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2008-03-03 12:12:00

Let's Learn How to Help Americans KEEP Their Homes

Real estate agents are suffering with "short sale fever" in epidemic proportions and families are losing their homes every day. Imagine what would happen to the face of the real estate industry if real estate agents focussed their savvy and their hearts on helping distressed homeowners KEEP their homes, if more of those homeowners had hope and better guidance!

Record breaking foreclosure rates see REALTORS' e-mail inboxes full of enticing, income producing opportunities. Veteran speaker/trainer Roger Butcher hosts two Webinars each week that invite real estate professionals to "make a fortune doing short sales." He says that his goal is to enlist 30,000 real estate agents and brokers in his short sale crusade this year.

Foreclosure rescue diva Alexis McGee issues weekly bidding to her "foreclosure coaching" classes: "Contact Super Motivated Sellers,"  "Repeat In-Foreclosure Offenders," "Fill Your Bank Account with Foreclosure Investing," "This Is As Good As It Gets - Earn Profits NOW!", "Best Foreclosure Deals Since the 1990s," "Earn Your White Knight Profits NOW!"

McGee's investor-wannabes learn how to role play telephone and door knocking techniques and "how to overcome objections with neighbors, relatives, owners, banks, and REALTORS."  McGee had a California real estate license until the mid 1980s. "Why should I settle for six percent when I can make fifteen percent?" she asked. Her students learn to find distressed homeowners who have large chunks of equity to convert to investor profits. Her "Shark Bait Foreclosure Software Tool" is designed to seek out equity and profit.

The Foreclosure Epidemic Is About More Than Numbers.

Thirty thousand real estate agents who refer 3.3 short sales each to Roger Butcher will displace 100,000 families collectively.

What are the consequences of displaced families? Households are thrown into chaos and troubled children struggle with shame and humilation, and they are torn from friends and schools. Houses in cities are left vacant and boarded, becoming rodent infested and havens for drug users and criminals. Neighborhoods are destroyed and property values decline.

There is a growing support system in online communities among real estate professionals who share advice about becoming skilled pre-foreclosure experts:

  • " ... after you knock on the door back up several steps."
  • "Never say the F word - Foreclosure."
  • "Just say, 'I noticed your HOUSE in the newspaper'." 
  • "Write an offer before you get there and in the sales price blank just write 'Balance of Mortgage,' write your number in the top corner of the first page, fold it and hand it to the owner.  Tell him you wanted to make an offer to help. Hand him the offer and walk away. If he is not in denial he will probably call you."
  • "Remember you are helping them not the other way around. If they don't call don't worry ,you will find others." 
  • "Do you know several investors looking for good deals?  Set your network up and have a Great time. Now is an awesome time to build a great real estate business on short sales and pre-foreclosures!  I currently have 7 on my desk!!!!"
  • "That's fantastic that you have 7 right now on your desk! You rock! How do you develop your list of investors? Do you find them in the Pennysaver?"

Declining real estate values in many areas of the country leave many homeowners with loan balances that exceed the value of their properties. Short sale specialist training is a burgeoning business, and short sales are becoming second nature to real estate professionals facing the "upside down seller."

ALWAYS Seek Legal and Tax Advice from a Qualified Professional.

"Any homeowner who has a loan value that exceeds the sale of a property should discuss the matter and review his paperwork with an attorney who specializes in consumer protection law and foreclosure," says Brian Mildenberg, a Philadelphia attorney specializing in predatory lending. Mildenberg says that competent attorneys routinely find errors and discrepancies in loan documents and disclosures and they negotiate lower interest rates, reduced balances, and favorable terms for their clients. 

"Sometimes loan brokers have made inconsistent loan representations regarding the benefits of the loan. Some states and federal consumer protection laws require the lender to pay attorney fees when they lose a case," he says.

Legislative action that would offer judicial relief for distressed homeowners suffered a setack last week when President Bush threatened to veto the “Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008” (S. 2636). At a White House press conference Thursday, Feb. 28, Bush  took special umbrage with Title IV of the Act, which will allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms on unaffordable loans to allow families to keep making their mortgage payments, just like bankruptcy judges can currently do with yachts and vacation homes.

“President Bush must have misspoke when he asserted that speculators and not homeowners would be helped by the bankruptcy code changes in the Foreclosure Prevention Act,” said Maude Hurd, National President of ACORN. “Bankruptcy judges can already help owners of yachts and vacation homes, why not struggling homeowners? President Bush should join the Senate leadership in supporting real solutions for distressed homeowners.”

In addition to the bankruptcy provision, the Foreclosure Prevention Act also increases counseling assistance, allows state housing finance agencies to do more to assist in refinancing, offers assistance to communities impacted by foreclosure, and increases disclosure requirements in the lending process.

“George Bush and his Wall Street backers are vastly out of touch with everyday Americans who work for a living and struggle to pay our mortgages. America needs to rise up and foreclose on the White House and take it back for the people,” concluded Hurd.

Consumers Score Victories Over Banks with Help of Nonprofits.

Dorothy Hicks, a homeowner in Oakland, CA, stood in front of her house several months ago, a week before her lender was scheduled to take away her home, and told an assembled press corps that she was going to fight. The 74-year-old grandmother was a victim of predatory lending and she was determined to keep the house where she lived for 39 years.

She mobilized other homeowners facing foreclosure, and enlisted the aid of nonprofit consumer advocates at her local Acorn office. They went to Sacramento and talked to legislators. She talked to heads of regulatory agencies and attorneys. She won her case and kept her house.

Nonprofit agencies working with homeowners at risk of foreclosure in California, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, and elsewhere report 40% and greater success rates, often within days or hours of scheduled auctions.

Absent in most of these stories is the real estate professional. Imagine what will happen to the industry when the talent and energy and good intentions of REALTORS are applied to efforts to help distressed homeowners KEEP their homes? The following is a list of resources that will help real estate professionals and empower distressed homeowners to take action to save their equity and remain in their homes. 





RealTown Foreclosure Prevention Toolbox

Acorn is an association of community organizations helping preserve homeownership.

Nonprofit Mortgage Brokerage partners major lenders with Acorn Housing.

Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America  Real estate agents can register their clients here and follow their progress online.

Foreclosure Prevention Counseling - Preserving the American Dream

This book is the best foreclosure prevention resource in print we have seen!This book is directed to housing counselors and others advising homeowners threatened with foreclosure. The book should also prove useful for the homeowners themselves.

The Companion CD-Rom contains:

  • Sample foreclosure prevention counseling forms;
  • Consumer information, including information on credit card debt and an EITC brochure;
  • Sample loan documents;
  • Summaries of state foreclosure laws;
  • Summaries of state real estate tax abatement laws;
  • HUD handbooks and 18 mortgagee letters regarding FHA-insured loans;
  • Handbooks and letters regarding Section 502 RHS-held loans;
  • Handbooks regarding VA-guaranteed loans;
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac information;
  • Schedule of standard attorney fees approved by HUD and investors;
  • Bibliography and list of helpful web sites; and
  • PAD loan calculator.

National Consumer Law Center

Center for Responsible Lending 

National Assn. of Consumer Advocates  Refer homeowners to attorneys who specialize in Consumer Protection Law and Foreclosures.

National Assn. of REALTORS Field Guide to Foreclosures 


HUD Foreclosure Resources

List of Lender Loss Mitigation Department Telephone Numbers courtesy of REALTOR/Blogger Catherine Myers of Contra Costa, CA.

Inspiration: Bostonian of the Year 2007 is a crusader for Homeowners in Crisis.

Join a Webinar to Explore Ways to Help Americans KEEP Their Homes

(Frances Flynn Thorsen, e-PRO, SRS, ACRE, is Managing Editor of She lost a home to foreclosure several years ago. She is a Certified e-PRO Trainer and publishes several blogs, including RealTown Report, The REALTYgram Blogger, Web Women Giving Circle, No Blogger Left Behind, and The FAT Lady Blog.)

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