Avoid foreclosure

Underwater in Scottsdale. Do you need a lawyer for a short sale?

For a number of years, many homeowners in tony Scottsdale thought they would be insulated from the real estate crisis. For years, they were right. Not any longer. In general, Scottsdale median home prices are down about 43% from their peak in late 2006. Many Scottsdale homeowners are "underwater", owing more on their home than it's currently worth.

Are you underwater on your home? If you plan to stay in your home for another decade or so, and you can still afford the fixed-rate mortgage payment, this might be no big deal. It depends on your financial situation. You might be able to ignore the dismal media headlines, love your house, raise your family, pay your mortgage and live your life.

But if you have other financial issues compounding your housing value issue, you might need to think about your options. We here at The Phoenix Agents strongly recommend you retain an attorney. As Kevin Hardin of  Thomson Conant law firm says, "you don't have a real estate problem, you have a debt problem."

Your mortgage is a contract and if you're thinking about walking away or trying a short sale, you're actually contemplating breaching a legal contract. You're going to want a lawyer to help you do that.

Don't be fooled by people who casually toss around the phrase, "Arizona is a non-recourse state."  What they mean is that in general, a mortgage lender can't sue a homeowner after a foreclosure. But there are serious loopholes in that law, and the biggest loophole applies to short sales. Arizona's law covers foreclosures, not short sales. There's also a giant loophole on the topic of second mortgages and equity lines/loans.

If you short sale your home without getting precise language in the Short Sale Agreement from your lender, you might be leaving yourself wide open to a gigantic lawsuit for many years to come.

We happen to know several great short sale and foreclosure attorneys and accountants. Give me a call and I'll give you their names and numbers. Once you've spoken to an attorney, if you're ready to try a short sale, we'll help. Our broker has several agents on staff who focus on short sales and have remarkable track records of success.

Heather Barr, Realtor
The Phoenix Agents at Thompson's Realty
602-999-8831   or Heather@ThePhoenixAgents.com


What documents do you need to attempt a short sale?

Here’s a letter we send to our short sale seller clients, describing the documents needed to attempt a short sale of your home. If you find the information useful and feel a short sale might be right for you, please contact us.

- - - - - - - - - -BEGIN LETTER - - - - - - - - -

Dear Mr & Mrs ________ ,

Thank you for choosing The Phoenix Agents @ Thompson’s Realty to list your home as a short sale. We’re pleased to be given the chance to assist you through this difficult transition. We have family, friends and numerous clients who’ve been where you are, and we know how to make the process easier, quicker and more successful.

Your home will appear in the MLS within 24 hours, and you will be given a chance to approve the MLS entry for accuracy. Meanwhile, please forward the following to us within the next 14 days so we can complete your file and be ready when a buyer makes an offer:

  • Current mortgage statements from every loan on the property

  • Paycheck stubs for the past 2 pay periods

  • Tax returns for the past 2 years

  • Completed Sellers’ Property Disclosure Statement

  • Sign the enclosed letter to your lender authorizing us to speak with them

  • Begin working on the enclosed Financial Worksheet detailing your income and expenses

Marketing Your Home

Our goal is to get an offer on your home within 30 to 45 days, by aggressively marketing it in the MLS, dozens of other national websites and our agent network.

Negotiating Your Short Sale

Once we have an offer, we’ll work with your attorney to submit the offer and the above documents to your lenders. We’ll actively manage the communication process with your lenders with a goal of getting a short sale decision within 60 to 90 days, and a closing within 30 days after that.

Protecting You Now, and in Future

We strongly recommend you hire an experienced short sale attorney to assist you with this transaction, and work with an experienced CPA as well. These two professionals can help us to help you to avoid future taxes and lawsuits in connection with your short sale. In almost every case, the attorney and accountant fees are paid through the process of the sale, with no out of pocket costs to you. We recommend Scottsdale Law Group and Thomson Law. We also recommend Brad Huss and Associates CPAs who can help you avoid being taxed on the unpaid mortgage balance.

- - - - - - - - - END LETTER - - - - - - - - -

Wondering if a short sale is the right option for you?  Contact us anytime; we’re here to make this difficult process easy.

This information pertains to metro Phoenix, Arizona in 2011. If you're reading this from another locale or long after the publication date, please consult a professional in your area. We are Realtors, but we are not your Realtors; get local, professional advice.

JP Morgan Chase Opens Loan Service Center in Phoenix

JPMorgan Chase & Co. opens a new loan service center today in north Phoenix and hopes to help area homeowners facing foreclosure and payments they can’t afford.

The loan service center will “introduce new financing alternatives, reach out to borrowers to offer prequalified modifications, and initiate a process to review each loan independently before moving it into the foreclosure process.”

Chase advisers can also help customers with questions regarding the loan remodification program President Barack Obama introduced last month in Mesa.

Chase’s regional spokesperson said the center is equipped to handle several hundred calls and appointments a week and their goal is to help homeowners improve their situations within 30 days.

In addition to the regional location in Phoenix, Chase launched 23 other loan centers across the country. Nine are in California and Denver and Las Vegas also have centers.

Chase inherited bad loans through their acquisitions of Washington Mutual and EMC Mortgage Corp.

Chase says they have helped prevent 330,000 foreclosures of Chase, WaMu and EMC loans since 2007, primarily by reducing interest rates, extending loan terms and providing principal deferral.

Readers, does anyone know a homeowner who’s received a Chase loan workout or modification? I only know one homeowner who got a modification and that was from Citigroup in late 2008.

Could “Produce the Note” Save Your Home?

Hat tip to fellow blogging Realtor Dean Ouellette who posted about this today.

Good Morning America recently ran a piece spotlighting a Florida homeowner who’s fighting to prevent foreclosure on her home by using a tactic touted by Florida lawyer Chris Hoyer. Hoyer offers the appropriate paperwork free on his website, The Consumer Warning Network.

Forcing your mortgage lender to ‘produce the note’ (which means give me a copy of the original mortgage I signed at purchase) is fairly simple in states like Florida, which are judicial foreclosure states. That means a lender must file a lawsuit against the homeowner before foreclosing. Homeowners can stall the foreclosure by filing a response document with the court demanding the lender ‘produce the note.’

Arizona is a non-judicial foreclosure state though, so the process requires a few more steps from homeowners.  The homeowner must initiate the lawsuit, not just respond to a lawsuit already in progress.

You can file a lawsuit on your own without an attorney. But should you? Courts have mind-boggling regulations about everything the color of the ink used for signature to the size of the type and the length of the paper used. You could spend a full 8 hour day trying to decipher it all, I’m sure. (this from a girl who used to be a paralegal, no less)

In addition each state has different rules for serving notice of the lawsuit. Not sure what I mean? You’ve seen process servers in movies. Some delivery-type person walks up to a movie character, hands them a court document and says, “You’ve been served!”  The party filing a lawsuit must arrange and pay for the process server.

For fun, check out this version of ‘you’ve been served’ from Judd Apatow’s Pineapple Express. Warning, not safe for work, and rated PG-13 for drug references.

I’m really not sure what the success rate for using Hoyer’s Produce The Note tactic would be in Arizona. Even attorney Hoyer stresses on his website that Produce the Note is a stalling tactic and nothing more.

I’m curious enough to call an attorney I’ve met a couple times, who I know specializes in residential foreclosures. I’ll call tomorrow and report here on my findings. Check back!