| Read Time: 5 minutes | Foreclosure

How to Respond to a Foreclosure Summons (Step by Step)

When determining how to respond to a foreclosure summons, your first step should be to avoid panicking. Do not start packing your bags or planning to move in with relatives just yet. The foreclosure process can take several months, and you may have options to avoid foreclosure. That being said, do not ignore the foreclosure summons. We defend the rights of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   What Is a Foreclosure Summons? The foreclosure summons document serves the purpose of informing you that a Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint has been filed against you. You must file an answer to the allegations if you wish to contest the foreclosure. The summons will also state how many days you have to file your response. If you don’t respond within the specified time frame, the foreclosure will occur according to the plan outlined in the complaint.  How to Respond to a Foreclosure Summons Though responding to your foreclosure summons may seem overwhelming, it is not an insurmountable task. Here are the steps you should take to respond to a foreclosure summons.  Step 1: Read the Summons You may be tempted to pretend that you never received the foreclosure summons. You might hide it in a desk drawer or shred it and use it as bedding for your child’s pet hamster. But none of those ideas are going to save your home. Your first step is to read the summons in its entirety. This will give you an understanding of the allegations and the deadlines you need to meet to properly respond to the foreclosure summons.  Step 2: Speak to Foreclosure Lawyer  Speaking to a foreclosure lawyer is the best way to clearly understand the options for your unique situation. The process for responding to a foreclosure summons involves forming a legal argument, filing documents with the court, and following rules of evidence. This can get complicated if you are not familiar with the legal system.  An experienced foreclosure lawyer will know how you should proceed to achieve the best result for your situation and provide peace of mind throughout the process.  Step 3: Decide If You Want to Contest In determining how to respond to a foreclosure summons, you should first decide if you want to contest the allegations. The benefits of contesting the foreclosure are that you could get the foreclosure dismissed and keep your home. At the very least you may get the foreclosure delayed and be able to spend more time in your home. If you have reason to believe that any of the information in the complaint is incorrect or that the plaintiff did not follow the law leading up to the foreclosure, contesting is a valid option.  Step 4: Prepare a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to the Complaint Filling out the Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form tells the court that you were made aware of the pending foreclosure. The form asks a series of questions that provide you with the opportunity to state whether you agree with or disagree with what was stated in the Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint. Note that if you find yourself agreeing with everything in the complaint, you may want to reconsider contesting the foreclosure or seeking legal help. Section C is where you will state any defenses you have to the allegations and supply facts to support those defenses.  Step 5: File the Form with the Court Clerk After you have completed the Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form, you must submit these documents electronically (e-file) with the court clerk in the county where the court case is filed. You may be exempt from e-filing if you are incarcerated and do not have an attorney, lack internet access, have a disability, or are not proficient in the English language. In any of those cases, you will need to fill out an exemption form. To file your documents electronically, you will need to set up an online account for filing with the court.   Step 6: Send a Copy of Your Answer to the Other Parties You must send a copy of your filed Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form to the other parties in the foreclosure lawsuit. If the party has an attorney, that is the best place to send the documents. The appropriate address should be listed under the attorney’s signature on the original foreclosure summons.  The documents can be delivered in a number of ways, including: Hand delivery,  Regular mail,  Third-party postal carrier (FedEx, DHL, UPS, etc), or  Electronically through an approved e-filing service.  If the summons contains the party’s email address, that can also be used. Delivery confirmation is strongly recommended for whatever method is chosen.  Step 7: Prepare for Your First Court Appearance This is a lawsuit, and by contesting the allegations, you are essentially saying that your home should not be foreclosed on and you are willing to go to court to prove why. It is important to gather all relevant documents and any other forms of proof to defend against the complaint allegations. This may include things like your mortgage payment history, loan modification request, and other related documents. Make a list of any questions you would like to ask the judge. Consider any questions that you may be asked by the court and have those answers prepared.  Step 8: Attend Your Court Date Upon filing your Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to the Complaint Form, you should have received a court date and time from the court clerk. This may also arrive as a written notice. If you forget your court date information, contact the court clerk. It is a good idea to arrive at least 30 minutes early for your scheduled time. Sometimes finding the correct room can be a burden, so give yourself extra time.  Bring a copy of the Mortgage Foreclosure Complaint Summons and two copies of your answer form. When your case is called in the courtroom, you will walk up to the judge and...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

Foreclosure Help in Chicago (and Throughout the State of Illinois)

Facing foreclosure? This article lists free resources for you to explore. Still have questions? Vantage Group Legal offers affordable foreclosure help in Chicago, Illinois. Home foreclosure is the process by which you lose legal ownership of your property. Receiving a foreclosure notice can be overwhelming. This process occurs several months after months of missed mortgage payments.  Many Chicago area homeowners are devastated when they receive a foreclosure summons and do not know how to cope with the situation. If no action is taken, the bank can take your home and negatively impact your finances. Though this sounds like a difficult situation to overcome, you may have options to save your home and get foreclosure help in Illinois.  Dealing with a foreclosure in Chicago? We offer affordable legal help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 Foreclosure Resources for Homeowners in Chicago, IL There is foreclosure help in Chicago and the surrounding areas that you can take advantage of to guide you through the process of dealing with your potential foreclosure. Here is a list of some of the available resources to help you keep your home in Illinois. Illinois Housing Development Authority Foreclosure counselors from the Illinois Housing Development Authority are available to provide advice and services to help homeowners. These services include reviewing your mortgage and finances and discussing options to find a solution.  Hope Hotline 1-888-995-HOPE Develop a plan tailored to your unique foreclosure situation. Hope Hotline provides free one-on-one confidential and comprehensive financial and foreclosure prevention education.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s list of housing counselors. A housing counselor can offer independent advice on your mortgage and other financial housing issues.  Illinois Legal Aid Resources that explain the foreclosure process are available from Illinois Legal Aid, along with the necessary paperwork and filing timelines to guide you through the process. There are also helpful videos explaining how foreclosures work and what you can do.  Illinois Hardest Hit Fund Financial assistance is available through the Illinois Hardest Hit Fund for thousands of homeowners who meet eligibility criteria and have experienced at least a 15% income reduction due to qualifying hardships.  Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. A certified homeowner counselor from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc., can help identify foreclosure prevention options and solutions to make your home more affordable. They also offer additional homeowner advice and resources.  Illinois Attorney General At the Illinois Attorney General‘s website, you can learn about the steps you should take when facing a foreclosure, your legal rights and options, and what to beware of. This site also provides access to the attorney general homeowner helpline.  Chicago Urban League The housing and financial empowerment center of the Chicago Urban League is a counseling agency that provides professional assistance for low-to-moderate-income residents. Some of their services include mortgage delinquency and default resolution, pre-purchase counseling, homebuyer education, financial counseling, foreclosure prevention, and more.  Northwest Side Housing Center Certified counselors from the Northwest Side Housing Center work toward improving your housing situation through counseling, education, and advocacy. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment and trying to save your home from foreclosure, they can work with you and your bank to make keeping your home affordable. This organization focuses on residents in Belmont Cragin and the surrounding communities. Partners in Community Building (PICB) PICB’s foreclosure prevention department assists clients who are in imminent default, facing foreclosure, or in post-foreclosure. Help is offered through the various federal government, bank, and investor programs.  How Can an Attorney Provide Foreclosure Help in Chicago? If you would like to keep your home and believe you have a defense to the foreclosure, your best option is to seek help from an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois foreclosure laws. Most defenses are going to require navigating the legal system. Some valid defenses for foreclosure may include: Proper foreclosure procedures were not followed; The party foreclosing on your property cannot prove that it owns your mortgage loan; and The servicer made a serious error with your account.  If you choose to contest the foreclosure, there are several steps that you will need to take within the appropriate time frame.  Complete a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to Complaint This form lets the court know that you have been informed of the foreclosure summons and allows you to contest the information within the summons. You also have the opportunity to state any defenses you may have to the foreclosure and facts to support those defenses. An experienced attorney will ensure that this form is thoroughly completed and that your facts do support your defense.  Submit Documents to the Court Clerk The Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form should be submitted electronically to the court clerk in the county where you are filing the case against your foreclosure. This is usually the county where the property is located. Your attorney will do this on your behalf.  All Parties Are Informed of Your Answer The other parties involved must be made aware of the lawsuit. It is best to send these documents to the party’s attorney if they have one. Having your attorney ensure proper delivery will take this procedural aspect off your shoulders. Documents can be hand-delivered, mailed, sent by a third-party postal carrier, or filed electronically. Prepare for and Attend Court An experienced attorney is necessary to help you prepare for court. It is important to ensure you have all relevant documents and proof to defend against your property foreclosure. This may include all financial and payment history surrounding your home. You and your attorney should also review any potential questions that you may be asked by the judge and bring copies of all relevant documents. The judge and your attorney will direct you on how to proceed once you are in court.  Why Hire a Foreclosure Attorney? A Chicago foreclosure lawyer can help you formulate your arguments against foreclosure, navigate the rules of...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

When Is it Too Late to Stop Foreclosure?

Homeowners have many possible options before foreclosure happens. The only time it is finally too late is when the house has been sold at auction after a court approves the sale.  General Timeline of Foreclosure Proceedings Lenders must make a decent amount of effort to attempt to help the borrower avoid foreclosure. Here is a brief timeline of what a borrower can expect after they default on their mortgage payments: After the first month, the lender must attempt to contact the borrower by phone to discuss any loss mitigation options. Once the borrower has been delinquent for 45 days, the lender must inform them in writing about loss mitigation options and may appoint someone to help them avoid foreclosure. After 60 days, the lender will advise the borrower that they have a 30-day grace period to contact a housing counselor. If the borrower chooses to do so, they will receive another 30 days before legal action can happen. Once 90 days pass without payment, the lender will issue a notice of acceleration announcing their intent to foreclose.  If 120 days pass, the lender will begin foreclosure proceedings by filing a lawsuit in court. Foreclosure proceedings cannot start before 120 days of non-payment. After that, the lender can file a lawsuit asking for the court to issue an order allowing the lender to sell the house. What Happens Once the Lender Files a Lawsuit? After the lender files the lawsuit, they serve the borrower with the summons and complaint. The borrower must answer the complaint within 30 days to defend themselves against the foreclosure. If the borrower does not respond, the lender will receive a default judgment in favor of foreclosure. If the court issues the order to allow the sale, the lender must publish a notice of sale in a newspaper once a week for three weeks. The lender must also send the notice to the borrowers by email, or by other means if they do not have email. Consent Foreclosure The borrower and lender can also agree to a consent foreclosure. The court enters the judgment of foreclosure against the borrower and the borrower agrees to walk away from the property. The benefit to the borrower is that the lender usually waives their right to any deficiency judgment (discussed below). However, the borrower may end up having to pay taxes to the IRS on any forgiven debt. What Happens at the Sale? At the sale, the lender may bid up to the total amount owed on the property. If the lender wins the auction for less than the amount owed, the lender can get a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the difference. If a third-party bidder wins the auction for more than the amount owed, the borrower gets the surplus amount. The lender will then have the court confirm the sale. The court will also enter an eviction order for the former homeowner to leave the property within 30 days. If they do not leave the property, the new owner may have the sheriff evict them. Can a Foreclosure Be Stopped? There are multiple ways a borrower can prevent foreclosure. Bankruptcy Bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure even up to the day of sale. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most common, but Chapter 7 is also possible. Loss Mitigation Loss mitigation usually refers to loan modification. The borrower must submit a completed loss mitigation application within the initial 120 days before the lawsuit. Then the lender cannot begin foreclosure proceedings unless the borrower is ineligible for loss mitigation, rejects the options offered, or fails to follow their mitigation agreement. Reinstatement Reinstatement means that the borrower brings the loan completely current, including all costs and fees. It is only available to a borrower once every five years. A borrower may legally reinstate their loan up to 90 days after the lender serves the complaint. Most lenders allow reinstatement at any time.  Redemption Borrowers can redeem their loans by paying the entire balance due, including costs and fees. For property tax foreclosures, this means paying any outstanding taxes. The redemption period is within seven months after the complaint is filed or three months after judgment. If the owners abandoned the property, the redemption period is 30 days after judgment. If the lender wins the auction for less than the total debt (including any expenses or fees), the borrower has 30 days after the court confirms the sale. What Do I Do If I Am Facing Foreclosure? Foreclosure defense is a highly specialized field, and you need quality representation. Vantage Group Legal is a highly accomplished legal services organization that specializes in foreclosure defense. We will review your case for free, and if hired, you will be carefully assigned the right attorney to handle your case from start to finish. Please contact us today for your free consultation.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

The National COVID Foreclosure Moratorium Has Ended

On June 25, 2021, the Biden administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the national foreclosure moratorium ends on July 31, 2021. However, many borrowers are still experiencing hardships related to COVID and remain seriously delinquent. The mortgage industry is anticipating a high volume of foreclosures and an overwhelming amount of assistance requests. The Biden administration announced that HUD, VA, and USDA loans would take certain steps to prevent mass foreclosures until their borrowers are reviewed for affordable loss mitigation options. These servicers each implemented their programs for loss mitigation, payment reduction, or other programs to assist borrowers. Likewise, the FHFA implemented plans for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae borrowers to get evaluated for home retention solutions. Below you will find descriptions of the programs available to borrowers of each type of loan. Remaining Foreclosure Relief Options HUD Loans Homeowners with HUD loans may be eligible for one or more of the following options: Loan modifications—borrowers can move missed payments to the end of the mortgage;   Payment reductions—up to 25% reduction in monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments; COVID-19 Recovery Standalone Partial Claim (if the homeowner can resume payments)—loan for the unpaid payments with 0% interest, repaid when mortgage terminates after sale or refinance; or COVID-19  Recovery Modification (if homeowner incapable of resuming payments)—extends loan term to 360 months and reduces P&I payments by 25%. Homeowners have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance. Borrowers can find more information about HUD loans and COVID relief here.  USDA Loans Homeowners with USDA loans may be eligible for the COVID-19 Special Relief Measure, which provides up to 20% reduction in monthly P&I payments and interest rate reduction. If that is not enough, the homeowner can also obtain a loan term extension. Finally, the homeowner may be able to obtain a 0% mortgage recovery advance loan that becomes due when the mortgage terminates. USDA borrowers have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance programs with their servicer. The USDA website has more information about USDA loans and COVID relief programs. VA Loans Homeowners with VA loans may be eligible for one or more of the following options for relief:  COVID-19 Refund Modification—20% reduction in P&I payments; COVID-19 Refund—VA provides loan for borrower’s COVID-related debts and up to 30% of the unpaid principal loan at 0% interest; or Loan modification—up to 120 months of loan extension. As with HUD and VA loans, borrowers have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance programs. Borrowers should check out the VA home loan website for more information. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Loans Payment deferral—borrowers can defer up to 18 months of payments, which are due when the mortgage terminates;  Loan modification—borrowers can receive up to 20% reduction in monthly P&I payments; or Flex modification—eligible borrowers could capitalize all past-due amounts, extend their loan terms, obtain a lower interest rate, or receive a forbearance of the principle amount.  Homeowners with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loans must already be on a COVID-related forbearance plan to be eligible for relief. Borrowers with these loans should consult with their servicers for more information about forbearance plans.  Additional Protections The Bureau of Consumer Protection also announced temporary safeguards to ensure borrowers have enough opportunities to be reviewed for loss mitigation before the servicer initiates foreclosure proceedings. Perhaps most importantly, lenders must make a sufficient effort to make borrowers aware of forbearance programs and expiration dates, as well as loss mitigation options. Finally, eligible borrowers may avail themselves of federal financial assistance through their state housing authorities. The Illinois Housing Development Authority will receive federal funds from the Homeowner Assistance Fund created in the American Rescue Plan Act for homeowners still experiencing COVID-related hardships. Eligible homeowners could receive up to $25,000 in assistance.  Vantage Group Legal Services Is Ready to Help  If you are struggling with your mortgage payments the options can seem overwhelming. Vantage Group Legal Services can help you figure out the best solution for your situation. We specialize in foreclosure defense and offer affordable debt relief solutions for struggling Chicago homeowners. We can help keep you in your home and preserve your credit with expedited, affordable legal assistance. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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| Read Time: 9 minutes | Foreclosure

Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law

Facing foreclosure? Start by reading this guide to Illinois foreclosure law, then contact Vantage Group Legal for immediate help. Anticipating or dealing with the process of foreclosure in Illinois can be an angst-ridden time for anyone. Tendencies can be to ignore the possibility of foreclosure, try to handle the foreclosure case on your own, or be angry about the circumstance but not act. However, the most productive result is understanding the Illinois foreclosure process and seeking immediate help from an established legal service with expertise in Illinois foreclosure law. If you face foreclosure, you are taking a significant step in protecting yourself and your property right now by reading a bit about the Illinois foreclosure process. No matter what the circumstance, you have rights and options. Here’s a brief guide to help you get started on addressing foreclosure in Illinois. We help Illinois homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   What Is Foreclosure in Illinois? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve heard the term and maybe received a notice which references the term. But what exactly is foreclosure? Foreclosure is a process. It involves a lender taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments or otherwise violated the mortgage contract. How Long Does a Foreclosure Take in Illinois? The time it takes from missed payments to having a home foreclosed on and sold can vary significantly depending on the individual case and whether you opt to contest the foreclosure. Without contesting the foreclosure, it can take up to 15 months before the property is no longer yours. Don’t start packing just yet. There are a lot of steps along the way. Here is the general Illinois foreclosure timeline: 30-60 days late: missed payments prompt contact from the lender. 60-120 days late: automatic mortgage loan default. 90 -120 days late: lender provides a breach letter.  120-175 days late: homeowner receives service of a mortgage foreclosure summons. 230 days late: without a response, the court enters default judgment. 260 days late:  right to reinstate the loan expires. 7 months after being served or 3 months after judgment (whichever is later): right to redemption expires. 10 days before sale: receive written notice. 15 days after property is sold: an eviction notice is entered. 30 days after property is sold: you may be forcibly evicted.  If you decide to contest the foreclosure, the timeline will change a little. The process will also include document filing deadlines and court proceedings. Illinois Foreclosure Process and Timeline Going through foreclosure proceedings can be extremely stressful and hard on you as well as those you care about. This is especially true if you and your loved ones are living on the property in question. The help of an experienced foreclosure attorney could make the process a lot easier and potentially uncover ways that you could keep your home. It may be worth looking into getting professional legal help with your potential foreclosure.  Here is a breakdown of each step to better answer the question, How long does a foreclosure take in Illinois? MISSED MORTGAGE LOAN PAYMENTS Most lenders offer a grace period before assessing late fees on missed mortgage payments. The lender may even reach out to provide payment assistance programs to help you catch up. Life happens, and sometimes our finances change. Most lenders understand that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take missed payments seriously. You certainly should not ignore lenders who may have options to help you out of debt.  AUTOMATIC MORTGAGE LOAN DEFAULT In Illinois, your mortgage loan will automatically default after 90 days without payment. At this point, your lender will send a Notice of Default (NOD), which serves the purpose of informing you of their intent to foreclose on your property due to lack of payment. Once the lender sends this notice, your foreclosure becomes a public record. Beware of solicitation from creditors offering to help. It is best to work with your lender directly or a reputable debt management company.  BREACH LETTER IS RECEIVED Most mortgage contracts contain a clause that requires the lender to send a “breach letter” when the loan defaults. The lender should issue this letter 30 days before filing the foreclosure lawsuit, giving you, as the borrower, a chance to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Thirty days after the breach letter is sent and 120 days after the first missed payment, the lender may file a foreclosure complaint.  SERVED WITH A MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SUMMONS Despite what you may have seen in the movies, hiding in the bathroom or closet when the mailman knocks on your door will not prevent you from being served. The mortgage foreclosure summons is not something you should ignore. It is necessary to read the complaint to understand the allegations against you, find any discrepancies, and be notified of any important dates.  DEFAULT JUDGMENT IS ENTERED If you choose to ignore or to intentionally not respond to the mortgage foreclosure summons, a default judgment will be entered against you. If you choose to respond and fight the foreclosure, this will change the Illinois foreclosure process timeline for your specific case. It is best to consult with a foreclosure attorney to assess your options prior to deciding whether to respond to the summons. Choosing not to respond means that you essentially agree with the complaint and the lender’s request for foreclosure.  RIGHT TO REINSTATE LOAN EXPIRES In Illinois, you have 90 days from the date the lender serves you with the mortgage foreclosure summons to reinstate your mortgage loan, even after a default judgment has been entered. This means that you may bring your loan payments current along with other expenses that have occurred because of your late payments. Reinstatement after the 90 days may still occur if the lender allows it, but they are not obligated to do so. If the lender allows an extension past the 90 days, it could change how long the foreclosure takes in Illinois.  RIGHT TO REDEMPTION EXPIRES Up until seven...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

Can a Bank Foreclose if Payments Are Current?

Foreclosure most commonly refers to a lender taking possession of a property for non-payment of a mortgage loan. However, the status of mortgage payments is just one cause of foreclosures. Other causes include the owner’s unpaid debt to other parties, a homeowner not meeting other aspects of the loan agreement, and payments misdirected to the wrong lender.  Therefore even when payments are current, there are several circumstances where the bank can still foreclose.  We Offer Affordable Debt Relief Solutions for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure. Our team is standing by to help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 5 Reasons Foreclosure May Happen Even When Payments are Current 1. There Are Unpaid Property Taxes Local governments collect property taxes on homes. Sometimes those taxes are paid as part of  mortgage payments (usually under the term escrow). For taxes due separate from the mortgage payment, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to pay the taxes to the government. If they do not pay, the bank may pay the taxes owed. If a homeowner fails to reimburse the bank, the bank can foreclose.  2. Homeowners Insurance Not Up To Date Not having homeowners insurance can be a valid reason for a lender to foreclose on a property. Like property taxes, the mortgage contract likely includes a clause requiring a homeowner to maintain adequate homeowners insurance. Failure to maintain the coverage would violate the mortgage contract. 3. There Are Violations of Other Mortgage Contract Conditions Any mortgage contract term violated by the homeowner, not just failing to pay the mortgage, could be grounds for foreclosure. For instance, most mortgages require the homeowner to keep the property in satisfactory condition. If the homeowner does not do this, the bank can seek to foreclose. A contract violation, such as transferring ownership to another party, may also result in foreclosure.  4. Home Owner Association (HOA) Fees Are Past Due In more recent years, HOAs have become popular entities. An HOA is a community board that makes rules and regulations and provides the upkeep of the shared areas in a specific neighborhood. Homeowners in these neighborhoods are required to pay HOA dues. When a homeowner fails to pay their HOA dues or assessments, the HOA may seek court assistance to sell their home and collect the debt owed. This type of home loss can occur even if all mortgage payments are current.  5. Homeowner Paid Mortgage To Incorrect Bank A mortgage loan may be held by one bank initially, then taken over by another. While the homeowner’s records may indicate that they have been paying the mortgage, they may not have been paying to the right bank. The cause may be a clerical error on the homeowner’s part or that of one of the banks. Regardless, if the current lender is not getting the payments, foreclosure is possible. You Should Have Legal Help in a Foreclosure Case If you or someone you know may be facing foreclosure, look into hiring a lawyer immediately. An attorney will review your mortgage contract and all relevant documents, hear your side of the matter, and defend you in the foreclosure process. A foreclosure defense lawyer gives you the best opportunity to keep your home. Vantage Group Legal Services Will Defend You in a Foreclosure Case No matter the circumstances, Vantage Group Legal Services can assist you in a foreclosure  situation. As a unique company with a team of specialized Attorney’s in foreclosure defense, Vantage Group Legal Services connects you with an experienced network attorney and will give you a no-obligation, free consultation. Once you retain Vantage Group Legal Services, your assigned network attorney and Vantage’s internal support staff will handle all aspects of your case during your contract with them. Chicago foreclosure defense attorneys in Vantage Group Legal Services’ network are chosen because of their ability to win cases and achieve success for their clients. Contact Vantage Group by phone at (773) 938-4747 or online.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | COVID-19

COVID-19 Forbearance

Legal and real estate professionals expect foreclosures to be on the rise in 2021. Fortunately, the federal government is aware many people are struggling due to COVID-19. Forbearance avenues, therefore, exists to assist homeowners.  If you are a homeowner genuinely unable to meet your mortgage obligations, you should explore all avenues of mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 or other life challenges may have led to your trials regarding your mortgage. Let Vantage Group Legal Services assist you in seeking forbearance help. The Meaning of Forbearance Forbearance is when your lender lets you pause or reduce your payments for a limited time. You will need to discuss forbearance options with the bank, finance company, or mortgage service agency that manages your home loan/mortgage. Usually, forbearance does not erase what you owe. There may be terms for you to repay payments you miss. But the forbearance is very beneficial if you temporarily need to pause your payments. Signs You May Need a Forbearance Many homeowners fall upon challenging times at some point. However, when hardships begin to impact your health, safety, and home, they can be devastating.  Regarding your home, you should take immediate efforts to seek a forbearance if you find it extraordinarily challenging or impossible to: Keep current on your mortgage payments; Have the finances to maintain your home in a safe and livable condition; or Pay your property taxes related to your mortgaged property. Each of the aforementioned are standard requirements in mortgage contracts. Do not wait until the rubber hits the road. If you are struggling to comply with the terms of your mortgage contract, you need a lawyer. If you have been impacted by COVID-19, forbearance lawyers should immediately be aware of that exceptional circumstance. Seeking Forbearance Mortgage lenders have dealt with many others who struggled to keep current on their mortgage just like you. While they may be willing to work with you to let you keep their home, their ultimate goal is to collect their payments, even by foreclosure if necessary. It is not the lender’s duty to tell you how to seek forbearance. However, our mortgage forbearance lawyers do have the desire to help you qualify and receive a forbearance. We are especially attuned to the upheaval individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance may not only be an option a bank can give you; it could be your legal right.  Forbearance Options Not Related to COVID-19  Mortgage holders who meet the criteria below may seek a forbearance under general non-COVID-19 forbearance terms. These criteria include: A good track record of timely payments, up until now; An unexpected change in financial status (sudden job loss, death of spouse or divorce leading to reduced income); and A commitment and clear plan to resume payments at the end of the forbearance. Each lender has a process for applying for forbearance and criteria regarding whether to grant the request. It is almost always better to request a forbearance than to default on a loan. COVID-19 Forbearance  If you are experiencing difficulty making on-time mortgage payments due to the national coronavirus emergency, a specialized forbearance may be an option for you. The government recognized the financial hardships many homeowners faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance became a real need to aid families in keeping their homes.  As a result, the United States government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under this law, the government gave homeowners with federally backed mortgages up to a year or more of forbearance on their mortgage payments. With CARES forbearance, homeowners could pay their mortgage at a lower payment or pause payments fully.  As of December 2020, CARES is still in place. The government may well extend it into 2021. Our foreclosure defense attorneys have all up-to-date CARES information. They can help you: Apply for CARES if applicable (it is not automatic, you must apply); and Review other state and private options for COVID-19 pandemic forbearance assistance if CARES does not apply to your situation. For as long as there have been mortgages, there has been a need for mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 is not the only reason for seeking forbearance, but it has created many of the situations people currently find themselves in when they seek forbearance.  Advantages of Legal Assistance in Seeking a Forbearance Understanding forbearance options is just a start. To have the best chance of getting a forbearance, you need an attorney who knows laws related to mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 protections for homeowners, real estate, and more. Specifically, here are things at which only foreclosure defense and mortgage forbearance lawyers will excel. Applying the Law to Protect You Forbearance is a contractual, legal issue. It involves more than a request to lessen or forgive mortgage payments. It involves numerous areas of law, including: Foreclosure law,   COVID-19 pandemic forbearance law,  Bankruptcy law,  Contract law, and Real estate law. To know your responsibilities, your rights, and the legal requirements of others, you need an attorney. Negotiation with and Utilizing Other Professionals The first step in seeking a forbearance may be contacting the mortgage company. That step is more than a phone call. Presenting the request in legal, professional, and complete terms is essential. Also, forbearance may involve reaching out to: Tax accountants,  Government tax officials,  Other attorneys, and The courts.  Vantage Group Legal Services attorneys know how to handle these interactions with professionalism and discretion. Most importantly, they do so while fully advocating for your interests.  Objectively Looking at All Options  The most important aspect of having an attorney is that they will objectively analyze your situation and explore all avenues to assist you. You likely have plenty to handle during the COVID-19 pandemic as it is. Forbearance is an item a lawyer can entirely focus on for you.  In seeking a lawyer, you need one who specializes in mortgage foreclosure and forbearance. These lawyers will be aware of the laws of mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 homeowner assistance, and foreclosure protection.  Your Rights During Forbearance If you...

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| Read Time: 7 minutes | Foreclosure

How To Stop Foreclosure In Illinois

Facing foreclosure is stressful, legally complex, and a danger to your credit. If you have missed mortgage payments or your lender has filed a Notice of Default (NOD), you might feel like there is nothing you can do to prevent the loss of your home. But you are not without hope. In Illinois, there are legal avenues an experienced foreclosure lawyer can use to help you save your home.  Negotiating with the lender, using government relief avenues, and taking the lender to court are just some of the methods the lawyer can use to help you. If you have received or expect to receive a foreclosure notice, you should immediately contact an attorney. Let’s look at just a few ways an attorney can help you save your home and protect your credit. Negotiate with the Lender to Resume Payments If you can pay the money you owe to the lender due to missed mortgage payments, now or shortly, you may be able to save your home. Your mortgage is a loan. A bank is usually the lender of the mortgage. Foreclosure is the lender’s process for taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments to pay back their loan. The lender forecloses to take the property and sell it.  The sale of the foreclosed property is the typical way the lender gets its money back. But suppose you can demonstrate your ability to pay the lender the money you owe and stay current with future payments. In this case, your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the lender to stop your foreclosure. There are a couple of ways to do this. Pay the Amount Past Due in Full Now Your attorney can call your lender and determine precisely how much you owe the lender. If you can pay that full amount, the attorney will contact your lender immediately. They will make an offer for you to pay the full amount in arrears (the payment amount you are behind) and your next mortgage payment due in a timely manner. In return, they will ask that the lender end the foreclosure process.  For instance, if the amount in arrears is $3,000 on a mortgage payment of $1,000 per month, you must be able to fully pay the lender $4,000 (the $3,000 past due and the next due mortgage payment of $1,000) immediately. It would be best if you considered the impact this may have on other bills before your lawyer makes this offer to the lender. Also, be sure that you are prepared to continue and pay the standard monthly mortgage from now on. Get on a Payment Plan  Another option is to catch up on the arrears over time. Your lawyer can work with you to determine what amount you can pay beyond your standard mortgage amount. They can then negotiate with the bank for you to pay this additional amount until you catch up on your past due amount.  Let’s say you are behind $1,600 on a mortgage of $800 a month. You advise your attorney that you are now in a position to pay your full monthly mortgage of $800 a month, plus another $400 each month. The lawyer could negotiate a $1,200-a-month payment for four months. Under this agreement, you will be caught up on your mortgage at the end of four months and no longer at risk of foreclosure. If you are in a position to pay off your arrears and continue making your current payments, you could be able to avoid foreclosure. Remember, the lender wants their money. Hiring an attorney who can show the lender a reasonable way to receive the money they are due is usually the fastest and easiest way to stop a foreclosure. Request A Loan Modification If you have had an unexpected change in financial circumstances, a loan modification may be your best option. In this situation, your attorney will contact the lender and explain your circumstances and how they impacted your ability to make timely mortgage payments. Standard hardships lenders may consider, which often affect homeownership and finances, include: A recently contested divorce proceeding; An accident that caused significant injury or disability; Income decline due to an unexpected job loss; A salary reduction at a long-term current job or new job; Being the victim of fraud or another financial crime; A national crisis, such as a pandemic; Child support and custody issues; or A sudden death in the family. Lawyers will gather facts and proof of the incident(s) that relate to your financial change. They will then ask the lender for your loan to be modified (lower payment for a time, refinance to a longer mortgage term, or another option that will reduce your payments).  They may also ask the lender to forgive the past due amount or add it on to the end of the mortgage. With either approach, you will need to show that you now have a source of income and can make the agreed-upon new payments. A lender’s automated email and phone banks do not analyze or recognize hardships. However, specific workers for the companies can do so, especially if you have had a strong payment history up until this time. Your attorney will know to whom and how to make the case for a hardship loan modification. Seek Special Relief: CARES Act And COVID-19 Your local, state, or federal government may issue a mandate that will protect you from foreclosure in rare circumstances. Times of a nationwide recession, health crisis, or natural disaster may initiate laws to help homeowners. The relief may come in the form of: Forgiveness of missed payments; Forbearance (suspension) of payments; or A ban on foreclosures for a period of time. During the pandemic’s national health crisis (COVID-19), the United States government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. One purpose of the act was to help homeowners keep their homes during the pandemic’s health and financial crisis. The CARES Act: Gave a...

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| Read Time: 6 minutes | Foreclosure

How To Get Help With Foreclosure

If you are fearing foreclosure, an experienced Chicago foreclosure defense attorney can analyze whether you are at risk. If you are, they can help prevent foreclosure and protect your credit. Do not let the fear of foreclosure paralyze you. Be proactive by understanding your rights and using available courses of action. Let’s answer some questions you may have about foreclosure and prevention. What Are the Terms and Conditions of a Mortgage? Your mortgage loan comes with terms you must follow. As you know, paying your mortgage bill is the primary term. However, other terms often include: Paying property taxes on time; Maintaining adequate homeowners insurance; Keeping your property in habitable (safe living) condition; and Complying with payments with your homeowners association (HOA) and any other organizations that could claim an interest in your home. Lenders require your home to stay in decent condition and free of financial claims. The house is the collateral for your mortgage loan. As a result, failure to abide by any of the terms in the mortgage contract puts you at risk of foreclosure.  How Do I Know If I Have Violated the Terms of My Mortgage? Whether you are violating your mortgage terms is not always clear. We suggest that you consider each of the following questions to help determine whether you may be at risk of violations: Has the lender sent you a notice regarding missed or late payments? Do your financial records reflect that you have missed mortgage payments? Are you behind on your property taxes? Has your homeowners insurance lapsed, or have you missed payments? Is your HOA threatening legal action against you? Is your house in poor condition, to the point that it is perhaps unlivable? Has the local government, your insurance company, or the lender contacted you regarding the condition of your home? Have you received any correspondence mentioning foreclosure of your home? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be at risk of violating your mortgage terms. As a result, you are at risk of losing your home.  What Should I Do If I Am Violating HOA, Tax, or Insurance Mortgage terms? If your HOA, local tax board, or homeowners insurance agency has contacted you, the time to act is right now. Here is how you can prevent foreclosure, depending on the reason you are at risk. Make Arrangements to Comply with Your HOA If you are behind on HOA payments or have unpaid fines for violating HOA rules, you should contact a lawyer to help you negotiate a payment plan for past due fees and fines. You may be out of compliance with your mortgage if you do not do so. Also, you want to prevent the HOA from taking further action. Past due HOA fees can lead to foreclosure by your lender and a lien on your property by the HOA. In Chicago and throughout Illinois, if a homeowners association has a lien on a property, it has the legal right to foreclose on that property.  Address Back Taxes with Your Local Government Local governments are often willing to work with property owners who are delinquent on tax payments. But if you do not act, Illinois law allows the local government to seize your home if your property taxes remain delinquent. A foreclosure defense attorney can contact the property tax office and negotiate a way for you to catch up on past-due taxes. Your foreclosure defense lawyer can also address the potential mortgage violation with your lender, based on your tax issue. Repair Your Property and Maintain Homeowners Insurance If you have received a letter regarding home upkeep, you will need to clean up your property to a satisfactory level. These letters may come from your insurance company, lender, or local government. Work to correct the issue (i.e. greatly overgrown lawn, caving in roof, etc.) as soon as you can. If you are not living at the property, it still must be corrected. If you are unable to perform the upkeep immediately, contact a Chicago area attorney. They will advise you on options to prevent foreclosure and contact the sender of the letter(s) for you. You also must keep your homeowners insurance coverage up to date to stay in compliance with the mortgage terms. Your lawyer can analyze your mortgage coverage requirements. They will then contact your provider to ensure your coverage is adequate. The attorney can negotiate payments toward the arrears (the back money you owe) and help you renew or reinstate your policy if it has lapsed. Taking steps to prevent foreclosure is necessary even before the lender gets involved. Start the process of correcting the issues today by hiring an attorney. Don’t wait, or any of these violations could quickly turn into home foreclosures in Illinois.  What If My Lender Is Threatening Foreclosure for Non-Payment? If your circumstance is one where your lender is involved and you are behind on payments, the situation is even more urgent. You need an attorney to immediately reach out to the lender and request time to address the problem. There are options, but in most cases, they must be approved by the lender. Here are the primary ways you can still save your home. Make Catch Up Payments An experienced foreclosure defense attorney may negotiate with the lender for you to pay the money past due and stop the foreclosure process. They can arrange for you to make one payment of the full amount in arrears. Another option is to pay off the amount over time. You may be able to overpay your standard payment by a small amount each month until you pay off the arrears.  Make Lower Payments Your attorney may also advocate for the lender to forgive some of your debt or give you more time to pay. This generally is an option only in exceptional circumstances such as a death in the family or a sudden injury or illness. These circumstances could also lead to a reduced mortgage payment,...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

Can a Bank Accept Payment During Foreclosure?

If you are making payments during foreclosure, it is important to understand whether the lender can accept those payments. In addition, you should evaluate your reasons for making payments. Depending on why you are making the payments during foreclosure, there are likely other options to meet your goals. In Foreclosure, Will the Lender Still Accept My Payments? The short answer is yes. In most states, including Illinois, a lender has to accept your payments until near the scheduled foreclosure sale. Usually, homeowners in foreclosure make payments in an effort to: Save their home; Avoid negative impacts on their credit; Buy time until they can get other help to stop the foreclosure; or Stay in compliance, because they believe they must make the payments.  With each of these reasons, making payments during foreclosure may not be the only or best option to meet the goal. Sometimes making payments during a foreclosure can do more harm than good.  If I Make Payments During Foreclosure Will I Save My Home? Though the lender does have to accept your payments during foreclosure, the payments do not guarantee you will save your home. Illinois law has redemption and reinstatement laws. These allow a borrower to reclaim their property if the borrower complies with certain payment requirements.  Reinstatement involves bringing your mortgage current by paying all missed payments as well as any costs or fees required by the mortgage.  In Illinois, the borrower has the right to reinstate the loan up to 90 days after the borrower: Has been served with a summons or by publication, or Has otherwise submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. If you comply with the reinstatement requirements, the foreclosure will be dismissed. You can keep your home and continue paying your mortgage as before. If you have passed the time to reinstate the loan, you may be able to keep your home through redemption. Redemption requires you to pay off the total debt, including the principal balance, plus any additional costs and interest.  Under redemption, the borrow has until the later of either: Seven months after the complaint is served, or Three months from the date of judgment. So if you are making payments and can pay the full amount you owe, you may be able to keep your home. Both redemption and reinstatement have massive costs and require legal action on your part. But if you cannot pay the full amount you owe and are far along in the foreclosure process, making payments during foreclosure may not help you save your home. Meet with a Chicago area attorney so that they can review your case and determine the likelihood of keeping your home by making payments during foreclosure. How Else Can I Save My Home? If the goal is to keep your home, hire a foreclosure defense lawyer as soon as possible. There are many ways you still could get out of foreclosure and save your home. The attorney can address options available to you, including: Reverse mortgage,  Loan modification, Government relief, and Court action. An attorney will need to consult with you and gain a full understanding of your circumstances to provide you with the best legal advice. Hire an attorney for the support and guidance you need.  Should I Make Payments During Foreclosure to Save My Credit, Even If I’m Not Keeping My Home? If not trying to keep your home, continuing to make mortgage payments during foreclosure may not be a wise use of money. The foreclosure will still be on your credit. A better option could be a deed in lieu of foreclosure. With this deed, you agree to give your home to the lender. The lender then agrees to settle your mortgage and not foreclose. During this process, your attorney will also try to negotiate a convenient time for you to leave your home. Stopping payments during foreclosure and turning over your home may sound irresponsible. But in fact, sometimes it is the best option to get a clean slate. With the help of an attorney, you can complete the deed transfer, move on from the foreclosure legally and responsibly, and protect your credit.  If I Make Payments While in Foreclosure, Won’t I Get COVID-19 Relief? During COVID-19, Illinois law mandated only that lenders try to work with homeowners and understand the stress the pandemic caused. Making payments does not force Chicago banks to protect or work with you in a new way due to the pandemic.  The federal government offered the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. There is no part of the act that says if you make payments while in foreclosure, CARES will protect your home.  But there are parts of CARES that may help you for other reasons. A foreclosure defense attorney in Chicago can see if your mortgage lenders followed other aspects of the COVID-19 relief programs that may have helped you. If you are entitled to relief, don’t assume making payments during foreclosure will give you that relief.  If the Lender Is Threatening Me, Don’t I Have to Make Payments During Foreclosure? A lender has no right to harass you. If the lender is addressing anything beyond their right to foreclose, their actions may be illegal. Also, reputable lenders rarely use hostile tactics.  There are fraudulent businesses that prey on people in foreclosures. Sometimes they offer to save your home if you make payments to them. Never make payments to a third party that has no right to receive any money from you. You should not feel threatened, harassed, or in fear of your lender or anyone else contacting you about your foreclosure. Contact an attorney so that they can review the correspondence and protect you from unlawful tactics.  How Can I Know Whether to Make Payments During Foreclosure? To decide whether you will make payments during a foreclosure, hire a Chicago attorney. Look for an attorney with foreclosure defense experience. They can determine if the lender will still accept your...

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