Mr. Black settled a lawsuit in Bankruptcy Court last month that he had filed on behalf of a client against a major mortgage servicer, i.e. what many people call their “mortgage company.” The allegations were that the mortgage company had paid property taxes that were to have been paid in the client’s chapter 13 plan, and instead attempted to collect the taxes directly from the debtor. This is a violation of the “automatic stay” that protects debtors in bankruptcy from being collected upon for so-called “pre-petition” debts.
As part of the settlement, the mortgage company gave the client a HAMP loan modification, which let her include quite a bit of delinquent property taxes and mortgage payments into her loan, reducing her interest rate to 2% for 5 years, thereafter slowly increasing to 4.5% for the rest of the loan; extending the term of her mortgage by an additional 480 months, or 40 years, and thereby drastically lowering her monthly mortgage payments. The mortgage company also agreed to pay Mr. Black’s fees, and agreed not to charge the debtor any additional fees or costs. The client was very satisfied with the settlement.
If you believe that your servicer is doing something improper with your loan, call or make an appointment to go see Mr. Black.
If you are having trouble making your payments, contact your loan servicer to discuss your options as early as you can. The longer you wait to call, the fewer options you will have.
Many loan servicers are expanding the options available to borrowers – it’s worth calling your servicer even if your request has been turned down before. Servicers are getting lots of calls: Be patient, and be persistent if you don’t reach your servicer on the first try.
You may qualify for a loan modification under the Making Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) if:
- your home is your primary residence;
- you owe less than $729,750 on your first mortgage;
- you got your mortgage before January 1, 2009;
- your payment on your first mortgage (including principal, interest, taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association dues, if applicable) is more than 31 percent of your current gross income;
- and you can’t afford your mortgage payment because of a financial hardship, like a job loss or medical bills.
For more information, see www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/modification_eligibility.html
Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined.
A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken.
Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.
Get (sort of) rich (sort of) quick
Need to make some extra cash? You probably won’t get rich with these money-generating ideas, but you can take the results to the bank (even if it’s only your piggy bank):
• Sell photos to stock photo websites. Stock photography sites offer generic photos of landscapes, animals, and other nonspecific subjects to designers and publishers. Go through your travel photos or your pictures of Fluffy and Fido and then check out sites like istockphoto.com and shutterstock.com.
• Sell your books. Go through your bookshelves. Are you hanging on to your old college textbooks? Are you really going to read A Tale of Two Cities ever again? You can sell books online or at any local second-hand bookshop.
• Sign up for consumer focus groups. Corporations and nonprofits doing market research need opinions from regular people. Make yourself available for focus groups, and you could earn $50 to $100 or so for an hour or two of sharing your thoughts and reactions to ideas.
• Sell your unused gift cards. Maybe you have a gift card from a store that doesn’t have any outlets in your area. Selling it online can help someone else and can add money to your pocket that you wouldn’t see otherwise. ■
A LITTLE HUMOR – AGGIE EDITION
Three Texans go down to Mexico one night and get drunk and wake up in jail. They found out that they are to be executed for their crimes but none of them can remember what they have done.
The first one is strapped in the electric chair and is asked if he has any last words. He says, “I am from the Baylor School of Divinity and I believe in the almighty power of God to intervene on behalf of the innocent.” They throw the switch and nothing happens, so they figure God must not want this guy to die, and they let him go.
The second one is strapped in and gives his last words. “I am from the University of Texas School of Law and I believe in the eternal power of Justice to intervene on the part of the innocent.” The switch is thrown and again nothing happens. They figure that the law is on this guy’s side and let him go.
The last one is strapped in and says, “Well, I’m a Texas Aggie Electrical Engineer, and I’ll tell you right now, you’ll never electrocute anybody if you don’t connect those two wires.”
CALL US IF YOU NEED US. WE ALSO WELCOME REFERRALS —
Are bill collectors threatening to take your home or garnish your wages? Are they threatening to do anything else that they are not allowed to by law?
Is your mortgage company charging you fees and costs that are not due? Are you just overwhelmed with debt?
Facing a foreclosure or repossession? Is the I.R.S. threatening to levy your wages or other property? If any of these situations describes you, contact Mr. Black at 713-772-8037 or make an appointment to go see him. ■
ARE YOU IN CHAPTER 13 NOW? Always keep the law office updated with your current address, telephone numbers, and email address. We may need to reach you quickly.
You can check on the status of your Trustee payments, how much you still owe on your case, etc., by going to www.13datacenter.com to set up your user ID and password. Lose job or overtime? Expenses increase? Want to give up property to lower payments? Go to www.jthomasblack.com , click on “ C urrent C lients C lick Here” on home page, and fill out the Motion to Modify worksheet. Fax to office at 713-772-5058. We’ll review it and contact you if a change to your plan is possible.
J. Thomas Black was licensed as an attorney in Texas by the Texas Supreme C ourt in May, 1982. Mr. Black is Board C ertified in C onsumer Bankruptcy law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
August 2010 Client Bulletin – Houston, We Have A Heatwave!