Willingboro Neighborhood Watch

Foreclosure Crisis Information

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Update  is comming!!! Important Information, Resources & Links for Homeowners & Tenants

In May 2008 & January 2009, Willingboro Township sponsored housing forums to address the foreclosure & housing crisis, which is happening in communities all over the country. Representatives from many agencies were on hand to inform the community & assist residents who may be in crisis or in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure. Below is some information & resources that may be of help..

If you become delinquent in your mortgage payments, it is important to contact your lender IMMEDIATELY. They will be more willing to work out a solution to the problem if you call & explain your situation than if you don't call and continue to fall behind in your payments. A lender may grant you a "forbearance" which is the reduction or elimination of your payments for a period of time & put the payments on the back end of your loan.

Other options are persuading the lender to accept a "short sale", where the home is sold and the net proceeds go to the lender as payment in full, even if it is less than the loan amount. You can also turn over the deed in "lieu of foreclosure" and turn the property in to the bank.

Try to avoid foreclosure at all costs-it will seriously affect your credit rating. The foreclosure process starts when the lender files a notice of default with the county clerk. A notice of default usually occurs after an owner has missed 2 or 3 payments. After a notice of default is filed, there are additional attorney fees & costs added on. The lender will be less likely to work with you once this occurs. Some lenders will try to work out a payment plan or allow you to catch up payments during this time, but if you don't adhere to the plan, they will move forward with the forclosure.

The last option is to file for bankruptcy. You would need to consult with a bankruptcy attorney. You may be better off having your house taken in bankruptcy than foreclosure. Your credit will be better because it is easier to get credit after a bankruptcy because future creditors know you can't file another bankruptcy for 8 years from the time you filed Chapter 7 or 6 years from the time you filed Chapter 13.

 

 Resources
The New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance can help you find housing & credit counseling agencies, answer questions you may have, as well as open a formal complaint. The website is www.4consumers@dobi.state.nj.us. The consumer hotline is 1-800-446-7467 or 609-292-7272. Their fax number is 609-777-0508. Their mailing address is NJDOBI, P.O. Box 471, Trenton, NJ 08625-0471.

They have no jurisdiction with federally chartered banks, which usually have the word national or N.A. in the name. For assistance or inquiries regarding these banks, contact:
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Customer Assistance Group, 1301 McKinney St., Suite 3450, Houston, Texas 77010-9050. Their phone number is 1-800-613-6743. The website is www.helpwithmybank.gov

They also have no jurisdiction with federally chartered savings & loan or savings banks. For assistance or inquiries regarding these banks, contact:
Office of Thrift Supervision, Harborside Financial Center, Plaza 5, Suite 1600, Jersey City, NJ 07311. Their phone number is 1-800-842-6929 or 201-413-1000. The website is www.ots.treas.gov

You may want to contact a housing counselor at Consumer Credit & Budget Counseling. The website is www.cc-bc.com or phone 1-888-738-8233 or 609-390-9652.

The Homeownership Preservation Foundation Hotline is at www.njhope.nj.gov or phone 1-888-995-HOPE. They provide various information & assistance on refinance loans and foreclosure prevention counseling.

The New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate is another resource. Their website is www.njpublicadvocate.gov and the phone is 609-826-5070.

TENANTS: You have rights before, during and after the foreclosure process. Foreclosure alone is not grounds for eviction. In general, as long as you pay your rent, respect the peace & quiet of your neighbors, avoid willful or grossly negligent damage to the property and obey the reasonable rules you agreed to in writing, you are protected against eviction with some small exceptions.

The New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate urges you to download "The Rights of Tenants During a Foreclosure" pamphlet at www.state.nj.us/publicadvocate/public/pdf/tenantsforeclosurebrochure.pdf. This brochure is available in Spanish. You may also visit their website at www.njpublicadvocate.gov or phone 609-826-5070.

You may also contact Legal Services of New Jersey for assistance at 1-888-576-5529. Another resource available to tenants is the New Jersey Tenant's Organization at 201-342-3775.

According to the Public Advocate, dozens of complaints are being received by their office that tenants are being informed by real estate agents, attorneys and others acting on behalf of lenders that they must move out because of a foreclosure action. In some cases, tenants are offered "cash for keys" agreements, where they are given money to turn in their keys & move out, but the offer does not mention that they are also free to stay.

The Department of the Public Advocate, The Department of Banking & Insurance, and the NJ Real Estate Commission have issued letters to various organizations and individuals and put them on notice that their actions are illegal. The Department of the Public Advocate would like to hear from you if you have encountered this type of problem. Contact them at 609-826-5070.

WATCH OUT FOR LENDING SCAMS

Credit Repair-Paying a company to "repair" your credit rating will only make you poorer! There are no quick fixes. See an approved credit counselor instead. For little or no fee, an approved credit counselor can help you put together a plan to restore your financial health.

Equity Skimming-A "buyer" approaches you, offering to get you out of financial trouble by promising to pay off your mortgage or give you a sum of money when the property is sold. They may suggest you move quickly and deed your property over to them. They then collect "rent" from you, do not make any mortgage payments, and allow the lender to foreclose. Remember, signing your deed over to someone else does not necessarily relieve you of your loan obligation. DO NOT pay your mortgage payments to someone other than your lender!

DON"T BE A VICTIM-JUST SAY NO-IF IT DOESN"T FEEL RIGHT-IT PROBABLY ISN'T!

Don't be pressured into signing anything no matter what anyone promises you. When in doubt, contact an approved housing/credit counseling agency or an attorney. Have them review & approve any contract you are asked to sign. Do not sign away ownership of your property (quit-claim deed) to anyone without the advice of an attorney.

Don't sign any documents containing blank spaces. Do not sign anything you do not understand. Ask for an explanation or seek the advice of an attorney. Do not let anyone pressure you. Know your rights!

Beware of any home sales contract where you are not formally released from liability for your mortgage. Never make verbal agreements. Get EVERYTHING in writing.

Beware of promises like these:

We will save your credit.
We will pay your first two months payments in your new place.
You will get several thousand dollars back to use any way you want.
We guarantee to find you a buyer in 7 to 14 days.
We will buy your house "as is".
We will help you file bankruptcy to stop this foreclosure.
It may cost you thousands more if your property is sold at public auction.
We will give you $40.00 in free gas.

If you do not speak English as your first language, bring your own translator-do not depend on the "rescue" firm's translator.

Many Thanks to the following organizations for information and resources:

New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance

New Jersey Office of the Public Advocate