The decision of hiring of a law firm is an important one. With that in mind, Bilu & Bilu will ask you the following queries as to the level of service you are currently receiving as your own representative or from potential future legal counsel:
Q. Can I do this myself? Why should I pay someone else to do it for me?
Yes, you can prepare your own financials, your loan modification package & negotiate with your mortgage company all on your own. Just as some people act as their own real estate agents, accountants or lawyers. Everyone's skills, talents, knowledge and comfort level is different. However, some important information you may not be aware of is that the lender's representatives will employ intimidation tactics when speaking directly to a borrower that they would never employ when speaking to an attorney or law firm representative. For example, one tactic that lenders will employ when a borrower is negotiating for him or herself is to tell the borrower that they are 'wasting their time' applying for a loan modification while they are current on their payments. This is one of the most overused lines in the collection process and it is a myth. While virtually 100% of my clientele have been told this information by their lender prior to hiring our firm, not one lender has admitted to our firm that they employ those tactics. This is just one example of why the old saying goes 'A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.' If you have attempted to negotiate a loss mitigation solution on your own behalf unsuccessfully, please know that it is not at all a reflection of you nor of your ability. Your lender never intended to give you a fair shot in the first place and that is precisely why legal representation is needed to obtain any meaningful solution from a lender.
We are well aware that some well meaning Government Officials recommends doing this on your own, that you don't need to pay someone to do this for you. We fully cover this issue in the Loss Mitigation section as well. How many financial transactions are as important to the average person as their home? Much like in any important matter, having the proper guidance and representation can make all the difference in the world. It can save you time, trouble and money and ultimately, your home. The individuals that are suffering the longest are unfortunately those trying to accomplish these tasks on their own. Again, almost 100% of our clientele have already tried themselves and failed due to no fault of their own. Don’t blame yourself if you have tried to modify or obtain short sale approval unsuccessfully, call us for more information.
Q. Why does it seem like a lot of Modification Companies are located in California, Nevada and Florida?
It is actually quite natural since Florida is one off the states with the highest foreclosure rates. Bilu & Bilu was founded out of a desire to help homeowners in all states, but many, if not most transactions are completely done over the telephone, faxes and emails, and since it is quite easy to assist and help homeowners of other States we decided to offer our help nationwide.
Q. How long does it take to complete a file from start to finish?
Total hours it takes to work each file from start to finish is approximately 25 hours to 60 hours. You can expect that the whole process should take a minimum of 3-6 calendar months, yet this varies depending on the lender and the loan involved.
Q. Is it legal to collect a fee up front?
It is legal for a licensed attorney/law firm to collect an upfront fee or retainer. All states vary who may collect a fee up front, if any, and it depends if the Homeowner is current or late on their mortgage payments. But many states now prohibit by law the collecting of a fee up front from a Homeowner that is 31 days late on their mortgage payment and that Loan Modification Companies may only charge for work that is completed. These laws exist to protect Homeowners because many fly-by-night companies were opening without the proper experience, licensing and ethics and people were not seeing results after they already paid up front. We're equally appalled by any instances of this and will help you seek recourse.
Q. I'm already having financial difficulty, I need you to help me but how can I afford to pay your fee?
Many people ask this question. If you are current on your mortgage, we strongly suggest that you do everything you can to remain current. No one from Bilu & Bilu or any of our affiliates will ever suggest that you stop making your mortgage payment. We always believe in "doing the right thing", regardless of the scenario, and the right thing to do is that if you can afford to make your mortgage payment on time, that you do so. However, if you find that you are falling behind and there is nothing that you can to remain current, we're here to help and we have found that there are actually 2 positive things that come out of this.
First, because of the amount of families falling behind on their payments, the system is overloaded. Many Lenders have adopted the position that it is best to help those in need the most first. This means that if you're late on your payments, it's more than likely that a Lender will review your case before someone that is current. Second, when you've fallen behind on your payments we have found that most people just stop making their mortgage payments. Sometimes this produces the needed money to afford to pay a Processional to help you with your loan modification.
Q. That brings up a good question. Will my Lender work with me if I am current on my mortgage payment?
The most difficult thing about this whole loan modification business is that there are no concrete, set guidelines. This varies from lender to lender and situation to situation. For instance, while you may be presently current, there may be an impending hardship such as you have received a layoff notice, or your rate will be adjusting upward soon. It just varies and until we find out your particular situation it's difficult to give you a firmer answer. But we have seen many cases where someone was current and able to get a loan modification.
Q. My mortgage was a stated income or no-doc loan. I'm concerned about the income that I claimed originally could cause me problems now. If my lender asks for tax returns for the last several years now to verify my income, should I be concerned if there's a discrepancy from what I originally claimed was my income and my tax returns show otherwise?
In our experience there is no reason for concern here. From all the evidence that we have this has not been an issue. Remember, the Banks, Lenders and Mortgage Companies and their aggressive Loan Officers were equally guilty in all of these no-doc and stated income loans. It appears that no one wants to open up that can of worms! No one is concerned about the past, only the future and everyone just wants to do what is necessary to fix this huge national problem and move forward. However, should this issue arise, we would be happy to assist you in finding proper legal counsel to handle a matter such as that.
Q. Will my Lender require a good faith payment upfront?
It varies from Lender to Lender and case to case. Not always but often, if someone is several months behind on mortgage payments Lenders will require a good faith payment. We always advise Clients that if you have, or you think you will be ceasing to pay your mortgage payment altogether, do not spend this money! Save it because your Lender may require 1 month or several months’ worth of payments, depending on how far behind you are, to show good faith on your part as part of the negotiated loan modification. If you're many months behind, often a forbearance agreement is the best option whereby the amount in arrears is tacked on to the back of the mortgage or a separate agreement is drawn up where you make additional payments to catch up. Previous Clients often prefer and choose payments be added to the back of the mortgage. Clients have a difficult enough time making the regular new mortgage payments without having the added stress of additional payments to catch up at the same time. Forbearance is an option to be evaluated like any other term in a modification agreement.
Q. What is Loan Modification?
A Loan Modification is a process of negotiating with your lender to obtain a better interest rate, a longer amortization term (e.g. 40 year instead of 30 year) and although not as common as some modification companies claim, in some instances, a principal reduction. As mentioned, they are not as common but they do indeed happen where the bank actually writes down some of the principal amount. A Loan Modification is a permanent change in one or more of the terms of a loan which will reduce your monthly mortgage payment that you can now afford allowing you and your family to stay in your home. In many cases a home owner in need of mortgage help will qualify for a loan modification if the following are met:
There has been some sort of hardship that has occurred that is the cause of you not being able to meet your monthly mortgage obligation.
There is the desire to remain in the home.
It can be demonstrated that once your loan is modified and your payments are lower, that you will have sufficient income each month to afford the new mortgage payment.
Q. How Does It Work?
A Bilu & Bilu Consultant will review the alternatives available to allow you to keep your home. The key to avoiding foreclosure is your taking action and your honest communication! Only through open candid communication with our Consultants can we fully help you to stay in you home. For Homeowners having difficulties affording their mortgage payment, there are generally 5 options:
1. MODIFICATION: In certain circumstances, an investor may allow us to add the delinquent amount to your loan balance or temporarily, or permanently, reduce the interest rate. They may give you a "step-rate" in which they lower your rate and gradually raise your rate. And although not as common as many companies claim, they may agree to reduce your principle amount to assist in making your future mortgage payments more affordable.
2. FOREBEARANCE: A forbearance plan is an agreement made between a mortgage lender and delinquent borrower in which the lender agrees not to exercise its legal right to foreclose on a mortgage and the borrower agrees to a payment plan that will, over a certain time period, bring the borrower current on his or her payments. That can include adding on any delinquent mortgage amount to the back of the loan or a separate agreement to allow for payments to catch up on the delinquent amount. A Professional will negotiate what's best for you with your Lender.
3. PRE-FORECLOSURE SALE: Bilu & Bilu frequently works with homeowners who have experienced some legitimate hardship and can no longer afford their home. The decision to sell your home under these circumstances is difficult; in addition, fluctuation in real estate markets may leave you in a situation where you have little or no equity. If this is the case we may be able to assist in the sale of your home.
4. DEED IN LIEU OF FORECLOSURE: In the event you can no longer afford your home and you can not go through the marketing efforts or foreclosure, you may voluntarily request to return the property to the investor. If a deed in lieu is approved (after proving an extreme hardship to your lender), you hand over the deed to the house to your lender and you walk away from it. This will show negatively on your credit report but it is not as devastating as a foreclosure would be.
5. A SHORT SALE: A Short Sale is where you sell your house for less than it is worth. You must prove to your lender that there was a hardship that no longer allows you to afford the mortgage payment and the lender must agree to accept the less than valued sale price.
Q. How do I apply for assistance?
Consult with one of our Attorneys or Loan Modification Specialists about the best possible solution for your individual situation. Call any of the numbers listed below and one of our Specialist will contact you within 24 hours.
Q. How do I qualify for a Short Sale?
A borrower must prove that a hardship exists. The lender must be willing to accept the short sale proceeds as full settlement of the debt. Often it must be proved that you attempted to sell the house at an amount not less than the current mortgage balance.
Q. Can any Real Estate Agent assist me in selling my home in a short sale situation?
Possibly, but usually you have only one shot to succeed in a short sale transaction, it is therefore highly recommended that you work with a company experienced in short sale negotiations that can properly represent you and is specialized in this field. Bilu & Bilu are not licensed Real Estate Brokers but we are affiliated with some of the best companies that we know of and will recommend them to you if this is determined to be the best course of action.
Q. Does my mortgage company want to foreclose on my property and take my house?
Absolutely NOT, but they will. When a mortgage company forecloses on a property, they usually lose money. It is estimated that each house foreclosed on cost a Lender $75,000 in legal and other costs. They lose even more if they are forced to take ownership of the property called (real estate owned) and are unable to sell the house at a Sheriffs Sale. Because of the mortgage companies as well as the investor's likely losses on foreclosed properties, there are many ways to either avoid going into foreclosure or to get out of it.
Unfortunately, you are one of millions having mortgage problems at this time. You're simply another number to your mortgage company and HUD's government workers and they don't have the proper amount of trained staff to handle this huge influx of families with mortgage problems we're experiencing in this country. While it may be encouraging to know that their financial interests lie in keeping you out of foreclosure, you should also realize that mortgage companies are some of the largest owners of real estate in the world. They will foreclose if they are left without a viable alternative that makes financial sense to them. They just need to be convinced that it is less expensive for them to modify your loan than the cost of foreclosing or Holding your property in REO.
Q. Is it too late to save my home if I am currently in foreclosure?
Unless the bank has already taken the house back, it is not too late. We may still be able to help you keep your home. Until that gavel comes down at the sale, and your house is sold, it's never too late.
Q: How many different properties and communities does the law firm service?
BE WARY OF FIRMS THAT SERVICE TOO MANY COMMUNITIES:
Many firms service tens to hundreds of communities across South Florida and beyond. Many of those types of firms tend to wear these lists like badges of honor, and rely solely on their lengthy lists of communities to derive new business. They believe the impressiveness of their client list will convey a feeling of security to your homeowners, but you need to ask yourself what is more beneficial to your community? If the firm has serviced other communities for 15-25 years, your community will be ‘getting in line’ behind the hundreds of other communities when it comes to prioritizing and dispensing emergency advice. At Bilu & Bilu, we have the opposite approach: We specifically CAP the amount of communities we handle at one time to ensure that no homeowner, manager, or association ever has to wait for advice. At no time will your phone calls be ignored, postponed or put at the bottom of a priority list. We always ensure that your community is treated as our highest priority.
Q: Who is your contact at the law firm? What happens when you, as a management company or board member, receive a distress call at 3am with a legal emergency? What do you do?
At Bilu & Bilu, we will make you a promise no other firm in South Florida is currently offering: TWENTY FOUR HOUR LEGAL ADVICE. That’s right, we are not only here to service you from 9 to 5 on Weekdays, we will provide you with our personal Cell Phone Numbers and you will be able to contact us IMMEDIATELY, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, FOR ANY REASON. That’s evenings, weekends, and holidays included. Our philosophy is that if you are on call, then we are on call. And we understand that Board Members and Property Managers are on the front lines, so we don’t ever make you go it alone. We are there for you whenever you need legal advice or services.
Q: How do property management companies stand to benefit from Bilu & Bilu’s advice?
At Bilu & Bilu, we know how difficult and unrewarding the job of a property manager can be. At the same time, we also realize that there is no more important piece of the puzzle to a flourishing community than their property manager. Most property managers are forced to make many decisions on their own, without the assistance of legal counsel. This usually happens due to the fact that attorney time is too expensive, or attorneys are simply unreachable in emergency situations. As our management companies know, we are on your side and know all too well how difficult your job can be. That’s why it is our focus to make our entire office available to you twenty-four/seven. Like we stated earlier, if you are on call, we are on call with you at all times.
Q: Is your law firm assisting your property manager with collections & collections advice?
Our number one priority is customer service, and as part and parcel of that service, there is no more important job than securing your association’s finances. At Bilu & Bilu, we have been in the real estate, condominium, homeowners association, land use and foreclosure business for over ten years combined, and we understand what many others fail to understand: Sometimes action needs to be taken to ensure payment from delinquent homeowners and that decision can be very complicated as many factors are involved in deciding a proper course of action. Our attorneys will conduct a full equity search in public record to confirm whether a foreclosure would be in the best interests of an association. Sometimes foreclosure are unfortunately necessary, but our firm’s experience has made us aware of many other remedies with which to secure payment.