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

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