A reader sent in a contract with Home Owners Advocacy Group they had recently signed for some sort of mortgage assistance of foreclosure avoidance.
I am now a lawyer. What follows is my opinion of different sections of the agreement in an effort to help readers better understand what to look for and what it means.
If you have a debt relief contract you’d like for me to review, click here.
Home Owners Advocacy Group
The company says they are located at:
Santa Ana, CA 92707
It’s probably just an odd coincidence but the Federal Trade Commission took action against a company that was offering similar services and located at:
1801 East Edinger Ave
Santa Ana, CA 92705 – Source
A search in California via the Secretary of State website could locate no company that is registered to do business in California under the name Home Owners Advocacy Group.
The agreement does not shed any light on where the company is located or specifically who the agreement is with. Is Home Owners Advocacy Group and unregistered business? Are they a corporation, LLC or maybe just a made up name.
The agreement is for “advocacy representation,” whatever the heck that is.
The agreement says consumer must pay all bills due Home Owners Advocacy Group within seven days.
It looks like the consumer is paying for some sort of submission of a “package” to their lender after “complaints” are prepared.
And then they will follow up with the client and resubmit materials again.
For this service the consumer has agreed to pay $2,950 in four installments.
If the client fails to make the installment payments then Home Owners Advocacy Group will consider the contract in breach and will withdraw. No mention of any refunds available.
Home Owners Advocacy Group will not represent the client in any lawsuit or to stop any foreclosure.
Home Owners Advocacy Group may farm out the support and administration of this agreement.
No “legal services” will be provided until all the installments have been paid. Yet it is unclear what initial legal service, at all, would actually be provided.
The client must arbitrate any dispute in Orange County, California and may not due the company, whoever they are, without arbitration first.
The agreement says this contract falls under the State Bar of California but no lawyer is identified in conjunction with the agreement.
The company says they will not modify the loan.
Even though the agreement says they are a California company, I could not locate one under that name.
The contract states there are no promises or guarantees about actually delivering the services and it appears there are no refunds as well. Buyer Beware.
Page 5 is a checking account debit form.
There does not appear to be anything here that a consumer could not try themselves for free. There appears to be no attorney representation and no attorney is identified. The consumer does not live in California so unless the attorney is licensed in their state, there could be no attorney representation.
Any consumer contemplating entering into a similar agreement might want to first review the links below for free actions they can take themselves.
Be sure to first read How Not to Get Scammed by a Mortgage Loan Modification Company.
First you’ll need to determine your current debt-to-income ratio. The target debt-to-income ratio under the Home Affordable Modification program is 31%. Use this free online DTI calculator.
Mortgage Modification Calculator
The mortgage modification eligibility calculator will ask you several questions and then show you which programs you may be eligible for.
Free Mortgage Modification Help and Counseling
If you have questions about the process or eligibility you can call 888-995-4673 and get connected with an mortgage modification adviser for free. This help is provided by government subsidized HUD Housing Counselors and they can be a big help in navigating the modification process.
In order to assist you, the housing expert will need to gather some information from you. Have the following documents handy:
- Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement.
- Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the house.
- Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of all household members contributing to pay the mortgage, including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources.
- Information about your savings and other assets.
- Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards.
- Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans and car loans.
- Your most recent income tax return.
- It may also be helpful to have: A letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.), if applicable.
You can also get free help and housing counseling from a local HUD approved counselor. You can find your local free housing counselor, here.
Contact Your Mortgage Company
Not sure if your mortgage company offers modification programs? Not all do. You can contact your mortgage company to ask them about mortgage modification programs you might be eligible for. Click here to find your mortgage company.
Want to know the net present value (NPV) of your home for the mortgage modification process? No problem, use the free NPV calculator to find out. The NPV calculator is right here.
The calculator can be used by homeowners who have been denied a HAMP modification because of their NPV result or can also be used by homeowners prior to applying for a HAMP modification to help them better understand the NPV evaluation.
No Advance Fees
The Federal Trade Commission has a Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule which prohibits advance fees for mortgage rescue services or mortgage modification help.