THE FORECLOSUREHELP CENTER HAS NOW TRANSITIONED TO THE FORECLOSURE HELP COLLABORATIVE

Beginning October 27, 2014, The Foreclosure Help Collaborative Silicon Valley will provide coordinated foreclosure prevention services to families facing foreclosure and other related housing issues throughout the County of Santa Clara in place of the ForeclosureHelp Center.

The Foreclosure Help Collaborative Silicon Valley can be reached at (408) 909-HOME or at foreclosurecollaborative@gmail.com.

The Collaborative is composed of the same partners that supported the ForeclosureHelp Center, including four HUD housing counseling agencies; Asian, Inc., Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley, Project Sentinel and SurePath Financial Solutions, as well as The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

The ForeclosureHelp Center was established in 2009 in response to the foreclosure crisis that heavily impacted our community. In 2012, Housing Trust Silicon Valley assumed the leadership role of the ForeclosureHelpSCC Consortium, and the management and operation of the ForeclosureHelp Center. The Center was operated in partnership with the partners listed above. Nearly 10,000 residents in 3,400 local households have received coordinated foreclosure prevention and housing legal services from the ForeclosureHelp Center.

Foreclosure rates in California and the County of Santa Clara have now fallen to the lowest level since 2005, prior to the start of the looming foreclosure crisis. As a result of the decrease in foreclosure activity and program funding, the ForeclosureHelp Center has ceased operations effective October 27, 2014.
However, on any given day in the County of Santa Clara, there are still nearly 1,200 households who remain in foreclosure or are at the risk of foreclosure. Many of these households are facing complex issues such as prior modification agreements that are expiring.

The new Collaborative will ensure that these households have continued access to the resources they need to preserve their homeownership. Housing Trust Silicon Valley would like to thank its service partners as well as the cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, for funding the project.

REGISTER FOR OUR FREE FORECLOSURE PREVENTION EVENT WITH BANK OF AMERICA ON SEPTEMBER 26, SEPTEMBER 27 AND OCTOBER 2

The Foreclosure Help Consortium, in collaboration with Bank of America, the City of San Jose, and the City of Sunnyvale, is holding a series of special foreclosure prevention sessions on September 26, September 27 and October 2. These sessions will be held at the School of Arts and Culture, 1700 Alum Rock Avenue, San Jose, from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

On each of these dates, representatives from Bank of America will be available to meet with homeowners to determine if they are eligible for mortgage modifications or other preservation solutions. HUD Housing Counselors will be available to provide information and assistance on other programs such as Keep Your Home California and new consumer protections under the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. All services at this Event are free and confidential.

Reserved appointments are strongly recommended. To schedule an appointment or for more information on this event, call ForeclosureHelp at (408) 793-6000 or email help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

JUNE 28 EVENT TO HELP LOCAL HOMEOWNERS AVOID FORECLOSURE

Foreclosure remains a risk for many homeowners in our community. More than 900 homes in Silicon Valley are in foreclosure or in danger of foreclosure.

The Foreclosure Help Consortium, in collaboration with Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, the City of San Jose, and the City of Sunnyvale, is holding a special event on June 28, 2014 at the Willow Glen Community Center, 2175 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose, from 10 am to 4 pm.

Representatives from Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America will be available to meet with homeowners to determine if they are eligible for mortgage modifications or other preservation solutions. HUD Housing Counselors will be available to provide information and assistance on other programs such as Keep Your Home California and new consumer protections under the Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. All services at this Event are free and confidential.

Reserved appointments are available. For more information on the June 28th Event call ForeclosureHelp at (408) 793-6000 or email help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS – FAQS

Based on calls received by Foreclosure Help, many homeowners are still unsure about how the foreclosure process works.

Here are examples of the most common questions being asked, with our answers:

 1. The lender that holds my mortgage has recorded a “Notice of Default” against my property. Does this mean my home is in foreclosure?

 Answer: A Notice of Default is the first step in the formal foreclosure process. Until this notice is recorded, you are not in danger of losing your home even if you are delinquent in your payments. The Notice of Default starts the foreclosure clock running and requires immediate action on your part to prevent the next step in the process, which is the “trustee sale”. You will lose ownership of your home if the trustee sale occurs.

 2. Wasn’t the bank supposed to warn me before starting the foreclosure process.

Answer: The answer is yes. Under the new Consumer Financial Protection federal regulations, a lender or servicer cannot begin the formal foreclosure process until it has attempted to work with you to save your home for at least 120 days. Under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, the lender or servicer was required to work with you for at least 30 days prior to filing the Notice of Default. Under both federal and state rules, the lender or servicer should have given you the contact information for a “Single Point of Contact” so that you would know who to contact to discuss options for saving your home.

3. Once foreclosure begins, how soon will I lose my house if I don’t pay the past due amounts demanded by the lender.

Answer: As a minimum, the lender or loan servicer that initiates foreclosure cannot set a trustee sale date for 90 days after filing the Notice of Default. The sale date must be 21 days after the 90-day period expires. Furthermore, under both state and federal law, the foreclosure process cannot move forward as long as you are negotiating with the lender or servicer to modify the mortgage or find some other “work out” option that would avoid the necessity for you to pay the full arrears.

4. I have been turned down for modifications in the past. Is there any action I can take now that would help save my home?

 Answer: The rules for modification and refi options have been relaxed in the last year to make more homeowners eligible. Also, the Keep Your Home California program has expanded its coverage for financial benefits to reinstate mortgages. Regardless of whether you have been denied in the past, it is worthwhile to have a HUD-Approved housing counselor conduct a free, confidential evaluation of your current eligibility for help under the various government options.

5. I have seen a lot of ads for attorneys and foreclosure specialists who claim they can help. Should I hire one of these groups?

Answer: These profit-motivated groups seldom provide any real help to homeowners. They often make the homeowner’s situation worse by giving a false sense of security while the foreclosure time limits are running out.  They also charge significant fees, usually in advance, even though California law makes it illegal for any attorney or any other person to charge an advance fee for foreclosure prevention services.  If you have paid advance fees for foreclosure services, contact the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at www.santaclara-da.org.  Your best alternative is to work with a HUD-approved counselor, who will never charge you a fee. HUD- approved counselors are highly trained and have access to communication portals and other advantages not available in the profit-making industry.  For referral to a HUD-approved counselor, contact the Foreclosure Help Center at 408-293-6000 or send email to help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS CONTINUING PROBLEMS WITH MORTGAGE SERVICERS, LEADING TO UNNECESSARY FORECLOSURES

In a new report released May 20, the California Reinvestment Coalition documents mistakes and deficiencies in the performance of mortgage servicers. These failures cause unwarranted foreclosures, particularly in the “hardest hit” communities which feature low income households and those with limited English proficiency.

http://calreinvest.org/news/new-report-finds-ongoing-servicer-mistakes-push-homeowners-to-foreclosure

KEEP YOUR HOME CALIFORNIA REALLY WORKED FOR THIS HOMEOWNER

Keep Your Home California is a program that makes financial payments to help eligible California homeowners avoid foreclosure.

One homeowner was recently helped by Surepath Financial Solutions, one of the Foreclosure Help agency partners. This San Jose homeowner fell behind in her property tax payments after a long period of unemployment. When her lender learned about the property tax arrears, it paid the taxes and then sought to collect the arrears from her. The lender began the formal foreclosure process when the homeowner could not afford to pay the arrears. Meanwhile, the homeowner had found new employment, but without intervention from Keep Your Home California to pay the arrears, she would have lost her home to foreclosure.

Surepath submitted a Keep Your Home California benefit request under the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program on behalf of the homeowner. This program, known as MRAP, provides a one-time payment of up to $25,000 to homeowners who are at least two payments behind on their mortgages but who can demonstrate current financial stability. In this case, MRAP paid all of the property tax arrears. With this help, the homeowner was able to maintain her current mortgage payments, and reached agreement with the lender to handle future property tax payments.

Not every homeowner facing foreclosure will qualify for Keep Your Home California benefits, but the Foreclosure Help Center can refer homeowners to counselors who will assess individual eligibility and make applications for benefits if appropriate.

ARE LENDERS AND SERVICERS USING JUDICIAL FORECLOSURE TO AVOID THE HOMEOWNER BILL OF RIGHTS?

According to a recent article in the Housing Wire, the answer is “yes”!  Traditionally, non-judicial foreclosure has been the approach preferred by California lenders and servicers.  This approach eliminates court oversight of the process, and restricts the rights of homeowners to assert defenses to the foreclosure.  However, abuses of this process by lenders and servicers produced the California Homeowner Bill of Rights.  This law imposed limitations and protections on this process to eliminate dual tracking, robo-signing, and other abuses.

According to this article, seeking to foreclose through judicial foreclosure which utilizes a legal action filed in the state court, eliminates the protections and procedural requirements now in place for non-judicial foreclosure under the HBOR.  To read the full article, see,

Despite the predictions in this article, our Foreclosure Help Center in Santa Clara County has not seen evidence of this trend.  Also, the new federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Regulations offer similar protections to homeowners regardless of whether judicial or nonjudicial foreclosure is utilized.  To read the Housing Wire article, see:http://www.housingwire.com/articles/29663-in-california-a-reversal-of-foreclosure-fortunes

DISTRICT ATTORNEY PURSUES SCAMMERS WHO ARE COLLECTING ILLEGAL LOAN MODIFICATION FEES

California law prohibits any person or company from collecting advance fees to help negotiate mortgage loan modifications.  This law, California Civil Code Section 2944.7, applies to realtors and attorneys. Despite this law, homeowners are still paying thousands of dollars to these scam artists who collect and then fail to perform or even disappear.  The lender or servicer holding the mortgage is proceeding with foreclosure, while the homeowner assumes the scam artists are protecting them.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney has actively pursued these law breakers.  Two recent cases brought by the DA’s Real Estate Fraud Unit illustrate the harm caused by these illegal practices.

In one case, the co-owners of M & R Contemporary Solutions, pled guilty to theft and foreclosure fraud charges related to a phony scheme that bilked approximately 400 mainly Hispanic homeowners of close to $2 million over a one year period.  Homeowners paid fees in the range of $3000 to $10,000 based on promises to save their homes, only to receive no help.

In another case, real estate agent Michael Mendoza was charged with six separate counts of collecting illegal fees and using unlicensed agents.  He and his company advertised widely, particularly on Spanish language radio and television stations throughout the Bay Area.

Even though the California law prohibiting advance fees has been in place since 2009, the Foreclosure Help Center continues to receive calls from homeowners who have already paid these illegal fees.

NEVER PAY AN ADVANCE FEE FOR MORTGAGE MODIFICATION OR FORECLOSURE PREVENTION.

Free counseling from a HUD-approved agency is available through the Foreclosure Help Center.  Call the Center at 408-293-6000.

If you have paid an illegal advance fee, you can follow up with the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at www.santaclara-da.org.

 

 

 

Foreclosure rates in Silicon Valley are not dramatically better than those in other Northern California areas.

Silicon Valley has an image as an economic powerhouse, with high levels of employment and increasing home values. However, the foreclosure rate for the metropolitan area that encompasses Silicon Valley is not noticeably lower than the rates for other areas considered to be hard hit by the foreclosure crisis. A report just released by the Foreclosure-Response organization provides the foreclosure rates for all 366 U.S. Metropolitan areas as of September 2013. Full report. The current foreclosure rate for the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara Metro area is 2.3%, which is the same rate calculated for the SF-Oakland Metro area.  The Silicon Valley rate is just below the 2.4% rate for Chico, the 2.5% rate for Bakersfield and the 2.7% rate for Sacramento. The rate for Modesto is 3% and Stockton is 3.1%. None of the rates in these hard hit areas are dramatically higher than Silicon Valley.

The report also measured the improvement in the “serious delinquency” rate since the height of the foreclosure crisis in 2009. Serious delinquency is defined as 90 or more days delinquent. The improvement in the delinquency rate in Silicon Valley is actually less than the improvement in other metro areas. The San Jose Metro area serious delinquency rate in December 2009 was 7.8%. It is now 4%. In contrast, the serious delinquency rate for Stockton dropped from 18.5% to 6.1%. In the Modesto Metro area, the delinquency rate fell from 17.3 to 5.8%. As is true in the comparative foreclosure rates, the current delinquency rates in all three of these areas are now similar, contrasting with the sharply higher delinquency rates for these other areas in 2009.