Home Sweet Home – or Not

            A legal matter can be an unusual sort of business.

Most people are accustomed to dealing in economic, interchangeable types of transactions.  For example, if someone wants to buy a pair of running shoes, they know where to do so.  They can walk into a mall, or into a large retail store, or into a sporting goods store and before long they can find what they are looking for.  If they prefer online shopping, then it won’t take long to find a pair of shoes for sale online.  Yard sales, online auctions – there are lots of possibilities for buying a pair of running shoes.  And if the shopper doesn’t like the terms of sale, or the price, or the quality, or anything else, then they can just say “Thanks – but no thanks” and move on to the next seller.  Buyers usually aren’t tied to any particular store or any particular seller.  They can just look around until they find what they want, at a price they are willing to pay, from a person or store they like, and then they can make a purchase.

Legal matters are different.  A person involved in a legal matter can’t always choose who they do business with, or how or when their legal matter will end.  Sometimes people get involved in a legal matter, and it just ends up costing more, or taking more time, or causing more frustration that was originally expected.  There can be a great temptation to say “I’m just ready to be done.  Just finish this. By Tuesday if possible.  And I don’t want it to cost me very much.”  Sometimes that kind of an approach might work.  But other times it might be just wishful thinking.

A legal matter can be long, drawn out, uncertain, complex, and emotional.  This can be especially true when the stakes are high.  For most people, the biggest purchase they’ll ever make is their home.  Even after the market downturn, many homes cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and people obligate themselves to payment terms for a lifetime – 30 years or more.  Plus a home is often a centerpoint of life – people are often invested in their homes.  A home can be a center of family life, and a lot of effort, sweat and thought can go into getting a home “just so” or just how the owner likes it.  So it’s no surprise that homeowners can frequently feel like their home is almost an extension of themselves.

When the condition or the status of their home becomes threatened, people’s defenses can go up.  This can happen for any one of a number of reasons.  But one of the most common threats these days is the threat of foreclosure.  Everybody knows that in most cases you have to make your monthly mortgage payment or you’ll eventually lose your home.  But if a borrower can’t make their monthly payment because of illness, job loss, or other circumstances, then it can just sometimes feel like events are getting to be too much.  In these situations, the borrower can often feel like they are in an adversarial relationship with their lender.

And it doesn’t help that borrowers sometimes feel like their lender is unresponsive.  There are still many experiences where borrowers are trying to get a loan modification so that they can stay in their homes, but they sometimes find that the lender loses their paperwork, and that it has to all be re-assembled and submitted.  Or sometimes there can be a substantial delay in getting information, approval, or agreement back from a lender.  This can occur both in situations where borrowers seek loan modifications, as well as in situations where borrowers seek to cure their past loan defaults and bring their loans current.

It can be a difficult – and trying – time.  And because there is usually only one – or two -lenders involved, the borrower usually can’t just say “I’ve had enough – I’m ready to be done – I’d prefer to deal with someone else.”  No, it’s a legal matter and most borrowers have little option other than to deal with the lender they already have.  If the lender’s slow to respond, or difficult to deal with, then the borrower may not be able to realistically end their relationship and just deal with someone else.

In these situations, borrowers sometimes find they are in over their heads.  They often find they could use some good professional coaching, training, or advice.  When dealing with these loan situations, or loan defaults, or risk of foreclosure, or similar items, it’s often a great idea for borrowers to consult with skilled, professional legal counsel.  Borrowers who do so often find they feel much better after such consultation, because they are able to better explore their available options.

Copyright 2017 ROBERT B. JACOBS