• Reasons to Hire a Foreclosure Defense Attorney

    As soon as you are served with a foreclosure notice, you should consult a Chicago bankruptcy attorney. A Chicago foreclosure attorney can help you delay the foreclosure process through a Chapter 7 petition or save your home altogether by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition. If you are filing for bankruptcy, the court will automatically issue an order for relief, which prohibits your creditors from continuing their collection activity and can postpone a foreclosure sale.

    Representing You in Court
    Foreclosure Defense Attorney in Chicago Even after filing for bankruptcy, you may have to go to court in order to prese rve your homeownership. Without the help of a foreclosure attorney, it will be much more difficult to state your case and protect your interests. The banks you face in court will have legal representation, so you will be at a disadvantage if you go to court without a foreclosure lawyer by your side. If you are filing for bankruptcy in Chicago, a bankruptcy lawyer can maximize your chance of keeping your home, ensure that you never miss a legal deadline, and help protect your rights during this stressful time.

    Responding to a Foreclosure Notice
    Once you receive a foreclosure notice, you have a certain time period to respond. This time frame is even shorter once the foreclosure summons and complaint are filed in court. Usually, you and your bankruptcy lawyers will have only a few weeks to investigate the complaint and challenge your bank. In fact, banks count on you not being able to file on time, which will result in a default judgment for the bank. Consulting with Chicago bankruptcy attorneys will keep you on track so you don’t miss this deadline.

    Investigating Foreclosure Alternatives
    As a bankruptcy attorney will explain to you, there are many alternatives to foreclosure. Once you consult a Chicago foreclosure attorney, he or she will investigate your case and provide you with a detailed analysis of your options. Foreclosure attorneys are experts at investigating foreclosure alternatives, including loan modifications and short sales. A foreclosure attorney can also help you reduce your monthly payment or reduce the interest rate on your mortgage.

  • How can our law firm help protect your home?

    If you are currently at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, the first thing that you need to do is contact a foreclosure defense attorney from our law firm. Our firm is known for providing active, aggressive help in these cases. Not only can we answer the claim, but we can defend it in state court. Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Chicago

    In modern times, cases of foreclosure can be difficult because of how often ownership is transferred. It is not uncommon for a mortgage to be packaged with securities and then sold multiple times. When this happens, it can become convoluted and difficult to determine who has the right to foreclosure.

    Therefore, when we take on a case, one of the first things that we will do is make the bank prove that they actually have the right to foreclose, which can be extremely difficult in most cases. Should they face an error in the chain of securitization or title, it may be nearly impossible for them to prove that they have the right. Due to this level of difficulty, many banks may accept a loan modification proposal.

  • Sinking Incomes No Help for Underwater Homeowners

    In discussing the thousands of Illinois homeowners needing foreclosure help throughout the week, we concluded on Wednesday by noting the benefits of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages. However, we noted that individuals need to have the income necessary to make Chapter 13 repayment plans work. Many recent reports suggest that households throughout Illinois are struggling to keep up with their bills after seeing declines in their incomes.

    On September 20, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Census Bureau estimated that the median household income of Chicagoans was $43,628 in 2011. This figure was nearly $7,000 less than the national figure of $50,502. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 2011 median household income was “$4,000 less than in 2009 and part of a steady decline over the past three years.”

    While these realities make it difficult for many homeowners to have the income necessary to enter a Chapter 13 repayment plan, the good news is that individuals who are underwater on their mortgages and have lower incomes may still be able to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy . Unlike Chapter 13, individuals filing Chapter 7 will not be able to save their homes. However, they can use Chapter 7 to walk away from the house owing nothing. Also, individuals filing Chapter 7 will be able to live rent-free for a few months and discharge most or all of their unsecured debt.

    If you are uncertain whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the best option for you and your family, our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you fill out the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Foreclosures Pushing Down Home Values, Nearly 250K Underwater

    On Monday, we discussed some of the options available to the thousands of homeowners in the Chicagoland area and throughout Illinois needing foreclosure help . This crisis affects entire neighborhoods, as the Chicago Tribune reported on October 2, 2012, that a CoreLogic report said local home prices in the Chicago area declined 2.5 percent from a year ago and slipped 1.7 percent compared to July. This was the second largest decrease in the United States.

    Two days prior, a commentary in the Tribune by urban affairs consultant and teacher John McCarron noted that Chicago has “22,169 dwellings in serious mortgage delinquency headed for default and an additional 9,240 already repossessed by lenders and up for sale.” However, McCarron added that the figure does not include thousands of “bungalows, three-flats, walk-ups” in which “delinquent mortgage-holders have handed the keys to lenders who, in turn, are letting the residences rot without trying to resell.” McCarron wrote that some experts estimate the city now has at least 40,000 vacant dwelling units.

    McCarron added that the Woodstock Institute found that more than a quarter of all mortgaged homes in Cook County were “underwater” going into 2012. That translates to some 245,486 locations in which borrowers owe more than their homes are worth; McCarron points out that the average home price has declined 39 percent since 2006. He also noted that the situation is even worse in the predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods that were “heavily worked-over by subprime lenders,” as values have fallen more dramatically and the underwater rate is “a predictor of future foreclosures.”

    If you are underwater on your mortgage, filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy could allow you to remove a second mortgage or home equity line of credit and pay back only the first mortgage if your home is worth less than the balance due on your first mortgage. However, you need to have the income necessary to make a Chapter 13 repayment plan work, and that can be an issue for many homeowners throughout Illinois.

    The good news is that filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy also has its benefits for homeowners facing foreclosure, and we will further discuss that in our next blog post. If you are facing foreclosure and want to know which plan would work better for you, contact our firm at (866) 930-7482 or use the form on this page to have our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers see which plan would be best.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Illinois AG Calls Attention to Foreclosure Assistance Programs

    This astonishing interactive map from WNYC uses data from real estate information company RealtyTrac to display foreclosure rates by county across the United States. You can press play to see how the foreclosure rate increased between January 2007 and July 2012, with the darker colored dots signifying higher rates of foreclosure. If you zoom in on Illinois, you can see a significant increase in the number of dots statewide during the five years, but you will also notice that the colors in the Chicagoland area are the darkest for nearly every single period.

    On October 4, 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times published an op-ed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan entitled, “How to find foreclosure help .” “As Illinois attorney general, tens of thousands of Illinois borrowers have reached out to my office for help navigating the bewildering and frustrating experience of trying to save their homes,” Madigan wrote. “Sadly, thousands more never call for help.”

    Noting that “legitimate help won’t come looking for you,” Madigan said homeowners in foreclosure or trying to prevent it should be aware of the following options:

    • Housing counseling agencies certified by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – “Housing counselors can help you understand your options and work with you and your bank to achieve the best outcome,” Madigan wrote.
    • Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) – This federal program offers loan modifications and other forms of assistance to homeowners who are employed and behind on their payments.
    • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) – Another federal program, which helps homeowners refinance into a new loan with more affordable payments if they are current on payments but unable to secure traditional refinancing because they are “underwater.”
    • Illinois Hardest Hit Fund – A program providing payment assistance to homeowners who lost their jobs and are behind on their payments.

    Foreclosures remain a problem for thousands of homeowners throughout Illinois, and we will continue to discuss this issue throughout the week. If you are facing foreclosure, you should know that another option is filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy . You could delay the process by filing Chapter 7 , or a Chapter 13 repayment plan may even be able to help you save your house. Our Chicago bankruptcy attorneys can help when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm today at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • New Study Says Equipping Mortgage Servicers Better Could Have Prevented 800K Foreclosures

    We spent much of last week discussing options for Illinois homeowners in need of foreclosure help , and on September 20, 2012, the Chicago Tribune reported that 800,000 foreclosures “could have been prevented if large mortgage servicers had been better equipped to deal with the crush of troubled homeowners who needed help.” These were the findings of the Treasury Department’s latest report on the $75 billion Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). The study found “more than 1 million temporary and permanent modifications have failed since the administration kicked off its program shortly after President Barack Obama took office in 2009,” according to the Tribune.

    However, the news program “Dan Rather Reports” examined the effects HAMP was having in the December 2010 episode above, entitled “Home Loans From Hell.” Rather began the program by noting that 14 percent of homeowners in the country were delinquent on their mortgages at the time the show aired, and describing the robo-signing scandal as “just the tip of the iceberg.”

    “A little-reported and little-understood aspect to the foreclosure crisis … is that foreclosure is in fact a lucrative profit center for the servicers who are making millions off a laundry list of fees,” Rather said. “The banks who service home loans dispute this, but we’ve been talking to homeowners across the country who say their servicers pushed them into foreclosure instead of working with them to modify their loans.”

    The Tribune reported that researchers in the Treasury Department’s latest report found “great inconsistency in how large servicers responded to the program.” Some large servicers offered half as many loan modifications as other companies while other “more successful servicers” that renegotiated mortgages had programs and trained staff in place long before HAMP began, according to the Tribune.

    “This industry is mainly about accepting checks,” University of Chicago Booth School of Business assistant professor Amit Seru told the Tribune. “One wasn’t expected to be dealing with so many distressed borrowers.”

    If you are facing foreclosure, you should know that filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can offer you real relief that could help you discharge much of your unsecured debt and may allow you to get current on your mortgage. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can determine whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the better option for you and your family when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • ‘Hidden Time Bomb’ Could Leave Thousands of Homeowners with Hefty Tax Bill

    We mentioned on Wednesday that one benefit of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the elimination of tax liability on a mortgage deficiency. However, the Los Angeles Times reported on September 7, 2012, that many struggling homeowners could be facing a very unwelcome bill next year. When Congress passed the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act in 2007, the legislation forgave debt for declines in homeowner’s financial conditions or drops in home values. However, the Times noted that the exemption-as much as $2 million per household in principal reduction and other aid from banks-is currently set to expire at year’s end. As a result, the homeowners who obtained reductions in in their mortgage debt could receive a bill for taxes on that aid.

    “The expiration of that provision is a hidden time bomb,” Representative Jim McDermott told the Times.

    As the Times noted, mortgage debt forgiven by a bank as part of a principal reduction, short sale or foreclosure needs to be reported as income by the homeowner and is subject to taxes. Furthermore, nearly 140,000 homeowners who received some type of relief under the $25 billion foreclosure settlement reached last year with the nation’s five largest banks could also find themselves owing taxes. According to the Times, a middle-class household would owe 25 percent taxes on that relief. With the relief averaging about $76,615 for each household, the Times said the taxes would be around $19,000 for the average settlement relief so far. Additionally, the Times said the tax “would go up if the relief pushes the homeowner into a higher tax bracket or if the Bush tax cuts expire, as they are set to do at year’s end.”

    If you are among the thousands of Illinois homeowners who are in desperate need of foreclosure help , it is in your best interest to take action immediately. Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you determine whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides you and your family the most relief, and we can get started as soon as you complete the form located on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • Homeowners Facing Foreclosure Should Know Three Benefits to Chapter 7

    On Monday, we discussed Illinois having the highest foreclosure rate in the nation in August and talked about some of the benefits that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers for homeowners needing foreclosure help . As we said on Monday, Chapter 13 certainly has its perks for individuals who have a reliable source of income and are determined to save their homes, but what about people who do not have the necessary income for a repayment plan or understand that they can no longer afford their homes?

    Chapter 7 bankruptcy is another option for these homeowners. While a Chapter 7 filing will not save an individual’s house, it does allow people to:

    • Live rent-free for a few months – While most Chapter 7 cases do not take more than four months to complete, individuals filing Chapter 7 can stay in their homes during this time. This gives people filing Chapter 7 the time they need to find somewhere else to live, but it also lets them save the money they may need for the transition. This aspect is especially important nowadays because last month, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that average apartment rents per square foot both downtown and in the suburbs had hit all-time highs.
    • Cancel most or all of their debt – Chapter 7 wipes out unsecured debts, such as credit card bills and medical bills. While it cannot erase certain debts such as child support or student loans, Chapter 7 can be beneficial for homeowners facing foreclosure because it eliminates their responsiblity for the deficiency balance (the difference between what the homeowner owed and what the house sold for at foreclosure).
    • Eliminate tax liability – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) cannot tax an individual on a discharged deficiency balance. Filing Chapter 7 exempts that individual from tax liability for the discharge of his or her home loan, and we will further discuss tax issues facing struggling homeowners in our next blog post.

    Again, Chapter 7 bankruptcy has a lot of upsides for individuals who are ready to give up their homes because of foreclosures. You need to pass the bankruptcy means test before you can file Chapter 7, and our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can help you get started when you complete the form on this page or contact our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy lawyers

  • Foreclosure Filings Increase Nearly 150 Percent from Last Year

    The Chicago Sun-Times reported on September 13, 2012, that Illinois had the highest foreclosure rate in the country in August as foreclosure filings going through court were up 148.6 percent from a year ago. This was the first time that the Land of Lincoln led the nation in foreclosure filings since the real estate information company started issuing monthly reports in January 2005. The Chicago Tribune reported that compared to August 2011, default notices were up 18 percent, bank repossessions rose 41 percent and notices of scheduled foreclosure auctions increased 116 percent.

    These alarming numbers came on the same day that the Federal Reserve announced it would be buying $40 billion of mortgages a month in a move that some analysts believe could help lower mortgage rates by another quarter percentage point. That news was good for people buying homes, but it could also be really good for homeowners looking to refinance.

    However, refinancing is easier said than done. If you are one of the thousands of Illinois homeowners currently seeking foreclosure help and refinancing is not an option, you should know that filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be able to help you catch up on late payments you missed-and possibly let you keep your house. In Chapter 13, as long as you have a regular source of income, you could enter a three- to five-year repayment plan that reorganizes your debt.

    There are two main benefits to filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you are facing foreclosure:

    • Mortgage arrears can be worked into your plan – If you are several thousand dollars behind on mortgage payments, that mount will be worked into your plan and paid back over the course of between 36 and 60 months. You will be current on your mortgage once you complete your plan, and your unsecured debt such as credit card bills or medical expenses will be discharged as well.
    • Lien stripping – The downturn in the housing market has left many homeowners “underwater,” or owing more than their home is worth-and the economic effect is even worse for families with second or third mortgages. Lien stripping involves removing a second mortgage or home equity line of credit and lets you pay back only the first mortgage if your home is worth less than the balance due on your first mortgage.

    Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be tremendously beneficial for families that are eligible, but not all homeowners have the income necessary to make such a plan work. In our next blog post, we will discuss some of the benefits Chapter 7 offers homeowners facing foreclosure.

    If you are interested in filing Chapter 13 to try and save your home, time is of the essence. The plan only works if you file before the foreclosure sale occurs. Take action today by filling out the form on this page or contacting our firm at (866) 930-7482 to let our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers help.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys

  • FTC Complaints About Debt Collectors Have Increased 73 Percent Since 2008

    This video is another segment from the March 2009 Dateline NBC story on debt collectors that we posted on Wednesday. In that blog post, we also discussed one of the victims of aggressive debt collectors featured in an August 20, 2012, article published in the Los Angeles Times.

    The Times noted in that article that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) receives more complaints about debt collectors than about any other industry. The 180,928 complaints the Times said the FTC received last year was an astonishing 73 percent increase from 2008.

    “We’ve seen a high level of complaints, and I think some of it is collectors realizing in hard times they may have to press that much harder to get someone to pay,” FTC chief debt collection lawyer Tom Pahl told the Times. “And a lot of them are pressing.”

    As the Times noted, federal law prohibits harassment and limits the frequency and hours that debt collectors can call. As we noted on Wednesday, one way to end harassing calls from debt collectors is to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. An automatic stay goes into effect when you file bankruptcy, and this requires most debt collectors to cease their collection efforts against you until your bankruptcy has ended.

    Our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers can review your case when you complete the form located on this page, or you can set up a free consultation by contacting our firm at (866) 930-7482.

    Benjamin Brand Services – Chicago bankruptcy attorneys