How Banks Are Viewing Cram Downs Proposed in Bankruptcy

Dear Victoria Ring:

Thanks for all you do.  And I appreciate the information you provide to us.  I just wanted to add that I currently work for a major bank.  I work with borrowers with defaulted business loans.  And let me tell you that on a lot of the deals we have, I have seen quite a few attorneys propose cram downs.  And a lot of our mortgages have been stripped off because there is no equity in the home.

One of the things we talk about all of the time is why many other attorneys are not doing this.  It is a great tool for the consumer.  No additional litigation is involved.  Once an attorney files the motion during the proceeding, it is up to the trustee.  We do not file responses to these requests.  Especially if there is no equity in the home.  And banks and mortgage lenders know that the bankruptcy court favors the debtor.  We have never been successful in blocking these.  You have to remember the cost that the banks incur in pursuing foreclosure or trying to liquidate the collateral.  We weigh the costs.  Banks make no money on homes they have to take back.  You may find that you will get more with negotiating with the lender too.  The attorney for the debtor is in a greater position than attorneys for the banks.

We knew that most of the mortgages we took at loan inception were abundance of caution.  And unfortunately, many people are filing for bankruptcy and having their debts discharged.  But if they do not do anything to release the liens on their home, then they still end up paying when there is equity in the future or if they want to sell their home.  As long as the lien stays on the home, you are basically giving the banks a long term investment.

I can tell you that many of our borrowers who filed for bankruptcy and were discharged are stunned when they see our lien is still on their home.  And the only way we will release it is if they give us all of the available equity in their house.  I just had a deal where the borrowers had filed for bankruptcy several years ago.  Unfortunately, the attorney did not contest our lien or ask that it be removed.  If the attorney had done this or at least proposed a settlement, we would not be in the great position we are now.  As opposed to getting $25,000 several years ago, we are now looking at almost $80,000.  The owners are senior citizens.  If they ever decide to sell their home, they will have to deal with the fact that we will be getting the bulk of the proceeds.  I believe they assumed when they reaffirmed the first mortgage, that ours was released.  And that was not the case.

From what we have seen, many trustees and bankruptcy judges side with the debtor in these cases.  We do everything we can by filing a proof of claim.  But at the end of the day, if there is no equity available at the time of filing (or equity of sizable value), we anticipate having our mortgage stripped and being put in the category of unsecured creditor.  That is why I am happy to see you offering this training to VBAs and attorneys.  Proposing this makes you a much added value to your clients.    So, for all of the attorneys who fear the drawn out litigation with mortgage lenders and banks, there is no need to worry.  You have to remember that banks have to pay outside attorneys.  And I can tell you that we just as soon not have to pay attorney fees fighting for properties that have little value.  I would tell them to do what is best for the consumer.  They are hiring you for your help.  So I implore them to pursue every avenue possible.

Crystal Brooks
Email:  clbrooks67@comcast.net

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