Q: I have been sick for over one year and my income has drastically decreased. My life is in shambles. Car was repossessed, no cable, internet or home phone, gas and electric. I have shutoff notices, but I was eligible for programs to help me. Today I opened the mail and a letter from my bank where I have a 30K HELOC is telling me they have charged off the balance on my account of $30,788.88 and accelerated this balance. Now I owe it in full. I’ve been trying to work with them for the last 6 months and have gotten nowhere. They were sending me an application for a hardship assistance, but I NEVER got them. They said it was sent twice. My main concern is if they can foreclose on my mortgage and must I pay them in full? I’m not even working, I don’t have that kind of money laying around. I am frightened and don’t know what to do, please help me, I am really scared. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Get to a consumer law attorney immediately. If this home equity line of credit is a lien filed on your home, they certainly can foreclose. It is my hope that a civil complaint has not been filed against you and you failed to answer it and thereby a default judgment has been taken against you. If there is time to answer the complaint, an attorney can do that which will slow the process. The creditor cannot just foreclose without filing a lawsuit against you and obtaining a judgment in court. Normally, the creditor goes after the property and does not seek a judgment against you personally, for any deficiency between what the house resells for and what you owed on the contract. However, the contract would need to be reviewed in order to confirm this. Again, look for an attorney.
Q: Lender is considering foreclosure however no payments have been made in almost 5 years. Owner recently passed away and the beneficiaries want to keep house but the amount owed on the home equity line of credit would put the house too far under water. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I am not sure of the significance of “contract under seal” here. I would have to see the mortgage papers or look at the on-line docket. This sounds like an estate issue to me. If the home is in the name of the decedent, this is an estate debt and no one else’s debt. If the mortgage balance exceeds the market value of the home, the heirs must decide how bad they want to keep the home. If there is enough liquid cash in the estate, the heirs may be able to pay the lien off or interest the bank in refinancing. If not, this may be an insolvent estate and therefore let the bank foreclose. You may be able to negotiate a deed in lieu of foreclosure with the bank and avoid a messy foreclosure and more fees and charges. You need to be asking these questions to the estate attorney. If you do not have one, you need to get one.
Q: My aunt wants to quit claim deed me her residence that she still owes around $50,000 on HELOC. My question is what will happen to that HELOC once the residence is in my name? Will HELOC be her financial responsibility or will it stay attached to the residence that is now deeded to me? If it is still attached to the residence, can I just continue picking up her payments? Or will she have to make her payments on her own? (Pittsburgh, PA)
Q: I will assume that this is a home equity line of credit which is secured by the home through a loan agreement and by a mortgage or lien filed with the Department of Court Records. As such, this lien will follow the residence and never be removed until the balance is paid or it is otherwise removed with the consent of the lien holder/lender or court order. When you take title to this property, you will assume the debt through the lien. If you would default on the payments, the home could be foreclosed upon and seized. As your aunt is obligated on the loan agreement, whether she or her estate would have any personal liability above and beyond the value of the seized home, would require a reading of the lien documents. Be aware that some mortgage and lien documents contain a “due on sale” clause which prohibits a transfer of ownership prior to satisfaction of the lien without lender approval. If such language is present, the entire note could be due immediately upon transfer and lead to foreclosure. If you want to assume payments for your aunt, I would talk to the lender. They may require refinancing in your name or perhaps a less involved assumption of mortgage agreement.