The practice at Benson Law Firm focuses on bankruptcy, while the foreclosure defense work is generally limited to negotiating workouts in mediation either in lieu of bankruptcy or leading up to bankruptcy. In other words, we try to resolve the foreclosure during the mediation phase with a loan modification. There has been an increase in foreclosure activity in our practice, largely due to economic conditions and plummeting real estate values.We represent clients throughout Northern Ohio, from Toledo to Youngstown and from Cleveland to Mansfield. Most of our foreclosure clients have some kind of major loss, usually a reduction in employment, a major medical event or a recent divorce. Our approach with these clients is as holistic as possible, linking my clients’ financial challenges with the most logical legal and non-legal solutions. For example, many clients are in need of public benefits, assistant from nonprofit agencies and credit repair.
Factors Driving Increases in Foreclosure
Over the last several years, Northern Ohio has seen steady job losses and reductions in work hours. If two people in the household are making money sufficient to support mortgage payments and one or both lose a job or suffer a reduction in hours, it can send that household into a tailspin. Some people try to hang on, concentrating on the house by making payments on the mortgage while they defer other things. Eventually, they reach the limit on their credit cards while trying to make ends meet and find they cannot further reduce their expenses. Often, clients come into my office with a complaint in hand from a creditor lawsuit. Older individuals on fixed incomes who suffer major medical events and incur large amounts of medical debt discover at the end of the month that they don’t have enough money with which to make the monthly mortgage payment.
Many debtors find multiple factors can trigger or accelerate foreclosure. Any one problem may not cause an emergency but may begin a slow downward spiral. When people try to keep things on an even keel, they may be successful for a while. But eventually, they may end up “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Other clients have been victims of predatory lending, and so they have houses that are worth a fraction of their loan amounts. They may want to stay in the home because it holds fond memories. But from an investment standpoint, it is a black hole. When asked if they would carry the same loan and buy the house at the same price all over again, they invariably say “of course not.”
Nonetheless, most borrowers want to give some effort to working out an accommodation with their lender.