The recent foreclosure crisis, which began in the late 2000s, is nowhere near over. Especially in non-judicial foreclosure states like California — where a lender does not have to go through the courts to take your house — banks can move quickly and with very little oversight. With almost unlimited legal resources, the big banks had little to fear from homeowner lawsuits. But real estate litigation in Santa Barbara may be changing.
The recently-enacted California Homeowner Bill of Rights (CHBOR) gives property dispute lawyers in Santa Barbaraadditional options to protect your home. The CHBOR targets a number of tried-and-true illegal procedures that the big banks often employed against homeowners, including:
- Dual tracking — Banks often used the “carrot and the stick” approach when dealing with delinquent borrowers. A lender would offer a loan modification (the carrot) while simultaneously working toward foreclosure (the stick). The CHBOR ends this practice. The lender must give a homeowner a legitimate chance to obtain a loan modification, and not just stall for time until the foreclosure sale date.
- Single point of contact — Many homeowners are frustrated not only because of the lengthy loan modification application and review process, but also because they feel like they are starting over with each new call or letter. When there is finally someone on the other end of the line, that person can do little other than put notes into the system. The CHBOR forces banks to provide a single point of contact through the process, and this person must have some decision-making authority.
There are other CHBOR provisions affecting real estate litigation in Santa Barbara, including the right to remain in your home for a significant period after foreclosure and prohibitions against foreclosure fraud.
If you are facing foreclosure or have already been victimized by foreclosure, act quickly to preserve any rights you may have. Contact McCarthy and Kroes for your free initial consultation.
October 8, 2014