing that it would write down troubled mortgages to keep people in their homes.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the initiative would specifically include $74 billion of assets held in connection with the bailout last year of Bear Stearns and American International Group.

“The goal of the policy is to avoid preventable foreclosures on residential mortgage assets that are held, owned or controlled by a Federal Reserve Bank,” he said in a letter to Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives financial services committee.

The Fed was instructed by the law last year that authorized a $700 billion bank bailout with public money that it must do what it can to minimize foreclosures.

The Bear Stearns and AIG rescues were done outside of this emergency measure, and President Barack Obama has said that part of the second $350 billion tranche of the money, that was released to him by Congress earlier this month, will be used to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Private economists estimate that millions of Americans are at risk of losing their homes after the collapse of the U.S. housing market savaged house prices and forced up unemployment as the economy slid into recession at the end of 2007.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, has been among U.S. lawmakers pressing the Fed and the government to do more to prevent mortgage foreclosures and he said the decision by the Fed was a “major breakthrough.”

“We just had very good news from Mr. Bernanke from the Federal Reserve, who has just announced a very significant increase in Federal Reserve policies to reduce foreclosures,” Frank told MSNBC television in an interview.

MODIFYING RISKY LOANS

Research firm RealtyTrac says 850,000 foreclosed homes are already on the market and expects this number to rise by another 1 million homes in 2009, with 2 million more homes entering the foreclosure process during the same period.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd separately said that the Fed’s decision was an important step.

“I am delighted to hear the news. I don’t know details of it yet. I am very encouraged by that,” he told reporters.

“We have been trying to get, as you know, for some time in the previous administration (of President George W. Bush) for them to take steps on foreclosure mitigation.

“They refused to do so for whatever reason. I am very pleased that the Fed is stepping up,” Dodd said.

In a bold effort to unscramble complex mortgage-backed securities at the heart of a financial crisis sparked by the housing market decline, the Fed said it would encourage mortgage servicers to modify loans at risk of default.

It will also “assist” the loan servicer in making modifications, according to a document made public by the Fed on Tuesday, entitled “Homeownership Preservation Policy for Residential Mortgage Assets.”

The Fed has said it will purchase up to $500 billion of mortgage-backed securities by the end of June to make home loans more affordable to boost demand for houses.

Mortgage-backed securities pool many different mortgages, which makes them extremely tricky to separate in a loan modification designed to prevent foreclosure.

The Fed said it would consider reducing the interest rate paid on mortgages at risk of default, extending the term of the loan, and accepting “a deferral or reduction of the outstanding principal balance of the loan,” according to the Fed document.

(Additional reporting by Rachelle Younglai in Washington and Helen Chernikoff in New York; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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What Loan Modifications Mean To You!

This article was from November, now we are in January and things continue the same.

Once again this problem will not be solved in full by the government or banks!

There has been a lot of talk over the past few days about the new proposal by the Bush Administration to help stabilize the housing market by encouraging banks to modify loans for at-risk homeowners.  The plan is to secure 31 million mortgages worth approximately $5 trillion which were underwritten by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and prevent them from going into default.  The federal government took control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September when waves of foreclosures resulted in mounting losses on their portfolios.  The Bush proposal mirrors what Citigroup, JPMorgan-Chase, and Bank of America have already been doing with their at-risk mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In order for homeowners to be eligible, they must meet the following criteria: they must be over 90 days behind on their mortgage payments, owe at least 90% of their homes current value, have not filed bankruptcy and it must be their primary residence.

Like a standard modification program, the payments would be adjusted either one of three ways; lower interest rates, longer repayment schedules or shifting the difference of the modified payment after being adjusted to below 38-40% of the homeowner’s monthly income and amount of what the payment actually should be to the payoff of the loan.

James Lockhart, the director of the new Federal Housing Finance Agency which was created to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was quoted as saying, “We expect that it could significantly increase the number of modifications completed.”

This all sounds good and seems to be getting a lot of positive media coverage.  However, there are major issues with this plan that need to be resolved.

The main problem with this plan is the Bush Administration doesn’t know if it will work because they are unable to determine the number of homeowners who will be eligible. Faith Schwartz, executive director of HOPE NOW was quoted in CNN Money as saying, “We think over time this going to affect a couple hundred thousand homeowners.” This would equate to about 1% of the total number of mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently have in their portfolio.

Second, the majority of homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed mortgages are not at risk because of the guidelines that Fannie and Freddie had in place for years.  Unless the homeowner suffers a job loss or some other catastrophic event, his/her primary concern is being upside down and this plan does not address that issue.

Robert Van Order, an adjunct finance professor at the University of Michigan, who was chief economist for Fannie Mae until 2003, told the Detroit Free Press that he thinks the loan modification plans could be somewhat effective but it is not the solution to the housing problem.  “There is an underlying problem they can’t fix with this and that is people who are underwater on their mortgages.  More people are going to be in trouble because they have negative equity.”

It also doesn’t address the issue of homeowners whose mortgages were not backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Many of these toxic mortgages were acquired in the past two years when JP Morgan-Chase took control of Washington Mutual and their subprime division Long Beach Mortgage, Bank of America bought Countrywide and Merrill-Lynch (owners of sub-prime lender First Franklin), Citigroup bought Ameriquest and its wholesale operation Argent Mortgage.  Many of these consumers were put in stated deals, adjustable rates, sub-prime loans or were improperly qualified for Option-ARM programs.   These loans have a value of over $1.3 Trillion with over 7.5 million first lien sub-prime mortgages outstanding. Yet, these homeowners are considered low priority.

Another problem with the proposal is it encourages homeowners to destroy their credit ratings by telling them to fall 90+ days behind on their mortgage in order to get help.  American Home Mortgage Servicing and Countrywide, among other sub-prime lenders are telling homeowners not to make their mortgage payments if they want a loan modification.  Yet, they continue to report the delinquencies to the major credit bureaus.

There is a definite benefit to banks that modify these loans and on the surface it looks like a benefit to the homeowner.  However, the banks are not promoting, and are not disclosing to the homeowner, the indemnification clauses in these agreements that hold the banks and servicers harmless for any fraud or misrepresentation that may have been used to induce the homeowner into signing the original mortgage.   This means the homeowner is prevented from exercising their rights under TILA, RESPA and many other Consumer Protection laws.

One of first people to criticize this plan was Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, who says the plan does not go far enough.  He said that too many of these loans won’t be modified because the investors who own the loan will be able to block any arrangements made by the servicer and the homeowner.  Schumer said, “These voluntary plans sound nice, but they don’t do the job.”


This initiative doesn’t help the nearly one million people in non-Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed mortgages whose payments are set to recast by the end of the year or people who were victims of fraud-fraud that was committed by the same companies that now want to help these homeowners. With that said, the actions of the Bush Administration could be seen as something a bit more Machiavellian.

First, it gives the impression to the public something is being done when it really isn’t.  Perception is politics and politics is perception. What is more Machiavellian than the idea that deceit being a legitimate tool of statecraft? Henry Paulson was after all an assistant to Watergate conspirator and convicted felon, John Erlichman, who created, “The Plumbers” for Richard Nixon.

Second, the credit crisis has created an atmosphere of self-preservation with executives and managers of the major financial institutions.  As mentioned, because these loan modifications have indemnification clauses in them, they are a way to insulate these executives from lengthy and costly litigation whose final judgment would rest in the hands of an unfriendly jury.

Right now, it is quite possible that juries are the homeowner’s best and last hope to keep their homes.  If lenders and banks are refusing to atone for their past sins by not offering all at-risk homeowners a viable opportunity to keep their homes then shouldn’t lenders feel the wrath of the consumer?

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Scam Artists

when looking for a company to work with avoid the following:

Foreclosure Rescue Scams:
Another Potential Stress for Homeowners in Distress

The possibility of losing your home to foreclosure can be terrifying. The reality that scam artists are preying on the vulnerability of desperate homeowners is equally frightening. Many so-called foreclosure rescue companies or foreclosure assistance firms claim they can help you save your home. Some are brazen enough to offer a money-back guarantee. Unfortunately, once most of these foreclosure fraudsters take your money, they leave you much the worse for wear.

Fraudulent foreclosure “rescue” professionals use half truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief and then fail to deliver. Their goal is to make a quick profit through fees or mortgage payments they collect from you, but do not pass on to the lender. Sometimes, they assume ownership of your property by deceiving you, the homeowner. Then, when it’s too late to save your home, they take the property or siphon off the equity. You’ve lost your home to foreclosure despite your best intentions.

If you think you may be facing foreclosure, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how to recognize a foreclosure rescue scam. And even if the foreclosure process has already begun, the FTC and its law enforcement partners want you to know that legitimate options are available to help you save your home.

How the Scams Work

Foreclosure rescue firms use a variety of tactics to find homeowners in distress: Some sift through public foreclosure notices in newspapers and on the Internet or through public files at local government offices, and then send personalized letters to homeowners. Others take a broader approach through ads on the Internet, on television, or in the newspaper, posters on telephone poles, median strips and at bus stops, or flyers or business cards at your front door. The scam artists use simple and straight-forward messages, like:

“Stop Foreclosure Now!”

“We guarantee to stop your foreclosure.”

“Keep Your Home. We know your home is scheduled to be sold. No Problem!”

“We have special relationships within many banks that can speed up case approvals.”

“We Can Save Your Home. Guaranteed. Free Consultation”

“We stop foreclosures everyday. Our team of professionals can stop yours this week!”

Once they have your attention, they use a variety of tactics to get your money:

Phony Counseling or Phantom Help

The scam artist tells you that he can negotiate a deal with your lender to save your house if you pay a fee first. You may be told not to contact your lender, lawyer, or credit counselor, and to let the scam artist handle all the details. Once you pay the fee, the scam artist takes off with your money.

Sometimes, the scam artist insists that you make all mortgage payments directly to him while he negotiates with the lender. In this instance, the scammer may collect a few months of payments before disappearing.

Bait-and-Switch

You think you’re signing documents for a new loan to make your existing mortgage current. This is a trick: you’ve signed documents that surrender the title of your house to the scam artist in exchange for a “rescue” loan.

Rent-to-Buy Scheme

You’re told to surrender the title as part of a deal that allows you to remain in your home as a renter, and to buy it back during the next few years. You may be told that surrendering the title will permit a borrower with a better credit rating to secure new financing – and prevent the loss of the home. But the terms of these deals usually are so burdensome that buying back your home becomes impossible. You lose the home, and the scam artist walks off with all or most of your home’s equity. Worse yet, when the new borrower defaults on the loan, you’re evicted.

In a variation, the scam artist raises the rent over time to the point that the former homeowner can’t afford it. After missing several rent payments, the renter – the former homeowner – is evicted, leaving the “rescuer” free to sell the house.

In a similar equity-skimming situation, the scam artist offers to find a buyer for your home, but only if you sign over the deed and move out. The scam artist promises to pay you a portion of the profit when the home sells. Once you transfer the deed, the scam artist simply rents out the home and pockets the proceeds while your lender proceeds with the foreclosure. In the end, you lose your home – and you’re still responsible for the unpaid mortgage. That’s because transferring the deed does nothing to transfer your mortgage obligation.

Fraudulent foreclosure “rescue” professionals use half truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief and then fail to deliver.

Bankruptcy Foreclosure

The scam artist may promise to negotiate with your lender or to get refinancing on your behalf if you pay a fee up front. Instead of contacting your lender or refinancing your loan, though, the scam artist pockets the fee and files a bankruptcy case in your name – sometimes without your knowledge.

A bankruptcy filing often stops a home foreclosure, but only temporarily. What’s more, the bankruptcy process is complicated, expensive, and unforgiving. For example, if you fail to attend the first meeting with the creditors, the bankruptcy judge will dismiss the case and the foreclosure proceedings will continue.

If this happens, you could lose the money you paid to the scam artist as well as your home. Worse yet, a bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to obtain credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.

Where to Find Legitimate Help

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage or you have gotten a foreclosure notice, contact your lender immediately. You may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule. Remember that lenders generally don’t want to foreclose; it costs them money.

Other foreclosure prevention options, including reinstatement and forbearance, are explained in Mortgage Payments Sending You Reeling? Here’s What to Do, a publication from the FTC. Find it at http://www.ftc.gov.

You also may contact a credit counselor through the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a nonprofit organization that operates the national 24/7 toll-free hotline (1.888.995.HOPE) with free, bilingual, personalized assistance to help at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure. HPF is a member of the HOPE NOW Alliance of mortgage servicers, mortgage market participants and counselors. More information about HOPE NOW is at www.995hope.org.

Red Flags

If you’re looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:

  • guarantees to stop the foreclosure process – no matter what your circumstances
  • instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer, or credit or housing counselor
  • collects a fee before providing you with any services
  • accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer
  • encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time
  • tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender
  • tells you to transfer your property deed or title to it
  • offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is not set by the housing market at the time of sale
  • offers to fill out paperwork for you
  • pressures you to sign paperwork you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage or you have gotten a foreclosure notice, contact your lender immediately.

Report Fraud

If you think you’ve been a victim of foreclosure fraud, contact:

  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Your state Attorney General
  • Your local Better Business Bureau

For More Information

To learn more about mortgages and other credit-related issues, visit www.ftc.gov/credit and MyMoney.gov, the U.S. government’s portal to financial education.

These are government resources and do not offer the same protection as an attorney based forensic loan audit and loan modification system.

These resources i post them so you understand that you can get free help, but your final options will be limited, our program is a non qualifying program, this means you don’t have to qualify at the time it is started, just as long as we locate violations will we have a case against the lender

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