Loan Modifications - Can we Charge a Fee?

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Real Estate Broker/Owner with KD Realty - 408.972.1822 CA BRE#01366594

I received an interesting call today.

Caller: “We are a very small business helping people with loan modifications. Can we charge a fee?”

Me: While I do not remember the exact date, I know it was well over one year ago, Governor Schwarznegger signed Senate Bill 94, making it illegal in California for any licensed or unlicensed persons to charge any upfront fees for loan modification services or other form of mortgage loan forbearance. When the Governor signed Senate Bill 94 the legislation took effect immediately.

Caller: “Well, we are basically a credit repair company. Can we charge a fee?”

Me: The authority here is the law … not me or the brokerage. I suggest you go to the DRE website and search “loan modification” … it’s a pretty hot subject. I’m sure you will find the legislation and other helpful information. It is illegal in California to charge advance fees for loan modifications.

Caller: “What was the name of that site again?”

Me: California Department of Real Estate … www.dre.ca.gov. In the upper right hand corner search the site for loan modification. I am sure you will find all of the guidelines and disclosure requirements. Again, I am not the authority. I only know it is illegal to charge upfront fees.

Caller: Thank you. I appreciate your help.

I did a cross search on the phone number. The call came from a credit counseling and mortgage company in Benicia, CA. Like I said, I received an interesting call today.

The Great Pretenders! 

If anyone in the State of California offers you loan modification assistance and they ask to collect money or fees upfront, report the violation to the California Attorney General and to the California Department of Real Estate. It is illegal in California to charge up-front fees for loan modification services or other form of mortgage loan forbearance.

Kathleen Daniels, San Jose Homes for Sale | San Jose Short Sales

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Topic:
Lending / Financial
Location:
California
Groups:
Legal Aspects of Short Sales, Foreclosures, Loan Mods
CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE
California Short Sales, REO's, and Foreclosures
Short Sales Pre Foreclosures Bankruptcy and More!
"Whacked"!!!
Tags:
loan modification
california law

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Rainmaker
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Juli Vosmik
Dominion Real Estate Partners, LLC, Scottsdale, AZ - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739

Kathleen - excellent blog.  I thought I was illegal in the entire United States, but for sure it is here in Arizona, as well.  I've suggested this for a feature because the word needs to get out to more homeowners.  There are still unscrupulous companies out there calling it by "different" names, but still getting away with charging fees.  It's disgusting.  Great job for knowing where to refer them. 

Jun 14, 2011 08:40 PM #1
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Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale - San Jose Probate Agent

Juli, We never know who is on the other end of our phone. There was something so odd/strange about the call. She sounded like she was clueless about the California Deparment of Real Estate. I refrained from disclosing the company name and phone number ... just wanted to get the word out that upfront fees are illegal.  You may be right ... it may be nationwide.  Thanks for the Suggest - very nice of you.

Jun 14, 2011 08:56 PM #2
Rainmaker
250,435
John M. Scott
BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties - San Francisco, CA
Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area

Kathleen, what an amazing call. We used to have an 800 number and got all sorts of crazy calls. Ready weird stuff, and not worth the 800 cost. Most people use cell phones these days anyway.

It is amazing the calls and letters homeowners get. I've seen a lot of letters - its amazing what people will tell homeowners......and many patently illegal. However, I have seen letters from BofA investors offering a loan mod for an upfront fee. One of my short sale clients did follow thru with that and got a loan mod that worked for them. Of course I lost the short sale.

Jun 14, 2011 10:14 PM #3
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Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale - San Jose Probate Agent

John, It is amazing that people continue to do what they can to make a buck under the premise of “helping people” and try to find ways around the laws to do it! Some don’t even bother to find ways around the laws … they will scam and sell their mother for a dime! Thanks for your comment.

Jun 14, 2011 10:27 PM #4
Rainmaker
284,839
Melanie Ross
Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific - Benicia, CA
Benicia CA & Vallejo CA Real Estate, 707-319-2828

Kathleen, very scary.....Benicia is my hometown!

Jun 14, 2011 11:34 PM #5
Rainmaker
241,407
David Ames
Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco - San Francisco, CA
San Francisco

You're right Kathleen, that really was a strange call...almost as if they were "testing" you for the right answer.  "Can we charge a fee?"  Hmmm...a little suspicious to say the least. 

Jun 15, 2011 01:06 AM #6
Rainmaker
238,471
Peggy Hughes
PHA/Peggy Hughes Associates - Professional Moving Organizer - San Francisco, CA
SF NYC LA

You certainly did the right thing Kathleen, providing information where these folks could go to get the correct information... on another note, even tho I was the personal insurance broker for Eddie Mercury's drummer, I've never seen this rendition of the old Pretenders song... thanks for sharing!

Jun 15, 2011 01:31 AM #7
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Kathleen Daniels
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
San Jose Homes for Sale - San Jose Probate Agent

Melanie, I thought of you when I realized the company was located in Benicia. Thanks for stopping by.

David,  I get a lot of random calls on my 800 # ... sometimes I do feel tested. It's bitter-sweet. People are finding me on the Internet - yet some of the calls are bizarre. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy, Oh my goodness. We just keep learning more and more about you.  That song popped into my head after I hung up the phone ... so off to YouTube to find the song!  Thanks for your comment.

Jun 15, 2011 11:05 AM #8
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San Jose Homes for Sale - San Jose Probate Agent
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