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Real Estate Law Center Contract Review – Questions Raised

“Dear Steve,

I was contacted by Real Estste Law Center to join a mass tort lawsuit against Bank of America.

Attached, please find the retainer package. My husband and I would love your feedback.

We hope this will either help validate a legitimate service or help protect us and others from being scammed.

Teresa”

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The Answer

Dear Teresa,

Thank you for sending this in. I’ll go through this page by page and give you my opinion on each page and point out any issues that I think you should be aware of or clarify with Real Estate Law Center.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

Nothing unusual here.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

Nothing unusual here.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

Starting from the top of the page:

Any case filed on your behalf will be filed in California.

The agreement “does not cover all possibilities and specifically excludes representation on appeal or in execution proceedings after judgment.” This seems to indicate you could owe more money for services if this requires additional services not covered in this agreement.

The attorneys are not licensed in your state if you do not live in California. This may create an issue with the Federal Trade Commission guidance on Mortgage Assistance Relief Services which says:

It’s illegal to charge upfront fees. You can’t collect money from a customer unless you deliver – and the customer agrees to – a written offer of mortgage relief from the customer’s lender or servicer. – Source

If you do not live in California then the FTC says an attorney may only charge you advanced fees if “They are licensed to practice law in the state where their client or their client’s home is located.” – Source

You may be required to travel to California for an undetermined period of time at your expense “when necessary at legal proceedings.”

No case will be filed until the entire retainer is paid and the retainer paid is not refundable. If you don’t pay the full retainer Real Estate Law Center reserves the right to sue you to obtain the balance due.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

On top of the non-refunable retainer you will have to pay $29.95 per month, ongoing.

Real Estate Law Center may take 30 percent of any money recovered on your behalf from any source.

If a payment should bounce from you they will charge you $50.

If you run into an issue with this company and have a dispute, they may charge you $550 an hour for lead attorney services.

There is no guarantee at all of any outcome. There is the possibility you will not win anything or get any relief or award.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

This is the first time we learn that Chad Pratt, Esq. is the attorney behind this.

The agreement says that Real Estate Law Center will split the fees you pay with Pinnacle Law Center getting 80 percent of the fees.

It appears that all Pinnacle Law Center is doing is getting paid 80 percent of the fees for referring you to Real Estate Law Center.

Real Estate Law Center may hire outside non-legal companies to service your account. “Employees of these law firms or servicing agencies unless attorneys are not allowed to provide any legal advice to the Client.” Your questions should be asked only of the attorney but they’ve indicated the Real Estate Law Center attorneys are only licensed in California.

Real Estate Law Center does not have any malpractice or errors and omission or professional liability insurance.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

Appears to be an information release form.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

Appears to be a form to allow Real Estate Law Center to debit your bank account. This form says the bounced payment fee is only $49. Congratulations, you saved $1.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

A form to allow Real Estate Law Center to debit your bank account for the $29.95 monthly fee.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

A form to debit your bank account for the full $5,000 non-refundable retainer.

Very Troubling

This next document they sent you concerns me deeply.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised
Click image for larger view.

This page, the first of two, appears to have been provided to you by Josh Kramer, Senior Consultant at Real Estate Law Center as an example of the reduction of a mortgage. It troubles me because there is no indication if this is either a typical result or given to you to create an expectation that this is what is expected to happen.

I could not help but notice that the date of this example letter is 2008, almost four years ago. Have they no current such examples? What percentage of their clients have received such results?

Additionally, the letter does not appear to be written or sent to Real Estate Law Center but to a consumer who we don’t even know was a client of Real Estate Law Center. Is the four year old one example even a case that was produced by them?

This is an extremely important point especially since the State of California says Real Estate Law Center didn’t even exist at that time and was formed August 18, 2011.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised

The second arrow on this page says what the original balance was.

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised
Click image for larger view.

This page has two circled items showing a new interest rate and a lower balance due. This seems to be used as an example of what you should expect but all of my objections over the use of this letter still stand from the other page. Is this a typical result? Is this even obtained by Real Estate Law Center? And this isn’t even with a mortgage company but with a loan servicing loss mitigation department. Is Litton even the mortgage lender on this property? If not, who was?

Conclusion

I hope the review of this information was helpful and pointed out some issues you may want to clarify with them before proceeding. At the very least it seems prudent to discus your situation with a licensed real estate attorney in your state and a free HUD Housing Counselor before proceeding. No attorney should object to you getting a second opinion and if they do, RUN!

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

Real Estate Law Center Contract Review   Questions Raised
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Very Concerned

    update – After working with RELC for six months now, I FEEL I HAVE BEEN SCAMMED. I would not be able to recommend them. I have had a terrible experience and when I asked for a refund, they refused. It’s been a terrible mess and the details are so long to go into but I would stay away from them. I’m so sad to say….

  • Very concerned

    We just signed up with them a few days ago. I went in for an appointment to check them out and by the time I walked out the door, I’d signed and paid a huge retainer. It was such a hard sell, I’m still scratching my head. I just found your site and read this. I’m mortified. I can’t believe all the scams targeting people who’v been kicked and look for people who are down to kick again and again like blood thirsty sharks. It’s mind-blowing. Just when I question whether I even want to be on this planet anymore, someone good comes along like you to help me believe in mankind again. Do you have any thoughts or recommendations on what to do? It looks like we can’t get out of this and I’ve lost confidence in their integrity. I believed Chad Pratt would be the one handling our case but now it appears he probably doesn’t even glance at it. I’m so tired. What banks have done to people is a true crime. It’s the largest transfer of wealth in American history.

    • spiker

      Hi Very Concerned and Karen, how have things been going in the last 2 weeks? I’ve been considering going with them as well.I was quoted $5000 retainer for the individual and collective suit, (that Karen has taken) and an additional $1500 a month in an individual suit! Why specifically have you lost confidence in their integrity? I agree that the salesmen are high pressure. that’s often the case.i’m not sure i would have expected Pratt to individually take my case. Anyway , now that you’ve spent a little time. What do you and Karen think?

      • Still concerned

        Hi Spiker and Karen,
        We called the first week as we hadn’t heard from them and were told we’d be contacted for our first interview right away. No one has called to this day. I wrote an email listing my concerns regarding the contract. That question was ignored. As I signed up for the individual @ $1500 month, I asked for a detailed explanation of what has been done so far. I got a pat answer. I asked what motivation do they have to work on our case rather than taking longer and getting paid more for the same work? I stressed I wasn’t comfortable with this open-ended contract & asked if there were other options like a flat fee. That was ignored. I basicly got the same sales pitch where they tout the fact that Chad Pratt has no dings on his bar record and an A rating with the BBB. To date, I still haven’t been contacted and haven’t even heard from them and it’s about time to cough up another $1500. I’m not thrilled at this point and would recommend waiting to see what happens before signing up. The good news is that I have friends and relatives in high places in law enforcement, I’ve gotten places shut down who’ve pulled scams on me and I always get my money back so I’m not too worried. If it’s a scam, I will have the last laugh so I am happy to be a guinea pig and let you all know what ends up happening. I say wait and see but you have to do what makes you most comfortable in your situation.   

      • sasha

        That’s too bad if this turns out to be a scam.  Please keep us updated on the status of your experience with this firm.

        Sasha

    • Sasha

      Have they been in contact with you as of today?  What’s the status of your case?

      Sasha 

      • Very concerned

        Hi Sasha, as of today, I still have not heard from them though I haven’t checked messages yet but surely my husband would have told me. I did speak to another attorney prior to signing up at RELC called UFAN. This website even checked them out and I’m going to switch to UFAN if this RELC doesn’t pull through. I will absolutely keep you all posted and I’m about to email them so we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to be too quick to judge because it’s only been about 3 weeks in total since we signed up. And if they are scammers, I don’t think they’ll be able to pull it off for too much longer and we should know fairly soon… 
        Robin

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        UFAN is winding down.

      • Very concerned

        Hi Steve, thanks for your response. What do you mean by that? I just spoke to Jaime about 3 weeks ago. She was very willing to take our case. So what do you mean by ‘winding down’? Maybe you know someting I don’t. Also, do you know of any good CA real estate attorneys? They seem very hard to find. What do you think of Aurthur J. Roberts or Jeff Barnes group?
        There’s also a gal in Orange county who just started some class actions with Authur J. Roberts who are legitimate. I saw their filed cases. I was just about to contact them but signed with that RELC first.
        Thanks, homeowners need to know…

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode
  • Karen

    I was so Frustrated with Bank of America that I gave them Shot. I spoke to someone with Naca and they said My loan payments can only increase with a modification and there is no way they will reduce the principal. I know of the 
    Bank of America: Case #’s 34-2011-00109314 (Visindi V Bank of America)  and HG12616744 (Alvarez V Bank of America) so I believe there is some hope of achieving a settlement in Joining the suit with the Real Estate Law Center. The banks have been scamming us for so long, it doesn’t make sense to keep trusting them. I didn’t find any complaints on Chad Pratts record with the bar. So I am Going to be more aggressive in trying to get a better loan. Are there any other cases like this one going on that you know of Steve?

    • spiker

      How have things been going Karen.Would you recommend them?

    • Concerned HomeOwner

      Karen,

      We would be very interested too in how it is going with the Real Estate Law Center, as we are considering joining them too.

      Sasha 

    • Reason

      Hi Karen, 9 months into a mass tort case it would be really helpful for everyoen to hear any status updates.

  • Another potential victim!

    This was extremely helpful, Steve, as we just received a similar letter (although I notice everyone seems to report a phone number different than the one on our letter) and now we know to throw it in the trash!

    • spiker

      Hi Very Concerned and Karen, What have been the develpoments with Real Estate law Center?Are you pleased withe results so far?, Would you recommend them to anyone else? Thanks Spiker

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