What's new in mortgage foreclosure defense


Attorney Tom Olsen: Colonel, over the last few years I know that you've done a lot of mortgage foreclosure defense. What's going on in that industry these days?

Attorney Colonel Airth: Well, unfortunately as we go along and further into it, there are more and more appellate court cases coming out. And unfortunately it seems to me like the appellate courts are almost always ruling in favor of the banks and the mortgage companies and against the individuals. Which I think is unfortunate. It seems as though they bend over backwards to find ways to enter a judgment so that people end up losing their houses. And without much help the industry started off with the idea that they were going to work with people, help them modify, go through the financial situations, recognize the fact that the individuals, property owners, did not cause this problem that came along. 

The problem was caused by the banks and the mortgage company. They inflated prices, they talk people into taking second mortgages, they talk people into re-financing. The "get half the money out of the house". A house they claim is worth $300,000 and then suddenly over two, three months time it's only worth $100,000. And they however want you to pay all the money that was promised and they don't want to work you. Meanwhile, the government of course bailed them all out so they're still in business, and still healthy, and still going. But the poor individuals who are in the house, they're kind of stuck. 

And in defending them you get a lot, I feel good about the fact that I’ve helped a lot of people. Number one, sometimes you can't help people. The situation is that they're un-helpable if you will, and so you ease them out. So instead of having a panic and having to leave in a month or two you help them extend the process so that you can at least try the methods to modify and change the situation and get the principal reduced occasionally. Get the interest rate reduced, get the term extended, go from 30 years to 40 years. But the end of result often times was a mortgage payment that used to be $1800 and is now $900. And so it's affordable and they can stay in and you work those kind of things out. 

But mortgage companies often times were not very helpful and often times too you weren't actually dealing with a mortgage company. You're dealing with a servicing company and often times that servicing company will change. A couple of years ago it was just, often time, that the poor people would come in and they would have submitted their financial paperwork three or four times. The servicing company claimed that they didn't get it, so your lawyers had to get involved. And they didn't charge them a lot of money, it does cost money, but not a lot of money in my opinion. By helping out and making sure you have records of delivering things and getting confirmations that they were delivered you finally work through those kind of things. 

But you still have difficulty with the mortgage companies not helping people out like they say they would -- the letters that were sent out, the form letters that said they would. So it's difficult but I got a lot of satisfaction because I’ve helped a lot of people. And then another thing you do too, mortgage companies being kind of peculiar in my opinion, one thing you have to think about -- when I start a case like that, when somebody comes in I tell them, "Listen, the first thing you have to know is that the mortgage companies don't act rationally. They don't make any sense, they don't make any economic sense. They say they're going to help you but in fact they will not. So you have to force them to. But the bottom line is, whatever you think about, the first thing you have to think is 'They're not going to respond in a reasonable economic fashion.' It's as though they don't care if you're losing your home and they don't care that they're losing money. They will not work with you to make things better." 

So with that premise you start off by defending the case, you raise some issues with them, it causes them to lose time. But then at the end of the day - and this is happening seemingly more and more - may have not now that I have resolved, they got a sale date five months waive, which means they get to stay there five more months. And at the end of the day when they move out they have to leave the house broom-clean which means there's nothing in there. Of course you can't trash it, you have to be careful, that the cabinets are still there and the sinks are still there. But at the end of the day they're going to pay them $3,500. So not only did they - have they been there now for 19 months - they're going to be there for another five months and then the bank is going to pay them $3,500.