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Hale Andrew Antico: How can I modify my home loans

It's the Law

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:00 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

If there is any one question I get over and over again, it is people stuck in an unaffordable mortgage asking me how to force Big Mortgage Company, Inc. to change their home loan to something they can afford.

People sometimes tell how they paid money to someone to contact their mortgage company. Why not just do that yourself? It's the friend of a friend; they have an attorney who is good at this kind of stuff. (When I ask if they've every spoken to the lawyer on the phone, they answer, "Um, not really.")

There are many greedy people out there who prey on the desperation and hopes of people who fear losing their unaffordable homes. The Web site of California's Attorney General has many news alerts of crooks who scam people. With regard to hiring people for your mortgage, be extremely careful. The cold, hard truth is: No one can force two consenting parties who signed a contract to change it.

What can bankruptcy laws do to help with your mortgages? Currently, in some situations, there is a way a second mortgage can be stripped as a lien from your home in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (that's the "pay some debt back" kind).

This can save you from paying the second during the next sixty months while you're in the bankruptcy.

There is no way to reduce your first mortgage. Right now, in Congress, there's a bill that will allow people to cram the balance of their first mortgage down to the value of their home. However, it's stuck in the Senate, so maybe Senators Boxer and Feinstein need to hear from you about S. 61, the "mortgage cramdown" bill. However, if and until it passes, there is nothing I can do about the first mortgage. We can only remove the second, and only in some situations.

The bottom line is: there is no magic solution to your mortgage problem. Even the Chapter 13 bankruptcy will require some hard work, commitment and sacrifice. Your best bet is persistence in contacting and applying for the loan modification from your lender yourself. And, contact our senators about how you need the relief from S.61.

You can track the movement of S.61 and "mortgage cramdown" by visiting our Web site

Hale Antico is an attorney who specializes in consumer debt. He can be reached at (661) 252-9900. "It's The Law" appears Fridays and rotates between members of the Santa Clarita Valley Bar Association. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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