Bankruptcy attorney John D. Ioakimidis has helped his clients get out of debt for over 25 years. If you have fallen behind or are about to fall behind on your mortgage payments, do not give up because there is hope that you can keep your home. There are many federal and state laws that give you many rights. Having the proper knowledge, along with a highly experienced attorney, gives you the best chance of saving your home and, in certain circumstances, erasing second and third mortgages.
Your mortgage company does not care whether losing your home will uproot you and your family. They care about getting their payments and that the property taxes and insurance are paid. Having to move forcibly move by the County Sheriff can cause chaos in families. It is not easy to leave your home and community for most people. The foreclosure process is complicated in Illinois. You can assert your rights at various stages - including but not limited to Loan Modification, Loan Reinstatement, Foreclosure Defense, Redemption/ New Financing, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure, Short Sale, and Fair Market Sale. Any combination of these approaches is used in Illinois to delay and or avoid foreclosure lawfully. For 25 years as a bankruptcy attorney, I have been fighting for homeowners to keep their homes in the greater Chicago area and Cook, Lake, Will, Dup\Page, and Kane Counties. I have helped hundreds of families save their homes.
So how can you help me save my home?
The solution is different for every person or family because no two people or families are the same. We have different needs, goals, and aspirations in life. There are various options in defending your foreclosure; consider the following:
1) Loan Modification: Under state and federal laws, your mortgage company may agree to modify or amend your loan to make it more affordable for you to keep your home. The key to applying for a loan modification is to align your income and expenses in such a way as to prove to the mortgage company that you can resume making reduced payments if the modification is approved. A loan modification is very effective because you can have your interest rate and principal reduced on your loan and never have to pay it back. It takes particular skill to complete the paperwork the mortgage company wants to get a loan modification approved. As an attorney representing people in foreclosure for over 25 years, I take pride in knowing that I have helped hundreds of folks keep their homes.
2) Loan Reinstatement: If your mortgage company has filed a foreclosure, you have the right to get the foreclosure dismissed and your loan reinstated by paying the mortgage company the amount that you are behind, plus their costs and attorney's fees. The right to reinstate is found in the Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Act. You have 90 days from the actual date you were served with foreclosure papers to pay your mortgage company and come current. Upon payment, the mortgage company will dismiss the foreclosure.
3) Foreclosure Defense: In circumstances where the mortgage company does not approve a loan modification, and you do not have the money to reinstate your mortgage, then you can fight the foreclosure in Court. You will be surprised to know that mortgage companies make many mistakes in connection with giving you and servicing the loan. If that is the case, your foreclosures can be dismissed. That does not mean that your worries are gone forever. The mortgage company can sue you again. However, if the mortgage company has made mistakes, it is much more likely that they will agree to a settlement that keeps you in your house.
4) Redemption/ New Financing: This is the right to keep your home if you can pay off the entire balance on your mortgage within seven months of being served with the foreclosure papers or three months after the Court enters a judgment, whichever is later. Of course, most people cannot just write a check and pay off their mortgage. However, depending on the specific economic circumstances, you may be able to get new financing, and that option needs to be explored before making significant decisions. With over two decades of experience as an attorney who has fought mortgage companies for my clients in the Chicagoland area, do not just give up and walk away - explore the possibilities that exist.
5) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Most people in Illinois who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection are homeowners who are in foreclosure with uncompromising mortgage companies. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy forces your mortgage company into a repayment plan that you can afford. You continue making your regular mortgage payments and pay extra every month to catch up on the payments you are behind. To make things more economical in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the option of paying back the money you are behind for over five years. You can choose a shorter plan if you can afford it. Incredibly, if you do not have any equity in your home, you can even erase your second or third mortgage if you have one.
You can also include all of your other debts in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy along with mortgage loans. In most cases, unsecured debts like credit cards can be reduced by 90% or more. Even car loan balances and interest rates can be drastically reduced and extended. Once the Court approves your plan, your case goes into cruise control - all you do is keep making your payments, and your case will complete.
So, what if I do not want to keep my home? What are my options?
Some homeowners have no or very little equity in their homes. Others have negative equity. That means that they owe more money to the mortgage company than their house is worth. Keeping such an asset does not make economic sense. If you are in that situation, having a legal game plan is crucial if you want to emerge to a position where you can move forward. There are a variety of ways to tackle this problem. As a bankruptcy attorney in the greater Chicago area, I have helped scores of families in Chicago, Cook, Lake, DuPage, Lake, and Will counties peacefully and orderly transition into a new place. The last thing you want to do is to ignore the foreclosure and have the Sheriff evict you from your home. It is best to create a plan and then execute it flawlessly. Consider the following solutions:
1) Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. If your mortgage company agrees, you can give them the property and walk away without owing the mortgage company any money. This legal process is called a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure. Basically, you give a deed to the mortgage company transferring your property, and the foreclosure lawsuit is dismissed. In Illinois, for a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure to be successful, you must, at a minimum, convince the mortgage company that it would be better off economically if the foreclosure were dismissed and the property transferred to them without any further legal proceedings. The mortgage company understands that you have many rights and options if you are in or about to go into foreclosure, including Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so they are willing to negotiate. How much? It depends on your bankruptcy lawyer's skills, the needs of the mortgage company, and your individual economic situation.
2) Short Sale. A short sale is when you put your house for sale and convince the mortgage company to release you from any liability if they accept the house's selling price. Short sales are where the house sells for less than what is owed to the mortgage company. As an Illinois bankruptcy attorney and managing real estate broker for over 25 years, I have developed know-how that encompasses not only the law but also the real estate market. This dual type of experience goes a long way if you are trying to get out of your difficult economic situation.
3) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Under federal law, you have the option to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and erase your mortgage loan and your other dischargeable debts. You can even discharge/erase credit cards, car loans, personal loans, and other loans. In almost all cases, you will keep your essential personal property and walk away without any debt in a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Essentially, you would be getting a fresh start. The mortgage company will get the house, but at least you will not owe anything further. The added benefit of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you are in or about to go into foreclosure, the forgiven amount is not taxed!
Yes, it is possible to create an orderly plan with plenty of time to find a new place without the fear of being evicted from your home. If you intend to move, I can help you put a course of action in place that makes the process smooth and with maximizing results. As an experienced Chicago bankruptcy attorney who has practiced in the greater Chicago area and the Chicago suburbs, I can tell you with confidence that bankruptcy has been the answer to thousands of people in need of saving their homes.
So, can I sell my home and keep my equity?
Yes. If you have equity in your home but want to move, I can put a plan of action in place that allows you to keep your equity and avoid a Sheriff's sale. A sheriff's sale is when your property gets sold to the highest bidder following a foreclosure. I have used the knowledge and experience as an Illinois Real Estate Broker for the last two decades to add to my legal skill set. My clients benefit from my 25 years of practicing law and from my understanding of the real estate market and foreclosure process. I can guide you throughout the entire process. The key in this type of situation is to have enough time to sell your home at the maximum price. Thus, I negotiate with the mortgage company to give you the time to sell your home in a reasonable amount of time. Just because you are in pre-foreclosure or foreclosure does not mean that you do not have rights and protections under Illinois and federal law - your rights and protections are many!
So, How Do I Start?
For 25 years, I have been fighting successfully for homeowners in foreclosure in Chicago, Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County. Hiring the right attorney with particular experience in Illinois foreclosure law can make all the difference. Knowing your foreclosure options is the first step to a better financial future. For a free consultation, feel free to call me at 312-229-5500 or contact me online.