The California Homeowners Bill of Rights Passed by California State Legislators
By Sonya Muhammad
Pomona, CA– I’m sorry to admit to all IVN readers that I, like many others throughout the nation, fell prey to the strategies of the real estate debacle. Folks like me who were purchasing a home for the first time within the last ten or twelve years, had no idea about Wall Street’s plans to create a subprime market that would eventually benefit them tremendously and leave innocent naïve homeowners struggling to stay in their homes, pay absorbent adjusted mortgage rates, or face foreclosure.
Some have said, “Well you should have known better. You should have read the fine print.” Well, I tried to read the fine print, but an escrow officer told me I could read the documents thoroughly if I wanted, but if I found something that I questioned or did not like and refused to sign, I simply would not get the house. So, I followed her lead and initialed and signed as instructed, because I did not want to jeopardize my chances at getting the house. My real estate agent and loan officer were both friends of my family, so I trusted their judgment and words of clarification regarding the meaning of having an ARM loan, and the promise they would be able to get me out of the loan before it adjusted.
However, that did not happen. The housing bubble was a bust. The housing market fell apart right before our eyes, and homeowners like myself, had not a single clue about what was REALLY going on. I started making calls and reading and researching the market, and the information I discovered was astonishing. With no intent to sound political, the investment banks on Wall Street and other lenders ran some serious very game on the public, and I believe “they” were certain we, the people, would never figure it out, because “they” used very complicated and complex mathematical systems to take advantage of the housing market, especially the subprime market.
Now let me take out my trumpet and blow, “da da da daaaaaaa,” President Obama, you know, the one who didn’t do a thing for our nation. The one who didn’t keep his promises and what else? Oh yes, had nothing but failed policies according to his critics. Well, this same guy appropriated millions and even billions of dollars years ago to selected banks to help people save their homes, modify their loans, refinance their homes, and receive help and support from these institutions. But the receivers of these millions and billions said nothing, stashed the money away in their vaults, and gave stressed homeowners nothing more than the run around and a hard time.
I cannot tell you how many times my lender asked for the same identical documents over and over again. I can’t tell you how many different agents I talked with each having a different story and requesting the similar or same documents. And yes, as much as I am embarrassed to admit, a few scam artists schemed some of the dollars out of my pockets into theirs, in the name of helping secure a modification for my home. It’s been a deceitful mess.
Fortunately, I made the effort to stay abreast of the government programs the President provided for the distraught homeowner, but the lenders simply ignored the directives of these programs and would tell homeowners their loans were denied based on not receiving the correct documents or whatever other manipulative story they could conjure up at that time. But, trumpet sound again, “da da da daaaaaaa,” California State Attorney General, Kamala Harris, took a stand with the President and with about forty eight other state attorney generals in the nation and signed onto the NATIONAL MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT. The National Mortgage Settlement provides assistance for:
Borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure
Homeowners needing loan modifications
Borrowers who are current but underwater
For further information, contact your lender and/or mortgage servicer to confirm your eligibility. You can also get additional information by Googling: National Mortgage Settlement.
The California Homeowners Bill of Rights was legislation that demonstrated the California Assembly and Senate advocates concern and integrity regarding those issues facing many homeowners in the state of California every day. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown. The highlights of this bill are:
The law will institute simple reforms to bank’s foreclosure practices and create a fairer foreclosure process for California Homeowners.
The law ends the “dual track” where banks foreclose on homeowners while they are negotiating a loan modification with their bank.
Banks are required to give homeowners a “yes” or “no” answer on a loan modification application before continuing with foreclosure, thereby giving homeowners a fair chance at preventing foreclosure.
With this law in place, if a loan modification is denied, homeowners will not be blindsided by a sale notice, because banks are now required to send a letter to the borrower describing the reason for denial and letting the borrower know his or her right to appeal that denial to the servicer.
If a loan modification is accepted, the bank will rescind the notice of default or sale, allowing homeowners to pay their loans without the looming threat of foreclosure.
In addition to ending “dual track,” the legislation requires all banks to end “robosigning” and provide a single point of contact to borrowers. Homeowners will no longer have to speak to a different person at the bank every time they call and resubmit the same mountain of paperwork to different people at the same institution.
If a bank cannot follow these simple procedural rules, California homeowners will be able to enforce their rights by taking the bank to court. This will encourage servicers to follow the law, and when they do not, this will allow victimized California homeowners to get their homes back where possible or get some financial relief.
“This legislation finally brings some accountability to the banks for harmful foreclosure practices,” said Kevin Stein, Associate Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition.
“Homeowners will now be able to protect themselves from the commonplace violations that banks have exhibited in this foreclosure crisis.” Thank you Attorney General Kamala Harris and thank you President Barack Obama. And thank you all the California state legislators that were caring and courageous enough to pass this bill.