Searching for a “Mortgage Modification Attorney Near Me?”
If you’re behind on mortgage payments, you may have received a notice taped to your door with a statement telling you that it’s time to chat with a lawyer about your options.
Robert thought he needed a mortgage modification attorney near him but we were able to negotiate and execute the mortgage modification 200 miles apart
Robert came to me after missing six months of mortgage payments.
He had gotten injured on the job and was forced to take three months of unpaid leave while he recovered. Being unable to work caused him to miss mortgage payments.
Once his injury recovered, he went back to work and was able to resume regular mortgage payments; however, SLS (Specialized Loan Servicing) would not accept partial payments from him and would not let him just catch up on his mortgage.
While he was trying to figure out what to do, he received a Notice of Default taped to his door.
After retaining me, we were able to:
- File for Mediation under the Washington State Foreclosure Fairness Act to stop the foreclosure and prevent SLS from filing the final foreclosure notice (the NOTS)
- Negotiate mortgage modification approval with SLS
SLS requested that he be placed on a 3 month trial period in order to ensure he could make regular monthly mortgage payments.
Robert successfully made it through the three month trial payment plan.
At the end of the three months, SLS finalized the modification with him, brought his account current and removed him from a default status.
Robert’s mortgage payment dropped by $179 per month and his interest rate was lowered from 4.15% to 3.125%.
He was able to keep his home.
What is a mortgage modification?
A mortgage modification (more commonly known as a loan modification) is a negotiated agreement that you make with your mortgage lender.
A mortgage modification lets you resume making regular mortgage payments without having to pay everything you owe at one time.
What is a mortgage modification lawyer or a loan modification lawyer?
There is no such thing as just a mortgage modification lawyer.
Be wary of companies who only offer loan modification support. The best type of attorney to help you is going to be an attorney who is comfortable with ALL aspects of loss mitigation – not just loan modifications.
A good attorney for you will be someone who has negotiated all loss mitigation agreements. For example, short sales, repayment plans, deed in lieu agreements, forbearance plans, AND loan modifications.
Lawyers in this practice area get called different things from time to time:
The best lawyer to help you with your mortgage modification should be well versed in direct negotiation with the lender’s loss mitigation departments
There are many areas of foreclosure defense law that do not directly translate to loan modification work.
While there are many awesome bankruptcy attorneys and foreclosure defense litigators out there, these attorneys aren’t always versed in the actual loss mitigation work required to get a loan modification application through the review process.
If your main goal is to sue your bank or file bankruptcy, then you likely need to hire that kind of attorney.
But if you’re looking to apply for a loan modification with your bank to try and resolve the default and resume mortgage payments in the lowest impact way possible, a litigator or a bankruptcy attorney may not be a great fit for you. They may do this job as a tangential part of their practice but you should be looking for someone who does this as their primary focus.
You need to hire an attorney who has direct experience with your mortgage lender’s loss mitigation department. Each mortgage lender operates slightly differently and you want someone who knows your lender so they can overcome the various obstacles lenders put in place to make the process hard.
Here are some questions that can help you determine if an attorney has actual loss mitigation experience:
- How often are you speaking on the phone with lenders directly?
- Have you compiled a complete loss mitigation application before?
- What are the types of things you review for prior to submitting an application?
- How many different lenders have you worked with before?
- Can you explain the loan modification process from start to finish?
An attorney who has worked with multiple lenders, spends most of their time each week on the phone with the lenders, and can explain to you exactly what the loan modification process looks like, is going to be able to help you.
The best lawyer for you will be able to help you understand your chances for a mortgage modification approval before you apply:
During your consultation, the attorney should discuss the following things with you:
- Your household income and expenses, your original mortgage payment and whether you’re showing enough income to stand a good shot at being approved
- Whether you have been approved for a modification in the past and how that could impact your future chances of approval
- Whether you qualify for any state-run protections against foreclosure like Foreclosure Mediation that could be used to help negotiate approval for your loan modification
- Whether there are any government-backed programs that apply to your loan (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, VA, FHA, or USDA) and how the programs can help you
The best lawyer for you will be able to help you know what all your back-up options are in the event you don’t qualify for a mortgage modification
Since mortgage modification approval happens at your mortgage-lender’s discretion, you need to know what a worst case scenario situation looks like for you and what options will be available in the event you get denied for a loan modification.
Many homeowners make the mistake of hiring someone to help with their modification and then they end up abandoned (shortly before foreclosure) if the mortgage lender refuses to modify.
At the end of your consultation, you should know what will happen to you if a modification is not available to you and what the attorney can do to help you if the modification gets denied.
The best lawyer to help you with your mortgage modification should do more than just help you collect your documents and submit your package
- They should have familiarity with the investor guidelines backing your loan
- The should have familiarity with your specific servicer’s procedures
- They should know how to open escalations with the lender’s supervisory team, submit qualified written requests, and use the regulatory procedures (like CFPB complaints) to hold your lender accountable
- They would know how to present your income and expenses so that your debt to income ratios show up within the approvable ranges
- They should be familiar with the loan modification appeal process in the event you get denied
Do I need to find a lawyer near me to help me with my mortgage modification?
The short answer to this question is: yes and no.
It’s important to retain a mortgage lawyer in the state where you live in order to get the best representation because foreclosure laws are dictated by the state in which you live.
There are some lawyers who are licensed to practice in multiple states but sometimes, the type of representation you get with an out of state lawyer will be less tailored to your specific goals and needs.
A lawyer in your state will:
- Understand the state-specific foreclosure protections that may apply to your situation (like foreclosure mediation!)
- Understand the market issues impacting your home’s equity and selling conditions (this is particularly important if you want to try and sell your home as a last resort option to avoid foreclosure)
- Understand your particular state’s type of foreclosure and the foreclosure timelines at play (some states have judicial foreclosures and others have non-judicial foreclosures and some states have both)
- Being in the same time zone as you. Communication is a huge part of effective foreclosure defense representation. Being able to get in touch with your attorney is a big part of feeling like you hired the right party.
While you should retain a lawyer that is in your state, they do not necessarily have to be in your town
Since state laws are the same regardless of the city or town you live in, it works fine to retain a mortgage lawyer that is in your state, but not specifically in your town.
It can feel weird to hire a lawyer that doesn’t live in the same city as you but for purposes of loss mitigation, it doesn’t matter.
I work with most clients now almost exclusively remotely.
We use email, fax, phone, Zoom and Skype to communicate. If there ends up being an in-person Mediation session, I drive to the session (of course) but most of these sessions are now being held remotely via Zoom and will continue to stay this way.
Loss Mitigation reviews (for loan modifications or short sales etc.) often happen in the same manner, no matter what state you live in
90% of all mortgages are backed by a government investor (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA or USDA). These guidelines are the same across the country and do not change depending on what state you live in.
So, while states govern the actual foreclosure process, what will happen in your loss mitigation review, what you qualify for, and what your mortgage servicer can offer you is determined by the investor on your mortgage not your individual state’s laws.
For example, a Fannie Mae mortgage worked by Mr. Cooper in Oklahoma will have the same guidelines governing a loan modification review as a Fannie Mae mortgage worked by Mr. Cooper in Washington.
So, if your goal is to apply for a loan modification, short sale, deed in lieu or some other type of loss mitigation review – if your attorney is in your state but not necessarily in your town, it’s okay.
Here are some questions to help you determine whether you need a “mortgage modification lawyer near you”
- Can I find a lawyer in my state familiar with state foreclosure procedures?
- Am I able to communicate remotely with my lawyer via fax, phone and email?
- Is the person I’m talking to actually licensed and located in my state somewhere?
- Is the attorney versed in ALL aspects of loss mitigation not just mortgage modifications?
Answering these questions will help you hire the right person.
There are many companies offering to “help” homeowners in foreclosure who are actually scamming people.
One sign that you may be talking to a company that does not actually have your best interests in mind is that they may be located in a different state. This isn’t always the case but it’s something to be aware of.
If you are a homeowner in Washington state and are looking for a foreclosure attorney near you, feel free to give me a call at (425) 654-1674.
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