Posts Tagged ‘Ft Lauderdale’

Judges Cannot Prosecute Foreclosure Cases; My Solution

Several days ago, I blogged about the flawed procedures being utilized in foreclosure cases in Brevard County, precipitating this Motion to Disqualify Judge.  Since filing that motion, I’ve continued to reflect on the issues addressed therein, and I remain comfortable with my position.  In my eyes, the issue boils down to one inescapable conclusion:

Judges cannot prosecute foreclosure cases!

Today, the Brevard judge agreed with my argument and issued this Order Granting Motion to Disqualify.  The Order is quite vanilla, but it contains a phrase that I find telling.  The judge notes that “from Defendant’s perspective,” the Motion to Disqualify is legally sufficient and requires disqualification.  The key phrase, of course, is ”the Defendant’s perspective.” 

From the Defendant’s perspective, when a judge takes it upon him or herself to set a hearing in a case that the Plaintiff has chosen, for whatever reason, to let stagnate, the judge is siding with the Plaintiff.  A judge may argue (and may truly believe), that all he/she is doing is advancing the case forward, without bias towards one party or the other with regard to the hearing being scheduled.  Particularly in foreclosure cases, though, it’s the mere advancement of the case, at the judge’s initiative, that reflects the bias.  After all, the Plaintiff is seeking relief in the case; the Defendant is not.  Hence, when the judge is advancing the case, sua sponte, the judge is necessarily helping one party to the detriment of the other. 

Let’s put it this way … If a case is languishing, whose job is it to advance the case forward, towards judgment?  The Plaintiff.  Undoubtedly, the Defendant has no obligation in this regard.  I’m not saying the Defendant can stall; I’m saying the Defendant has no obligation to accelerate the case if the Plaintiff lets it stagnate.   

Some people reading this may argue I’m a slimy foreclosure defense attorney who’s just trying to delay foreclosure lawsuits.  Not so.  My concern is ensuring the system is fair for my clients.  Lest you doubt that a judge setting a hearing on his/her own initiative is unfair, consider this:

I’ve represented Plaintiffs and Defendants in hundreds if not thousands of lawsuits throughout my career – all types of lawsuits, not just foreclosure cases.  Other than recently (in the context of foreclosure cases), I can’t ever recall a judge setting a hearing on his/her own.  It’s just not done.  For example, I’ve filed dozens of lawsuits for Plaintiffs against insurance companies, seeking monetary relief.  I think most of my litigation clients would tell you that I litigate those cases aggressively, but, on occasion, for one reason or another, some of those lawsuits have languished a bit.  When that happens, do you think there’s ever been a time when a judge took it upon him or herself to set a hearing?  Of course not.  Do you think the judge ever tells the insurance company or its lawyer that they need to accelerate the case?  Yeah, right.  Never happens.  As the Plaintiff’s lawyer, if I don’t set a hearing, the hearing never gets set, and the case stagnates.  That’s just how it works.  The insurance company has no obligation to advance the case forward (and risk entry of an adverse judgment sooner), nor would I expect them to.  My client wants affirmative relief through the court system; it’s my duty to move the case forward to obtain that relief. 

My point, essentially, is this – when this is how it works in litigation files, why should foreclosure cases be any different?  Because the homeowner (allegedly) has not paid?  Because the judge perceives the Plaintiff will win?  Because the Judge has a lot of cases on his/her docket and wants to remove the backlog?  Respectfully, that’s the rub.  If a judge is setting a hearing on his/her own initiative, for any of those reasons, it reflects a bias that should not be present among the judiciary.  Judges should treat my clients just like they treat insurance companies when I represent Plaintiffs – without any preconceived notions of who is going to win the case and without any agenda as to how quickly the case moves forward.

I can totally understand the judges’ desire to eliminate the high volume of cases with which they are dealing.  The answer, though, isn’t for judges to exceed their role as neutral arbiter and act as prosecutor.  The solution is to change to the rule on lack of prosecution. 

Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.420(e) is currently set up in such a way that it’s virtually impossible, as a practical matter, for a case to be dismissed for lack of prosecution.  For such a dismissal to be entered, (1) there can be no activity in the court file at all for 10 consecutive months; (2) the Plaintiff must be notified of the lack of record activity; (3) there must be no record activity in the ensuing 60 days; (4) an interested party must seek dismissal; and (5) there can be no “good cause” to prevent dismissal.  Under this standard, cases can languish forever.  I can file a Notice that I’m going on vacation for Christmas, and the 10-month clock starts all over again.  Respectfully,that’s crazy, particularly vis a vis foreclosure cases. 

If the judiciary wants cases to move quicker, it’s time for the Florida Supreme Court to implement an amendment to this rule.  How about something like … if six months have passed with no record activity in a foreclosure case, then, boom – automatic dismissal.  If that sounds too harsh, then give the Plaintiff a chance to prove good cause after six months.  The point isn’t how the rule is amended; the point is that some amendment is necessary to ensure that foreclosure cases progress at the pace the judiciary desires.  In other words, what I’m suggesting is this:

Judges, don’t prosecute foreclosure cases just because the bank has let those cases languish.  Instead, convince the Florida Supreme Court to amend Rule 1.420 so it’s not so impossible to dismiss a foreclosure lawsuit for lack of prosecution. 

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The Cost of a Loan Modification

In this article, a reporter estimates the cost of a loan modification under HAMP to be $54,757.  If you follow his math, which seems well-reasoned enough to me, that’s actually a conservative number.  Anyway, think about that for a minute:

Our government is paying $55,000 for every loan modification under HAMP.

There must be a better way.

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Strategic Default and Bankruptcy – Where is Florida Headed?

The ongoing and systematic refusal by banks to enter meaningful loan modifications with homeowners will have long-term consequences that the average American cannot yet imagine.  Just try to picture it…

Imagine your typical American family.  Married couple, two kids.  Earn $40,000 per year.  Own a house worth $150,000 but owe $250,000.  Have two cars, a small amount of savings/retirement money, and $10,000 in unsecured debt (credit cards).   The numbers can vary, but you get the picture – your typical, middle-class family that’s making ends meat but not much else. 

There’s a strong argument to be made, for such a couple, that it’s in their best interests to strategically default, i.e. stop paying on their mortgage, defend their ensuing foreclosure lawsuit, and file a bankruptcy (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, depending on their circumstances).  Each situation is different, but in all likelihood, this would drastically reduce or eliminate their credit card debts, drastically reduce or eliminate the deficiency on their mortgage (the $100,000 difference between what they owe on their home and what it’s worth), enable them to save money while their foreclosure case is pending, and give them a “fresh start” if/when the foreclosure is finalized. 

For instance, suppose the foreclosure lawsuit were to take a year to conclude (a conservative estimate in light of recent reports out of Palm Beach that the average case takes 18 months), and their mortgage payment was $1,500 per month.  With those figures, this couple would accumulate $18,000 in savings, merely by not paying their mortgage while the foreclosure lawsuit was pending ($1,500 x 12 = $18,000).  If they completed a bankruptcy, they could keep this $18,000 if/when the foreclosure case was over.  The $250,000 debt on the house?  Poof – gone (or substantially reduced).  The $10,000 in credit card debt?  Poof – gone (or substantially reduced).  Sure, this couple would lose their house, but what was the house really worth anyway?  As I see it, and I suspect most accountants would agree, losing a house worth $150,000 when you owe $250,000 means you eliminated a $100,000 liability.  Hence, the liabilities are gone, but the $18,000 – that’s the couple’s money to keep. 

Now imagine the foreclosure case takes two years instead of one.  Again, no way to know for sure, but given what I’m seeing in Florida, it’s certainly within the realm of possibilities.  In that event, the couple would have $36,000 when the foreclosure lawsuit ends in two years.  Think about that.  $36,000 cash and little or no debt (depending on the type of bankruptcy), and all you had to do was defend your foreclosure case and file bankruptcy!  And it’s all perfectly legal! 

With this example in mind, who wouldn’t want to strategically default?  I realize there are strong moral arguments not to do this, but let’s put aside morality for a moment and view this purely from a purely financial perspective. (That’s not terribly unreasonable, since that’s what the banks typically do.)  Isn’t it clear this couple would be better off by strategically defaulting on their mortgage, defending the foreclosure lawsuit, and filing bankruptcy?  In other words, isn’t it better to eliminate most or all of your debt, save up money, and have $18,000 or $36,000 or whatever amount in your pocket, and start fresh, than to owe $100,000 more on a house than it’s worth and credit card debt?  Heck, in today’s economy, $18,000 or $36,000 (or whatever amount you were able to save) could buy you a house, free and clear.  As such, it may be possible to convert your $250,000 mortgage into a free and clear house by doing nothing except strategically defaulting on your existing mortgage, filing bankruptcy, and retaining a competent foreclosure defense attorney to defend your foreclosure lawsuit. 

Now the staggering thought – there are literally millions of Florida homeowners in this type of situation.  Sure, there are plenty of Floridians who aren’t realistic candidates for bankruptcy because they have too many assets, too much income, or both.  In today’s economy, though, such people seem to be few and far between.  As such, what percentage of Florida homeowners could strategically default, stop paying their mortgage, file bankruptcy, and be better off?  40%?  50%?  More? 

Now, try to imagine what our country’s financial system will look like if this happens.  Imagine half of all Floridians with a mortgage – or half of all Americans with a mortgage – go into default.  If that happens, what will our financial sector look like?  Will big banks even exist?  What will property values fall to?  What will our court systems look like?  These are staggering questions for which there is no clear answer. 

Now a tough question – should the typical Florida homeowner care?  In other words, to what extent should homeowners continue paying their mortgages for the “good of society,” even to their own detriment?  Undoubtedly, there are arguments to be made on both sides of this issue as well.  Given society’s “me first” attitude, though, I’m confident many people will disregard the impact on society and embark on this path.  Hence:

As things now stand, millions of homeowners will choose a strategic default.

Avoiding this consequence should be the primary objective of the U.S. government.  Quite simply, our government must step in and do something to ensure that everyone doesn’t have the incentive to strategically default.  Our economy and financial sector as a whole will not be able to function if so many Americans have the incentive to stop paying. 

How does one go about this?  The problem, in my eyes, goes back to the absence of meaningful loan modifications.  People have the incentive to default because they see that a bankruptcy court would eliminate or reduce their debt and nobody else, i.e. the banks, is willing to do so.  Using the example above, if the banks reduced the mortgage to $150,000 or even $175,000, maybe that homeowner would have some incentive to keep paying.  Suffice it to say that to fix this looming crisis the government must implement some type of loan modification program that will work on a massive, widespread level.  Absent that, our country is headed down a path of “stop paying, file bankruptcy, defend the foreclosure, and come out on the back end far better off.”

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Problems with foreclosure sales – the impact is pervasive

The Associated Press just wrote a terrific story that highlights the extent of the foreclosure problems we’re facing, but from a  little different perspective.   

So You Bought a Foreclosed Home – Now What?

If you’re facing foreclosure, you may think this issue doesn’t pertain to you, as you’re in no position to go out and buy a foreclosed property.  I totally disagree.  This issue impacts all of us.  As the article reflects, and as I’ve been saying for months:

purchasers of properties at a foreclosure sale have legitimate reasons to be concerned about the legitimacy of the title they’re obtaining. 

Everyone is realizing this, and it’s undoubtedly causing would-be purchasers not to go to courthouse auctions and buy.  Well, guess what?  If people aren’t buying properties at a foreclosure sale, what’s the point of the sale?  Essentially, there is none – and there’s the rub.  A sale is supposed to be more than just a rubber-stamp on a title to a bank.  A sale is supposed to be a way to gauge the fair market value of a property, so as to: (1) ensure the homeowner collects the surplus (the difference between the sale price and the amount of the final judgment; or (2) ensure the extent of the homeowner’s deficiency (the difference between the amount of the final judgment and the sale price) is minimized. 

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that all of these sales that are being conducted where there are title problems, the homeowners have legitimate grounds to object to the sale.  After all, their chances of having anyone bid fair market value for a home (and getting a surplus or minimizing their exposure for a deficiency judgment) are reduced when everyone questions the legitimacy of title acquired by a foreclosure sale.

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Strategic default – on the rise

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a significant increase in inquiries from potential clients about strategic default.  I’ve blogged about the pros and cons of this in detail, below, but here’s the short version – many homeowners are tired of paying their mortgages when similar houses in the neighborhood are selling for one-third of they owe.  A lot of people just don’t see the benefit of paying $200,000 on a mortgage for a house worth $75,000. 

Apparently, the increase in strategic defaults is not limited to my practice, as numerous media outlets are reporting the same thing (throughout the country):

These articles seem to suggest that as many as one-third of all foreclosures are “strategic” in nature.  Apparently, the stigma of going into foreclosure is lessening with each passing day.

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Foreclosure defense – finding reputable attorneys amidst a sea of lawyers

With Florida facing unprecedented numbers of foreclosures (and no end in sight), an incredible number of lawyers, and even some non-lawyers, have thrown their hats into the ”foreclosure defense” arena in Florida. Whether it’s Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, or somewhere in between, experienced attorneys such as those at Stopa Law Firm are available to assist homeowners through the foreclosure process.  The problem, though, is this –

with all of the choices available, how can the average homeowner tell the difference between an experienced attorney, who is likely to help, and a “johnny come lately” who is not? 

In recent weeks, I’ve seen my fair share of pleadings and court filings from other foreclosure defense attorneys (usually because a client started out with a different lawyer and changed to Stopa Law Firm).  Without naming names, I must say – some of the pleadings and court filings I’ve read are absolutely awful.  Don’t get me wrong -there are a fair number of reputable attorneys who can capably defend foreclosure cases.  In my view, though, many are inept.  How can you tell the difference? 

Here are some “red flags” I’d keep in mind

1.  Up-front money to a non-lawyer.  It’s against the law for a non-lawyer to charge an up-front fee for a loan modification or foreclosure defense work.  A non-lawyer can’t defend a foreclosure case anyway (that’s called the unlicensed practice of law – it’s a criminal offense, actually), so if you’re seeking help with foreclosure, I’d be exceptionally careful about retaining any non-lawyer, especially with up-front money. 

2.  Realtors pushing a short sale.  Look, I don’t want to badmouth realtors.  But there’s an inescapable problem with putting your trust in a realtor (instead of a lawyer).  Typically, all realtors care about is selling the house – after all, that’s the only way they get paid.  Realtors may want you to believe a short sale will solve all your problems, but often, that’s not so.  Usually, when the bank agrees to a short sale, the homeowner remains liable for the deficiency (the difference between what you owe on the house and the short sale price).  Often, the amount of this deficiency can be tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And if this deficiency is reduced to judgment, that judgment remains for twenty years, meaning the bank may pursue payment of these monies from you (e.g. garnishing wages) for up to twenty years. 

Time and time again, I’ve seen realtors either fail to disclose these facts or actively mislead homeowners about their liability for a deficiency.  Don’t make that mistake.  No matter what your realtor may tell you, the standard short sale contract does not include a waiver of deficiency.  Just because a short sale contract says it requires the bank’s approval, that does not mean the bank is waiving the deficiency.  Accepting a short sale and waiving a deficiency are not the same thing.   

If you’re thinking about a short sale on your home, ask yourself this – what am I gaining out of this?  How does this help me?  If the bank is putting, in writing, that it is waiving the deficiency, and accepting the short sale price as full payment of the Note and Mortgage, then a short sale may make sense, as you’d be eliminating a big liability (the deficiency).  However, if the bank isn’t waiving the deficiency, how does it help you to do a short sale?   I’d argue, in this scenario, that a short sale hurts most homeowners, for two reasons.  First, instead of continuing to live in the home while the foreclosure case is pending, that homeowner must move out and find a new place to live.  Isn’t it better to keep living in your house?  Second, by agreeing to sell the home, and vacate possession, that homeowner has lost virtually all leverage with the bank.  If that doesn’t make sense, pretend you’re the bank for a moment (scary thought, I know).  Why would any bank agree to waive the deficiency if the house is already sold and you’ve moved out?  What would the bank gain by doing that?  Arguably, nothing, and that’s precisely the problem. 

This is where, in my opinion, a lawyer is so much more valuable than a realtor.  By defending your foreclosure case, while you live in your home, lawyers can try to point out technical problems with the lawsuit against you.  Realtors can’t.  Hopefully, the lawyer is good enough that the bank prefers to work out a settlement with you (i.e. a short sale as full payment, with a full waiver of the deficiency, or a loan modification) instead of continuing with the foreclosure case.  In that scenario (unlike the prior example, where you’ve already sold the home, moved out and lost all leverage), the bank would have a reason to waive the deficiency – you’d be moving out and agreeing to sell the house as part of the settlement.  Again, I’m not trying to badmouth realtors, but this is something I’d consider before I put all my trust in a realtor.  

3.  Any type of guarantee.  Lots of prospective clients want guarantees.  “Can you guarantee me a loan modification?”  “Can you guarantee me that I can live in my home for X months?”  No matter what, I never provide guarantees.  In fact, my standard fee agreement clearly indicates there are no guarantees.  Make no mistake – this is not because I question my abilities.  Guarantees have no place in foreclosure defense because (i) The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar prohibit a lawyer from giving a client any sort of guarantee on the outcome of a lawsuit; and (ii) there is never a way to know, for sure, how a case is going to play out, especially a foreclosure case.  Even if I think the law is on my client’s side, the judge may disagree.  Even if I think a loan modification should happen, the bank may disagree.   There are, quite simply no guarantees in foreclosure defense. 

With this backdrop, it’s troubling that I’ve seen and heard of instances where clients facing foreclosure have been given a guarantee.  If you’re been given a guarantee, I’d question not just the validity of the guarantee, but the reputation of the person providing it to you.  If that sounds harsh, check out R.Reg.Fla.Bar. 4-7.2(c)(1)(g). 

4.  Pushing bankruptcy at the initial consultation.  There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it.  A fair number of bankruptcy firms have expanded their practice into foreclosure defense, but these firms don’t necessarily know how to properly defend a foreclosure case.  Bear in mind, bankruptcy law and foreclosure defense may seem similar, but they’re drastically different – different courts (federal vs. state) with entirely different sets of rules (Federal Rules of Civil Procedure vs. Florida Rules of Civil Procedure).  Many bankruptcy firms sell themselves as “full service” firms, but they’re really just bankruptcy firms that do a “bare bones” foreclosure defense, which (once they lose the foreclosure case) dovetails into a bankruptcy.  This sounds harsh, and I typically don’t like to talk about other lawyers in this tone, but I’ve seen too many instances where bankruptcy firms did not interpose legitimate defenses for a foreclosure client, then pushed that client into bankruptcy.  

Make no mistake – bankruptcy is a perfectly useful tool for many clients.  However, if a lawyer is trying to sell you on a bankruptcy in your initial consultation, and your foreclosure lawsuit was just filed, I’d be skeptical of his/her ability to competently represent you in that foreclosure case (particularly if you don’t have other debts).  Quite simply, for most clients I’ve seen, bankruptcy is a last resort.  Many homeowners don’t realize – it’s entirely possible that a foreclosure case can be resolved without resorting to bankruptcy.  For instance, one benefit of bankruptcy – eliminating the deficiency – could be accomplished (remember, no guarantees) without a bankruptcy, merely by defending the foreclosure case and entering a settlement with the bank.  And even if a settlement doesn’t transpire, there is typically nothing stopping you from filing a bankruptcy as your foreclosure lawsuit nears a conclusion.  In essence, I suggest ensuring you get the best of both worlds – a competent foreclosure defense attorney and, if and when necessary, a competent bankruptcy attorney. 

Nothing in this post was directed at anyone in particular, and, as always, these are just my opinions.  That said, I thought my views on these issues may help homeowners sift through the sea of foreclosure attorneys in Florida so as to make an informed decision.

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Mark Stopa, clients of Stopa Law Firm to appear on NBC Nightly News

For the third time in six weeks, Florida attorney Mark Stopa will be featured in a story by the national media. 

Stories of this type are always subject to be rescheduled, but at present, Mark Stopa and three clients of Stopa Law Firm are scheduled to appear on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on Friday, July 9, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. EST.  

The interview was conducted by emmy-award winning journalist Mike Taibbi, and the NBC Nightly News is the highest-rated broadcast news program in the United States, so it goes without saying that this is a special opportunity. 

My goal, of course, is to continue to educate the public, especially Florida homeowners, about their rights through the foreclosure process.  Together, with attorneys like me, Matt Weidner, and many others in the Tampa/St. Pete area, we are making a difference – repeatedly getting noticed on a national level.  Let’s keep up the fight!

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Loan Modifications – it’s not that complicated

I am constantly befuddled at the banks’ refusal to provide loan modifications to clients and even more frustrated at the inability or unwillingness of anyone (be it those in the judiciary or the legislature) to do anything about it.  The entire process is totally out of whack.  To illustrate, the banks have somehow convinced everyone, even the Florida Supreme Court (as part of the new mediation program) that homeowners must turn over a series of financial documents before being considered for a loan modification.  Respectfully, that’s just not so.  Production of tax returns, check stubs, or other financial documents are absolutely not necessary to obtain a loan modification.  Under HAMP, ok, I will give you that.  But for a private modification, they are absolutely unnecessary.  If you disagree, take a look at my recent conversation with a bank’s attorney, which went something like this. 

Mark Stopa:  I have a client whose monthly payment was $2,500.  We want a loan modification where we pay $2,000/month at 4% interest and the principal balance is reduced by $50,000 (to better reflect the current value of the house). 

Attorney:  We need financial disclosures.

Mark Stopa:  No, you don’t.  The parties can agree to this modification and my client will begin paying immediately.  If my client defaults on the modified loan, we will consent to the foreclosure in the pending case. 

Attorney:  But then we would have lost the ability to claim that $50,000. 

Mark Stopa:  No, you wouldn’t.  We’d consent that if we default on the modified loan that the bank reserves all remedies available for the breach of the original mortgage.

Attorney:  We can’t do that.  The bank would have to pay a new filing fee.

Mark Stopa:  No, it wouldn’t.  We can stipulate to the dismissal of the pending foreclosure lawsuit but have the court reserve jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.  If my client defaults on the modified mortgage, you can obtain a foreclosure judgment in the pending case, ex parte, without paying a new filing fee. 

Attorney:  (silence)

Mark Stopa:  Doesn’t this give everyone the best of both worlds?  My client gets the loan modification it wants.  The lawsuit ends.  The bank resumes collecting monthly payments (which is supposedly what it wants).  If my client defaults on the modified loan, the bank loses nothing.  In fact, if my client defaults on the modified loan, it will be easier for the bank to foreclose than it would have been without the modified loan, because we are waiving all defenses. 

Attorney:  That sounds reasonable to me.  I’m going to have to talk to my colleagues about this and get back to you.   

Mark Stopa:  (Still waiting for a return call)

Obviously this approach can’t work in every case (i.e. only homeowners who were confident that they could make the monthly payments indefinitely should enter a settlement like this).  But why can’t hundreds, if not thousands, of foreclosure lawsuits be settled in this manner?  Banks reduce the principal to the present value of the house, hence reducing the monthly payments to an amount the homeowner can afford.  The parties stipulate to dismiss the pending case but reserve jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.  If the homeowner defaults on the modified loan, the bank forecloses on the original mortgage (after, say, a 10-day notice), ex parte.  

LOAN MODIFICATIONS SHOULD BE HAPPENING EVERY DAY in this manner.  The lack of such modifications is clear evidence that banks would rather foreclose than work with homeowners.  Let me say that again:

THE ABSENCE OF LOAN MODIFICATIONS IS CLEAR EVIDENCE THAT BANKS WOULD RATHER FORECLOSE THAN WORK WITH HOMEOWNERS.  I sincerely hope, in the near future, that the legislature, the judiciary, and the public at large begin to catch on to what the banks are doing and stop letting them get away with it.

UPDATE:  On July 8, 2010, I had a hearing in Tampa on a Motion to Dismiss before Judge Levens against Barbara Couture with Shapiro & Fishman.  As the hearing progressed, we somehow began discussing the very issue set forth in this blog.  In response to my argument that banks should be settling foreclosure cases via private modifications, Ms. Couture argued just what I’ve believed all along – banks don’t want to enter loan modifications where they reduce the principal (as I suggested above) out of fear that other homeowners will go into default.  It’s not that these modifications wouldn’t make sense in that particular case – they would.  But banks don’t care – they are so concerned with other loans, they won’t work with the homeowner who is right in front of them.  In other words, banks want people who owe more than their house is worth to continue paying (accepting all of the blame for the mistakes made by Wall Street even though the banks were bailed out and homeowners weren’t), and if homeowners stop paying, the banks won’t enter a modification and will push for foreclosure.  

Anyone else think this entire process is horribly unfair?

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Mark Stopa, Stopa Law Firm clients on ABC News

In his ongoing attempt to educate homeowners about their rights, foreclosure defense attorney Mark Stopa appeared on ABC News on July 6, 2010 at 11:00 p.m. in the Tampa, Florida market.  Three clients of Stopa Law Firm were featured in the story, as well as an interview from Mark.  Here is a link to the story.,-worry-free

According to Jamison Uhler, anchor for ABC’s Action News (and the journalist who ran the story), NBC was rated #1 among all TV networks at the 11:00 hour and the newscast was “one of NBC’s top ten highest rated 11pm newscasts in the station’s history!” 

I don’t agree with everything the media says in these types of stories (e.g., in this story, the portion about me telling homeowners to stop paying is not true – clients have already stopped paying by the time they come to me).  However, it’s important to keep involving the media with stories like this to educate the public about the process.  So thanks to everyone for tuning in, and make sure to keep fighting your foreclosure case!  Let’s keep the fight going; we are making progress.

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