WHERE TO TURN WHEN YOU'RE FACING FORECLOSURE
Published by Authorify Publishing Copyright © 2019 Authorify Publishing
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Table Of Contents
Taking Back Control
What Is Foreclosure?
Reasons People Go Into Foreclosure
What Are Your Foreclosure Options?
What Happens At A Foreclosure Auction? 30
Deed Of Trust And Trustee Sales
How To Avoid Foreclosure (Other Than Selling) How To Avoid Foreclosure By Selling Your Home
Short Sales (And When They’re Necessary) 64
10. Understanding The Home-Selling Process 74
11. Common Seller Mistakes
12. Improve Your Chances Of Selling
13. Upgrading With ROI In Mind
14. The Negotiation Process For Sellers
15. The Selling Process For A Home In Foreclosure
16. Where Will You Go?
17. Tips For Boosting Your Credit Score
18. Financial Tips For The Future
19. A Guide To Searching For The Right Home 182
20. Common Buyer Mistakes
21. A 12-Step Guide To Buying A Home
22. Home Loan Shopping 101
23. Negotiation Dos And Don’ts For Buyers 238
When I first ventured into the real estate industry years ago, I did so with the hopes of helping sellers like you avoid the headaches often associated with the home-selling process. In my years of experience, not only have I helped alleviate the stress of selling for numerous clients, but I’ve also accumulated years of knowledge to help them get more money for their homes in the least amount of time. I decided to share all of my expertise in one place with potential clients. And that’s why you’re receiving this book. I want to help you have the best possible home-selling experience. And by that, I mean I want you to 1. Get the most money possible for your home, 2. Sell in the least amount of time, and 3. Avoid the headaches most commonly associated with the home-selling process. Think of this book as my gift to you. It contains insider advice on the home-selling process to help you achieve your ultimate real estate goals, including: • Secret strategies to sell your home for more money • Marketing techniques employed by top agents • Advice on how to appeal to today’s buyers • And much, much more If, after reading through it, you want to hire me to help you sell your home, I’d be more than happy to meet with you to discuss a specific plan to sell your home. Happy reading!
AGENT was raised in CITY with X siblings. As a child, AGENT had aspirations of being a OCCUPATION. Never in a million years did he think he’d stumble into the real estate industry, but you can’t always predict where or when you’ll discover what you’re meant to do in life. AGENT was taught at a young age that if you want something in life, you have to work for it. So that’s what he did. And he worked hard. As the years went by, AGENT worked his way from FIRST JOB to LATER JOB, never wavering in his resolve to become the best version of himself with each career move. AGENT got into the real estate industry X years ago when STORY ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO REAL ESTATE/WHY. He set out to LIST ASPIRATIONS FROM WHEN YOU STARTED OUT IN REAL ESTATE. As his career advanced, AGENT found his stride working with NICHE MARKET/SPECIFIC MARKET AREA/TYPE. He’s an expert in LIST AREAS OF EXPERTISE/SKILLS THAT SET YOU APART FROM OTHER AGENTS.
Throughout his career, AGENT has earned numerous accolades, including:
• LIST ACCOMPLISHMENTS • LIST SALES STATS ix
• ANY OTHER IMPRESSIVE INFO YOU’D LIKE TO INCLUDE
AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals. AGENT aims to provide the highest level of service to his clients and takes deep pride in helping them achieve their real estate goals.
Testimonials & Reviews for Agent Name
Here’s a list of people whom I have helped buy or sell a home, and what they said about working with me:
Agent-Name had a tough job, but she did it!
We were tough clients! We were moving to City and didn’t have a lot of time to look at houses, having to deal with our employer’s relocation, and all of the other challenges that came along. But, Agent-Name went above and beyond to help us. Even now, one year after the sale closed, I can still call her for business and service recommendations in the area — she knows just about everyone, and is very happy to help.
Agent-Name is the best agent in City!
I’ve used Agent-Name twice so far, and I was impressed both times. I bought my dream home with AGENT a year ago. She worked long and hard to find me the perfect home. And she just recently sold another property of mine. Everything went quickly and smoothly. Both of my real estate deals were done very quickly and professionally. Agent is honestly the BEST in her business. I would highly recommend her.
Agent-Name perseverance got me the house
My experience with Agent-Name during the entire home- buying process, from start to finish, has been nothing short of exceptional. I have a unique work structure, and because of this, it was very difficult to find mortgage lenders that would approve me for a home. I was very frustrated and on the verge of giving up, but Agent-Name insisted that we continue searching. Not only did we find a mortgage lender but also a mortgage that I felt great about. His perseverance is the reason I am now a homeowner. He is professional, punctual, knowledgeable, and very easy to work with. With the highest regard, I will recommend Agent-Name to all my friends and family.
Very attentive to concerns, details, and negotiations
Agent-Name helped me find a house by literally picking it out for me. Every house I wanted to go to, I got there and didn’t love it. Agent-Name was busy taking note of the likes and dislikes I was stating and said “I have a house that you’re going to love”.... AND I DID! I went back 4 or 5 times to show other members of my family, and she accommodated me without complaint. I was a first-time homebuyer, and she walked me through the steps of everything, gave me advice, and constantly followed up to make sure I was doing OK. With her help, I was able to close on the house early, right before I started my new job. I would recommend Agent-Name to EVERYONE, buying or selling. Agent-Name made it so so easy. She guided us through the entire process. She recommended great people to work with
every step of the way. She was available 24/7 to answer any questions we may have had. With her high standards, expertise in the industry, and patience, we would recommend her as a Realtor to anyone looking! She was amazing!
Agent-Name even advised me on how to prepare my house
Agent-Name was a gem. In addition to being highly knowledgeable about the real estate market, with many years of experience, he is a consummate professional. He was extremely easy to work with, gave me very good advice about preparing my house for sale and was very responsive during the entire process of receiving offers, selling and closing. I would work with him again in a heartbeat. He’s that good.
Agent-Name is the first agent I would call
Agent-Name and his team were able to rapidly list, show and sell my property. Being an expert in real estate, he was spot on in his pricing of my property and getting this deal completed. Overall, I highly recommend him and his team. If I want to buy real estate, AGENT would be the first person I’d call.
Agent-Name got us an offer in three days!
Agent-Name was the consummate professional during our stressful and difficult process. In the midst of juggling a ‘failed’ marketing effort with another agent, she presented a
well thought out plan and strategy to sell our home in short order. We needed to move quickly due to a growing family and another baby on the way. She helped alleviate that pressure by securing an acceptable offer with 3 days of listing. We put pressure on her, and she delivered. We couldn’t thank her enough.
Agent-Name kept us calm throughout the process!
Agent-Name always made herself available to answer questions. She worked hard to sell our home and find the best fit for our new home. She and her team worked with us through the entire process and kept us calm when we got anxious.
I am 100 percent satisfied!!
Agent-Name is professional and knowledgeable about everything. She is also always available. I would definitely recommend her to anyone. Very smooth transaction from start to finish. I felt confident with her experience.
Agent-Name found us our dream home
Agent-Name was very efficient and helped us find our dream home within a few short months. She was able to negotiate the price that we wanted for the house. Overall, I would look for her again to help us look for a house if need be in the future. Thank you so much!
Efficient communication and service
Agent-Name and his staff were very helpful in selling our condo. They kept me informed frequently with email, sending reports on showings, offers, and feedback from potential buyers. We are very satisfied.
Agent-Name will get your house sold fast!
Agent-Name is great and has the expertise to get your house sold. The communications throughout our sale (from beginning to end) has been outstanding. Agent-Name understands the stress involved in selling your house, and she updated our family consistently! This made us feel we were in good hands. I have worked with numerous agents, and I highly recommend her to represent you when it comes time to sell your home.
Excellent experience topped with a personal touch
Excellent experience all around, not only knowledgeable but Agent-Name and team have a very personal touch I felt like family throughout the entire process. He always took his time; we never felt rushed or like “just a number.” I sold my home and bought with him. We had lots of questions he gladly answered them with no problem and guided us through the entire process, eliminating lots of stress. I truly appreciate that and would recommend him and his team to family and friends.
CHAPTER 1 Taking Back Control
If owning your own home is a big part of the so-called American Dream, then losing your house through foreclosure can feel like a nightmare. Bad things happen to good people every day, but it doesn’t define who you are. Logic tells us that a house is just four walls; it’s you and those whom you love who turn any house into a home. But in the middle of a foreclosure situation, it can feel like the world — or, at least a big part of it — is ending. When you’re facing foreclosure, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have any control over the situation. What you’re feeling is natural. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have gone through very similar situations and experienced similar feelings. However things look like to you now, I’ll make you a promise: You’ll get back on your feet. And this book was written to help you do just that. If the Great Recession taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected impact world dynamics can have on our personal lives. Yet a Freddie Mac/Roper poll discovered that more than 60% of homeowners who are delinquent in their mortgage payments are unaware of services that some mortgage lenders offer that would help them. Most of these alternatives are poorly publicized, but in this book, we’ll explore some of them together.
This book is your resource. You need, and deserve, a resource that provides you with a good starting point in managing the process
of foreclosure. This book is designed to give you a head start in that process. When you make the decision to sell your home — or take other proactive measures to save yourself from foreclosure — you take back control of your life and become a part of the decision. Don’t let other people make your decision for you. Before we get started, I make this pledge to you: I’ll help you the way a good friend would, and I’ll do it without judgment, without bias, and without asking anything in return. When it’s useful, I’ll direct you toward other resources. The guidelines I present in this book will help to prepare you personally and financially to cope with foreclosure and to develop your strategy for turning the foreclosure process into opportunities!
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
Foreclosure is far more common than you might think. A study conducted by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) found that one in every 200 homes will be foreclosed. Let’s put that number in perspective; in a city the size of Washington, D.C., that means 3,000 residents will lose their properties every year. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, in the U.S., one child in every classroom is at risk of losing their family home because their parents can’t pay the mortgage. Every three months, 250,000 new families enter into the foreclosure process. Remember the Great Recession and the years that followed? From January 2006 to April 2016, more than 6.3 million foreclosures were completed.
Foreclosures hurt all of us. In a 2005 Chicago case study, researchers William C. Apgar, Mark Duda, and Rochelle Nawrocki Gorey found that a single foreclosure can cost local governments up to $34,000 for inspections, court actions, police and fire department efforts, potential demolition, unpaid water and sewage, and trash removal. Additionally, the foreclosure can have a negative impact of $220,000 on the equity and property values of nearby homes. Communities and regulators have begun to realize that getting you the help you deserve is in everyone’s best interest. Foreclosure can happen to anyone if the circumstances for it are present. It’s a misconception — and it’s incredibly unfair — to judge anyone’s success based on their foreclosure experience. Often, the more success you have, the more likely you are to buy an expensive house, to invest in a wide range of assets, or to participate in blockbuster deals with other participants. For those reasons, these “successful” people are often vulnerable to a downturn in the economy or housing market; a personal financial setback; and/or a complication arising from the actions of a partner, spouse, or co-investor. What do music entertainers Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Billy Joel, and R. Kelly have in common with actors Kim Basinger, Nicholas Cage, and Kristen Bell and athletes such as Evander Holyfield, Terrell Owens, and Allen Iverson? You guessed it; these are only a few of the famous personalities who have faced foreclosure at some point during their careers.
Some managed to save their houses because of a turnaround in their luck or the last-minute intercession of a friend. Some lost
the houses they loved. Others found ways to avoid foreclosure by pursuing sensible alternatives, the same alternatives that might just be available to you. But one thing is clear: Foreclosure didn’t define them, and it doesn’t define you, either! We’ve seen how an entire industry has grown up around the practice of lending to home buyers. Fortunately, an entire industry also has been growing to meet the needs of individuals who require help and protection in the foreclosure process — individuals like you. This book is your roadmap, your way out of the foreclosure maze! We’ll begin in Part 1: The Ins and Outs of Foreclosure, by examining what a foreclosure is … and what it’s not. The truth might surprise you in ways that you find encouraging. We’ll talk about why homes go into foreclosure and we’ll look at some of the nuts and bolts of the process, such as deeds of trust, trustee sales, and what happens at a foreclosure auction. We’ll also begin to outline some of your options. In Part 2: How to Avoid Foreclosure, we’ll explore your options in greater depth, with an eye to helping you develop your foreclosure strategy. Some of these options could possibly help you avoid having to sell your home. Others will focus on selling your home yourself, giving you greater control over the outcome, including the terms and potential profit you could make off of the sale. Part 3 takes a deeper dive into The Selling Process to Avoid Foreclosure. You’ll quickly develop a better understanding of the home-selling process and how that process differs when you’re
facing possible foreclosure. You’ll learn about:
• short sales (when they’re necessary); • ways to improve your chances of selling; • common seller mistakes to avoid; • how to upgrade your home in ways that will maximize your return on investment (ROI); and • how to negotiate so that you have the advantage. Part 4 is all about Moving Forward and the road to foreclosure recovery. This includes resources you can use to find and relocate to a new home, if necessary. The goal is to emerge from the foreclosure process financially stronger so that you never again find yourself in the same disadvantaged position. You’ll learn tips for improving your future finances, including effective ways to boost your credit score. Part 5 will focus on Finding Your Next Home when you’re ready. Together, we’ll explore how to search for the right home while avoiding common mistakes buyers make. You’ll want to use my 12-Step Guide to Buying a Home and learn the basics of shopping for a loan. I also provide a handy “do’s and don’ts” section on negotiating from a home buyer’s perspective. As you read this book, always keep in mind that legal advice varies according to where you live as well as your individual circumstances. Consult a competent real estate attorney for all your legal needs.
Above all, remember that even if your house undergoes foreclosure, you and your loved ones will go on. Within you, you
still possess all the tools you need to build a wonderful future filled with happiness, contentment, and success. How you meet the foreclosure challenge will enable you to get past this difficult period — to thrive , not just survive. So, let’s get started!
CHAPTER 2 What is Foreclosure?
So, what exactly is foreclosure, and how do good people find themselves stuck in the foreclosure process? As part of the loan agreement, you agree that the house you’re buying will serve as collateral for the loan. This means that if you stop making payments, the lender can take possession of the home and sell it in order to recover the money they loaned you. If you’re a few days late on a mortgage payment, there is no reason to panic. The bank is not going to take away your house for this. Most mortgage contracts will give you a 15-day grace period and will add a 5% late fee on payments made after that grace period. Chances are, you only get into trouble if you’re more than 90 days late. Note: Please check with your bank or mortgage lender to find the exact terms and conditions. At this point, the bank will issue a “Notice of Default” with the County Recorder’s Office. A letter will be mailed to you, notifying you that you’ve defaulted on your loan. You’ll be given 90 days to pay off the debt. Your house is now at what is called the pre- foreclosure stage. This means that the bank hasn’t taken possession of your house yet. If you fail to pay off your loan after the notice, your property officially enters foreclosure and your bank will take possession of the property. They then sell it to recoup their money.
This process can take a while. For example, in New Jersey, the
average time it took for a foreclosure to complete in 2017 was 1,347 days — the longest in the nation. According to RealtyTrac’s U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, the average nationwide foreclosure took 883 days. While the paperwork is winding its way through, you don’t have to move out, but when the process is complete, you’ll receive a notice to vacate. (In most states, you have between five and 30 days to leave.) You’ll also receive a “Notice of Sale,” which states that the property will be sold at auction, and it lists the date, time, and location of the auction. The lender publishes the Notice of Sale in a newspaper in the county where the home is located for three consecutive weeks prior to the auction date.
Some states allow lenders to foreclose and repossess your property without the necessity of obtaining a court order. The California Department of Real Estate’s Homeowner’s Guide: The Foreclosure in California defines this judicial foreclosure as, “a privately conducted but publicly held sale.” The trustee is not obligated to obtain a court order before foreclosing and repossessing your home. This streamlines the process in a way that favors the lender. Your only recourse to stall the foreclosure auction might be to file suit against the lender, giving you an opportunity to “make your case” for a postponement.
Most states’ laws (31 states, plus Washington, D.C.) permit nonjudicial foreclosure: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas,
California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico (sometimes), North Carolina, Oklahoma (unless the homeowner requests judicial foreclosure), Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, (unless the homeowner requests judicial foreclosure), Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Judicial foreclosure occurs under supervision of the court. It is a more borrower/homeowner-friendly process that requires legal filings, court-imposed notices, timelines, and hearings. In a judicial foreclosure jurisdiction, the mortgagor goes to court to initiate foreclosure proceedings. It can take several months or even longer for a judicial foreclosure. Another advantage to the homeowner is that any legal defenses to the foreclosure may be raised (without the owner having to file a lawsuit). Judicial foreclosure proceedings are required in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico (sometimes), New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma (if the homeowner requests), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota (if the homeowner requests), Vermont, and Wisconsin. In most cases, the borrower must be more than 120 days delinquent in payments before the lender can start a foreclosure. The lender sends a letter, notifying the borrower of their intent to begin foreclosure proceedings and specifying a period within which the borrower must respond (usually between 20 and 30 days).
Regardless of which kind of foreclosure process your state mandates, unless you respond, the chances are excellent that the foreclosure will go through. The court will issue a default judgment that authorizes the lender to sell the home. If the borrower responds, a hearing is scheduled in which the borrower can tell a judge why foreclosure shouldn’t be permitted. The better the defense, the longer the process will drag out. If the court decides in the lender’s favor, it will enter a judgment ordering the sale of the home to satisfy the debt. If the property is not sold at the foreclosure sale, ownership goes to the lender. Even when the borrower loses ownership of the home, most state laws don’t require moving out immediately. Typically, the tenant can remain in the home, payment-free, until receiving an official, written eviction notice. It’s often more practical to move out prior to eviction.
In the Introduction to this book, we touched on the fact that facing the prospect of foreclosure can affect our mood and thinking process. Foreclosure can seem overwhelming, and when we’re overwhelmed, it’s hard to think productively. You might have read or heard about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This model was created to demonstrate the emotional states that terminally ill patients experience after a diagnosis. Since then, it’s been loosely applied to everything from a bad breakup to the death of a loved one.
It’s natural for individuals and families faced with the prospect of
foreclosure to experience their own range of emotions. Many homeowners experience self-doubt. “If only I had done things differently,” they tell themselves. But reasons for foreclosure are almost always more complicated than the actions of one individual. Consider job loss, for example. Were you or your partner laid off from a job? Your employer ultimately made that decision, and the reasons were probably more complex than they seem. Did the economy — or management’s own poor decision making — make layoffs necessary? Did the company where you worked experience a sudden loss of business because of fewer customers, seasonal buying habits, rising material costs, or other conditions beyond your control? Perhaps your former employer had to cut costs or eliminate an entire product line. Maybe new owners or managers simply wanted to start with a “clean slate” and hire their own people. Regardless of the reason or reasons for the layoff, your employer made a final call that you (or your partner) did not choose. Did you or a loved one experience a serious health crisis? In most cases, that’s not something you could have foreseen or controlled. Health insurance remains a hot political topic that we won’t tackle here. Regardless of the reasons, the inadequacy of health insurance coverage is a reality for many Americans. Was foreclosure the result of a divorce or breakup? A troubled relationship is rarely the fault of only one partner. It takes work by two willing and committed individuals to make a relationship succeed. Imagine how much harder it can be to work through the foreclosure process when you and your partner aren’t on the
Further, as we learned during the Great Recession, the need for many foreclosures could have been averted if lenders had applied realistic guidelines for qualifying home buyers in the first place — and if government had exercised responsible oversight over the lending process. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but you’re not to blame for wanting to give yourself and your family an opportunity to experience homeownership. Researcher Robert D. Dietz determined that homeowners tend to be happier and healthier, both physically and emotionally. They participate more in political and community activities, including voting. Their children tend to perform better academically and experience fewer behavioral problems. Who wouldn’t want these things? Whatever the underlying cause of your foreclosure, it feels terrible to you, and it’s natural to experience a range of difficult emotions. Mastering these emotions is a crucial first step in dealing with the problem. Remaining stuck in denial or unhappiness about the situation can prevent you from taking action at a time when prompt action is exactly what you need to explore and implement your alternatives.
It’s common and natural to feel that you’re losing control. After all, a bank or other lending institution — some faceless corporation — seems to be calling all the shots. They’re dictating what you can and cannot do, trying to force you to leave the
dwelling where you want to stay, and they’re setting the timeline.
The lender has many experts at their disposal: Lawyers to clarify their legal options and draft contracts. Lobbyists to influence legislation. Economists to figure out where the local and national real estate and investment markets are headed. Marketing experts to figure out how to influence your real estate buying habits. Accountants to tabulate everything. On the surface, these experts might seem to be aligned against you at foreclosure time, and that gives the impression that they hold all the cards. The truth is, there are laws to protect your interests, even in foreclosure. You have resources and options available to you, even if they’re not readily communicated to you. Facing your options in a foreclosure can feel like confrontation. We’ve been raised to believe that banks and other lending institutions are powerful, faceless adversaries. In that sense, they are unknowable, and it’s easy to fear the unknown. Many homeowners put off contacting their lender because they’re embarrassed to do so. The Freddie Mac/Roper poll also found that homeowners avoid contacting the lender because they don’t believe the lender can help them. Some even believe alerting the lender will accelerate the process of losing their home.
TAX IMPLICATIONS FORECLOSURES
It almost seems impossible that after undergoing the misfortune of a foreclosure, you could get hit with the “double whammy” of having the Internal Revenue Service insist you pay income taxes
or capital gains on the foreclosure transaction. You’ve just had your home taken away from you because you were unable to make all of your mortgage payments on time! How is that a red flag for the IRS? Here’s how it can happen. Your lender originally based your mortgage loan on the value of the property you were buying. When your property is foreclosed, the title changes hands from you to the lender and/or trustee. A new tax assessment is performed. Property values fluctuate, so it’s possible the value of your home has declined since you obtained your mortgage loan. In fact, the trustee will often have to sell it for less than its initial value — and less than the amount you owe — simply to get rid of it and keep from taking a loss. (This is known as an underbid. ) If the lender sells the property for less than it was worth when you bought it, it will look as though a large part of your mortgage debt was forgiven by the lender. In other words, the lender loaned you money that you don’t have to pay back now. To the IRS, that looks like income! It looks as though you’ve benefited from a sizeable windfall, and the federal government may demand its share of taxes for income and capital gains! Some exceptions apply. For example, if you’ve recently gone through bankruptcy or are otherwise dealing with insolvency, you might not be subject to this kind of taxation. This would be an excellent time to consult your accountant or tax attorney to find out whether you’re required to file special paperwork with the IRS and to determine what the impact might be on your individual situation.
POINTS TO REMEMBER:
• It’s usually not a crisis to be late on a mortgage payment. Repeatedly missing payments can trigger the bank to issue a “Notice of Default” and begin foreclosure proceedings. • Foreclosure usually takes some time. You probably won’t need to move out immediately, but you should immediately start working on your foreclosure strategy. • Foreclosure can subject individuals to a range of emotions. Controlling those emotions and making good decisions can set the stage for future success and happiness. • Don’t overlook the fact that foreclosure can have severe tax implications if debt that is now forgiven is considered to be income. • Move promptly and take control in response to a foreclosure. The sooner you explore your alternatives and take necessary steps, the better your outcome is likely to be.
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