Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New Wave of Home-Buying May Be on the Horizon

 New Wave of Home-Buying May Be on the Horizon

The year 2017 marks the seventh year since a huge influx of bankruptcy filings in 2010 at the peak of the housing crisis.  Millions of Americans will begin to see these bankruptcies start to fall of their credit reports.  Once off, as credit scores begin to improve, many of these consumers are expected to enter or re-enter the housing market.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, credit scores hit a record high this spring while the percentage of Americans in the riskiest borrower category has hit an all-time low.  Armed with good credit, these potential buyers will be heading out creating an aggressive housing market.  According to housingwire.com there are other factors that will also play into this competitive market.
  • ·        President Trump’s plans to dismantle the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform Act: if this happens lenders will have more freedom to originate loans outside of traditional qualified mortgages, extending credit to a more diverse pool of likely home buyers.
  • ·       The rise in United States citizenship: once immigrants become citizens, home ownership rates rise to approximately 69%.
  • ·        The first time home buyers entering the market: as many Millennial buyers are seeking out homes to purchase.

All of these factors will make a tight housing market even more competitive as housing inventory levels drop.  

Friday, March 31, 2017

Top Three Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

Top Three Bankruptcy Myths Debunked

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, there are many fears and much misinformation that can cause great concern.  We hope to debunk some of these myths so you can begin the process of getting out from underneath your debt and getting the fresh start you yearn for.

Myth #1 - With a Bankruptcy on my credit report, I will never be extended credit again
While a bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for 7-10 years, once filed, most people will see their credit scores begin to improve as old debts are removed. By the time you consider bankruptcy, typically you have missed payments and your credit score has already been negatively affected. Bankruptcy can help to rebuild your credit after you file.  In fact, many of our clients receive credit card and car loan offers even before their bankruptcy has been successfully discharged.  Acquiring a secured credit card helps to establish new credit as well.  

Myth #2 - I am going to lose all my possessions
This could not be further than the truth.  Depending on the chapter of bankruptcy filed, there are exemptions built into the law.  These exemptions have been created to protect many of your assets. Depending where you live and exactly what you own, many of these possessions (such as your home, vehicle and household items) can be protected in your case.

Myth #3 - Only deadbeats file for bankruptcy
So many of us don’t have the money in our savings to account for any unexpected change in our lives.  Doctors, police officers, pastors and even celebrities have all filed for bankruptcy protection. An accident, sickness, family issue or divorce can send our finances into a downward spiral.  People struggle to pay their bills but sometimes the incident proves to be too much to recover from financially.  

It is important to find a competent attorney who can help you to decide if bankruptcy is the right choice for you.  You want to find an attorney who specializes in Chapter 7 as well as Chapter 13 cases since not one solution fits all situations.  

Attorney John Segaul, has been practicing bankruptcy law for over 25 years. Sitting down to discuss your financial situation as well as your goals with him is the first step in finding the peace of mind that can escape you when the burden of financial debt is weighing you down.  Call for your free consultation today.

Segaul Law Firm
300 S Pine Island Road, Suite 304
Plantation, FL 33324


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zombie Foreclosures


While South Florida has seen a significant drop in Zombie Foreclosures it is still a SPOOKY phenomenon that homeowners facing foreclosure should be aware of.

A Zombie Foreclosure can occur if a homeowner abandons their home once the foreclosure process has started. The homeowner moves away thinking the house will be lost to the bank. The sale is cancelled (for one of many reasons) and title is never transferred to a new owner. The title remains in the homeowners name and costs can begin to accrue because there is still the obligation to pay for HOA dues and assessments, property taxes as well as maintenance by the owner of the property. Bills or lawsuits may become a problem months or even years later for these financial obligations.  

There are two options that may help avoid the horror of a Zombie Foreclosure.  One is to stay in the home throughout the entire foreclosure process - not moving out until the official foreclosure sale has occurred.  Should one no longer wish to stay in the home, a short sale is another option.  This strategy will allow the sale to go through, even if more is owed than the house is worth.  Combined with a bankruptcy, a short sale is an excellent way allow to help rebuild your credit quicker than allowing the home to foreclose.

When faced with foreclosure, there are many legal options that may help you meet your objective.  Please contact our office if you need more information.

Segaul Law Firm
300 S Pine Island Road, Suite 304
Plantation, FL 33324

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

HAMP Misconduct


Over the past five years, millions of mortgage loans have been modified by the big banks and mortgage servicers. Recent reports have been in the media that a staggering amount of homeowners have re-defaulted on their loans.  It turns out that the re-defaults may have been caused by the loan servicers and not the borrowers.
The United States Treasury has done compliance testing at the major HAMP (Home Affordability Modification Program) loan servicers.  These servicers include Bank of America, CitiMortgage, JP Morgan Chase, Nationstar, Ocwen, Select Portfolio Servicing and Wells Fargo. This probe was conducted by sampling 100 borrowers at each mortgage servicer who had re-defaulted on their loans by December 2015.

What the examination found was that 6 out of 7 homeowners had been wrongfully terminated by these servicers.   Problems that the Special Inspector General Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) identified were as follows: miscalculating the amount of missed payments by a homeowner, misapplication of payments and mishandling of rolling delinquencies.  Select Portfolio Servicing was the only large provider who had not made these errors.  In addition, these companies continued to make the termination blunders even after the Treasury reported failures to them regarding their systems.

A report given to Congress by the SIGTARP warned that findings of unfounded terminations from the HAMP program in the sample that was tested is indicative of extensive misconduct on the part of the servicers and should be addressed by further oversight by the Treasury.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Telephone Scam Targeting Bankruptcy Filers


Throughout parts of the United States, consumers are falling prey to a sophisticated phone scam which targets people who have filed for bankruptcy.  This information, according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA), has prompted attorneys and public officials to make potential targets aware of this telephone scam.  The scam has been reported in New Hampshire and Virginia and it is likely that this fraudulent activity will begin to spread to other states.

Con artists use software that can deceive a caller ID system. The intended victim thinks the call is coming from the phone line of their attorney.  In some instances, personal information from public filings has being used to trick the consumer. These calls take place after business hours so clients have more difficulty contacting their attorney.

This scam solicits a wire transfer to satisfy a debt that is said to be outside of the bankruptcy proceeding.  Consumers have been threatened with arrest if they fail to wire the money immediately.

Should you receive any call that you think does not sound legitimate, hang up and contact us immediately.  Also, NEVER give personal or financial account information to any un-verified source.

Segaul Law Firm
300 S Pine Island Road, Suite 304
Plantation, FL 33324

Friday, October 2, 2015

Repairing Your Own Credit After Bankruptcy


After bankruptcy, any debt that was discharged should be listed on your credit report with a zero balance and a note that the “debt was included in bankruptcy.”  Very often that is not the case resulting in a credit score which is lower than it should be.

This fix is relatively simple and can be done by yourself for minimal or no cost at all.

The three national credit agencies are required to provide you with a free credit report once every 12 months.  You can go to www.annualcreditreport.com  or call 1-877-322-8228, to get these reports.  If you see this mistake on your credit report the first step is to alert the credit reporting company either online or by mail, of any item of information that you believe is incorrect.   

Each credit reporting company website has a link with instructions of how to dispute an inaccurate item online.  Typically, all you need is your case number, bankruptcy chapter and filing date.  This information is located on the Notice of Case Filing you received from the Court.

If you are contacting them by mail, include copies of your bankruptcy schedules and discharge notice to support your claim.  We suggest you include a copy of your credit report; highlight or circle each item you are questioning.  Explain why you are disputing the information and ask that it be removed or corrected.  Keep copies of all the correspondence you send the credit reporting agency.  Also be sure to send everything certified mail with a return receipt so you can be sure your information was received.   Be sure to keep a file with copies of everything you send to the credit reporting company.

The credit reporting agency has 30 days to investigate your dispute(s).  Once the agency has finished their investigation, they will give you the results in writing. 

If a creditor disagrees with any objection and states that they have a valid debt, it is very likely they are violating the bankruptcy discharge and may be subject to court sanctions.  Please contact us IMMEDIATELY if that is the case.

Segaul Law Firm
300 South Pine Island Road, Suite 304
Plantation, FL 33324