Debt Relief Law Offices of Tampa Bay

Tampa Bankruptcy Attorney 727-849-3328

Mortgage Modifications for Struggling Homeowners

Posted on Mar 5, 2014

Host: Every week at this time is when we have Ziona Kopalovich, Kopalovich? No. Kopalovich?

Ziona: Kopalovich.

Host: Irish kid, right?

Ziona: Exactly.

Host. Exactly. Now what was the origin? What is the exact origin?

Ziona: Well it is, you know. Of being that I have an accent. So you know I come from somewhere else.

Host: Okay, so yeah I kind of figured that part out.

Ziona: Okay, I was born and raised in Israel.

Host: Mhmm.

Ziona: And the origin of my name is actually from Czechoslovakia. Because my parents were from Czechoslovakia. But I was born in Israel.

Host: You know it’s sometimes I think we just we tend to take for granted, that it is still such a melting pot in this country.

Ziona: t is a melting pot in this country. And you know the world is shrinking.

Host: It really is!

Ziona: And where I come from, Israel, it is a melting pot.

Host: Truly?

Ziona: Truly, it is a big melting pot.

Host: And it’s such a unique place too and I think that anybody, I thin everybody at some point in their in lives really needs to take a trip to Israel just to see it.

Ziona: Oh, absolutely!

Host: I would love to. I haven’t done it yet.

Ziona: It is gorgeous. It is stunning. I was there in September.

Host: This past September? Wow.

Ziona: This past September, yes. And it is such a fascinating place. It is beautiful and one of the nice things about it, is is that it’s a young country and people a young. So wherever you go there young people. And there is the young energy. It’s just amazing.

Host: How fun I think it really that you know it when you consider just the vast amount of history that is centered there.

Ziona: A vast amount of history. You nailed it. Just recently I heard here on the radio that they were going to put some lines for electricity or water to a place on the way to Jerusalem.  And lo and behold they discovered whole city underneath them.

Host: Wow, wow.

Ziona: So just this somewhere you dig someone was there before.

Host: Something was there before you, there’s no doubt about it once this time really we don’t do it as much as I could sit and talk about this all day but really were talking about debt relief law offices of Tampa Bay. And it’s, we still hold the numbers indicating they come back to us saying that okay things are getting a little bit better. You know were definitely passed the point where things fell out and 2007 2008. But still people out there, and they’re still struggling. Are you seeing more new cases come through are you just maintaining more cases?

Ziona: Well what is true about bankruptcies. Bakruptcies always whether the economic is good or whether it is bad. So in the economic situation is bad then we all understand intuitively that some people get into financial trouble. Not their fault, I mean the economy you just saw in the last few years what the economic situation did to people. It devastated businesses. It devastated individuals. So we can see the work of a bad economy and it translates into a lot of bankruptcies or debt negotiations. Things like that. It is when the economy is good and there is a lot of money available. People tend to take chances and some of them don’t pan out. So there are quite a few bankruptcies. Then to even include economic times. So we are always there, when we are always needed with their cleaning up messes.

Host: Well I think that part of these situations is we run into first of all I don’t think it’s as bad now as maybe, 20 or 30 years ago, but there was there was a little bit of a social stigma if you even brought up the idea of bankruptcy.

Ziona: Right, well the stigma is still there.

Host: Is?

Ziona: Yeah, people you know? Really, when you grow up. And I have said before on this program your mom didn’t tell you, “Honey, when you grow up. You’re going to file for bankruptcy.”

Host: Right.

Ziona: Right? This is not what we aspire to do but this is what sometimes happens. And thank God that we have the ability to get out of the trouble that we have found ourselves in. So there is a stigma. People don’t want to file bankruptcy.

Host: No.

Ziona: And I can tell you as s bankruptcy attorney people sit in my office. Adults. Sit in my office and cry.

Host: They cry?

Ziona: They do. They don’t want to do; they never imagine that they are at a point in their lives that they are going to file for bankruptcy. But a few months later, they come in they hug me and “thank you and you changed my life, I shouldn’t have waited that long.”

Host: Right

Ziona: This is what I hear from a lot of people that I have helped. And that’s why we’re here, to help.

Host: It truly is a situation of getting a tremendous burden lifted off of you and to have someone that you can sit across the table with and just say you know, “I feel overwhelmed by all of this debt, yes some of it is my fault. Most of it is whatever circumstance that led me to this.” And I think generally I think it’s fairly safe to assume that most people wait too long until they decide to call you.

Ziona: That’s true, that they wait very long.

Host: But should they, at what point you know, is there a point we can sit back and say if you can easily list it off as ABC and D. And like you know okay here is our debt, that’s okay my debt ratio is okay but at some point you know what is a red flag? Is there something like a red flag with your debt?

Ziona: I have seen a red flag. That’s if your debts, let’s say on your credit card. Your unsecured debt. If you have reached $4,000. Watch out. Because it somehow seems really difficult to pull back from $4,000.

Host: It does!

Ziona: It is just I don’t know what it is and you have $1000 you can pay off. $2000 you can still pay it off. If it gets $4000 you’re getting into those, oh I can afford these payments? And then just, right? It manages to grow and multiples. And all of a sudden four becomes 6 then 8 and 10.

Host: And fourteen, and so on and so on.

Ziona: So when you reach for 4.

Host: $4,000.

Ziona: Analyze and see what it is about your finances that you are doing that you have gotten you to that amount that’s one flag another one is if you start paying credit cards with credit card who. Right? Not good, not good at all if you start transferring money from this card to that because you’re playing the interest.

Host: Right?

Ziona: To go from higher to lower interest, you know? Don’t do that.

Host: I never understood the mental, the frame of mind of like “oh, well I got this debt in order to you know fix this debt under the secure more debt.” And makes no sense to me.

Ziona: Right, you don’t get out of bed incurring more debt. Now just so you know can you put yourself back from $4000, yes? But it takes a lot of discipline. To truly see it takes this. Now what we are seeing today and this is really a direct result of the market collapsing and the housing market. Quite a few people bought high, right? And now they’re selling low, yes? So we were not for that were not for buying high selling glow right but there so there’s some ways to fix that in one of the major ways that was developed recently. Was the mortgage modification ability to modify your mortgage so we can try and negotiate for you with a lender or with the servicer better terms. So that the government has come up with quite a few programs having to do with mortgage modification. Modify the first mortgage, they will offer you lower interest rates sometimes in order to reach a more comfortable payment level, at times to resort to a reduction in the principal itself.

Host: What a gift that is.

Ziona: Really a gift. That’s nice if you’ve received a modification on your first mortgage you will automatically receive a modification if it is on the second message.

Host: And that’s automatic?

Ziona: Yes.

Host: I did not know that.

Ziona: You have to the.

Host. You have to have the paperwork, yeah.

Ziona: But you get it, if you got it on the first and you’ll get it on the second. Basically what he tells them if you got the first is that you qualify.

Host: Sure!

Ziona: Okay? And you know FHA has it, Freddie has it, Fannie Mae has it, the VA, they all have different programs though the government back out lenders would not give you a mortgage reduction in the principal.

Host: Sure.

Ziona: There you can just look at lower interest rates.

Host: Okay.

Ziona: Okay? And of course you know you have to have taken your loan before January of 2009. Okay.

Host: So there are some limitations?

Ziona: There are some limitations. Only some people can do that right and your payment. They’ll bring the payment down to at least 31% of your gross income. That would interest and insurance and homeowners. Okay so if you’re paying in excess of that today. If you’re paying more than 31% of your gross income. That is your income before taxes are taken out.

Host: Right.

Ziona: Then we can bring it down to 31% of your gross mortgage and that would include your insurance, your interest payments, and your homeowners, of fee. Sometimes the bank if they let’s said “I don’t qualify for what you call the HAM programs.” If you don’t qualify for those. Some lenders will have in-house programs in you know, don’t fit in one they’ll fit you in another. And actually, last week I was in a in a summit about modifying mortgages. And we talked a banking representatives and judges and other attorney’s. A lot of smart people were there. What the banks do is that you apply for one, let’s say you apply for a prgram, but they will run you through all the programs to see if you qualify.

Host: Right.

Ziona: For a program. So you don’t have to fill out one million forms.

Host: That isn’t an exasperation. Especially the feeling of you being questioned. But really the take away from this is that if you don’t know and you’re not sure then really calling your office, is let you ferret it out for them.

Ziona: Right? And you are so right. Can we get my phone number?

Host: I was just about to do that. Do we want to do the 352 number?

Ziona: Well let’s do both of them. I mean, I have more than two offices but I think the ones relevant here in this area would be the one in Spring Hill. Which is 352-678-2265.

Host: Congratulations, you passed and it was right there.

Ziona: Oh, my goodness.

Host: You won, congratulations! See you know your own phone number! That is pretty good, doing pretty better than most of most of us. 678-2265. Oh, go ahead.

Ziona: The New Port Richey number is 727-849-3328.

Host: 3328, which is also.

Ziona: Did I pass this one?

Host: Congratulations!

Ziona: Thank you! Do I get a prize?

Host: You get the satisfaction of being correct and you can actually take some of the food in the basket!

Ziona: Oh this is junk food. The junk food.

Host: Exactly, it’s just junk food day and God bless them for bringing it by. But you know the, I think getting past the stigma. I don’t I don’t think there’s anything wrong and asking for help. And one of the things we keep seeing and I’m glad for the opportunity to be here today because you do see these all of these commercials for these debt relief and debt counseling and in this this this. And sometimes you really have to ask yourself the question. Who is who are these people working for ?

Ziona: I don’t know.

Host: Who does?

Ziona: I don’t know. Some of them are definitely not in this area. Most of them are not from the area.

Host: Most of them are not?

Ziona: Out there somewhere maybe California, I have no idea. So if you get upset that one of them you know what? You cannot go to their office and complained. Because they are not there and if you’re upset and you call them well phone numbers change. Or they don’t answer the phone. Some of them are outside f the country.

Host: Some of them are?

Ziona: Okay, so the first thing that you really want to do in my opinion and maybe that’s because I’m an attorney. My opinion is go see an attorney. Because an attorney is uniquely qualified to help you with your financial problems, your debt problems, and attorneys have a body supervising.

Host. True, see you didn’t think about that! See how you are? You are so smart.

Ziona: I like to be. I’m striving.

Host: Feeling pretty good about it! So far so good!

Ziona: So, we have a body that polices us. So hopefully that body, which is called the Florida Bar. Gets out the bad apples. We do have bad apples, but is there is a body supervising. Whereas you can be that debt relief agency or you know, “I can help” kind of ad. And you don’t know whose supervising them and by the time you figure it out well it’s too late you can go to the state attorney. I don’t think they can do much about it but  you lost your money.

Host: You’ve lost your money. You’ve lost your home.

Ziona: You’ve lost your home.

Host: We, many many years ago we were at that point at like are we in financial debt? This is trouble. This is one like you know my wife’s income dropped dramatically. Mine was set back and we had to take on some of the moving expenses. So we just decided we should go talk to somebody talk to a credit counselor and it was like being pulled into a. A combination of being yelled at by your preacher, your parents, and your principle. Because all you need is to hear them say how did you get into this position? So I don’t want to be berated.

Ziona. I just already feel bad about it.

Host: Exactly you don’t need to really I’m not paying you to make you feel like crap. Because I’ve already gotten that taken care of thank you very much. So in one of the things to is if you go to an attorney especially someone who specializes in this. You know what’s there. I don’t know that you can automatically qualify to have your second reduced if you get your first reduced.

Ziona: And there are other programs, so you don’t just have just one. The mortgage modification program for example. Oh, and before but before I leave the mortgage modification topic. I just want you to know that when your homes being foreclosed or when you yourself apply for the mortgage modification programs success rate is pretty dismal. I think what I learned last week is it’s about 3.6%.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: That is low.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: When you go through a bankruptcy. When you have the bankruptcy court overseeing the process. We modify mortgages at 70%.

Host: 70%?

Ziona: Seven. Zero. 70% of the mortgages are modified successfully.

Host: That is pretty good.

Ziona: That is really exciting. That is really nice.

Host:  I think too that when you start to look at past the bankruptcy. There was the wall for seven years you can’t get this, and for seven years you can’t this. For however long it is.

Ziona: No, these are all myths.

Host: Those are all myths! I was talking to a gentleman who was a general manager for a very large family of automobile dealerships. And he said in a lot of cases, “We don’t even look at that stuff anymore.”

Ziona: Well they look at it before you file a bankruptcy. So if you walk in and you have a lot of debt.

Right: Right.

Ziona: They won’t be able to qualify you for a new loan.

Host. No ma’am.

Ziona: When you get rid of that debt. They will.

Host: They will.

Ziona: I have auto sales persons sending me their clients, and saying, “go clean it up.” Same with mortgages.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: If you are for example also in Chapter 13 actively. You are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can get a mortgage.

Host: Seriously?

Ziona: Seriously.

Host: You wouldn’t lie to me?

Ziona: Why would I lie to you?

Host: I don’t know, you just might be silly that way.

Ziona: No, okay. I don’t lie.

Host. Just checking. No never. An interesting point that was brought up to me is that once you have you know you’ve finished with that bankruptcy thumb of there are a number of lenders. Be it automobile, be a mortgage, be whomever they look at is just like well these people are going to work very hard to reestablish themselves right. So at some point when you come out of that you may actually be a better credit risks.

Ziona: They do, they check the income to debt ratio. Obviously, you have to have a good income. It’s helpful to anyone who is letting your money’s taking a risk, so they want to make sure that the risk is gonna bare some fruit. To look at your debt to income ratio is so much sweeter.

Host: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I can tell you right now my ratio is probably too high. Is it, do we carry more than the average American family, I don’t know. But when you say $4,000. Yeah there are some red flags that go off. Oh, yeah and I think that’s something that we all at some point even if you feel like it’s overwhelming it’s up to you.

Ziona: Right.

Host: It is like you said, you have to have discipline, you got to know when to put on the brakes.

Ziona: You put on the breaks. People who come to me for some reason where they’re unable to put on the brakes. The situation got out of control, sometimes you get into an accident it would really set you off behind in in a major way. Loss of job, I mean we understand intuitively bad investment, bad housing market, etc. So there are many ways to get into a situation where you need help. So we look at Chapter 7 does a big basically to liquidation. A liquidation. Chapter 7.

Host: Right. It is a liquidation. So we look at what you have, what is protected by the law, what’s not protected by the law you will lose, and what is protected by the law you will keep. Also depends on your income. Now if we noticed you are going to lose something then we’re not going to do a chapter 7 for you because you don’t come to us to lose things. Right?

Host: Right, we come to you to save things.

Ziona: Right, so we put you in a Chapter 13 or will think about ways to see, how what we can do there is anything we can lose an item. So I’m not suggesting giving it to your brother-in-law.

Host: No. No, no, no, no.

Ziona: I’m not suggesting that at all. But there are ways to structure your financial situation so that you can file a Chapter 7. If not you can’t do that, then put you in a Chapter 13. I love Chapter 13. They are a wonderful vehicle for the right kind of problems. So if you’re behind on your mortgage and you just want to catch up it’s wonderful. You’re fine with you first mortgage, but you’re overwhelmed about your second mortgage. And your first mortgage is higher than the value of your house. Okay? Then like magic I get rid of the second mortgage.

Host: Ta-da.

Ziona: Just like that it is gone.

Host: Wow.

Ziona: Totally, totally gone. So that is a lot of help you know for all of those HELOC’s. I mean I know a lot of people who tell me know I don’t have a second mortgage.

Host: I have a HELOC!

Ziona: Guess what? It is a mortgage on your home in a second position.

Host: That’s a second! Because I can tell you that you in a situation and this happened to so many people especially in my neighborhood. Is you would, where I used to live, but you still as you know 10 or 12 years ago when everything was absolutely exploding. You take out a $200,000 HELOC. And you do all of these ridiculous improvements on your home.

Ziona: Right.

Host: Which could also end up being like you know a nice trip to Hawaii or whatever you know. Honestly we did that. We did a significant amount of work on the house but a majority of it went to purchasing rental property. And so now all the sudden that you know it to me literally when the ink dried on that rental property everything went just went completely down the tubes.

Ziona: And you can’t get the right type of rent on that property to cover the mortgage.

Host: Right. And it was a loss we finally just cut and got rid of it and in the year we were gonna sell the house anyway and so you know we took basically $200,000 in equity that we had in the house. And we flushed it. It’s gone.

Ziona: Now you have a second mortgage on the house.

Host: And now we have a second mortgage on the house. And for we, fortunately we were lucky that you know we bought it so far out. That we still went to have resold a house, with money in our pocket. But barely.

Ziona: Just think of it you know. If not for that you could have walked away with a lot of all lot of money.

Host: A lot of money!

Ziona: But you know so you know your situation is naturally anything is what it is.

Host: And I cant cry about it.

Ziona: You cant cry about it. It’s done. But you did something about it and you solved it. But there are many people out there who don’t want take care.

Host: They don’t.

Ziona: And these are the pople that I would love to hear from.

Host: So, since we only have like a minute and a half left. Because we are so good at this is.

Ziona: We are. Time just flies.

Host: It’s just staggering. 727-849-Debt is the is the number in New Port Richey. And of course here in the Springhill 352-678-2265 and really Ziona it’s just, it’s just if you have questions. And don’t feel bad, don’t feel humiliated just feel like, “you know what? I help a little help.”

Ziona: And the initial appointment is free

Host: See? What more could you ask for?

Ziona: Life is good.

Host: It is! You can take some of her Girl Scout cookies and some of our junk food that was delivered to us and share that with them. But I don’t think Sam will let you out the door with it.

Ziona: I could!

Host: But Ziona Kopalovich. Debt Relief Law Offices of Tampa Bay. Again the number in New Port Richey is 727-849-DEBT which is 332.

Ziona: 8.

Host: 8. Okay, I’m going to write that down.

Ziona: 3328.

Host: Thank you! And then of course in Springhill at 678-2265 and your folks are there manning the phones just uh, all the time. And then you’ll take care of it/

Ziona: We will take good care of everybody who walks through our doors.

Ziona: So can I actually have you write down the thing about $4000 in credit card debt so that I could give to certain people that I know so they quit using their credit cards.

Ziona: Sure, sure. Put it on my business card.

Host: See how smart you are! That’s why you’re the attorney and I’m the guy sitting here.

Ziona: It’s runs in my family.

Host: I bet it does. Thank you so much for coming and spending some time with us it’s always a pleasure.

Ziona: It’s been a pleasure.

Host: And it must be nice to feel like you’re doing something good for somebody.

Ziona: It, it really is a satisfying. I have to say that.

Host: Good for you, good for you girl! Will do it again next week same bat time you never know. Maybe we will.

Ziona: We will. I’ll be back, I’ll be back you can count on that.

Host: All, right. Thank you so much