By Jeff Gallatin
Inaction can cost a homeowner an opportunity to save their home, an attorney who specializes in fighting foreclosures said Thursday.
“It’s better to take some sort of action or actions,” Peter Cozmyk, a foreclosure defense attorney, said. “If you don’t do anything, you’re almost certainly going to lose your house.”
Cozmyk was the keynote speaker at a foreclosure prevention workshop held by the Neighborhood Community Foundation at The Radisson Hotel in North Olmsted.
People and families facing foreclosure are already stressed because of tight finances even before they start dealing with foreclosure actions, he said. Then, when the actual foreclosure process gets underway, the stress becomes even greater, Cozmyk added.
“Dealing with the stress from the other problems is bad enough, but it gets compounded because they don’t understand the process,” he said. “People have legal rights, potential solutions and different options they can take to fight the process and try and keep their home. But, they don’t always know or understand that. So, myself and others try to help them so they can try to keep their home. If they don’t take any action, whether it’s seeking more information or taking a specific action to try and deal with the issue, then they’re going to lose the home.”
Cozmyk noted that if a homeowner does not respond to the complaint about not making house payments, then the lender is awarded a default judgement.
“That’s just not right, because in many cases, there is a problem with the loan,” he said. “Eight of 10 home loans have lender violations. Some of those violations could give you leverage with your lender in negotiating a loan modification, others could allow you to sue your lender for damages and in some extreme cases, the violations could actually allow your loan to be rescinded.”
Cozmyk said the problem of inaction is compounded in many instances by banks, lenders and their legal representatives taking inappropriate and in some cases, illegal action. A video of an interview with former 60 Minutes correspondent and now lead CBS Evening News Anchor Scott Pelley about the problems and issues he saw after doing a story on foreclosures was shown prior to Cozmyk’s speaking.
“It’s amazing and appalling what these people are getting away with,” Cozmyk said. “Many American homeowners currently in foreclosure are being victimized by fraudulent actions from lenders and/or lawyers. Knowledge is power and homeowners can more effectively fight foreclosure by knowing about the process and understanding how it directly applies to their situations.”
Cozmyk said 30 years ago, if you got a mortgage from a bank, it was very likely the bank would keep the loan on its balance sheet until the loan was repaid by the homeowner.
“That’s no longer true,” he said. “Many loans now are sold now on Wall Street and that process is called securitization. In many cases, your loans were sold over and over again without your knowledge. The New York Times reported that some loans were traded as many as 600 times while banks profited.”
Cozmyk said an important point to remember when dealing with a foreclosure is that lack of proof can prevent foreclosure.
“A federal judge in Cleveland dismissed 14 foreclosure cases because the trustee was unable to prove ownership of the notes,” he said. “The University of Iowa found that 40 percent of banks foreclosing on borrowers could not prove they actually owned the loan. During the past year, similar cases were also dismissed all over the country.”
Cozmyk said a borrower and whoever might be aiding or legally representing him should take action in those actions.
Then, the attorney should aggressively litigate against your lender to achieve the best possible outcome for your case,” Cozmyk said. “There’s no guarantees of a specific outcome when you fight back on your foreclosure.”
However. Cozmyk re-emphasized that to take no action is the worst option of all.
Time is very limited with respect to foreclosure proceedings,” he said. “Examine the best options available for your circumstances and take action to protect your family’s well-being.”
For further information on foreclosure prevention, people can go to www.Neighorhood-Community.org or call the Neighborhood Community Foundation at 877-306-5299.