A pAid Advertising publicAtion
Why Won’t My Lender I Modify My Loan?
n 2007, the nation began the devastating downward
loan modification and told to stop paying their mortgage.
spiral into what is now considered one of the
With promises that they were “qualified” or “pre-
worst mortgage crises in recent history. Before the
approved,” the banks mislead homeowners into believing
mortgage crisis hit, people were optimistic that owning a
the ease with which they could obtain a loan modification.
home would be a good investment. Banks were offering
Instead, these same banks essentially engineered the
easy access to financing with low teaser interest rates and
foreclosure. Homeowners were given the run around until
the availability of financing caused home appraisals to
their payments were so far behind that it was impossible
skyrocket. Most buyers were not prepared for what was to
come when the bottom fell out – home prices plummeted, the banks were bailed out, and the homeowner was left holding the bag.
tactic.” Borrowers were quoted fixed rate loans at low
“The banking institutions sold thousands of loans that they knew could never be paid back,”
by SukHI k. brar
Another common situation among those facing foreclosure is what White called a “bait and switch teaser percentage rates but were not shown the required documents prior to closing. Then, on the spot, borrowers
said Jamil White, principal attorney
were forced to make a decision to accept loans they did
at Louis White Attorneys at Law. “It’s
not bargain for such as adjustable rate mortgages that had
a racket. They sold loans to people
no beneficial features. If borrowers expressed concern over
and took out insurance on those loans,
the types of loans offered, the brokers or lenders stated
so when the day came that
they would simply refinance them out of the loan in the
people could no longer afford
future. In reality, that refinance would never come.
their mortgages, the banks
Again, such practices were and are illegal.
made off like bandits. Today, it is more profitable to a bank to foreclose on a homeowner than it is to keep them in their house, otherwise we wouldn’t be seeing this widespread foreclosure crisis.” Some people have tried to get loan modifications on their own but are continuously given the run around. White said, “There are certain ‘thresholds’ that need to be met in order to be eligible for loan modifications and many people don’t understand how to position themselves in those thresholds. In most circumstances an experienced
For the vast majority of homeowners out there, they just want a mortgage payment that is fair, something that can help them stay in their home and build equity.
attorney can achieve the best results.” Louis White Attorneys at Law has sued many banks for improper conduct and has leveraged those lawsuits into hundreds of thousands of dollars in principal reductions. In one recent case, White negotiated an agreement with Bank of America that resulted in a $200,000 principal reduction in a client’s loan amount and a 2 percent interest rate. For the vast majority of homeowners out there, they just want a mortgage payment that is fair, something that can help them stay in their home and build equity. However, many of these people don’t know how to attack the banks to get what they want. There are certain circumstances where banks act wrongfully. For instance after 2009, many homeowners contacted their banks for a refinance when they were current on their loan but were instead steered into a
Underwater Mortgage Help | March 8, 2012 | A paid publication for Louis White, Attorney-at-Law | www.LouisWhiteLaw.com
There are so many legal remedies homeowners can use to place themselves in better financial position. Homeowners who have a combination of high debt, a home that is worth less than what they owe and a second mortgage can be given the opportunity to have the second mortgage completely eliminated, the credit card debt discharged, and a loan modification granted on their primary loan. Louis White Attorneys at Law have helped with the short sale process and emergency cases involving fast approaching trustee sales as well. “If you give us 7 days before a trustee sale, in all likelihood, we can stop it,” White said. “However, if you wait that long, other potential solutions will expire.”
Couple finds mortgage lifeline T
hings were looking up for Alice and Elliot Baker in
“It was a major decision to decide
2003 when they bought their first house together, a
not to pay, but we counted on the bank
five-bedroom home on one-third of an acre dotted
saying, ‘If you’re not paying, we’ll have
with birch trees and rose bushes. The couple lived fairly liberally on credit, they admitted, but never missed a monthly payment on their assortment of credit cards or their $4,600 mortgage. They had solid government jobs, made good money and watched their $535,000 custom home in Carmichael appreciate 40 percent over the years. Then the recession hit and their fortunes began to change. Banks started lowering the Bakers’ credit limit and raised their rates. Their debt load soon surpassed their income. Given that the federal government was in bailout mode, Alice asked for modification on the couple’s home loan. The bank denied the request.
by Jan FerrIS Heenan
programs for you.’ We stopped paying; they had no programs. It was shocking,” Alice said, who is in her 50s and has grown children from her first marriage. “Every day was so stressful. ‘Are we going to keep the house? Are we going to keep it?’ I would only be able to sleep an hour or two at night.” It took nearly two years before they finally found a lifeline: Jamil White, principal attorney of Louis White Attorneys at Law. The Bakers had paid for an audit of their home loan – which confirmed Alice’s suspicions that the paperwork on their refinance was rife with errors and omissions – and the auditor referred them to Louis White for counsel. In the weeks ahead, the tension eased. “It just felt so much better having somebody hold
We spent months on our own trying to get to the right people. We know we couldn’t have gotten there without Jamil. He knows the ins and outs of these banks.
our hand throughout the process,” Alice said. “Knowing we had someone like Jamil made all the difference.” Last summer, less than a year after securing the law firm’s services, the bank agreed to shave $205,000 off the Bakers’ loan, bringing their mortgage payments to $2,500 a month. The Bakers were stunned when they received the bank’s proposal. Neither expected to get such a big break and they suspect it reflected the breadth of the lenders’ mistakes. They also gave a lot of credit to White and his staff and appreciated their speedy response to the couple’s phone calls and e-mails. “Jamil cares about people that get ripped off . . .
That set the Bakers on a seemingly unending campaign of letter-writing and phone calls to get help for their increasing financial troubles. After the bank rejected their first loan modification request, they wrote to the state attorney general. The letter was forwarded to the Bakers’ bank, which took nearly a year to respond. What they learned was dispiriting. Since they had not defaulted on their payments, they were told, the bank could not help them out. That’s when the Bakers did what, for them, was previously unthinkable: They stopped sending in their mortgage checks. By then, Alice’s state salary had been cut by 15 percent. Elliot was laid off from his job in county government. The two
Everything he told us was legit,” Elliot said. “We spent months on our own trying to get to the right people. We know we couldn’t have gotten there without Jamil. He knows the ins and outs of these banks.” The two sought credit counseling early on and will continue to follow a structured payment plan for the next year or two. They no longer use plastic. And they have a deeper appreciation for what they nearly lost. “We still don’t have any money coming in until [Elliot’s]
Did you know? If the first mortgage is “underwater,” a second mortgage has a zero equity interest in the property
retirement kicks in, but we can make it,” Alice said. “Now
and essentially becomes unsecured. If there is not
that we’re going to stay here, it’s just like a settled feeling.
enough value in the home to cover the value of
hoped that defaulting on their loan would be a red flag to the
a second mortgage, the second mortgage holder
bank that they needed help.
cannot foreclose because there’s no money to gain from doing so.
Underwater Mortgage Help | March 8, 2012 | A paid publication for Louis White, Attorney-at-Law | www.LouisWhiteLaw.com
Hard work pays off by Jan FerrIS Heenan
ary and Kimiko Gill had enough to worry about
farmed out its home-delivery services and left the Gills with
when they took a major pay cut. Then the law firm
rack and store deliveries only.
they hired to help modify their home loan went
belly-up. A bank foreclosure notice soon followed, giving the couple nine days before their Contra Costa County house of
“I was making good money. The economy was booming and I was booming,” Gill said. “Then the market crashed.”
nearly 20 years was set to be sold.
northeast of Concord. “This was something we’d worked hard for and it was going to be taken away from us.” Then a timely brochure arrived in the Gills’ mailbox
Gill was delighted; his wife of 42 years even more so.
We’re just so happy, so relieved that we can stay here.
against a deadline, he and his wife took a leap of faith. “[Jamil White] told me, ‘Mr. Gill, I will work for you. I’m not going to give you any BS. I can’t promise you anything, but I will do my best for you,’” Gill recalled. “As I’d talked to him, I got the feeling that he was going to help us.” Like so many Americans caught up in the oncerobust real estate market, the Gills never expected to find themselves in need of help. Gary had held two jobs for 16 years – one in in a food manufacturing plant, the other as a daily newspaper deliveryman for an independent contractor. In 2001, he and his wife took over the business. They earned good money and employed more than a dozen
for helping us, and Alex – who handled my case – was on top of everything. She let me know exactly what was going on.
Life has returned to normalcy this past year for the two. Gary and Komiko resorted to completing the rack and store deliveries themselves. They started their days at 1 a.m., returned home five hours later for what Gill called “a
They still get up in darkness to start their day and make their delivery rounds. The difference these days, Gill said, is that they’ve got a little extra money to get them through the month.
little power nap” and then made the rounds again to collect unsold newspapers and money from the stores. Without the home-delivery portion of the business, they could no longer afford their mortgage payments. In 2009, Gill and his wife secured the services of an Irvine-based law firm that they learned about on TV. They
Did you know? Many borrowers don’t have a broad understanding of
paid a monthly retainer and, several months later, agreed to
the duties of a real estate agents, brokers or lending
join the firm’s class-action suit against their bank. Once they
institutions. They may not realize when these agents
signed on, they never heard from the company again. When
or institutions are out of compliance with the law,
they checked the web site for updates on the case, they learned the law firm had declared bankruptcy.
subcontractors. That lasted several years until the newspaper
She said, “We’re just so happy, so relieved that we can stay here. I can never, never say thank you enough to Louis White
They kept pushing and pushing and it worked out great.”
Attorneys at Law offering its services. Gill was skeptical California firm with no return. Lacking other options and up
month-long extensions followed. By March, White’s office
reduced by $1,100.
with a letter from the Sacramento law offices of Louis White at first, having paid monthly to the bankrupted Southern
the Gills’ foreclosure and got to work on their case. Two more
bank. The couple’s monthly mortgage payments had been
days before Christmas 2010.
Gary Gill said, who lives with his wife in Pittsburg, slightly
person. He and his team quickly secured a 30-day stay on
called with good news: a deal had been reached with the
An additional affront: the foreclosure notice came just
“When you’re 65 like I am, it’s kind of hard to start over,”
That’s when the Gills got the Louis White Attorneys at Law mailer and drove to Sacramento to meet with White in
Underwater Mortgage Help | March 8, 2012 | A paid publication for Louis White, Attorney-at-Law | www.LouisWhiteLaw.com
and an evaluation of the loan may be required to determine compliance.
A dream worth fighting for a
llen Smith and his wife designed and built their
by anna barela
The new bank would not honor the modification,
dream home themselves. They never fell behind in
sent back every payment Allen made, and filed a notice
payments on the mortgage and even offered the bank
of default. Allen even tried to pay cash to settle the
cash to buy out the loan when the bank refused to honor the
loan – in essence, to buy his own home back – but
agreed-upon interest rate. Allen owned his own business in the
the bank changed the sale date without telling
mortgage industry, and felt he could tackle the issue himself.
Allen and he was foreclosed on.
But they still ended up in the middle of a foreclosure. “Where did we go wrong?” Allen wondered. “We worked
Allen said, “I built a lot of the house myself. I planted every single blade of grass and every
really hard and saved our money. We had a picture of our home
plant around the house. I’ve got blood on some
design plans on the wall and touched it every day – that was
of those boards!”
our motivation for eating beans. When we built the house, we were finally able to realize our dream. We did everything right.”
That’s when Allen turned to Louis White Attorneys at Law. The attorneys at Louis White helped him understand that the bank had broken the law and committed fraud. They helped Allen take the bank to court by filing a lawsuit for wrongful foreclosure and fraud.
He’s been able to keep us in our home. He’s been able to expose the fraud that we didn’t understand. Not everybody can do that.
“He’s been able to keep us in our home,” Allen said. “He’s been able to expose the fraud that we didn’t understand. Not everybody can do that. You have to know where to go to find the rules because they are obscure.” The Smiths are now waiting for the bank to decide whether to accept a settlement offer. Otherwise, the case will go to trial. Either way, Allen is confident that he will get to keep his home for good with the help of Louis White Attorneys at Law. Allen said God has helped too, and described little miracles along the way. Allen said, “By the grace of God it turned out the way it did. The bank’s attorney has made tons of mistakes. I think
The trouble couldn’t have started at a worse time. Allen, his wife and his daughter had finally moved into their new home. They were expecting baby number two, but the baby came two months early and faced an extended hospital stay. After $120,000 in medical bills, they were able to finally bring their son home with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. About this time, the rate on the Smith’s mortgage was supposed to have dropped from the construction phase rate to its new, lower permanent rate – a relief since their income had
it’s totally because of God! It’s just really unusual mistakes.” Louis White is handling all the details, so the Smiths can focus on their children. Their son is 5 now, and he barely shows any signs of cerebral palsy. “He has a problem walking, but you can’t really tell unless you look really close,” Allen said. “He’s smart as a whip and the most tender, loving child I’ve ever seen.” Their daughter is 9 and sometimes worries they will have
been reduced. But the bank mailed back the first payment; the
to move. Allen just tells her, “You don’t need to worry about
interest rate had not been reduced.
if we’re going to move. The only thing I need you to know is
Allen fought for a modified loan and was eventually
I am going to fight for you.”
approved. Meanwhile, the bank sold his loan with other highrisk loans to another bank. The interest rate at the new bank? The incorrect, higher rate. “It was over-the-top stressful,” Allen said. “We found out later as a result of investigation that it fell into that pool accidentally. It wasn’t supposed to be sold.”
Did you know? If a lender intends to foreclose on a property, the lender is required by state law to fulfill
• Contact the borrower at least three times by telephone before filing a notice of default. • Send the borrower a notice of default by mail. • Provide the borrower with a notice of trustee sale 20 days
certain requirements. The lender must:
before the sale date is to occur.
If I am in foreclosure, behind in my payments or owe more than my home is currently worth, what should I do? Contact our firm right away because we have done the footwork and have the experience and knowledge necessary to present the best possible case to the banks on behalf of our clients. Often when people try to seek assistance from the banks on their own, they fail to give the banks the necessary information to lead to the best result possible.
What should I bring? When coming to see us for the first time, a client
keep the house at today’s fair market value and
informal resolution can be achieved. If not, we draft
insurance pays the difference. This results in a huge
a complaint and file it in court to leverage the lender.
windfall to the banks at the expense of homeowners.
If the client is a good bankruptcy candidate we
It’s just not right.
would evaluate its benefits. From loan modifications to shortsales, whatever benefits the client the most, we obtain it.
How long does it take? The whole process can take as little as three to eight months to reach resolution.
Can I still stay in my home during the process? Ninety percent of the time, our clients are able to
should bring their loan documents, a chronology
stay in their homes throughout the process. Of the
of any communications they have had with their
roughly 10 percent who do not stay in their homes, 5
lenders, an explanation of why the client feels they
percent are generally people who want to transition
have been wronged by a lender and a picture of their
out of their homes. The rest are clients who came to
financial circumstances so we can evaluate and
us very, very late in the process to the point where
choose a strategy that helps the client get financially
there was not enough time to do an adequate work
up of the case, or their circumstances were such that
What will happen at the appointment? At the appointment, we will discuss the various tools we have at our disposal and explain what works
staying in the home was not feasible.
Do I have to continue to deal with the lender? do not tell our clients not to talk to the lender, but
financial circumstances and make decisions on
we prefer to communicate with the lender so we can
how to put the client in the best housing and credit
present the facts in the light most favorable for the
situation possible. We will explain what the client
client and prevent the client from creating a harmful
can reasonably expect, explain the risks and benefits,
situation for themselves.
to relieve their overall debt burden.
What does the initial appointment cost? The initial appointment is generally a free
telling by the number of foreclosures out there, the banks don’t view keeping people in their homes as economically feasible. Statistics show that that only 4 to 8 percent of people requesting loan modifications in this country are actually getting them, thus the banks are not working with the majority of people who want to negotiate to save their homes. It’s my job to help people fight against big banks, to make it more expensive for the banks to foreclose, to make it a little more feasible to keep those homeowners in their properties.
I have studied and put in hundreds of hours factors that created it. I learned that the financial institutions are culpable in this financial mess. The banks made a ton of money by selling a lot of loans
to do is stop that sale. Otherwise, we contact the
foreclosure if it is economically feasible. Obviously
of research into the 2008 financial crisis and the
If there is a sale date, the first thing we want
duty to keep homeowners in their homes instead of
Why did you choose to focus your practice in this area?
consultation and lasts for about 30 minutes to
What usually happens after the first appointment?
California law requires that banks have a limited
We become our clients’ legal representative. We
and what doesn’t work. We will evaluate the client’s
and enlighten the client on all of the tools available
lender and open up a dialogue to determine if an
people could not afford and by selling them on a secondary market. Then, when things went south, the banks insured these mortgages from default. Not only have the banks received years of homeowners monthly payments, but when they foreclose they
Is your home “underwater?” When the value of the property is less than the first mortgage, the home is underwater. Paying significantly more than a home is worth turns it into a toxic asset. Louis White Attorneys at Law can provide a comprehensive analysis of your mortgage loan to evaluate whether you have a toxic asset.
Underwater Mortgage DO’S&DOn’TS DO
if you are having trouble paying your mortgage,
your due diligence to ensure that the lender you
evaluate credit card debt and other unsecured
contact an attorney right away. Because of the expedited
are dealing with actually owns your loan and has the right
debt for ways to save money and maximize your financial
nature of foreclosure proceedings, the sooner you
to collect money or foreclose on it.
potential. Sometimes filing bankruptcy is a great way to
take action, the more options you have available to you. Time is of the essence!
they have your best interests in mind. Obtain legal
representation to give you the best chance at obtaining
Louis White Attorneys at Law today to handle all of the
representatives. Note the name of the person you speak
a reduced mortgage. Some people try on their own, but
confusing paperwork and stressful negotiations for you.
to with, keep track of the information exchanged, and note
make crucial mistakes that eliminate their chances of
Set your mind at ease while our team of experts creates
the date and time.
receiving a modification or loan reduction.
and executes a plan of action to protect and preserve
keep a record of your conversations with bank
ask for a reinstatement quote if you are
let the bank fool you into believing
your legal rights. be aware of non-attorney marketing scams
threatened with foreclosure. The bank has an absolute
related to foreclosure and loan audits. No matter what
duty to allow the borrower to reinstate the loan at least
they promise, they probably can’t help you and may
five days prior to a trustee sale date.
just take your money without performing any valuable
services. Licensed attorneys are governed and regulated sign any bank paperwork without
understanding exactly what you are signing. An attorney
by the State of California, but non-attorneys have no regulation.
can help you interpret confusing language.
wait until it’s too late. Contact
At Louis White Attorneys at Law, we offer affordable legal representation to help: • Stop foreclosure and eviction proceedings • Reduce your mortgage
• Reduce your interest rate
• Short sales & bankruptcies
• Obtain financial compensation
• Debt consolidation and credit restoration
• Eliminate your second mortgage
Louis White Attorneys at Law has experience with claims involving wide variety of banks, including: Bank of America JPMorgan Chase Wells Fargo Citigroup
GMAC AHMSI US Bank OneWest Bank
If your mortgage loan is with one of these institutions, Louis White has dealt with them before and can help you, too!
Know your rights and get your life back. Contact your friendly team of experts at Louis White Attorneys at Law, your California attorneys with offices in Sacramento and Southern California.
Sacramento County Office
5600 H Street, Suite 100
Sacramento, CA 95819
Southern California Office 2067 W. Whittier Boulevard
La Habra, CA 90631
This publication does not create a client-attorney relationship. It is meant for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The stories and information herein are purely illustrative examples and do not apply to every circumstance. Contact Louis White Attorneys at Law for advice pertaining to your unique situation.
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