Real Estate Transactions are some of the most complex and confusing transactions the common man will ever be involved in throughout the course of his life, and this mess certainly doesn’t get any clearer in a subsequent foreclosure process. Terms such as; Real Party in Interest, Account Debtor, Secured Creditor, Holder in Due Course, Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit and a multitude of other legal terms are generally a foreign language to the average homeowner.
If you are a distressed homeowner who is fortunate enough to have secured competent counsel, your lawyer will be familiar with all of these terms, but this is usually not the case. I have found that in any given area of the country, America is saturates with attorneys but “competent counsel” is unfortunately very rare. This is where you come in.
Regardless if you have counsel or if you choose to go bare-back (pro se/pro per, or appearing in court without the assistance of learned counsel) a complete and accurate timeline can dispel a lot of this confusion.
A complete and accurate timeline should always start at the beginning. Many people believe that their mortgage began on the day of closing, that being the day you went in some office somewhere and in a hurried rush, and in a flurry of paperwork usually on a Friday, an hour or so before lunch time, but let’s go back a little further. Your timeline began when you first thought about buying a house.
You probably chose an area close to where you worked, with a good school district, safe environment, and in a place where you and your family would feel comfortable living. You see a sign in the yard of a vacant house that said FOR SALE Contact ABC Realtors at (555) 123-4567. So you dialed the number and spoke with the realtor who was handling the property. This day is where your timeline began. However the “deal” does not begin until you receive the first document in regard to your home loan.
The realtor would have reassured you that this is the property of your dreams and putting you in that property was going to be a snap. “I need you to fill out a Loan Application.” The loan application is the first documented evidence indication that you initiated the process of securing a mortgage in order to purchase the property, so we start there.
After you filled out the loan application you would have received from a closing agent a “pre-closing document package”. This document package should have contained a documented proposal of various loan options that you would have qualified for given your debt to income ration, and all necessary disclosures such as Truth in Lending Disclosure, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Disclosure, HUD-1 Settlement Statement, and HUD Booklet (which is rarely provided) and several other disclosures and documents that you will be given 3 days to look over before actually going to the closing table to sign the documents and thus seal the deal.
You would start your timeline with the loan application.
Your timeline should be as simply put as possible. This is not intended to by an account of your life story. It is a factual account of the transaction itself and of the subsequent events that followed to the present date. Remember, keep it simple and stick strictly to the facts. Your timeline should begin something like:
June 14, 2005 received loan application.
July 9, 2004 sent loan application to realtor (tab 3)
July 27, 2004 received pre-closing documents (tabs A-1-50)
August 13, 2004 went to closing
September 14, 2004 received final closing package (tabs B-1-52)
Note I stated “(tab 3)”; (tabs A-1-50)… Anytime you make reference to a document provide a copy of the document or documents you are referring to. The first reference is to the loan application, so you would make a “copy” of the loan application and put this in your binder. Keeping accurate records is an absolute must if you expect to keep track of what’s going on in your situation. See my article titled “Well Organized Record Keeping Always Helps” for more details.
NOTE: NEVER provide your attorney or ANY other party with your original documents, EVER. IF things don’t work out between you and your attorney you will have a hard time getting your original documents back. You can take your original documents to court with you and show them to the court for the purpose of comparison, but always request the immediate return of your originals. Originals cannot be replaced, but if you have the originals a copy can be.
There will usually be a period of 3 or more years when you made your mortgage payments on a regular basis before things went haywire. This is a good place to put a copy of your payment history. If you do not have a copy of your payment history one can be obtained from your mortgage servicer (who ever is collecting your mortgage payments) upon request.
Now it all hits the fan. You get a letter from the mortgage servicer saying that you are delinquent on your payment. So it should be reflected in your timeline as follows;
April 3, 2013 received notice of delinquency from Bank of America (tab 5)
May 16, 2013 received Notice of Default (tab 6)
May 18, 2013 went to County Recorder’s Office and got certified copies of all documents on record (tabs 7-14)
Telephone Communications and Front Door Visits:
From time to time you may receive a telephone call or a knock at the door. If someone calls you, make note of the day and the time of the call, the name and employee number of the individual calling and take notes of the key points of the conversation. Check your state’s wiretapping laws and if you live in a state that does not have a statutory requirement to disclose the fact that you are recording the call, record it. This can later be transcribed and the transcription will go in your case binder. If someone comes knocking at your door in regard to the property, get their business card, or information i.e. name, employee number from their badge and again record your conversation with them pursuant to your state’s wiretapping laws and make record in your case binder. For a list of all party/one party consent states see this page on Wikipedia.
If you keep your timeline and case binder up to date as you receive documents, you and/or your attorney will be able to see just how you came to where you are now, you and/or your attorney will be able to tell at a glance where you are in your situation, and you and/or your attorney will be able to go immediately to a specific document or tell the court with pin point accuracy how this plaid out and why the court should decide in your favor. This timeline is an absolute must because of the complexity of the situation and anything you can do to help sort things out is a debt you owe yourself.