A recent survey revealed of the two-thirds of Americans who have a mortgage, 22 percent are struggling to make their payments. Clearly, many homeowners have found themselves in less-than-ideal situations and do not know where to turn to stop foreclosure from happening. But not all of the advice out there is honest, as a woman in New Jersey found out recently.
A few years ago, the woman bought a home with her ex-fiancé. The relationship ended, however, and he stopped making his half of the payments last spring. Her application for a mortgage modification was denied, and while the woman paid what she could afford, her payments were less than her mortgage provider wanted. This triggered an automatic notice to credit reporting agencies indicating that she was not making sufficient payments. It was at this point that the woman, now almost eight months behind on her mortgage payments, met a man who said he could offer her a way out of her financial jam.
The man told her that he was an agent for a property management company and said that he would be able to stop the foreclosure proceeding and arrange a short sale on her home. When a bank agrees to sell a property for less than the remaining mortgage balance connected to the home, it is known as a short sale. While the bank sustains a loss, it avoids the lengthy and costly foreclosure process. The woman signed up for the $650-a-month service and even signed a listing agreement to put her home on the market.
After two months and $1,300 in fees, she was approached by friends who had also entered into an agreement with the company. She was shocked to find out that New Jersey state law only permits licensed attorneys or real estate agents to list a home for short sale. The man that approached her was neither, and most likely was a scam artist trying to collect monthly service payments until the bank foreclosed on her home. The woman immediately terminated her contract and the case is being investigated by the Department of Banking and Insurance.
This case shows just how important it is to seek reputable advice from a legal professional when facing foreclosure. Promises that seem too good to be true are generally just that. Having a frank and realistic talk with an attorney who has experience with foreclosure will leave you better informed and more realistic about the steps you must take in the future.
Source: The New Jersey Star Ledger, "Refund sought from unlicensed property manager," Karin Price Mueller, 13 June, 2011