By: Michael Powers
If Bank of America is paying money to steer homeowners away from foreclosure defense attorneys, they must believe that there is some value in doing so. To the consumer seeking assistance with a foreclosure or distressed mortgage, this should be a clear signal that YOU SHOULD consult an attorney regarding a troubled mortgage. These days, there are plenty of legitimate law firms that offer free consultations to distressed homeowners, so what do you have to lose?
So, how do we know that Bank of America is paying good money to steer homeowners away from foreclosure defense attorneys? Well, when you search the internet using a search engine like Google or Bing/Yahoo, the first few listings at the top of the page are “paid” advertising. That is, companies bid for their ads to appear in those top positions in order to increase traffic to their websites and promote their business. So, why does Bank of America often appear in the top position when I search for “foreclosure defense attorneys” on Google?
What Bank of America and other banks don’t want you to know is that many homeowners have legitimate legal defenses that attorneys can raise regarding the loan’s origination, proper transfer of title, etc. These defenses can end up costing the bank more money in legal fees and extend the foreclosure process, especially in judicial foreclosure states. In New Jersey, one such judicial foreclosure state, some estimates show the average time to foreclosure on a home being nearly three years. The banks figure if they can get their hands on a homeowner and offer them something attractive, they will save money in the long run. What homeowners should understand is that banks only make offers that are financially beneficial to them. When you have a foreclosure attorney on your side, a bank changes their cost analysis and would probably be amenable to more meaningful offers.”
Recently, California has taken the lead in consumer protection for distressed homeowners by enacting legislation which forces banks to address any RESPA, TILA, or other violations in the origination of the loan, prior to being able to proceed with a foreclosure. The same piece of legislation also seeks to prohibit the “dual-track” system, a common practice in which lenders lead homeowners into believing that they are being considered for a loan modification while simultaneously moving forward with the foreclosure process. “We are expecting that most other states with follow suit”, added Amos. “All these laws do is hold lenders accountable for their actions and make sure that homeowners are getting a fair shake.”
Bank of America is currently leading the nation amongst large banks for their efforts to combat the mortgage crisis. In the past year, B of A has committed billions of dollars to helping struggling homeowners. In many cases, they have sent unsolicited offers for principal reductions to homeowners in some of the hardest hit areas like CA. While these gestures should be applauded, let us not forget we should never accept a first offer!