Mortgage Cram Down and Strip Down Q and A

The following questions and answers were submitted to Chapter713Training.Com either at a teleconference or by email during this past week. The answers are provided by Victoria Ring who is not an attorney.  Therefore, the information provided in this material is for training purposes only and no whole or part should be regarded as legal advice.

QUESTION

How successful have the attorneys you work for been in confirmation of a proposed strip down?

ANSWER

An attorney I work for as a virtual assistant in Victorville CA has been successful in the confirmation of two Chapter 13s where a strip down of the second mortgage was proposed.  As soon as the attorney provided me with this information I quickly developed training materials to teach other attorneys how it was done.

Additionally, the Central District of California Bankruptcy Court began offering classes to teach attorneys how to be successful in proposing strip downs.  This fact alone confirms the information I have been blessed to be privy to.

QUESTION

How successful have the attorneys you work for been in confirmation of a proposed cram down?

ANSWER

I have personally worked on only one case where an attorney in Ohio was successful in getting a cram down of the primary residence confirmed.  The mortgage company was Washington Mutual and the attorney filed the case during the same time they were transitioning.

However, I have talked to attorneys in Texas, Florida and Missouri who have discussed cases with me where they have been successful in negotiating cram downs and saving their clients money.

Again, as soon as I learn about something that can benefit the debtors I tell you about it through my articles and training products.  However, I cannot guarantee that all cram downs and strips downs will be successful.  That would be impossible and illogical for me to even try and attempt.

QUESTION

If a strip down of a mortgage is confirmed, what will be the outcome at the end of the 3 or 5 year Chapter 13 plan period?

ANSWER

No one knows.  The law could change at any minute or change 100 times between now and then.  I believe this question would even be unpredictable by President Obama at this time.

QUESTION

I am an attorney and I feel very uneasy about proposing a cram down or a strip down.  I am afraid that it would cause additional litigation with the mortgage company and perhaps cost me more than I charged the client for the petition.  Do you have any suggestions to ease my fear?

ANSWER

There are a couple of good choices available to you that you may want to consider:

1.  If you propose a cram down or a strip down and the mortgage company files an Objection, this would open door for negotiation to still save the debtors a great deal of money.  Once a number was reached, the attorney would charge the client for this negotiation and enter into an Agreed Order with the mortgage company.

2.  If you propose a cram down or a strip down and the mortgage company files an Objection, you can simply change the figures on Schedule A and file an Amendment if you are too timid to negotiate on the debtors behalf.

Remember, all creditors must file a Proof of Claim.  Most attorneys I have worked with who propose cram downs and strip downs will monitor the case on PACER and look for any Proof of Claim filed by a mortgage company.  They compare the claim amount stated by the mortgage company with the cram down amount proposed in the Chapter 13 Plan.  At this stage, the attorney contacts the attorney for the mortgage company and begins the negotiation process to come to an Agreed Order.

QUESTION

Can I propose a cram down or a strip down for every client?

ANSWER

Not at this time.  From the teleconferences I have listened to, taught by judges and attorneys; cram downs and strips downs are only approved in HARDSHIP cases until the Senate passes the proposed Bill.  In other words, if a debtor can afford to pay back more than the first mortgage, a strip down is then paid back as UNSECURED.  If the debtors income is considered hardship and they file a Chapter 13 (demonstrating their ability to at least try and pay back all they can afford) cram downs and strip downs are often normally confirmed.

QUESTION

Can you guarantee that my proposed cram down and strip down will work?

ANSWER

Of course not.  No one can.  The goal here is to TAKE A CHANCE to help keep homeowners in their homes.  A cram down or a strip down may or may not work at this period in time.  It is a chance you take.  If you do not want to take the chance, and are not willing to take that extra step of CARE for your clients, then do not propose a cram down or a strip down and call it a day!!

QUESTION

I am a publisher for the creditor side of bankruptcy. I heard that you are teaching debtor attorneys how to reduce mortgages.  Could I interview your attorneys for my book?

ANSWER

I will tell you the same thing I told this person:  Proposing cram downs and strip downs are something that attorneys must TAKE A CHANCE in proposing.  I am NOT an attorney.  I am a paralegal training instructor; which means that I would never tell people that cram downs and strip downs work in every case and without any snags or problems.  The information I am teaching at this time will change at any minute.  The Bill is currently before the Senate; therefore, we only have a SMALL WINDOW of time to use these training methods and they will become obsolete.  Publishing this information in a book is worthless because it will be out-of-date before the book is printed.

SUMMARY

Please STOP taking my drive to KEEP CONSUMERS IN THEIR HOMES and turning this into a she-said, he-said scenario.  I realize that the legal world does this almost spontaneously (which is why I chose to leave the confines of a back-biting office staff environment long ago.)  But I wrote this article to help attorneys to stop thinking about all the bad things that can happen and TRY to help your clients.  Even if you should fail with some cases and excel in others, at least you know you did your best and provided your clients with the best possible service you can.

I wish all of you a beautiful Christmas holiday and peace of mind.

Victoria Ring
Certified Paralegal and Training Instructor

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