Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shuster & Saben Sues Strategic Recovery and Vantium Capital

Shuster & Saben, LLC, filed suit in Brevard County against Strategic Recovery Group, a division of Texas based Vantium Capital. This lawsuit was filed on behalf of Brevard County homeowner who the firm is defending in a foreclosure action. Prior to retaining the Shuster & Saben, the client filed a Chapter 7 (liquidation bankruptcy) and obtained a discharge of his personal obligation on Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) on his home. At the time our client filed bankruptcy, the HELOC Mortgage was held by Wilshire Bank. According of documents received by the firm, despite the fact that our clients debt was discharged in bankruptcy and the fact that our clients home is worth $50,000 less than the loan balance on his first mortgage, Wilshire sold the loan to Bank of America, who retained Strategic Recovery to attempt to collect on the debt.

The client initially retained the Melbourne office of Shuster & Saben to defend a first mortgage filed against his home by CitiMortage. The client brought us a letter he received from Strategic Recovery because he was concerned as why Strategic was seeking to collect a discharged debt. Our firm commenced an investigation to confirm that the original creditor was notified of the bankruptcy and sent Strategic Recovery a Qualified Written Request (QWR) pursuant to RESPA, ( Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act ) and request for verification of the debt pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

When we did not receive written confirmation for Strategic Recovery that they were abandoning collection activity suit was filed in Brevard County Court against Vantium Capital, the parent company of Strategic Recovery. The firm continues to defend the foreclosure action filed by first mortgage holder, Citimortage, a separate case that is now over two years old.

To view a redacted copy of the law suit filed against Strategic Recovery please click the link below.

Strategic Recovery Lawsuit

About Shuster & Saben:
Shuster & Saben is a civil litigation firm of seven attorneys that defends foreclosures from four offices located in Miami, Doral, Fort Lauderdale / Plantation, and Melbourne, Florida. We believe the best defense is a good offense. If a lender, loan servicer or bill collector violates the law in their attempt of collect on a debt allegedly owned by our client we will not hesitate to sue the offender and use such suit for leverage to achieve our clients desired resolution. We believe there is a difference between foreclosure delay and foreclosure defense. Click here to find our why we are different or e-mail foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com with your Florida foreclosure questions.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shuster & Saben, LLC publicly thanks Wachovia

It is not every day we stop that we stop to thank a bank. Many banks don’t like us. We shut their foreclosure cases down, and in the last six weeks our firm obtained dismissals in five separate foreclosure actions. When banks or loan servicers call or write our clients, after we tell them not to, we sue them. This week we sued Beneficial-HSBC Group and Strategic Recovery for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). We generally feel that one way to provide our clients with a superior defense is to have a good offense. Of course, we have represented plaintiff consumers against big insurance long before we started litigating against big banking.

From this standpoint, saying thank you to a bank is a little unusual for us. Before our colleagues think we went soft it must be noted that what Wachovia did for our client deserves our thanks, appreciation and praise. Last week our firm accepted, on our clients behalf, Wachovia’s loan modification proposal to reduce the client’s mortgage balance from $229,589.55 to $131,991.03. Wachovia reduced our client’s principal by over by over 40% and saved our client over $97,000.00. Wachovia did NOT have to do this. While Wachovia and their new parent company Wells Fargo did participate in HAMP, this was not a HAMP modification. It was not a modification that Wachovia was obligated to do.

While our client attempted to modify their loan for many months (before seeking our help) and ultimately a foreclosure action was filed against them, Wachovia’s offer was made within 90 days of the filing of suit. Wachovia’s offer will allow a hard working family struggling and saving to get by keep their home. This offer should allow that family to keep their home not for another month or another year, but forever. The press often writes about homeowners who are turned down for loan modification. We have seen firsthand many banks violate HAMP servings guidelines. The loan modification that works and the story of the bank that did much more than the legal minimum to help a hard working, struggling and stress out family is rarely told. Wachovia did right by this family. On this day of Thanksgiving this is one more thing for which I am thankful. To review Shuster & Saben’s acceptance letter and Wells Fargo’s loan modification offer please click the link below.

Shuster & Saben Acceptance of Wachovia Loan Modification with Principal Reduction

If you bank at an “anti-consumer” bank like Bank of America (whose standard policy is to never or almost never waive deficiencies in short sale transactions) let me encourage you to reward Wachovia by moving your account.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shuster & Saben saves another property by obtaining order voiding foreclosure sale, quashing service of process, vacating default and summary judgment.

When a resident of Colorado consulted with firm attorney Richard Shuster, to save his Florida investment triplex, the internet docket showed that the property had already been sold at foreclosure action. Every other lawyer who looked at the case told the property owner that it was to late. The court docket reflected that a process server had served the property owner in Colorado, and that shortly thereafter Deutsche Bank Trust Company through their lawyers, Shapiro & Fishman, had moved for and obtained a default against him. After obtaining the default, Shapiro & Fishman moved for summary judgment, conducted a hearing at which the unrepresented homeowner failed to appear, and obtained a summary judgment and a sale date.

On the date of the foreclosure sale, no bidder bid the amount of the foreclosure judgment and Deutsche Bank was the winning bidder. Six days after the foreclosure auction, the homeowner contacted the firm. Other lawyers had already advised the homeowner that his case was already lost and their was nothing more to be done.

When firm attorney Richard Shuster checked the on-line docket, he noticed that Bank’s lawyers did not serve the homeowner within the 120 days required by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.070(j). Shuster advised the homeowner, that the service of process upon him more than 120 days after suit was field violated the rules but given that the property had already sold at auction it might be to late to do anything. Shuster advised the client: “We won’t take your case unless we are 95% certain that we will be able to void the sale and vacate the default based upon the service of process issue. Please give me one day to do the legal research to find out it if there is anything we can do. If your case is hopeless we will tell you and the research will be free.

The research confirmed Shuster’s hunch that it was not too late. Since the Plaintiff bank bought the house and it was less than 10 days from the date of the auction, the firm could file an objection to title being issued to the bank. The property owner hired the firm as soon as he was advised of the results of the research. The next day Shuster & Saben filed an objection to issuance of title. Thereafter the firm filed a Motion to Quash Service As Untimely, Vacate Default, Vacate Summary Judgment, Cancel/Void Sale and to Dismiss the case.

On October 19, 2010, a hearing was held on the motion before Circuit Judge Charles Holcomb. Shaprio & Fishman, the bank’s lawyers appeared at the hearing by phone but firm attorney Shuster was present in person with all of the legal research and case law to present to the Court. The Court rejected the banks arguments, quashed service, vacated the previously entered default and summary judgment order, and voided the sale. Deutche bank must now start over from scratch and serve the homeowner property. In the interim the firm has commenced its efforts to resolve the case by loan modification.
To review a copy of the actual court order please click the link immediately below.

Order Granting Defendant’s Motion To Quash Service As Untimely, Vacate Default, Vacate Summary Judgment and Cancel/Void Sale.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Shuster & Saben obtains order dismissing foreclosure for lack of prosecution. Firm will now pursue lender to obtain reimbursement of client’s legal expenses

When a Brevard County homeowner visited Shuster & Saben’s Melbourne office, the homeowner explained to firm attorney Richard Shuster, that nothing seemed to be happening in his case. During the homeowner’s Free No-obligation consultation, attorney Shuster looked up the case on the Brevard County Clerk of Court's website. The Court’s online docket showed that the bank’s law firm, Florida Default Law Group, P.L. had not touched the file in over nine months. Shuster’s advice to the client was, Do NOT hire our firm right now. Shuster counseled: “It appears the other side is asleep at the wheel. The best thing you can do right now is to do absolutely nothing, but please come back and see me in late July when it has been a year and a day since the last record activity.”

In late July the homeowner returned to the firm’s Melbourne Foreclosure defense office, and retained the firm. On July 26, 2010 the firm filed a motion to dismiss the case for lack of prosecution. The motion asked the Court to throw out the case because the Plaintiff, Credit Based Asset Servicing and Securitization, LLC had not had any record activity in the case in the year prior to the filing of the motion. Shortly after Shuster & Saben’s motion to dismiss the case was filed, the Plaintiff Credit Based Asset, hired new counsel and the new counsel were substituted for the Florida Default Law group. At a hearing that took place on October 29, 2010, the Plaintiff argued that there was good cause why the case should not be dismissed. The Plaintiff argued that the “good cause” why the case should not be dismissed was that the case was on “loss mitigation hold.” Shuster’s response was that the only loss mitigation undertaken during the year by the Plaintiff was to send the homeowner a generic letter about short sales and deed-in-lieu. Shuster suggest that the fact that the Plaintiff got rid of their original counsel and hired new counsel suggested that the original counsel had dropped the ball.

The Court rejected the Plaintiff’s arguments and granted the homeowner’s motion to dismiss. The Court reserved jurisdiction to award attorneys fees against the Plaintiff/Lender. The firm has already filed a motion for attorney’s fees against the bank. Shuster & Saben’s goal is to make the Plaintiff pay for all of the legal work the firm did in the case. If this goal is accomplished the award of attorney’s from the bank will be used to reimburse our client for his legal expenses. To read a redacted copy of the order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss please click the link below.

Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

About Shuster & Saben: The foreclosure defense lawyers at Shuster & Saben, have offices in Miami, Doral, Plantation/Fort Lauderdale, and Melbourne. We defend homeowners in foreclosure from Miami to Titusville on the east coast, Orange, Seminole, Polk, Collier, and Lee Counties. As this blog post illustrates we do NOT do cookie-cutter foreclosure defense. Shuster & Saben carefully analyses the cases filed against our clients, listens to our clients’ objectives, advises our clients as to their options and on asset protection strategy, creates a plan to achieve the clients goals and then we go to work implementing the plan.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Firm wins Two Foreclosure Cases in 24 Hours

Thanks to the efforts of the Miami and Melbourne offices of Shuster & Saben, two of our clients no longer have foreclosure lawsuits pending against their homes. On Thursday, October 28, 2010, Thomas Willis of the firm’s Miami and Doral offices was in at the Miami-Dade Courthouse for a status conference and docket sounding in a foreclosure case that the firm has defended for nearly two years. The status conference hearing was set on the Court’s own motion and attendance was mandatory for the attorneys for both sides. The bank was represented by a large “foreclose mill” whose lawyer failed to appear. The Court then granted our firm’s oral motion to dismiss the case for the bank's lawyer's failure to attend the Court ordered hearing.

On Friday, October 29, 2010, Richard Shuster of the firm's Melbourne office was in court in Brevard County on a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of the firm’s Cocoa, Florida client. The client came to the firm when his case was approximately a year old. Firm attorney, Richard Shuster, noticed that there had been no activity in the case for over ten months. The firm accepted the case and waited an additional six weeks until there had been a year and a day since the last record activity. Once the bank’s law firm, went over a year without any record activity, Shuster & Saben moved to dismiss the case for lack of prosecution. After our motion was filed the bank discharged their counsel and hired new attorneys. The new attorneys argued that the file should not be dismissed because the case was in a “loss mitigation hold.” The Court rejected these arguments and dismissed the case.

In both of the above cases the firm will now seek attorney’s fees against the bank. If the firm, on behalf of our clients, recovers attorney’s fees from the banks most of the fees recovered will go to our clients to reimburse their legal expenses.

About Shuster & Saben: Shuster & Saben, LLC is a litigation firm that defends foreclosure cases from the firm's four offices located in Miami, Doral, Plantation / Fort Lauderdale, and Melbourne. We believe that going to Court in person (instead of by phone) makes a difference. This is why we have multiple offices and do not take cases in Tampa, Jacksonville, the Panhandle,and other places that are to far to reach from one of our offices. If we can't help you we won't take your case. If you live in an area where we do not practice we can tell you who in your area fights foreclosure cases with skill and passion.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shuster & Saben, LLC settles Wells Fargo Foreclosure Case with 3.125% Loan Modification

Before hiring Shuster & Saben to defend a foreclosure law suit filed against their Brevard County home our Rockeledge, Florida client all but begged Wells Fargo to modify their mortgage. The client completed a HAMP RMA (request for modification) sent Wells Fargo their bank statements and pay stubs and did everything asked of them by Wells Fargo. Ultimately Wells Fargo refused to permanently modify the client's mortgage despite the fact that the client's income qualified under HAMP guidelines. The client ultimately stopped paying their mortgage and continued to submit additional applications for loan modification. While their third application was pending the client received a notice of acceleration and ultimately a foreclosure action was filed against them. After receiving a free, no obligation consultation at the firm’s Melbourne foreclosure defense office, the client hired Shuster & Saben to defend the foreclosure action. After being hired the firm sprung into action by filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the Wells Fargo’s failure to verify the complaint and began an investigation of whether Wells Fargo violated HAMP serving guidelines by failing to modify the loan and by filing suit while a HAMP application was pending. At the first Court skirmish with Wells Fargo’s counsel, firm partner Richard Shuster, won a motion to dismiss and obtained a court order dismissing the foreclosure complaint (with leave for Wells Fargo to file an amended complaint within 20 days). ( Click here to read the Court Order ) Thereafter, Wells Fargo filed an amended complaint that was verified as required the recent amendments to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 1.110(b) which requires foreclosure complaints to be verified.

Shortly thereafter, Wells Fargo, extended a settlement offer wherein our client’s interest rate would be reduced form 6.875% to 3.125%. This modification would lower the client’s monthly mortgage payment from $1,910.47 (principal & interest without escrows) to $1,280.43 (principal & interest without escrows). With the modification our client will be able to keep and afford their home. During the next five years alone our client will save over $37,800 on their mortgage. Our clients case was resolved in under six months and as such their legal expense was a very small fraction of the amount they will save on their mortgage.

To review a copy of the loan modification agreement please click to the link below.

Loan Modification Agreement

About Shuster & Saben: Shuster & Saben is a law firm that understands the difference between Foreclosure Delay and Foreclosure Defense. We listen to our clients to understand their financial circumstances and tailor or defense strategies to achieve the clients goals. For clients that do not know what to do, we evaluate whether in makes financial sense to save their home and craft exit strategies for clients where loan modification is not a viable option. Where the lender bringing the lawsuit does not own the note or have legal standing to foreclosure we seeks the dismissal of the action against our client. We believe that banks are most likely to make offer generous settlements when they are met with a vigorous and through defense. Shuster & Saben is a firm of six lawyers with offices in Miami, Doral, Plantation / Fort Lauderdale, and Melbourne, Florida.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shuster & Saben, LLC sues Provident Funding over Fair Debt Collections, RESPA, and TILA violations.

After a Cocoa, Florida homeowner hired our firm to defend the foreclosure filed against his home, we told him that the calls and letters he was receiving from the loan servicer, Provident Funding, L.P., would stop. To make certain the harassment of our client ceased we sent a written request pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collections Practices Act (FCCPA) to Provident asking them to cease all communications with our client. Our letter to Provident Funding also contained a request for disclosure of the owner of the note and mortgage. Provident Funding is the loan servicer on our client's mortgage. A loan servicer is business that collects mortgage payments on loans that it does not own. Provident, on behalf of its client had brought a foreclosure action against our client, the homeowner.

In Provident Funding’s lawsuit Provident failed to identify their client, the phantom owner of the note. Our letter to Provident included a Qualified Written Request (QWR) under RESPA (the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) and recent amendments to TILA (Trust in Lending Act) for the identity of the owner of the note. To view a copy of our letter click the link below.

Letter to Provident

On September 2, 2010, our client called and advised that Provident Funding had placed a note on his door step stating the note was “in connection with an attempt to collect a debt.” The note was not in an envelope and was left in a conspicuous place in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. To add insult to injury, not only had Provident illegally communicated with our client after receiving notice not to, Provident also failed to divulge the identity of the owner of the note and mortgage. We told our client that our retaliation against Provident would be swift and severe. Less than 48 hours after receiving a faxed copy of the note Provident left on our client’s door step we filed suit on behalf of the client against Provident Funding. Provident is now a Defendant in a lawsuit seeking damages for violations or the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act, RESPA, and TILA. These statutes each provide for recovery of our client’s actual damages together with up to $1,000 of statutory damages (per statute violated). Our client’s law suit against Provident is a separate matter before a different judge than Provident’s foreclosure lawsuit against our client. While our firm continues to vigorously defend the foreclosure action we will seek to recover appropriate damages for our client in the FCCPA/RESPA case. Under FCCPA and RESPA if a loan servicer violates the statute the servicer must pay the consumer’s attorneys fees. As such 100% of the damages we recover will go to our client. To view a redacted copy of the lawsuit filed against Provident Funding please click the link below.

Lawsuit against Provident

About Shuster & Saben, LLC. The foreclosure defense lawyers at Shuster & Saben defend foreclosures from Miami to Melbourne on the east coast, and in Orange, Collier, and Lee Counties. The firm has six attorneys and offices in Miami, Doral, Plantation, and Melbourne. Lawyers from the firm are available for consultation in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Bonita Springs, and Orlando. At Shuster & Saben, experienced litigators vigorously defend every case and integrate asset protection, counter claims, and offensive lawsuits, to seek justice for distressed homeowners.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Shuster & Saben obtains dismissal of Foreclosure case due to Lender’s Failure to Verify Complaint.

The Melbourne office of Shuster & Saben obtained a dismissal of a Brevard County foreclosure complaint based upon the Plaintiff’s failure to verify the complaint. On February 11, 2010, the Florida Supreme Court’s amendments to Rule 1.110(b) became effective. This new rule requires that in foreclosure cases involving residential real property in Florida the Plaintiff/Bank must Verify the compliant. The pertinent part of the new rules sets froth:

“When filing an action for foreclosure of a mortgage on residential real property the complaint shall be verified. When verification of a document is required, the document filed shall include an oath, affirmation, or the following statement: ‘Under penalty of perjury, I declare that I have read the foregoing, and the facts alleged therein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.”

When the firm’s Palm Bay foreclosure client was served with the compliant, they brought the all of the documents they received to the firm’s Melbourne office for a free consultation. The compliant was not titled as a “verified complaint” and no verification was include with the documents the client received. During the consultation we checked the Brevard County clerk of Court on-line docket and confirmed that the lender’s attorney failed to comply with Rule 1.110(b) and had not verified the complaint. The firm moved to dismiss the case in April and on June 8, 2010 a hearing was held on the motion. In the hearing counsel for the lender argued the rule was not final when the foreclosure complaint was filed. The Court held that rule became final prior to date of the hearing and granted the motion to dismiss with leave to amend. A redacted copy of the order can be viewed using the link below.

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss

The Foreclosure defense attorneys at Shuster & Saben have offices in Miami, Doral, Plantation / Fort Lauderdale, and Melbourne. We are also available for consultation in Boca Ration, West Palm Beach, Naples, Bonita Springs, and Orlando. Homeowners who had foreclosure cases failed against them after February 11, 2010 that were not verified can e-mail foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com with any additional question or leave a comment on this blog page.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shuster & Saben Obtains Wavier of Deficiency for Orlando Real Estate Investors

Shuster & Saben has successfully saved resolved an Orange County foreclosure case filed against our Orlando clients. In the case our clients owed more than $100,000 more than their investment condominium was worth. Both of our clients signed the note, were professionally employed, and faced the real possibility of the lender obtaining a deficiency judgment and seeking to garnish the husband or wife’s wages. If our firm had not successfully resolved the case our clients faced the real possibility of having to file bankruptcy.

The first time the case was set for summary judgment at the Orange County courthouse firm attorney Richard Shsuter, traveled from our Melbourne office and successfully thwarted the lender’s attempt to obtain summary judgment. On the day before the deposition of the bank’s representative a settlement was reached wherein the lender agreed to waive all claims for deficiency judgment. A copy of the stipulation to waive the deficiency can be viewed by viewed by clicking the link below. A deficiency judgment is a judgment for the difference between the amount owned on the mortgage note and the amount the lender obtains for the property.

To view a copy of the stipulation for wavier of deficiency please click the link below:

Stipulation for Waiver of Deficiency

Shuster & Saben offers a comprehensive approach to foreclosure defense that integrates asset protection guidance with aggressive foreclosure defense by experienced litigation attorneys. Where appropriate we refer our clients to other professionals such as C.P.A.s to mitigate tax consequences of shorts sales and deed in lieu of foreclosure transactions. For high net worth individuals we also work with financial planners and to place client funds into assets that are protected from the claims of potential creditors. From the firm’s four offices in Miami, Doral, Plantation and Melbourne we defend homeowners in foreclosure in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St, Lucie, Indian River, Brevard and Orange Counties. For more information about our firm please visit us at www.attorneyforeclosuredefense.com

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Deposition Transcript taken by firm attorney goes “Viral” on the internet.

A deposition of taken by firm attorney Richard Shuster in a mortgage foreclosure case has gone viral on the internet. A redacted copy of the transcript (with out clients personal information and case number removed) of the deposition of Krystal Hall was provided by Shuster to fellow members of NACA (National Association of Consumer Advocates) who defend foreclosure cases. One member of NACA sent the transcript of the Wall Street Journal who spoke to Mr. Shuster about the case. Another member posted the transcript on www.scribd.com and it has since been reposted on five other websites. The transcript has now been viewed over one thousand times.

Both legal aid and private foreclosure defense lawyers have utilized the transcript to defend foreclosure cases in Ohio, Michigan, Texas, California, and other states.

The deposition was taken in a case where Krystal Hall signed an assignment of Mortgage from First Franklin (the original lender) to Bank of America, N.A as trustee for a securitized trust. Above Kystal Hall's name on the assignment was the words “First Franklin a Division of Nat. City Bank” and below her signature were the words "By Krystal Hall Asst Secretary for Assignments." In the deposition, Ms. Hall testified that she NEVER worked for First Franklin or any other bank. Her employer was Security Connections a company the processes paperwork for mortgage lenders. Hall testified that she regularly signed 400 assignments of mortgage a day which equates to one assignment ever one minute and twelve seconds. Before executing the assignments she does not fact check to independently confirm the information in the assignment is accurate or true. Hall asserted that even though she is not employed by First Franklin her conduct was authorized by an alleged corporate resolution authorizing over twenty Security Connections employees to sign on First Franklin’s behalf.

Our firm believes that the representation on the assignment that Krystal Hall was an officer of First Franklin was misleading at best and was at worst a fraud on the Court. The firm’s goal is obtain dismissal of this case and others where Ms. Hall signed documents on First Franklin’s behalf. A copy of the deposition of Krystal Hall can be found at the following websites:

http:// www.scribd.com /doc/29177122/Full-Deposition-of-Krystal-Hall-Security-Connections-Inc-400-Assignments-of-Mortgage-a-Day





Or our blog readers can download it directly by clicking this link to the transcript.

Shuster & Saben is a law firm that aggressively defends foreclosure cases by taking depositions like the one of Krystal Hall and compelling production of appropriate documents. We practice foreclosure defense NOT foreclosure delay. Our goal is to obtain the dismissal of foreclosure lawsuit filed against our client, protect our clients assets and where possible and financially prudent reach settlements to save our clients homes. We defend foreclosures in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Naples, Ft. Myers, West Palm Beach, Stuart, Port St. Luice, Fort Pierce, Vero, and Melbourne and Orlando. Homeowners seeking a foreclosure defense by experienced litigators can call (321) 622-5040 or 877-511-STAY or visit us online at www.attorneyforeclosurdefense.com.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Firm stops summary judgment in Orlando Foreclosure Case

Orange County Court

Shuster & Saben partner, Richard Shuster, traveled from the firm’s Melbourne office to the Orange County court house earlier this week to defeat a lender’s effort to obtain summary judgment in a foreclosure case filed against our Orlando client’s condominium. The Court never reached the substantive issues (the merits of the case) because lender’s attorney made procedural errors. The lender lacked affidavits to verify documents they wished to use prove their case. When the lender wished to file the original note at the hearing our objections were sustained by the Court.

The Court followed the controlling case law that requires such documents to be filed twenty-one days before the hearing. Once our objections were sustained the Court stopped the hearing. We believe that it is unfair to file the original note at the summary judgment hearing because it deprives our client of a chance to come to the court house at his leisure and review the court file to see if the document filed really is the original note.

At a future hearing if and when the lender’s attorney corrects their procedural errors we will have an opportunity to defend on the substantive law and merits of the case. In this case our goal is to obtain a dismissal because we believe the Plaintiff financial institution that sued our client lacks standing.

Shuster & Saben is a law firm that defends foreclosures from Miami to Melbourne on the east coast, in Collier and Lee County on the west coast and in Orange and Seminole Counties. If you have a question about summary judgments in foreclosure cases we can be reached at 877-511-STAY or E-mail foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Loan Aid Leaves Some Worse Off

In a May 18, 2010, article the Wall Street Journal reports how many homeowners who participated in HAMP “Obama Plan” loan modifications are worse off after the experience. The story reports that one in four participants in the program gets dropped.
Back on January 24, 2010 in the blog post titled “Is HAMP one big Scam?” this blog explained that while HAMP was conceived by the government with good intentions many banks are tricking homeowners into making additional payments under HAMP trial plans and then denying permanent modifications.

The Wall Street Journal told the story of how Mia Parry bought a home in Phoenix in 2005 for $535,000 which would sell for around $250,000. Parry first requested a modification from a unit of Citigroup Inc., the servicer of her two mortgage loans, in June 2008.

Ms. Parry's application was turned down in late 2008, but President Obama's announcement of HAMP in February 2009 rekindled her hopes. Ms. Parry decided to keep making payments on her loans because she expected to qualify for this new program.

According to the Journal Citigroup started Parry on a HAMP trial in June 2009, and she made three payments. Then Citigroup told her there had been a mistake and she would need to go through another three-month trial.

At the end of that second trial, Ms. Parry said, Citigroup told her the investor that owned her first mortgage wasn't participating in HAMP, so she couldn't get a modification under that plan. During her trial period, Citigroup charged her more than $1,300 of "late charges" and "delinquency expenses," she said.”

Clearly, Citi knew or should have known whether the “investor’ was participating in HAMP. It is just too convenient that Ms. Parry apparently does not know who the “investor” is and Citi apparently is telling her the investor apparently without naming names so that she could confirm whether the statement in accurate. An argument can be made that since Citi participates in HAMP and received billions of TARP money and emergency aid from the government to keep it afloat, Citi must participate in HAMP on those loans it services.

Any homeowner who contemplates starting a trial modification should get the first and last name of the person they communicate with and confirm their oral communications by E-mail. If a homeowner is going to make three trial payments the bank should agree that if all three payments are made on a timely basis then the modification will be made permanent. If the bank makes an oral promise to this effect the homeowner should confirm the promise by E-mail or fax. If the bank will not make this promise the homeowner should refuse to send the trial payment and obtain legal representation.

The foreclosure attorneys in the Dade, Broward, and Brevard offices of Shuster & Saben are defending many homeowners in foreclosure where lenders are servicers broke their promises of giving permanent loan modification. We have also sued banks that promised modifications, took our client's money, and broke their promises. If you have a HAMP horror story we want to hear about it. If you are a Florida homeowner that is not in a county we serve we (currently we defend foreclosures in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Orange, Collier and Lee Counties) we will be happy to refer you to a talented attorney in your area.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Three Rules For Defeating the Bank's Motion For Summary Judgment in Foreclosure Cases

One of the attorneys in our Miami office watched a sole practitioner foreclosure defense attorney ( at attorney who is NOT associated with this firm) go down in flames on a summary judgment hearing before a Miami judge. As a civil litigation firm that successfully handled well over one thousand summary judgment hearings in general civil and insurance cases, I wanted to explain for other foreclosure lawyers and for homeowners some important pointers for successfully defending a lender’s motion for summary judgment in a foreclosure case.

Rule One: Always Bring a Court Reporter: In most (but by no means all) foreclosure cases if the bank wins their summary judgment motion then the bank wins their case and the Court will set a sale date in 30 to 90 days. A foreclosure defense lawyer should consider the bank’s motion for summary judgment to be equivalent of a trial. If the motion is lost, the homeowner is unlikely to get a second chance. Since the summary judgment is a critical part of the case it is ESSENTIAL that the homeowner’s attorney bring a court reporter to the hearing. By having a court reporter there is a record of the proceedings. If the judge makes an erroneous ruling either by disregarding applicable case law (controlling legal precedent) or disregarding evidence or lack of evidence then the homeowner will need a record of what happened in order to appeal the judge’s ruling.

Some judges do not like presiding over foreclosure cases. Some judges feel that if the homeowner did not pay the mortgage then the bank should win. One judge in Southwest Florida even commented to the press that the rapid processing of foreclosure cases was necessary so that real estate prices would stabilize. If there is no court reporter at the hearing the judge can rule against the homeowner and know that the homeowner will be unable to appeal. If a court reporter is present the judge knows that if he or she does not follow the law the judge may be reversed on appeal by a higher appellate Court. Most judges hate being reversed on an appeal. For a judge, being reversed means a higher Court writes an appellate order saying the judge made a mistake. Rulings of Florida’s appellate Courts are published in the Florida Law Weekly and Florida Law Weekly Supplement which is mailed to every Court in the state and sent by subscription to most Florida law firms.

Rule Two: Prepare: A lawyer can’t wing a summary judgment hearing. Meticulous preparation is required. The attorney should review the lender’s motion for summary judgment, analyze the case law cited in the motion, prepare a counter argument, anticipate the bank’s lawyer’s counter-attacks, and bring to Court three copies of each case they cite in opposition to the lender’s motion.

Rule Three: Do not waive objections: In the hearing where a Miami sole practitioner lost the case, the lawyer asked the Court to continue the summary judgment hearing because the bank had not provided discovery responses. Florida appellate courts have consistently held that summary judgment motions should not be heard until discovery is complete. The Court refused the continue the summary judgment. The judge rejected the last minute oral request for a continuance and explained the homeowners lawyer that if the bank did not provide discovery responses then the homeowner’s lawyer should have filed a motion to compel. The judge also felt that a motion for continuance should have been in writing and served long before the summary judgment hearing. If the homeowners lawyer was counting on a continuance perhaps he did not prepare as hard for the hearing. The solo should have reviewed their file when they received the motion for summary judgment and prepared a motion to compel if discovery was still outstanding.

I often wonder whether the foreclosure lawyers who change a “one time fixed fee” are able to spend adequate time to prepare and argue motions to compel. When clients go to the cheapest foreclosure lawyer, does that lawyer plan to bring a court reporter to the summary judgment hearing or even attend the hearing themselves. When homeowners interview prospective lawyers for foreclosure defense the homeowner should inquire about how the firm defends summary judgments and whether the price they are paying will include having a court reporter at the hearing.

The foreclosure lawyers in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Melbourne offices of Shuster & Saben, begin preparing for summary judgment the moment we open the file. Our discovery is planned and drafted for the purpose of defeating the lender’s motion for summary judgment and winning cases for our clients. When lender’s do not provide the discovery we ask for we follow through with motion to compel. Most homeowners cannot successfully defeat summary judgment without an attorney. When hiring counsel the homeowner should act as soon as possible so that their lawyer has time to conduct discovery prior to the summary judgment hearing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Firm Saves Another Homeowner

Shuster & Saben has saved yet another Miami Homeowner from Foreclosure. On July 31, 2009, our firm appeared on behalf of a South Florida homeowner who had failed to serve an answer to the lender Deutche Banks’ complaint for foreclosure. Prior to our firm being retained the lender obtained a default against our client and an order granting the lender’s motion for summary judgment. By the time our firm was retained the Court had already entered a final judgment of foreclosure and set a sale date.

Our client advised that she was unaware of the foreclosure action against her until she consulted a Realtor about a short sale of the property only to find out from the Realtor that the Court had entered an final judgment of foreclosure and had set a judicial sale date for mid August. Immediately after our firm was hired we prepared a verified (notarized) affidavit to quash service of process. The affidavit set forth the testimony of the homeowner that she was never served. After the lender’s counsel, David Stern, P.A. failed to refute our client’s affidavit with record evidence., the Court granted our motion to quash service, vacated the summary judgment and canceled the judicial sale. The lender will now have to start the case over again from the beginning by properly serving the homeowner. This time our client will have an aggressive legal defense. As of the today, our client has still yet to be served.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shuster & Saben help Lee County client resolve foreclosure with successful short sale

After listing their Lee County property for short sale, our Bonita Spring clients received an rather unpleasant surprise from their lender, Chase Home Finance. The surprise came after a knock on the door when a process server shoved a summons and foreclosure lawsuit in their hands. The clients thought that since they were communicating with the bank the bank would not begin foreclosure proceedings. After the client spoke to their Realtor and financial adviser, they knew learned that banks often file foreclosure actions against homes listed for short sale. Banks take such actions to speed up the closing of their files. The bank’s strategy is to pursue the option (foreclosure or short sale) that will minimize their losses and close their file the quickest. The client, their Realtor and their adviser understood that by hiring a foreclosure lawyer to defend the foreclosure case they would have far more time to complete the short sale because they would avoid being defaulted by the lender’s attorney. They also understood that when a foreclosure cases is defended the costs for the bank increases greatly which makes the foreclosure option much less attractive to the bank than the short sale option.

Within thee days of being hired, the foreclosure lawyers at Shuster & Saben filed and answer and affirmative defenses on behalf of the client and sent out some twenty pages of discovery requests. Our firm also let the bank’s lawyer know that the client was attempting to sell the house in a short sale. The bank’s lawyer was also advised when the client received an offer. The client appreciated that while our firm handles many Lee County cases from our West Broward office, the firm is available to meet prospective Collier and Lee County clients in Naples or at our Bonita Srings consultation location at 28089 Vanderbilt Drive, Bonita Springs.

Less than three months from the date our firm was hired our client completed the short sale. The client had the benefit of having all of their short sale documents reviewed by the firm. Our client’s cost for defense of the case was under $1,500.00. Had the client ignored the foreclosure lawsuit and been defaulted the client would have been at risk for a deficiency judgment. Due to our client’s foresight the short sale was completed and the lawsuit filed against our client has been dismissed. Click the link below to review a copy of the Notice of Dismissal and Discharge of Lis Pendens.

Lee County Foreclosure Notice of Dismissal.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Firm asks Court to thow out Bank of America suit after bank contacts firm client

Shuster & Saben Moves for Dismissal and Sanctions after BAC Home Loans (also known as Bank of America) makes direct contact with client:

One of the things almost every lawyer holds sacred is that if a person is represented by an attorney and the lawyer for the other side or the other side itself wants to talk to the represented person about the legal matter the lawyer or party must speak to the represented party’s attorney and not directly to represented party. In car accident cases when an insurance adjuster hears that an accident victim has retained counsel the conversation usually stops in mid sentence because a Florida insurance adjuster can be disciplined or even lose their license for speaking to a person who the adjuster knows is represented by counsel.

Perhaps BAC Home Loans thought it was above the law when it contacted a client of this firm after the Brevard County client retained Shuster & Saben Foreclosure Attorneys to defend the foreclosure action filed against their Space Coast home.

When our firm was retained we filed a notice of appearance and served a copy on Kass, Shuler, Solomon, Spector, Foyle and Singer, the law firm representing BAC Home Loans. The notice of appearance set forth that this firm objected to any exparte communication with our client and instructed BAC to “cease and desist all communications with this firm’s client.” Since some lawyers do not bother to carefully read notices of appearances we also wrote a letter Bank of America’s lawyer, Edward Pritchard telling him to “instruct the servicer to cease all communication with the Defendant.”

To see our notice of appearance click here.

To see our letter to Bank of America’s lawyer click here.

To make absolutely certain that our client would not be bothered by the lender we even sent a copy of the letter we sent to Bank of America’s lawyer directly to the loan servicer.

To our surprise six months later our client called us to advise that he received a settlement offer (loan modification offer) directly from Bank of America. The offer included a tiny reduction of the monthly loan payment but required our client to waive valuable legal rights and defenses he had to the foreclosure action. In our opinion putting such waivers into a loan modification is a violation of HAMP loan servicing guidelines.

Our firm has filed a motion with the Court requesting that the Court dismiss BAC Home Loans lawsuit with prejudice as a punishment for Bank of America’s underhanded and unethical action. A hearing will be held on this motion in late May.

To See a Copy of our motion click here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Homeowner gets free house when Florida Judge throws out lender's case

Pasco county Florida resident, Ernest Harpster will be getting a “free house” based upon the ruling of Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper. In an order dated March 25, 2010, Judge Tepper dismissed with prejudice the foreclosure lawsuit that was filed against Mr. Harpster by US Bank National Association as trustee for a securitized mortgage trust.

The judge’s ruling followed a hearing that was scheduled to be commenced at 3:00 p.m. According to the Court order, the law firm for the Bank of America, David Stern, P.A. failed to appear either in person or by phone for the hearing. The matters that were scheduled to be heard were a Motion to Compel Responses to Interrogatories and Request for Production; Amended Motions in Limine regarding the Promissory Note and a Second Motion in Limine/Motion to Strike based on an allegation of fraud on the court; and finally a Motion for Rehearing."

The Court found that U.S. Bank’s counsel failed to produce answers to interrogatories (written questions to be answered under oath) for an astounding twenty-six (26) months.

The Defendant's Motion in Limine/Motion to Strike was based on an allegation that the Assignment of Mortgage was created after the filing of the lawsuit, but the document date and date the document was notarized were purposely backdated by the Plaintiff to a date prior the filing of this foreclosure action.

The attorney for the homeowner discovered this apparent fraud because the assignment was allegedly signed and notarized on December 5, 2007. The notary’s stamp designating when the notary’s license expired had a May 19, 2012 expiration date. Since Notary licenses are only good for four years, a notary license that expires on May 19, 2012 would have been issued four years earlier on Mary 19, 2008. As such the notary license would not have been issued and did not exist on December 5, 2007 when the assignment was alleged to have been executed.

According to the Court order, the notary who notarized the “back-dated” document was Terry Rice. Homeowners and their attorneys who have pending foreclosure cases should be on the lookout for other assignments and affidavits by Terry Rice which might be forged, fraudulent, or back-dated.

The court specifically found “that the purported Assignment did not exist at the time of filing of this action; that the purported Assignment was subsequently created and the execution date and notarial date were fraudulently backdated, in a purposeful intentional effort to mislead the Defendant and this Court.”

Judge Tepper ruled “The Plaintiff's complaint is dismissed with prejudice, based on the fraud intentionally perpetrated upon the Court by the Plaintiff. This Court has the power to dismiss a case a showing of a commission of fraud on the Court by a party.” She further ruled that “The Defendant shall go henceforth without day” which means that the Plaintiff, U.S. Bank will not recovery any money and will note be able to re-file the lawsuit. Judge Tepper also ruled that U.S. Bank will have to pay the homeowner’s attorney’s fees.

Our law firm did not participate in this case. Usually I only write about cases our firm was involved in. This case is discussed so that the public becomes aware of the underhanded tactics some banks and some lawyers are using to wrongfully foreclosure on Floridians’ homes. Unfortunately, Judge Tepper’s order did not include the name of the homeowner’s lawyer whose work was extraordinary. (Update we have since leaned that the homeowners lawyer was Tampa attorney Ralph Fisher) This case illustrates what a tremendous difference a talented litigator can make. Some lawyers practice “foreclosure delay” and think that filing a motion for extension of time is sufficient to defend a foreclosure case. At our firm, we listen to our clients to determine their objectives and design a strategy unique to their case and goals. Then we put that plan into action. When we defeat lender motions for summary judgment it is not by accident, rather it is because through discovery requests, depositions, and motions to compel we have obtained the evidence needed defeat the lender’s motion.

If you believe that an assignment of mortgage in your cases was fabricated or back-dated we will review the assignment on a complementary basis. If the assignment is dated after the date the foreclosure lawsuit was filed against you, the lawsuit should be dismissed. To Homeowners with questions about this blog can contact the author at foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com. To view a complete copy of the Court's order as a PDF / Adobe Acrobat document click here

For more information about Shuster & Saben's defense of homeowners in foreclosure in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Orange, and Volusia counties please visit www.attorneyforeclosuredefense.com

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shuster & Saben Obtains Deed In Lieu Offer for Fort Myers Client

What a difference one month and hiring a lawyer can make.

Before retaining counsel our client pleaded with his loan servicer, Bank of America, to modify the mortgage on his Fort Myers condominium. Our client requested a loan modification because he has lost his job when new construction in Lee County, Florida came to a halt. BAC Home Loan Servicing, LP told our client that because he had no current income he did not meet the income requirements for a HAMP modification and declined his request for modification of his loan. Prior to our firm being retained the lender did not offer deed in lieu to the homeowner and ultimately filed a foreclosure action against him.

After diligently searching the websites of over a dozen foreclosure law firms the client selected Shuster & Saben to defend his foreclosure case. Our client explained that reading the why we are different section of our firm's website lead him to call our office. Less than three business days after being retained our firm filed an answer on the client's behalf and served an additional twenty-one pages of discovery requests and correspondence.

Our client’s goal was to avoid a deficiency judgment and to move to another part of the country where his employment prospects were better. To achieve our client’s objective, we advised the bank's lawyer in a letter sent with the answer that if they would waive deficiency judgment our client would agree to a without recourse deed in lieu of foreclosure.

Less than thirty days later we received an offer for deed in lieu of foreclosure that offered our client:
(a) No recourse… The lender would agree to waive the entire loan balance in exchange for possession of and title to the condominium.
(b) Moving expenses of up to 2% of the outstanding loan balance. This will provide our client with approximately $5,000.00 for moving expenses.
(c) BAC Home Loans will allocate up to $8,500.00 to pay liens on the property for condominium maintenance and property taxes.

The offer to our client was received less than a month after our answer was filed. To view a copy of the offer (with our client’s name removed for privacy reasons) click here.

Shuster & Saben has offices in Melbourne, Plantation, Doral, and Miami, Florida. The firm is also available for consultation only in Bonita Springs, Florida, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Stuart, Florida. Shuster & Saben handles foreclosure cases in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, and Orange Counties.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Firm Attorneys Attend Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Seminar

Firm attorney Richard Shuster traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to attend the National Associations of Consumer Advocates (NACA) annual seminar on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The seminar was attended by leading consumer protection attorneys from across the United States. Richard Shuster is a member of NACA.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act is a federal law that protects consumers from unfair or harassing collections practices. This law regulates the conduct of third party bill collectors including mortgage loan servicers and law firms that file foreclosure actions against homeowners. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act a loan servicer (such as Litton Loan Servicing) must comply with a consumers request that the servicer stop calling the consumer and conduct all future communications in writing. A consumer may also demand that a servicer or bill collector not call their cell phone or work number.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, bill collectors and mortgage loan servicers are prohibited from communicating with debtors when the bill collector or loan servicer knows that the debtor is represented by an attorney. If a loan servicer calls a homeowner after receiving a request to cease communications or after receiving notice that the homeowner has retained an attorney, the homeowner is entitled to statutory damages of up to $1,000.00 and actual damages.

In the near future our law firm will be filing additional lawsuits under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, against loan servicers who continued to call our clients after receiving notices that the homeowners had retained an legal counsel.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


A review of Google searches made by Florida homeowners performing on-line research suggests that there are a significant number of homeowners trying to find out how much it costs to have an attorney defend them in foreclosure litigation. While our firm includes its price in its website ($495.00 per month on loans under $500,000) it appears that most law firms do not include their prices in their websites. To help homeowners make informed decisions about the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend themselves and their home in a foreclosure case, it is necessary to discuss the four most common pricing models among law firms that defend foreclosure cases. The four most common models are: Fixed Fee, Hourly, Monthly, and Hybrid.


ADVANTAGE: The Homeowner Pays One time.
DISADVANTAGE: Lawyer has little incentive to work on the case. Arrangement may put lawyer’s interest of obtaining reasonable hourly rate in conflict with client’s goals.
CAUTION: Look our for hidden fees.

When a lawyer represents homeowners on a fixed fee basis all the money the lawyer will ever receive is in the lawyers hands on day one. Working harder on the case or spending more time on the file will not benefit the firm’s bottom line. If the lawyer charges $2,400 for a fixed fee defense and usually changes $300.00 per hour, then you can divide the cost of the defense by the hourly rate to figure out how many hours the lawyer expects to spend on the case. Will the lawyer who is hired on a fixed fee basis take a deposition or file a motion to compel better answers to a request for production of documents, if doing so only increases the amount of work the lawyer has to do and the duration of the case? Will the lawyer hired on a fixed fee basis attend mediation and summary judgment hearings on the client’s behalf. Some lawyers who accept foreclosure cases on a fixed fee basis only intend to file an answer and discovery requests. If a fixed fee representation is being considered the homeowner should be frank with the prospective lawyer during the initial interview. The client and lawyer should be on the same page as to what is included in the fixed fee and whether the lawyer contemplates attending mediation and summary judgment hearings.

ADVANTAGE: Lawyer has a financial incentive to work on the case
DISADVANTAGES: Lawyer has a financial inventive to work on the case. Fees may vary widely from month to month.

It is hard for consumers to evaluate how much time various legal tasks require. The lawyer may have incentive to perform work because it is billable rather than crucial to advancing the case. The amount of each bill may vary greatly depending amount of time spent by the lawyer.


ADVANTAGES: Fees are the same every month. Lawyer has a financial incentive to work on the case.
DISADVANTAGE: Penalizes lawyer for rapid resolution of case.

For a homeowner seeking to stay in their home for as long as possible, monthly fees will align the interest of the lawyer and the client. For a owner of a vacant investment property monthly fees with a cap on total months or a bonus for a quick resolution can modify a monthly fee arrangement to make it work for all parties. With monthly fees the fee is always the same so there are no surprises for the client. Monthly fees make foreclosure defense affordable for many consumers who lack sufficient cash for a one time up front fee, and can’t afford high hourly fees.


A hybrid fee arrangement combines two or more of the above models. For instance a firm might change hourly with a monthly cap on the total fee. Some firms also include a reverse contingency where the firm receives a bonus in the event the firm is able to obtain a reduction of the loan balance or interest rate. Under a reverse contingency the firm is paid a portion of the savings the client receives as a result of the representation.

UPDATE (May 2012):  This blog post has now been read over 2,000 times!  When evaluating the cost of a specific law firm homeowners should not ignore a firm's results and choose a lawyer on price alone.  A cheap foreclosure defense lawyer who does a bad job will most likely costs more than an expensive foreclosure lawyer who does a good job.  When our firm firm wins foreclosure cases we file motions against the bank to recover attorney's fees for the benefit of our clients.  Firms that win cases and recover fees from the the bank can substantially decrease a client's legal expenses.  For more information on recovering fees from banks see our blog post The Robin Hood Law Firm

UPDATE 2 (July 2013):  New Post about BAIT & SWITCH pricing strategies being used by some law firms.  To read the post click here.

UPDATE 3 (January 2015):  This post has now been read over 5,000 times!  In 2014 we set a firm and Brevard County record for attorney fee recoveries from banks, and retuned tens of thousands of dollars to our clients by winning their foreclosure cases, recovering attorney's fees from the banks that lost the cases, and returning money from such recoveries to our clients.

Consumers with questions about the cost for Shuster & Saben to defend a foreclosure case in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, or Brevard County can e-mail foreclosuredefeneselaw@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ten Months and Two Weeks Later ... Still Perfect in Naples

In early March 2009 an upside down Naples homeowner contacted our law firm in search of litigator willing to take on lenders like Fifth Third Bank and Deuthsche Bank in Collier County. The homeowner was close friends with a prominent Naples real estate investor who had hired one or two local lawyers to defend foreclosures with mixed results. It was the perception of the homeowner and his investor friend that some lawyers who dabble in foreclosure do not fight the cases but merely move for an extension of time. The investor perception was that in the past he paid for “foreclosure defense” but what he received was merely “foreclosure delay.”

When I heard the homeowners plight, I advised him that for one case it might not be practical for our firm to take cases in Naples but if there were others we would consider it. I always enjoyed going to Naples to visit my wife’s relatives and taking foreclosure cases in Naples would be another excuse to visit Michelbob’s Ribs. On March 11, 2009, I met with the upside down homeowner, his friend the real estate investor, a local realtor, and local mortgage broker and another distressed homeowner. By the end of the day, we had committed to defend five cases, with total mortgages of 2.7 Million dollars (two of the properties had loan balances in excess of $700,000). Since this trip we been blessed with additional referrals from the original Naples clients.

In my first interview with a prospective Naples client the client had many frank questions. “Why should I hire a law firm with offices in Miami and West Broward to litigate a case in Collier County?” she asked. I explained that for our firm to litigate in Naples is not an impediment as the lenders' lawyers usually have to travel from Tampa or Fort Lauderdale. While I could not comment as to the quality of the representation she would receive from local counsel, I let her know that the representation we would provide would be through and effective and that we would keep her in the loop by scanning and E-mailing her the copies of the pleadings we filed on her behalf. Further, she would not see knee-jerk motions for extension of time. Our way of doing things would be to sit down, assess her situation, and develop a strategy with her to achieve her objectives based on her financial position and the strengths and weaknesses of her case.

After ten and half months none of our Naples clients have lost their home to foreclosure. One of the clients (the one who asked all the questions) had a successful no-recourse short sale. The rest of the clients are still living in their homes. Our firm has since grown from two offices (Miami and Plantation / West Broward) to three offices when the firm opened its third office in Melbourne. Hopefully the firm will be able to add a full time office in Southwest Florida later this year. For More Information about Shuster & Saben please visit our website www.attorneyforeclosuredefense.com.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is HAMP one big Scam?

Yesterday, CNN published an article about Home Affordable Modification Program otherwise know as HAMP and the Obama Plan Modification. The article is titled “450,000 At Risk In Foreclosure-Prevention Program.” If you have not read the article here is a link to the story. I was suspicious of the banks participating in HAMP before the article was published. Too many times I our law firm has heard from homeowners who had stopped making mortgage payments and were contacted by their lenders about a HAMP modification. The homeowners were promised that is they made three (3) trial payments they would be approved for a HAMP loan modification that would reduce their mortgage payments. The homeowner would be told that if they made the three trial payments and submitted the requested paperwork (usually pay stubs and tax returns) they would receive a loan modification, the amount of which would be determined during the 90 day trial period. Many of the homeowners contacting our firm for help made the three trial payments only to be told that they did not qualify for a modification or that their documentation was incomplete.

After reading CNN’s article, I am beginning to feel that HAMP is just a scam perpetrated by lenders against homeowners. The statistics reported by CNN show that less than 10% of the homeowners who have participated in HAMP received a permanent modification. Specifically, CNN reports that while 787,200 homeowners are in trial modifications but only 66,500 people have received permanent adjustments.

A bank-loving lobbyist might speculate that the reason for so few modifications is a failure by the homeowners to make their three trial payments on time. Such speculation would be WRONG as the Treasury Department confirmed to CNN that three-quarters of the homeowners in trial modifications are making their three trial payments on time.

My suggestion for Florida homeowners that are not in foreclosure and are considering a HAMP modification is get everything in writing. If a homeowner who has not paid their mortgage in several months is called about HAMP, the homeowner should request written confirmation that if they make three timely trial payments they will receive a permanent modification. The amount of the permanent modification should also be provided before the first payment is made. After the first payment is made and the documents are submitted, the homeowner should call to confirm receipt of the documents and confirm that no additional documents are needed. If a bank representative orally confirms that no additional documents are needed such confirmation should be reduced to writing in the form of an E-mail or letter to bank confirming the conversation. By confirming that the lender or servicer does not need any additional documents the homeowner takes away the lender’s ability to call after receiving 3 payments and only to tell the homeowner that they must start over because one form was incomplete or missing a signature or comma.

For homeowners who already in foreclosure any loan modification should occur as part of a written settlement agreement reviewed by the homeowner’s legal counsel. Before the homeowner pays one thin dime, the homeowner must know what performance on their part will result in the dismissal of the bank’s case and the amount of interest rate and loan balance reduction they will receive in return for their resumption of monthly mortgage payments.

Homeowners who made three HAMP payments and did not receive a permanent modification should consult a licensed attorney to evaluate if the homeowner has a claim for either fraudulent inducement or breach of contract. Our firm is litigating against Litton and Bank of America for breaching a loan modification agreement. Homeowners with further questions about this issue my inquire by e-mail to foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com