Foreclosures up 5% in July, 2014

foreclosure defense attorney Denver Colorado

A total of 49,624 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in July, a 5% increase from June. There was a two percent increase in foreclosure filings in the U.S. last month (July) with 109,434 properties in foreclosure than from the previous month (June). There were a total of 51,595 properties set for foreclosure auction, which is a 10% increase from June. It’s predicted August may see an even higher increase in the foreclosure auctions.

Although the foreclosure rate was down from this time last year, there is still concern over these latest increases. The economy has not rebounded as predicted and analysts say if the rate continues to increase the next 2-3 months, there will be cause for alarm that will have a ripple effect in the housing market.

Including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions, in the U.S., one in every 1,203 properties had some type of foreclosure activity in July 2014.Florida had the highest state foreclosure rate in the nation for the 10th month in a row. One in every 469 properties had foreclosure activity making that state more than two-and-a-half times higher than the nation’s average. Presently, in Florida there are 248,640 homes that are in foreclosure. Other high-ranking states were: California, Nevada, Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Illinois.

There were a total of 14 states that had a higher foreclosure start rate last month (notices of intent to file foreclosure) than the previous month. Nevada topped the list has having the highest increase – a whopping 129% in foreclosure starts (lenders starting a foreclosure process).

Foreclosure activity increased from a year ago, in five of the nation’s cities. There was a 66% increase in foreclosure activity in Houston, Texas and 24% in Washington, D.C. Several California cities had huge increases in bank repossessions such as; a 58% increase in Los Angeles, 40% in San Diego and 27% in Riverside-San Bernardino.

Columbia, South Carolina and Akron, Ohio were cities with high foreclosure activity. Columbia had foreclosure activity in one in every 484 properties and Akron had one in 525 properties.

There were 25,937 U.S. properties repossessed in July. Four states had a considerably increase from the same time as last year. Those states were: Maryland (up 77%), California (up 22%), Oregon (up 13%) and New jersey (up 12%).

The lowest foreclosure activity in the nation was Montana, having one in every 25,337 properties. In Colorado, there are 10,294 properties in foreclosure at present time and a total of 29,684 homes for sale. Further, there were more home sale listings but fewer sales leading to weaker home price gains this summer.

Foreclosure can be a serious issue, and it is best to get foreclosure help as soon as possible. Beware of loan mod “companies’- they are almost always a scam. Contact a licensed, skilled foreclosure defense attorney if you need foreclosure help. Keith Gantenbein is the premier foreclosure defense attorney, located in Denver and serving all of Colorado. Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein has been featured on both national and local news multiple times, known for his tireless and effective work for homeowners. He recently worked with Colorado Rep. Beth McCann and Senator Jesse Ulibarri in drafting and passing 2 Colorado House Bills to protect homeowners: the first in the State of Colorado. You can read more about Denver foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein HERE.

Keith Gantenbein,  of The Gantenbein Law Firm, Colorado foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, evictions, loan  modifications, cash for keys, foreclosure settlement, short sale assistance, Rule 120 Foreclosure Hearings, foreclosure assistance, post-foreclosure litigation, foreclosure set-aside, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. His real estate practice includes real estate closings, title issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, lien issues, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Keith Gantenbein also practices homeowner defense against HOAS- including HOA foreclosures, HOA liens, HOA lawsuits and defense against wrongful covenant enforcement.

Gantenbein Law Firm practice includes Colorado Foreclosure Defense, Colorado Real Estate Law, Colorado and Federal Tax Law, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Credit Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information, visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit or IRS tax appeal, need tax debt relief, have received a Notice of Tax Deficiency or Notice of Wag Garnishment, facing tax litigation, in need of tax planning or filing tax returns, or need help with an IRS installment plan or IRS offer in compromise, contact our Denver tax attorney immediately at 303-618-2122. Or, visit our Denver tax attorney website

 

 

GAO Report Suggests More Errors by Bank Foreclosures

foreclosure defense attorney, located in Denver Colorado
A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) suggests there were significantly higher errors and mistakes made by banks and their agents during the foreclosure reviews. We may never know how many mistakes and other issues the banks made because the reviews were halted by another government agency.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve who were the banking regulators, ended the independent foreclosure reviews last year before most of the banks had completed their examinations of mortgage modification and foreclosure practices.

During that time, the OCC and the Federal Reserve found the bank-hired consultants were delaying compensation to borrowers who had improper modifications and other foreclosure issues which lead to their decision to stop the reviews.

However, that decision to stop the reviews terminated the OCC and the Federal Reserve from finding to what extent borrowers were having. We do know there were bungled modifications, robo-signing, wrongful foreclosures, improper fees and foreclosure paperwork filed without verification. What other issues may have been uncovered remain unseen and we will probably never know to what extent homeowners suffered.

Further, with limited information due to the reviews being stopped, they plowed ahead and negotiated a $10 billion settlement with 15 banks according to the GAO report. It’s feared the settlement was reached without adequate investigation into the actual harms committed by the banks and servicers.

When the reviews were stopped, some banks were further along than others. Some banks had reviewed less than 2% of the files and, of course, reported a lower error rate than banks that had reviewed 25 or 35% of their files.

It was also noted the consultants that the banks hired to review their files racked up hundreds of millions in fees while barely making a dent in reviewing the files.

In the GAO report, the regulators were criticized for failing to oversee the $6 billion in foreclosure prevention measures in the agreements. The regulators also failed to define specific objectives for the foreclosure prevention measures although they did tell the banks “they should be meaningful” according to the report.

Another reported problem is at least 20% of homeowners can’t be found because those homeowners were forced to move and can’t be located.

The GAO report lists many recommendations from taking additional steps ensuring foreclosure prevention principles are being incorporated to transparency and restoring public confidence. At this date all recommendations remain in an “Open” status with no timeline in view.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado consumer rights attorney, focusing his practice as a foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His Colorado foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. His real estate practice includes real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. His real estate practice also focuses on his practice as an HOA defense attorney in Colorado, defending homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits and defense against wrongful covenant enforcement.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm practice includes Colorado Foreclosure Defense, Colorado Real Estate Law, Colorado and Federal Tax Law, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Credit Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information, visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit, IRS tax appeal, tax litigation, or need help with an IRS installment plan or IRS offer in compromise, contact our Denver tax attorney immediately at 303-618-2122. Or, visit our Denver tax attorney website

AG Sues Castle and Aronowitz

monoloy

The Colorado Attorney General sued the state’s two largest foreclosure law firms today: The Castle Law Group and Aronowitz and Mecklenburg. The lawsuits allege violations of Colorado’s Consumer Protection Act, Anti-trust Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Attorney General investigators say the attorneys defrauded tens of thousands of homeowners, banks, investors and taxpayers. There are numerous illegal practices alleged in the 40-page lawsuit including collusion between the law firms to set prices on service fees and in some cases, charging fees for non-existent procedures.

The Castle Law Group and Aronowitz and Mecklenburg together have handled more than 150,000 foreclosures in the past 6-1/2 years overcharging what is believed to be an average of $650.00 per foreclosure, or upwards close to $100 million.

Attorney General John Suthers stated “These inflated costs were passed on to homeowners trying to save their homes from foreclosure, successful bidders for properties at foreclosure sales, and to investors (Banks) and taxpayers. The facts uncovered by our investigation are very disturbing and, frankly reflect poorly on the legal profession.”

Larry Castle, head of The Castle Law Group will likely fight in what may be a long battle in court from facts gathered by a two-year long investigation. Castle’s wife and partner, Caren Castle and their accountant Ryan O’Connell and Kathleen Benton who owns Absolute Posting & Process Services are also tied to the alleged scheme and are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.

There are two other companies tied to Castle: RE Records Research in Denver and Colorado American Title in Englewood.

Aronowitz and Mecklenburg, the law firm second in size to Castle, immediately agreed to pay $10 million to settle the case and will either sell or close its office which is based in Denver within the next six months. Owner Robert Aronowitz, his daughter Stacey and her husband Joe Mecklenburg made no admission to guilt in their settlement. Some of the $10 million will go towards reimbursing homeowners who were overcharged in foreclosures

The Aronowitz and Mecklenburg firm own a process service business, Xceleron, which will more than likely close soon.

The two law firms controlled more than 75% of Colorado’s foreclosure cases and funneled work to their servicing companies. The Attorney General uncovered emails between Caren Castle and Stacey Mecklenburg where the two collaborated on fixing a much higher price on certain services. In their largest money-maker, they colluded to charge $125 for a $25 service, pocketing a quick $100 from the backs of distressed homeowners losing their homes.

Read the full article on the Denver Post HERE

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado consumer rights attorney, focusing his practice as a foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. His real estate practice includes real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. His real estate practice also focuses on his practice as an HOA defense attorney in Colorado, defending homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits and defense against wrongful covenant enforcement.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm practice includes Colorado Foreclosure Defense, Colorado Real Estate Law, Colorado and Federal Tax Law, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Credit Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information, visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit, IRS tax appeal, tax litigation, or need help with an IRS installment plan or IRS offer in compromise, contact our Denver tax attorney immediately at 303-618-2122. Or, visit our Denver tax attorney website here

HELOC Defaults Could Cause Another Credit Crisis

HELOC
Almost ten years ago, during the housing boom, homeowners began taking out Home Equity Line of Credit loans, more commonly known as HELOCs. Beginning around 2004, these loans became popular because the interest rates were typically deductible under federal and state income tax laws. They were also popular because of their flexibility and most gave the borrower ten years to pay back.

There are more than $221 billion dollars in HELOC loans that will be due shortly as they near that ten-year mark. In 2005, there were over $502 billion HELOCs, meaning more of these loans will be due in 2015.

HELOCs (pronounced Hee Lock) are loans lenders gave for a period of 5 to 25 years (typically 10 years) for the amount equal or up to the amount of equity the borrower had in their home. HELOCs have variable interest rates normally based on the prime rate.

Unlike a Home Equity Loan, where the borrower gets all the money upfront, the HELOC uses a line of credit the borrower can use (draw upon) when needed, much like a credit card. The borrower gets charged interest on the amount drawn. The full principal amount is due at the end of the draw period in a lump sum (balloon payment). The amount could also be paid back if a loan amortization schedule is in place. Some HELOCs allowed the option of paying interest only payments, which are great the first few years but make for higher monthly payments later.

The height of the popularity of HELOCs occurred right before the housing bubble burst. Now, banks stand to have a surge in HELOC defaults, which could lead to more foreclosures.

The banks stand to lose billions of dollars since the HELOCs are generally a second mortgage, not the first. When a foreclosed home is sold or auctioned, most of the sale’s proceeds will go to pay off the first mortgage. Any leftover proceeds would then go to the HELOC lender. The HELOC lender can also try to recoup some of their money through a forced short sale.

Complicating matters even more is that most of the HELOCs given between 2004 and 2008 went to subprime borrowers. HELOCs made in 2003 are already seeing late payments and rising in number each day.

Also problematic is the jump in interest rates. After 10 years, a borrower with a $30,000 HELOC and a beginning interest rate of 3.5%, could see their monthly repayment jump from approximately $81 to $293, further intensifying the issue.

Federal regulators are warning banks of the real possibility of thousands of HELOC defaults beginning shortly. The Feds are telling the banks they need to start preparing now. Banks are still trying to recover from our last credit crisis and the housing bubble burst, can they withstand another so soon?

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado consumer rights attorney, focusing his practice as a foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. His real estate practice includes real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. His real estate practice also focuses on his practice as an HOA defense attorney in Colorado, defending homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits and defense against wrongful covenant enforcement.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm practice includes Colorado Foreclosure Defense, Colorado Real Estate Law, Colorado and Federal Tax Law, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Credit Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information, visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit, IRS tax appeal, tax litigation, or need help with an IRS installment plan or IRS offer in compromise, contact our Denver tax attorney immediately at 303-618-2122. Or, visit our Denver tax attorney WEBSITE

The Great and Powerful…..HOA??

oz

All too often, Homeowner Associations (HOAs) can possess far too much power and can destroy homeowners and families all too easily. HOAs often have a huge amount of power to regulate almost every aspect of your home and your life. Unfortunately, where there is power, there can be abuse.

When moving into a neighborhood that is controlled by an HOA, you’ll receive a Declarations of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (DCCRs or CC&Rs) package. These documents govern what an owner may or may not, or must do with respect to the real estate/property they are buying. When you close on your property, you will be signing a paper that says you have read the Covenants, understand and will abide by them, and if you violate any of these Covenants, you agree to a fine, forced compliance or have a lawsuit brought against you. You do not have the option to reject it.

HOAs have evolved over time. In the mid-1900s, they were racially motivated. In the 1960’s the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) authorized mortgage insurance exclusively for communities governed by an HOA encouraging associations to be formed. In the 1970s, developments used less land and increased density by clustering homes around ‘common areas’ that had to be governed. In the late 1970s, the U.S. Clean Water act required new real estate developments to detain storm water. Retention areas had to be built. HOAs had to maintain the retention areas after the development sold out.

Today, HOAs have evolved with a myriad of rules and regulations. HOAs can appoint corporate officers and create committees to watchdog house color, pools, landscape, decorations, driveways and so on It’s easy to be at the mercy of a nasty neighbor reporting you for the smallest misdeed or an overzealous person ‘on the hunt’, patrolling the neighborhood, looking for infractions.

If you fall behind in HOA dues, assessments or penalties, your HOA can place a lien against your property, which could lead to foreclosure. We are seeing more and more foreclosures brought against the homeowner by HOAs.

The horror stories are just that – horrific. Recently, a homeowner was slapped with two $25.00 fines for not removing the grass from the cracks in her driveway. The homeowner paid the fines, but began getting late fees. As they argued, the fees quickly grew until they were $1,500. The HOA placed a lien on the home and threatened foreclosure.

Another homeowner was slapped with a $400.00 fine for parking an ‘oversized’ van in his driveway. He explained the van was for his handicapped wife and gave the HOA documents proving his wife’s need for having the van. The HOA is suing him.

One of the worse cases of HOA abuse was in Florida. A father went through a devastating event in which a plane crashed into his home, killing his wife and infant son. His HOA had no sympathy, slapping him with a large fine for not having the shingles on his home match after they were quickly repaired.

In Colorado, HOAs have backed a lot of legislative laws and reforms, as evidenced by the expansion of CCIOA. Homeowners in Colorado are often found fighting their HOAs over vague and, sometimes, conflicting declarations. Fighting HOA covenant enforcement is often in the homeowner’s best interest, since fines and fees can escalate quickly.

We are experienced in fighting HOAs and protecting the interests of our clients. If you find your HOA is out of control, don’t fight this alone. Call us to discuss your legal options, we have many strategies and defenses to fight HOAs.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado Real Estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His real estate law practice includes foreclosure defense, foreclosure prevention, foreclosure assistance, HOA Defense, defense against HOA covenant enforcement, homeowner defense against CCIOA, HOA litigation, HOA liens, and HOA judicial foreclosures. He also handles loan modifications, short sales, residential real estate closings, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, bank litigation, civil litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. If you are facing a lawsuit or claim against your homeowners’ association, think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Please visit our website for more information: <a href="http://http://www.gantenbeinlawfirm.com” title=”Gantenbein Law Firm” target=”_blank”>www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Colorado tax law. Please visit our Denver tax attorney website.

Ocwen Gags Homeowners; BOA, PNC to Follow Suit

gag order

Modifications are important to homeowners trying to hang onto their homes and avoid foreclosure. These homeowners resend the same paperwork and documents to the lender over and over again. Now there seems to be yet another hoop these homeowners have to jump through in order to get a regular modification.

Lenders have been forcing homeowners to sign gag orders when litigation is initiated and settled, but now the gag orders are being placed on homeowners wanting a simple modification. These new gag orders have been on the increase the last six months.

Mortgage giant, Ocwen is allegedly forcing homeowners to sign a gag order stopping and barring them from ever badmouthing, saying anything negative or detrimental regarding the company. If a homeowner doesn’t sign and agree to this pressure and vow not to complain, the homeowner can lose their mortgage modification, face immediate foreclosure and be evicted.

Joseph and Neidin Henard, homeowners in Santa Cruz, California began the long ordeal applying for a modification after they defaulted on their loan. The Henards were severely underwater with their mortgage and the monthly payments were crushing them. They thought their problems ended when they were approved for the modification and their monthly payment slashed almost 40%! But in the final settlement paperwork, they saw that Ocwen Financial Corporation, the company who collected and processed their mortgage payments had added a clause to the modification. That clause stated the Henards could never say, print or post anything negative about Ocwen.

Bank of America Corporation and PNC Financial Services Group are also telling many homeowners they’ll ease the terms of the homeowner’s underwater mortgages if the homeowner promises not to say, print or post anything negative. Homeowners aren’t the only ones being gagged – attorneys for these homeowners have also been given gag orders! Settlements are often requiring the homeowners never to sue them again.

These clauses hurt homeowners. If the mortgage company makes an error, how can the homeowner fix the error if they can’t hire an attorney or make a complaint? Lenders are notorious at losing paperwork, documents, inputting wrong information and failing to send important letters, or sending to wrong addresses. If that happens, the homeowner doesn’t have a voice due to these clauses they were forced to sign.

Earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) examined two mortgage servicers who were requiring homeowners to give up their rights by signing a gag order. The CFPB said the practice was unfair and required those servicers to cease.

There are still 9.7 million homeowners (or 1 in every 5) across America whose homes are underwater. Modifications play an important role in recovering from the housing crisis. One law professor said, “the banks are attempting to hold clients hostage with a provision they know we cannot agree to.”

PNC stated “these clauses are part of the consideration we receive for agreeing to settle the case. This helps to ensure that the discussion is not re-opened in public after the case has been settled.”

More than 5.1 million homes have been foreclosed on, a crisis the banks helped create in the first place.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado foreclosure defense attorney and Colorado real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also defends homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits, handles real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, contracts and landlord/tenant.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

If you need a Colorado foreclosure defense attorney or HOA defense attorney, please visit our website for more information: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Colorado tax law. If you are facing a tax audit, have a tax issue, or need tax planning, visit our Denver tax attorney WEBSITE

Bank of America to Pay $228M in Forced-Placed Insurance Lawsuit; Other Top Banks, as Well

BOA

Last week, attorneys for homeowners disclosed that the Charlotte, North Caroline-based Bank of America has agreed to pay $228 million to settle a proposed class-action force-placed insurance class-action lawsuit.

Although Bank of America spokesman Richard Simon said “Bank of America believes that its lender-placed hazard insurance practices comply fully with state and federal law, nevertheless, in order to put an end to this litigation, we have reached a settlement that is acceptable to all parties.” In other words, Bank of America has not admitted to any wrongdoing and would rather pay than go to trial.

QBE Insurance Corporation, the other defendant in this lawsuit has not commented. QBE will be paying an undisclosed portion of the $228 million. QBE – Query by Example is Australia’s largest global insurer providing insurance services to Australia, America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

The settlement was reached in a Miami, Florida federal court last month, two years after the lawsuit was filed, and is the latest in settlements involving force-placed insurance. Attorneys will seek as much as $16 million in fees according to the filing.

The settlement covers the time period between January 2008 and February 2014. Bank of America clients who were part of the settlement are expected to recover hundreds, and in many cases, thousands of dollars. The lawsuit claimed the defendants profited from the force-placed insurance with “kickbacks, commissions, or other compensation”.

Wells Fargo & Company, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. have also agreed to similar settlements. Chase will pay $300 million, Citigroup – $110 million and HSBC agreed to pay $32 million. Wells Fargo’s settlement amount has not been specified as of this date.

Force-placed insurance, also known as lender-placed or creditor-placed insurance, can be added to your property by your lender to provide additional insurance, or what your lender feels is more adequate insurance. The lender can add this insurance without the homeowner’s knowledge or permission and charge for the coverage. The extra cost is typically added to the loan. Force-placed is expensive and often pushes an at-risk homeowner into foreclosure due to higher monthly payments. Force-placed insurance normally provides less coverage to the homeowner because it doesn’t cover liability or the borrower’s personal property.

In recent years, there have been claims of an alleged “cozy” relationship between the banks and the insurance companies. There have been allegations of ‘money under the table payments’, with the costs passed on to the borrower in the way of inflated premiums. In one lawsuit, the homeowner was forced to provide flood insurance 14 times the amount of what he owed. Neither his mortgage or loan documents required him to have flood insurance.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, Colorado HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also defends homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits, handles real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, contracts and landlord/tenant.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure in Colorado, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm practices Colorado Real Estate law, Colorado HOA defense, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Repair, and Wills & Trusts. For more information regarding these areas of law, and Colorado foreclosure defense, Visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing a IRS tax audit, or other IRS tax issue, or need tax planning, contact our Denver Tax attorney at 303-618-2122, or visit our Colorado Tax attorney website by clicking here.

FHA Back To Work Program Extended

fha

The “FHA Back to Work” program established in August 2013, has been extended to September 30, 2016 giving more people a chance to apply for a new home.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Back to Work program allows homeowners who lost their home in a short sale, foreclosure, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or had to declare bankruptcy to have a second chance of owning a home.

If the person qualifies, they can purchase a new home 12 months after their loss through an FHA fixed-rate mortgage. Previously, the homeowner had to wait 36 months before buying another home.

In order to qualify, the person would have to show specific documents showing the financial problems that caused the loss. If the hardship was due to extenuating circumstances beyond their control, chances are they’ll be in a new home in a year’s time. The person would have to explain how the financial hardship was something beyond their control, such as unforeseen medical bills/serious illness, death of a spouse, or a job layoff. The borrower will have to prove they had no other recourse than to foreclose, short sale or file bankruptcy.

Their household income had to have dropped 20% or more for at least six months. They must also complete Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counseling.

The HUD-approved counselor has to assess their debt, the ability to afford the mortgage, explain the features of mortgage, mortgage insurance and the loan application process. The counseling has to be completed 30 days before the person applies for a new mortgage. A certificate is given at the end of the counseling, and is valid for 6 months.

Circumstances such as the inability to sell the property due to a job transfer or relocation to another area are not accepted as extenuating circumstance.

The program requires the borrower to re-establish their credit with 12-months of on-time rental housing payments with no delinquencies and not have been 30 days late on more than one non-housing loan payment. If there are any open collection or judgment accounts, an analysis will be done to see if the person can repay those creditors.

In the past, FHA lenders issued faulty loans and relied on automated underwriting. With this Back to Work Program, borrowers will be scrutinized more carefully. In the long run, getting more qualified homebuyers back into the sluggish housing market will help the overall market.

A HUD official recently stated the agency believes there are a number of people who were negatively impacted by the Great Recession who have the capacity to get back into the housing market.

The recession caused many to lose their jobs, and consequently, their homes. There were a lot of innocent bystanders that were hurt, especially in job layoffs. This second chance of ownership can help families restore their lives.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado consumer rights attorney, focusing his practice as a foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. HIs real estate practice includes real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, evictions, contracts and landlord/tenant. His real estate practice also focuses on his practice as an HOA defense attorney in Colorado, defending homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits and defense against wrongful covenant enforcement.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation, where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm practice includes Colorado Foreclosure Defense, Colorado Real Estate Law, Colorado and Federal Tax Law, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Credit Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information, visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit, IRS tax appeal, tax litigation, or need help with an IRS installment plan or IRS offer in compromise, contact our Denver tax attorney immediately at 303-618-2122. Or, visit our Denver tax attorney website here

Foreclosure Over $134 Tax Lien: The Sad Story of Benny Coleman

benny

Sergeant Benny Coleman, decorated, retired U.S. Marine Corps, is 76-years old and suffering from dementia. A Vietnam veteran, Benny had lived in his brick home at 221 44th St. N.E., Washington D.C, near the Maryland border for decades. When his wife died in 1988, he paid off his $57,500 mortgage from the life insurance he received from her death.

Benny kept his little brick home neat, and liked to sit out on the front porch, talk with neighbors and enjoy his retirement years.

Benny began to forget things, like buying food or going to doctor’s appointments. In 2006, Benny forgot to pay a $134 tax bill. The city eventually placed a lien on his home and added $183 in interest and penalties bringing the bill to $317.

As Benny’s health faded, his son moved back to town, and in with his dad. Benny Jr. soon discovered the unpaid tax bill and lien. The son paid the $317 tax bill but an investment company had bought the Tax Lien Certificate (TLC).

Benny’s home, now worth $197,000 was being charged double-digit interest on the $317 tax lien. The Maryland investment group who bought the TLC demanded $4,999 – 37 times the original bill. This investment group was legally allowed to charge unlimited legal fees and court costs. The investment company foreclosed on Benny’s home.

Benny’s son paid $700 of the $4,999, but could not pay the rest. The son wrote to the court, explaining his father didn’t understand the ramifications of the $134 tax bill. The letter didn’t help.

Late last year, right before the holidays, Benny was evicted from his house. He sat in a lawn chair across from his home and watched as armed federal US Marshals took his possessions outside and boarded up the home. He kept saying “I have nothing”. The investment group sold the house for $71,000 two months later. Benny now lives in a group home a mile from his former house.

There were over 13,000 property tax liens sold to investors in the Washington D.C. area alone during a 7-year period. More than one-third were liens less than $1,000. Almost all occurred in distressed areas of the old and the poor.

Between $7 billion and $10 billion in property taxes go delinquent each year. Thirty states and Washington D.C. allow the sale of TLC’s. Colorado is one of those thirty states. Foreclosed homes often have tax debt. Individuals, and more recently large investment groups are buying up these delinquent tax debts.

Investors buy the unpaid tax bills, place a lien against the owner’s property and have all rights to charge high interest rates to the property owner. If the property owner doesn’t pay the taxes, interest and penalties, the state gives the TLC owner the right to the property, wherein the TLC owner can take possession (foreclose). Although rare in Colorado, the investor is allowed to foreclose. Lenders of mortgaged properties tend to pay off the lienholder in order to protect their interest, but in cases like Benny’s where there was no mortgage, the investor had the upper hand.

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also defends homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits, including defense against HOA covenant enforcement in Colorado. Keith also handles residential real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, contracts and landlord/tenant.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, or have a real estate or HOA issue, contact Colorado foreclosure defense attorney Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm is a Colorado law firm, focusing on Colorado foreclosure defense, Colorado HOA defense, Colorado Business Law, Credit Dispute and Repair, and Colorado Wills & Trusts. For more information regarding these practice areas, please visit our website: www.gantenbeinlaw.com

Gantenbein Law Firm also specializes in Federal and Colorado Tax Law. Our Denver tax attorney is experienced in IRS liens, IRS audits, tax planning, IRS tax levies, IRS installment plans, IRS offers in compromise, IRS repayment plans, tax litigation, IRS tax appeals, and more. If you are facing an IRS tax issue or need tax planning, contact our Denver tax attorney at 303-618-2122, or visit our Denver tax attorney WEBSITE.

Two Bills Passed in Colorado Help Homeowners

BILL

On Monday, April 14th, the Third Reading Unamended of HB 14-1295 was voted on in the Senate and passed. With the majority of all members elected to the Senate having voted in the affirmative, the bill was passed. (Bills have “final action” on the Third Reading in both the Colorado House and Senate.)

HB 14-1295, titled “Concerning Residential Mortgage Foreclosures, and, in Connection Therewith, Requiring a Single Point of Contact and Prohibiting Dual Tracking” will help distressed homeowners.

Also on Monday, April 14th, HB 14-1130 had the Third Reading Unamended and was passed. This bill, titled “Concerning the Disposition of Moneys Charged to Borrowers for Costs to be Paid in Connection with Foreclosure” also helps distressed homeowners.

Both bills will be printed in the form in which they will appear in the session laws (called the “enrolled bill” and will be signed by the President of the Senate, The Speaker of the House and Governor Hickenlooper making it law.

HB 14-1295 requires a lender to establish a single point of contact for a borrower to communicate with the lender concerning foreclosure matters within 45 days after the borrower becomes delinquent in payments. The bill also prohibits “dual tracking”, in which a lender simultaneously negotiates with the borrower for a loan modification and pursues foreclosure through the public trustee.

Many homeowners were confident they were receiving a modification, even garnering encouragement from the lender and then shocked at a swift foreclosure. Often the notice of foreclosure preceded the denial of the modification.

HB 14-1130 (Foreclosure Cure Remit Unpaid Fees to Borrower) forces the accuracy of all costs and fees charged to a borrower. Specifically: “Current law is silent on when and how fees for court filings, published notices, and other costs of foreclosure are to be calculated and paid and, if overpaid, refunded. The bill [HB 14-1130] specifies that all costs and fees charged to a borrower must be accurately accounted for and that any overpayments based on prepayments or estimates must be promptly refunded to the borrower”.

The HB 14-1130 will stop foreclosure mills and foreclosure law firms from wrongfully billing homeowners for nonexistent foreclosure lawsuits.

Foreclosure Defense Attorney Keith Gantenbein has worked extensively with Representative and Sponsor of the bill, Beth McCann in the House, along with Senate Sponsor, Senator Jessie Ulibarri on drafting and testifying for these all-important bills to help homeowners for the past 3 years. Keith Gantenbein has been invited to speak at the upcoming Press Conference that will be held at the Capitol.

For a complete look at the final passage of the HB 14-1295 bill, click HERE

For a complete look at the final passage of the HB 14-1130 bill, click HERE

Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a licensed, Colorado foreclosure defense attorney and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes foreclosure prevention, judicial foreclosure, HOA foreclosures, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also defends homeowners against HOA claims in HOA lawsuits, handles real estate closings, title issues, lien issues, quiet title, real estate contracts, bankruptcies, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, contracts and landlord/tenant. Visit our WEBSITE for more info.

If you think you will be facing foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.

Gantenbein Law Firm also focuses on Colorado and Federal Tax Law. If you are facing an IRS tax audit, IRS tax appeal, tax litigation, or other tax issue, or need tax planning, call our premier Denver tax attorney at 303-618-2122, or visit our Colorado tax attorney WEBSITE.