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If the Shoe fits…

If the Shoe fits…

As I am writing this, it is February in Michigan, and we just got 8” of snow. Not a great time for the zipper in my boots to totally pull out of the boot; especially since I rely on those boots 4 times a day when I take my dogs for a walk. No problem, I went to the shoe store to buy a new pair and learned that February is not the time to buy boots! I could have my choice of sandals, but boots can’t even be special ordered if the sales lady didn’t have something from their limited stock in my size. They tried to squeeze my size 11 foot into a size 10, but that only confirmed that I really needed a size 11. Then they tried a wide width on my narrow foot and while that might have been a short term fix as my foot slid around inside, we all agreed that wasn’t a good long term answer for a gal who would be wearing these floppy boots 2-3 miles/ day. So, now I am walking around in sneakers, hoping for an early spring and resolving to go buy a pair of boots in September when they are available again. Amazing!

I started to think about this on my walk this morning (wearing my sneakers and avoiding all deep snow) and it occurred to me that this is similar to what you run into when you are facing a Michigan foreclosure.

You are in financial distress and can’t make your house payment due to loss of income from job loss, death, divorce, health issues, etc. You go to the logical person to help – your lender. The lender tries to fit you into a program that is more designed to benefit the lender than you! If you find something that you think might be able to work (like a loan modification), you try it out for a while. However, you end up like the vast majority of sellers and soon fail and are back looking at options again.

The situation is different when you call us. We have no program to try to fit you into. We will listen to your situation, suggest options and help you figure out what is best for you based on your goals. If you are ready to just get out from under the burden of the debt on the house, we have one of the best records in Michigan for successfully negotiating short sales and getting you back to happier days. There is never a cost to you and we keep all your information confidential. Give Emily a call today and let us help you get “happy feet” again.


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Deficiency Judgments

Deficiency Judgments

Recently, there was an article posted on a major news website about how mortgage lenders are pursuing homeowners after foreclosure. It seems that with the downturn in the housing market, more and more lenders are choosing to pursue their former customers for additional money after the foreclosure and repossession, most likely in an attempt to recoup their substantial losses amid the recent foreclosure epidemic.

Many homeowners may be under the impression that after a foreclosure, deed-in-lieu, or even a short sale, they’re done – the debt is gone – and the only issue with which they now have to contend is the damage to their credit. On the contrary, it is possible (and entirely probable) that lenders pursue deficiency judgments, which may result in wages being garnished or even time spent in jail if that money is not repaid.

Pretty scary, huh?

Who is looking out and actually reading those short sale approval letters and explaining them to you?  I’m sorry to say that most REALTORS are not because they don’t understnad the difference between a total account settlement and simply a lien release.  It’s certainly not obvious when reading these short sale approval letters.

Our company always fights for a settlement (no deficiency balance), but I’ve been seeing this more frequently, unfortunately. Lenders are refusing to waive their legal right to pursue for any deficiency. We, of course, always want to help our sellers start over with as clean a slate as possible. We can’t promise this will happen – we can’t promise you’ll walk away with no additional debt. We CAN promise, though, that we will do our best to that end, that we’ll exhaust all options to keep you safe from any pursuit by your lender.

If you’re facing foreclosure and the scenario I described may fit your situation, feel free to give us a call. We’ll see what we can do to help you get back to better times.


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Is There A “Soft” Exit From Foreclosure?

Is There A “Soft” Exit From Foreclosure?

I came across this article which talks about lenders attempting to find softer exits other than foreclosure for distressed borrowers.

I had to ask myself, “softer exit for whom”? My thinking is that a truly soft exit is one where someone lands on their feet and gets moving to better times faster. Who is landing on their feet with these “soft exits”? Although the article does not say it, I have to believe that the lender is looking out for their best interests (don’t they always?) and not necessarily you. I believe it is the lender who is benefiting from the soft exit.

For example, the article discusses how Citigroup will allow a distressed borrowers to stay in the house for up to 6 months before turning over the keys. However, you’d have to:

  • Not qualify or be declined for other workout programs
  • Keep the property in good condition
  • Pay for utilities
  • In most cases, pay for taxes, Insurance and HOA fees

This may be a good option for some. However, most of the sellers we talk to who can no longer afford the house, also cannot afford taxes, insurance and making needed repairs. The advantage to the lender is that they get you motivated to take care of the house, making it easier for the lender to resell the house when they eventually get it back. Also consider that in states like Michigan, you already have a redemption period during which you are legally allowed to live in the house after the foreclosures sale so the bank isn’t really granting anything that is not already the your legal right (for Michigan).

It would be a good idea for you to find out how accepting this proposal is going to your credit (assuming that’s part of your goal). It could show as a voluntary foreclosure, not to mention the 6+ months of missed payment all which will only harm your credit. This definitely will not help you land on your feet and able to start over.

I would like to suggest that a “softer” exit for you if you’re facing a Michigan foreclosure – a short sale. This can help to salvage your credit making it much easier to land on your feet. The article mentions common pitfalls when you try to do a short sale yourself or you use an inexperience Realtor or other person to do the short sale. However, when you use an experienced negotiator like us, these so called pitfalls are just issues that we are aware of and have successful plans to deal with or avoid completely.

Put our professional expertise to work and let us help you make a soft exit from a problem situation and get back to better times. Give Emily a call today to discuss your options and for free, confidential advise about your situation.


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Lightning Does the Work

Lightning Does the Work

I was out running errands yesterday and heard a song from Chad Brock called “Lightning Does the Work”. I’ve probably heard it at least 40 times, but this time was different. I was singing along off key and it suddenly hit me- this song describes our Great Lakes Home Solutions team.

Having worked in the real estate industry for about 11 years I’ve heard many people claim that they know all about short sales and can get them negotiated without any problem and that they’re even easy. I’m here to say that they’re all wrong. In the lyrics of the song Chad sings “Thunder’s just a noise, boys, lightnin’ does the work”. I like to think of us at GLHS as the lightning. While others are busy talking about how much they know; we’re busy closing short sales (usually 3 to 8 per month). I know I’m tooting our own horn, but I think we deserve it. With an 85% success rate over the last 6 months, how can we not. If you’re looking for a team that is dedicated to helping you sell your house and stop your Michigan Foreclosure, give us a call.


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“They Broke Into The House & Changed The Locks!”

“They Broke Into The House & Changed The Locks!”

Yes, that’s exactly how the first part of this conversation with one of our new sellers went. The rest of the story is unbelievable, but we managed to turn it into a good ending (so far). But first, a little education for you so you can understand this story…

Redemption period – what’s that? A redemption period is a number of days or months after a foreclosure auction during which time you may redeem the property. At the auction, the house is sold back to your lender (most of the time) – by redeeming, you are claiming the property back so it’s yours again. Michigan is one of only 10 states that boasts a redemption period – ours is generally six months.

Sounds pretty good right? Here’s the catch: the amount owed must be paid in full during those six months (plus interest & attorney fees), so, if you were to receive a large monetary gift, or win the lottery, you might be able to redeem the house.

Or, you could sell it.

Thing is, every seller in Michigan has redemption rights (unless he or she chooses to sign a deed in lieu of foreclosure with the lender which gives up those rights). That is something no business, individual, or entity can take away from you – you are protected by Michigan law.

So our new seller was in this very situation; unfortunately, a local business that wishes to attain her house sooner rather than later (they don’t want to wait out the six months), seems to have aggressively pursued their goal by unethical means. The property was broken into and they tried to bully her – for lack of a better term – into foregoing her right to redeem the house herself. They were likely playing the odds she would not know her rights or contact a third party. Sad to say there are people out there who prey upon those in financial hardship.

The good news (because we taught her how to deal with these bullies) is she’s now exercising those rights and intends to redeem the house.

I just wanted to take a few moments to stress how important it is for you as a seller in foreclosure-ridden Michigan to know your options and more importantly your rights – both in prosperity and hardship.

If you’re faced with a similar situation (or anything else related to Michigan foreclosure for that matter), give us a call – we’re all happy to help!


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Bulldozer in Lieu of Foreclosure

I just came across a very interesting story thanks to WLWT in Cincinnati (does Loni Anderson still work there?) about a man struggling with foreclosure. Like most people facing foreclosure, he was very frustrated with his bank – so frustrated, in fact, that he bulldozed his entire house into the ground.

Before: Terry Hoskins' $350,000 house in Moscow, Ohio

Now, I’m not very clear on what the whole story was here, since I am only familiar, for the most part, with Michigan foreclosure proceedings. The article talks about IRS liens on his carpet store, a law suit involving his brother, and a 10 year struggle with his bank. What I do know is that instead of giving his house back to the bank, Terry Hoskins decided to destroy the house – “to send a message.”

The house, mid-demolition
I know the message that I’m taking away from this one – “Don’t mess with Terry Hoskins. He’s got a bulldozer and he knows how to use it!” All kidding aside, I understand his frustrations, just maybe not the way he handled it. We here at Great Lakes Home Solutions see it everyday:
-You can almost never talk to the same person twice, so each time you talk to the bank, you have to explain your entire story over again.
-They constantly transfer you to the wrong department (or to the wrong company completely, as I experienced last week.)
-They ask you for paperwork and then they lose it. Several times.
-They call you (with their special robot employees), and then make you sit on hold.
-They try to talk everyone into applying for a loan modification, only to deny almost everyone.
-Many bank employees are cold and uncaring about the situation, even though there is a legitimate hardship at hand.

If you have a house which you can no longer afford, please don’t destroy it with heavy machinery. Give Emily a call. She’d love to discuss your options with you! If a short sale is right for you, we’ll handle most of the dirty work for you. And the best part? No one is going to ask you for money! (And, if you think about it, we’re saving you hundreds of dollars in bulldozer rental fees!)

The house, after demolition
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Michigan Foreclosures Affect Every County

Here is an article that gives number of foreclosure throughout Michigan in 2009 by County.

I am sure no one will be surprised to learn that Wayne County had the most foreclosures in Michigan in 2009. How about the county where you live? Did you ever wonder how many foreclosure filings there were in the last few years? If you are behind on your payments and facing a Michigan foreclosure, you will see you are not alone.

The obvious message is that foreclosure has no geographical boundaries and extends throughout Michigan. This means that there are resources and help available, more so than if this was not such a prevalent problem. We are one such resource that can help people facing a Michigan Foreclosure. We can help you evaluate your options and help you get back to better times.

If you are behind on your payments and facing Michigan foreclosure (or know someone who is) give us a call. We will not put you in a worse position, and will work harder than anyone to improve your situation. Confidential, free, right here in Michigan ready to help you. Call today before it’s too late!


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2 More Houses – Another $267,000 of Debt Wiped Out

Last week, we closed on two different houses and my team made $267,000 of debt disappear between both of them. How is this done? This is done with a short sale. Don’t know what a short sale is? Well you can search this blog to learn more, or just give us a call. We’re really good at them though based on all of the testimonials you’ll find here and here. And here’s two more!

“What can we say about Joel and the people who work with him. They were amazing from the very beginning. We, like many people, were in a bad situation with our mortgage company with the high interest rate which led to a payment we just couldn’t afford. Desperate, we bought into a couple scams which cost us money we didn’t have. So needless to say when I heard from Joel we were a little skeptical. That feeling was completely wrong. From the very beginning they have stayed true to their word. They were always so compassionate about our situation and what we were going through. Even when things didn’t go necessarily as planned, they continued to work hard to get any issues resolved. They were not just negotiators to us, they truly became our friends who we feel sincerely cared. We are so thankful to them for helping us resolve a situation that no one ever wants to go through. I would recommend anyone who has any needs as far as their houses go to get in contact with them. They are great. Just in case you’re wondering our original debt was $197,000. Joel’s team got the mortgage company to settle for $86,000 which was a savings of $111,000. Amazing!!”

Mike and Jen, Hamilton, Michigan

“I found myself looking for another job after I moved back home to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I did not realize it would take me so long to find employment again and dwindled down my savings to save my house. I called the bank for help and did everything they asked me to do – sent hardship letters and financial statements, they basically said we cannot help you unless you are delinquent. I have never paid a late payment in my life, but I had to. I finally was referred to a realtor Curt Hausser who was so understanding and sympathetic – he referred me to Great lakes, from the day I asked for their help my embarrassment and stress went away. My original debt was $267,000, the house was settled for $110,000, which wiped out $157,000 of debt. This is for real! Thanks all of the staff at Great Lakes.”

Linda, Howard City, Michigan


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Don’t Trust Everyone

Today I’m going to give all of the blog readers out there a tidbit of useful advice: Don’t trust your Michigan short sale to just anyone. I’ll tell you why…

Short sales are hard to do! They take a lot of frustrating phone calls, countless hours of your time, some serious negotiation ability, and some on-your-toes critical thinking skills. Not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to close a short sale deal.

Today I did a search on the local MLS to see exactly how many active short sale listings there are out there. The answer is a whopping 1,083! Just in the southwest Michigan area! I then did a search to see how many short sales sold in the last six months: a mere 200. Shocking!

I suppose that due to our much higher than average closing success rate (about 80%) it’s easy for us to forget how many people out there are struggling with their short sales. Many sellers are either trying to do them by themselves, or are using a possibly uninformed, unqualified REALTOR®. Sure, there are REALTORS® out there who are seasoned pros at this (many work with us!), but many aren’t very qualified. They try hard to sells houses and most are good at it. If they are working on a short sale, chances are they are trying their hardest to get it to go through. But all the trying in the world cannot make something work if you simply don’t know how or have the refined skills. We work with several great REALTORS® to try to make sure the house not only gets sold, but also gets an approved short sale. Have you watched Joel’s video on how to determine if your REALTOR® is qualified to do a short sale?

So before you trust your short sale to just anyone, give it some thought. Hopefully you’ll realize that our FREE, confidential services may be a great opportunity for you. Remember, Michigan short sales are all we do!


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