Mortgage Modifications Live On Into 2017

There have been recent reports in the press that the mortgage modifications programs are all set to expire at the end of 2016. While it is true that the HAMP program is expiring, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have rolled out replacement programs. If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac Mortgage help will still be available.  There are changes to the eligibility requirements in these new programs.

Over the last several years we have helped numerous clients in Plainfield, North Plainfield, Middlesex, Bound Brook, Dunellen, Hillsborough, Manville, Green Brook, Somerville, Somerset and many other Central Jersey communities obtain mortgage Modifications.

If you are behind on your mortgage and want to explore your options, please feel free to contact us.

For more information on the new programs go to
to see the fact sheet.



We are writing to remind all of our friend and clients that the deadline to file a Request for an Independent Foreclosure Review is December 31, 2012.

If you had a foreclosure in process(initiated, pending or completed) between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010; and the property securing the loan was your principal residence and the mortgage was serviced by one of the lenders identified on the following link, we urge you to request an Independent review.

Link to list of lenders who must offer the Independent Foreclosure Review is at the Federal Reserve Governors website explanation of the program, listing of lenders informative video

These reviews were ordered by the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in a effort to give homeowners who were unfairly treated and financially harmed by the actions of the listed banks and opportunity to make a financial recovery from the banks for the errors, misrepresentation or other deficiencies that may have occurred during the foreclosure process.

A very informative short video which further explains the program is noted above.  If you think you are eligible, we urge you to apply for a Review.

The deadline is December 31, 2012.  You can make the request over the internet.

An Independent Foreclosure Review process has been set up by Order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Additional information can be obtained from the Borrowers Quick Reference at the website below:

Before you complete your application be sure to review the on the  Request for Review Help Sheet on following website:

To submit an application go to:

Once again, we urge everyone who believes that they are eligible request a review.  There is no fee for the review.

Is Student Loan Debt Crippling You?

We have recently learned of changes to the student loan regulations which may afford relief to people with Federal Student Loans.  This relief may be consolidation, reduction of payments or other potential elements of relief.

Some parents have been crippled by the student loans they took out for their child’s education.  Parents and children are working together to shoulder the burden but the parent could be hit harder financially due to being in a worse position given the current economic conditions and how they have impacted older generations of workers.

You are encouraged to read more here about this predicament.

If you are struggling with student loan debt or if you know someone who is struggling with these issues, please reach out to us to further discuss your options.  We would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your issued in a free consultation.  Please call us at 732-752-8834.


Treatment of Cigarettes in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plans

If you are considering a bankruptcy discharge, you may be familiar with the detail that the Bankruptcy court looks at your spending habits and budget.  It is especially important to look at the treatment of what you consider a regular expense and the Bankruptcy court may scrutinize.

One such expense is that associated with cigarettes.  While many people understand that cigarettes are harmful to one’s health, due to its addictive nature, they may find it too hard to quit the habit.  With cigarettes costing consumers well above $7 per pack in New Jersey, cigarettes are a hard habit to fund.  Also, the expense associated with many products used to quit smoking can be as costly as the cigarettes themselves.

How does the bankruptcy court treat tobacco addiction?  On one hand, the court is unwilling to make a judgment on a consumer’s choices with their money.  On the other hand, that money set aside in a plan for cigarettes could be used towards funding the plan, and go towards creditors.  The Bankruptcy Court may examine the amount of money set aside to fund a cigarette addiction and request adjustments if it appears to be too high.  Ultimately, the discretion lies with the judge, but the judge will hesitate before making sweeping changes to the plan if it logically fits into the debtor’s plan.

If you are interested in reading more about the legal implications of this issue, please click here to read a Harvard Law Review Note.

If you are facing financial issues and even considering bankruptcy or any other debt relief, please contact the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Office in Green Brook, NJ at 732-752-8834.  We are happy to answer any questions for you and will even meet with you for free.  Please call at any time to set up an appointment.

New Jersey Still Waiting for a Glut of Foreclosures to Close

New Jersey is second in the country for the rate of homeowners with seriously deliquent loans.  These are mortgages 90 days late or in forclosure.  This means that, while some parts of the country are starting to recover from this mortgage debacle, other states, like New Jersey are still waiting for solutions.  Homeowners and banks are still waiting for foreclosure.  This means that NJ home prices are still falling, which is a burden on the New Jersey economy. 

Unfortunately, the bad news does not end there.  What is also burdening New Jersians is that there is a greater quantity of shadow inventory.  Shadow inventory is real estate properties that are either in foreclosure and have not yet been sold or homes that owners are delaying putting on the market until prices improve. Shadow inventory can create uncertainty about the best time to sell (for owners) and when a local market can expect full recovery. Also, shadow inventory typically causes reported data on housing inventory to understate the actual number of inventory in the market. You can read more about shadow inventory here

New Jersey has about 60,000 foreclosures that were started in January 2008 and are still waiting for resolution.  THe hold up is partly because of the robosigning scandal.  The NJ state courts became alerted to the robo-signing scandal and were concerned that there was no good process in place for foreclosures that would maintain fairness for homeowners.  As the state has worked out the process, the foreclosures are starting to come through the system, with banks beefing up foreclosure departments to push them through faster. 

One may think if foreclosure is such a slow option, banks would turn to short sales.  Banks are happy to short sell and get some money for the mortgage right away but homeowners are hesitant to do so, not wanting to uproot their families and hoping for a different solution.  One solution is to wait and see, which many homeowners are doing.  Why move out if you don’t have to do so? 

If you are facing foreclosure, we encourage you to contact us at the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. law office.  We have helped many clients  who are facing financial peril and can help you make sense of it all.  Please call us at 732-752-8834 to discuss your situation or even schedule a free consultation.   We are here to help you.

Student Loan Debt Still a Financial Burden on Consumers

Chances are, you went to school to better yourself, your future and your family’s future. But now, due to this economic crisis, you have this new degree but no new job to go with it. Or a new degree and the same old job you had before you got the degree. But worse still, you have a pile of student loans that you took out to pay for the new degree. You wonder how you will pay for this education? Will it ever pay off? This is a question many Americans are asking themselves.

The trouble is, right now, there are not a lot of answers for people struggling to pay mounting student loan debt. Right now, student loan debt is greater than $1 trillion. Most of that is public student loan debt, held by Sallie Mae, but some of it is held by major lenders like Chase, Wells Fargo, CitiBank and other banking institutions.

As the student debt load grows, there are few ways to fight it. Bankruptcy, while an option for many other consumer debts, is very challenging to use to discharge student loan debt. When a consumer files for bankruptcy, the judge must apply a special test to student loan debt to determine whether it may be discharged. The test has 3 requirements:

The judge will determine whether the debtor has made a good faith effort to repay their debt by trying to get a job, earn as much as possible and has lived modestly. 

The judge will examine the debtor’s budget, which is designed to maintain a minimal standard of living.

The judge will look at the debtor’s future earning prospects: whether there is a “certainty of hopelessness” in that the debtor will most likely never be able to pay off the debt.  Many judges are uncomfortable with making the determination of what will happen in the future of a debtor and this test tends to be passed for people with extraordinary circumstances.

Unfortunately, although there have been discussions in Washington D.C. to combat this mounting issue, nothing is on the horizon to make any great changes to this unfortunate circumstance.  This is your chance to urge your senators and representatives to bring this important issue to the forefront of debate.  This is an issue that will affect our children and grandchildren until something is done.

Also, remember, at Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Office, we are interested in helping you get the financial relief you need. We help consumers with bankruptcy, debt consolidation, mortgage modifications and other debt relief issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to come in for a free consultation about your personal situation. Our number is 732-752-8834.

Buyer Beware – Pay Day Lenders

While watching television, you may see advertisements for short term loans to tide you over until your next pay check comes. Sometimes these are called cash advances, but they aren’t connected to a credit card. They are short term, unsecured loans, sometimes based on past paycheck history. You may hear many different names used to describe these loans, including payday loans or payday advances. 

They may seem like a great way to tide you over until your next paycheck, however, the fees and interest can add up quickly because many times, the interest rate is 400%. Yes, 400%! The interest can be quadruple the amount borrowed. That means, if you borrow $100 and do not pay it back for one year, the interest alone paid to the lender would be $400. This may be considered an extreme situation but unfortunately happens to many people. This does not even account for the fees that are associated with this type of loan.

Many of these lenders connect electronically to a user’s bank account, making it VERY difficult to cut ties with the lender. As a borrower in a hurry to get money, the borrower may agree to terms without knowing it, allowing the lender to reach into the borrower’s bank account electronically, taking money that the borrower maybe didn’t anticipate to be taken. It can get very difficult to unravel yourself from the pain of the electronic transactions and we recommend not getting involved.

Payday lenders are working to gain a stronger foothold in the lending industry. They are looking to shed their negative reputation and are lobbying to deregulate the industry. Even though we receive feedback from many clients that feel the process is confusing, the proposed deregulation would loosen the rules for how these lenders explain the costs of loans to the borrower.  This would make an already confusing loan product even more confusing for consumers!  Thankfully, recently in Washington, D.C., this bill was opposed vehemently. Click here and here to read more.

The best course of action in dealing with these loans is to avoid them!  Beware of these loans. They can be very dangerous. However, if you are having financial trouble, please reach out to us and talk to us about your options. We are always happy to help you with any questions you have and would love to sit down with you to discuss options to better your family’s situation.  We can set up a meeting for you for free.  Please call 732-752-8834 to set one up today.

Mortgage Modifications – The Trouble With Weak Legislation

Are you having trouble making your monthly mortgage payments? An increasing number of American households face this predicament.

More and more homeowners are facing financial challenges because of unfortunate and unforseen circumstances, such as the loss of job or a cutback in work hours. Others cannot make their mortgage payments because they face mounting medical or credit card bills. Some homeowners who have worked hard for years to make their mortgage payments suddenly find they cannot because their payment suddenly increases under the confusing terms of a hyper-complex mortgage.

Homeowners who hope for to save their homes often apply for loan modifications, especially when they know that a little give on the part of their lender would allow them to get back on track. However, most homeowners who apply for loan modifications are denied modifications by their lender.

If you are one of those homeowners who have been turned down by your lender for a loan modification you are therefore in the majority and are not alone.

In fact, about 4.3 million Americans have applied for mortgage modifications. Disturbingly, lenders have only approved about one quarter of those 4.3 million loan applications, leaving about 3 million Americans floundering and facing disaster. Sadly, about 1.4 million families who applied for loan modifications have already lost their homes or now face foreclosure and/or bankruptcy. For those families that were denied loan modifications and lost their homes, there is little or no recourse.

Modifications are denied because banks have no reason to help consumers unless the government gives them a reason to do so.

Banks often deny modifications even when it is obvious on paper that a homeowner’s circumstances have rebounded so that the homeowner could resume making their mortgage payments going forward if only given a chance. However, such homeowners usually do not have enough cash in the bank to deal with the arrears that have piled up. Banks which know exactly how much cash a homeowner has in the bank will insist upon a lump sum payment far in excess of the homeowner’s savings in order to “approve” a loan modification. Denials of loan modifications where the homeowner’s finances make clear sense on paper are confusing, depressing, and infuriating to say the least.

Homeowners are denied modifications for countless “reasons”. Sometimes homeowners facing hardships defaulted in the first place on their own bank’s advice, being advised by their lender that in order to be helped and considered for a modification they must first be in default. After this, painfully, many if not most of these people end up losing their homes. People are often denied modifications not because of the finances involved but because the banks claim to keep losing their paperwork or because the bank deems the documents to be “stale” at the time it makes its decision.

Banks obviously have a double standard, demanding homeowners be immediately responsive and have proactive and meticulous record keeping while asking homeowners to be sympathetic and understanding of the bank’s inability to find documents or to make decisions on loan modifications before the homeowner’s document become “stale.”

Because banks have been so miserly in granting modifications, the government enacted legislation to help homeowners, at least in theory, in 2009. This legislation, however, did not cure the problems faced by the majority of homeowners in default and was enacted merely to try to get the banks to modify mortgages without constant prodding by the government.

Despite the dismal numbers, if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments you should not give up hope. Many believe the despite the dismal numbers there is still no better time to be applying for a mortgage modification.

Although the 2009 legislation has obviously not been equal to the task and challenge of the housing crisis in America and the need for reform, it does show that the political wind can be changed. And the 2009 legislation at least shows that Washington D.C. is beginning to take notice.

Importantly, with a major presidential election on the horizon, the signs in Washington once again are pointing to change. If you are a homeowner struggling to make your mortgage payments, you should take this opportunity to contact your senators and representatives and urge them to make your voice heard – by requesting more reform for the majority of struggling homeowners like yourself.

Also, remember, at Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. law office we are interested in helping you get the financial relief you need. We help consumers with bankruptcy, debt consolidation, mortgage modifications and other debt relief issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us to come in for a free consultation about your personal situation. Our number is (732) 752-8834.

You May be Eligible for Foreclosure Aid

Were you active in the foreclosure process anywhere from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010?  If so, you may be eligible for the Independent Foreclosure Review, a program created by the federal governement between the Comptroller of the Currency, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Office of Thrift Supervision. 

The program is designed to determine whether consumers suffered financial injury through errors, misrepresentations or other deficient practices on the part of the mortgage companies.  If eligible, you may have received a notice in the mail from your mortgage servicer but we encourage you to look at the requiremetns and proactively and seek it out on your own, or with our help.  Some of the eligibility requirements are that the mortgage must have been ACTIVE in the foreclosure process from January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.  Also, the mortgage must have been serviced by one of the following servicers:

  • America’s Servicing Co.
  • Aurora Loan Services
  • BAC Home Loans Servicing
  • Bank of America
  • Beneficial
  • Chase
  • Citibank
  • CitiFinancial
  • CitiMortgage
  • Countrywide
  • EMC
  • EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
  • Financial Freedom
  • GMAC Mortgage
  • HFC
  • HSBC
  • IndyMac Mortgage Services
  • MetLife Bank
  • National City Mortgage
  • PNC Mortgage
  • Sovereign Bank
  • SunTrust Mortgage
  • U.S. Bank
  • Wachovia Mortgage
  • Washington Mutual (WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
  • Wilshire Credit Corporation

If you qualify for this program, you could receive payments to remedy the financial injury you may have suffered during the foreclosure process. 

 This program is another chance to get some releif from an unfair foreclosure.   To get more information, please go to   As always, if you have questions about forclsoure, bankruptcy, debt consolidation or other financial issues, please contact the Stephen M. Goldberg, P.C. Law Offices at 732-752-8834.  We are here to lend an ear and help you sort through your financial and legal troubles. 

There are other programs out there, to read more, go to a few previous blog posts on HAMP and the National Mortgage Settlement.

Student Loan Debt – A Growing Problem

If you are in college or putting a child through college, you are already familiar with the high costs of tuition.  With many people struggling to make ends meet but not willing to forgo a college education, they turn to loans.  There are two types of student loans available: federal and private.  Federal student loans are more heavily regulated and come directly from the government with a fixed interest rate.  Also, these loans have payment plans that are usually tied to the consumer’s income and even deferment programs for hardship situations.  Unfortunately, the amount available to an individual is not usually enough to cover all tuition costs, so the consumer turns to private loans.  Private student loans make up about 15% of the $1 trillion in outstanding student debt and do not come with any protective provisions.  Private loans aren’t guaranteed by the government and usually have higher rates because the borrowers are young, with little or no credit history.  These loans are big business for banks like Sallie Mae (SLM), J.P. Morgan, Discover, Wells Fargo, CitiBank, and Bank of America, because they are able to borrow the money from the Federal Reserve for almost 0% and then charge the consumer as much as 9%. 

If you have student loans, unfortunately they are a debt that cannot be discharged through a bankruptcy.  However, if you have other debts, bankruptcy may be able to free you from those crushing debts and allow you to focus on paying off those student loans.  Furthermore, there are some rumblings in the media that there may be relief as Congressmen are alerted to this growing issue.  Watch this space for more information! 

If you have questions about debt, debt consolidation, bankruptcy, loans, foreclosure or other legal issues, do not hesitate to reach out to us.  We are here to help you figure out a course of action and find relief!  Please call us any time: 732-752-8834.