Money, Business & Finance by Reno Fontana
You know how to get away with robbing a bank (hypothetically speaking of course)? Rob 10,000 of them all within a year. The resources of the police agencies would be so overwhelmed looking for the bad guys that they might catch 500 of the thieves while the other 9,500 got away.
That basically is what has happened to homeowners since the housing melt down began in 2008. Greedy bankers literally robbed their customers of their dwellings through wrongful foreclosures. Millions of homes have been illegally repossessed and resold by the banks to investors.
To stop endless regulatory probes of their foreclosure practices, lenders have declared multi-billion dollar mea culpa’s (a Latin phrase that translates into English as “my mistake” or “my fault”.) Banks signed “oops” agreements with the Feds, forked over somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 billion for their wrongful foreclosure fraud (lenders loathe the word fraud – they would rather have their illegal foreclosure actions labeled as “misdeeds”), and agreed not to do it again. Wow. Let’s hear it for the good guys at the banks in the home loan department. Meanwhile, families who lost their homes to wrongful foreclosure practices also lost their credit, their self-esteem, and in some cases their hope.
California is a non-judicial foreclosure state. This means that a lender can file a Notice of Default (NOD) once you fall behind in your mortgage payments, and after an additional short period of time, then file a Notice of Sale (NOS). Soon thereafter, your property can be sold at public auction if you’ve not taken some type of court action to stop the sale of your home. In non-judicial states the method to repossess real property is surprisingly short in terms of time, but also decidedly complicated. It is that exacting nature of the foreclosure process that creates substantial room for error by a lender and a solid defense for the homeowner in the event of a wrongful foreclosure claim against the lender.
Therein lies the problem for homeowners who can prove they are a casualty of a wrongful foreclosure action. To have their case heard successfully in court requires someone educated in the science of law and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs to the homeowner. I admire attorneys. To read a well-written legal briefs containing points and authorities to support a client’s legal position is often akin to reading poetry in my opinion.
But all an attorney has to sell is time. Attorneys only have so many billable ours in a week. And for that reason many attorneys simply can’t afford to represent wrongful foreclosure cases of homeowners that could otherwise be won if money wasn’t an issue. Court representation in winning a wrongful foreclosure case without finances to cover attorney costs is the single most difficult challenge facing homeowners who have been wrongfully foreclosed.
As most of you who are regular readers of this column know, I choose to live in a “glass half full” kind of world. Even in dealing with my own wrongful foreclosure against my lender on the former home of Elvis Presley in Palm Springs, I have faced hurdles. Out of necessity and in an effort to save on legal fees, I have learned to use the law library, to do legal research, and assist in writing legal briefs for Municipal, Superior and Appellate court filings. My attorney has come to trust my opinion and accept my input in my case. Becoming versed in legal jargon and wrongful foreclosure law is not something I ever dreamed I’d do. But when a lender is trying to illegally take your home, you have to fight back yourself until you can find someone to be your voice and fight for you in court.
My last thought today – if you are in a wrongful foreclosure situation, don’t let yourself be a victim. Choose to be a victor!
Reno Fontana is the Founder of Presley Investments, Inc., and host of the weekly ‘Money, Business, and Finance’ show on Money Radio 1200. Fontana may be reached by e-mail at biz@presley investments.com.