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STATE BAR TAKES ACTION TO AID HOMEOWNERS IN FORECLOSURE CRISIS

STATE BAR TAKES ACTION TO AID HOMEOWNERS IN FORECLOSURE CRISIS

MEDIA CONTACT:  Diane Curtis   415-538-2028   diane.curtis@calbar.ca.gov

San Francisco, September 18, 2009 — The State Bar of California, alarmed by the number of lawyers preying on vulnerable homeowners, today identified 16 attorneys who are under investigation for misconduct related to loan modification.

“In my 21 years in attorney discipline, I have not seen a crisis of this magnitude. It is truly unprecedented,” said Interim Chief Trial Counsel Russell Weiner, who is waiving investigation confidentiality in favor of public protection. The waiver, allowed by law, is used only occasionally, but Weiner said the seriousness of the problem demanded a strong reaction by the bar in order to protect consumers. This is the first time the names of more than a few lawyers being investigated have been made public.

“The number of attorneys using their law licenses to essentially take money from unwary but trusting consumers is astounding,” Weiner added. “There are literally thousands of victims who have lost money they could not afford to lose. Under the circumstances, the need for public information and protection is paramount.”   

Those attorneys being named by the State Bar have allegedly taken fees for promised services and then failed to perform those services, communicate with their clients or return the unearned fees, Weiner said. Some attorneys misrepresented the services they could provide. “It appears these attorneys may have significantly harmed their clients who were already facing great financial pressure and the possible loss of their homes.”

About one-quarter  – almost 800 cases –  of the active investigations in the Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OTC) are related to foreclosure complaints. The office has experienced a 58 percent increase in active investigations over 2008 due in large part to the huge increase in complaints against attorneys offering loan modification services. “Our office is aggressively investigating these cases and is working proactively with law enforcement,” said Weiner.

In March of 2009, the State Bar created a special team of investigators and lawyers to handle the growing number of complaints received about attorneys offering loan modification services. OTC found that many of the offending attorneys are associated with firms that use telemarketers or phone banks to sign up clients without regard to the facts of the individual case or whether or not the client can be helped, Weiner said.
In many cases, the attorneys work with untrained non-attorney staff engaging in the unlawful practice of law by offering legal advice to prospective clients. OTC also is investigating the non-attorney staff for possible referral to law enforcement.

In recent months, OTC has obtained the resignation of three attorneys who were offering loan modification services. Those attorneys chose to give up their licenses to practice law rather than face disciplinary charges and possible disbarment. In addition, OTC lawyers are preparing to put some attorneys on inactive status pending the filing of formal disciplinary charges

Weiner warned consumers to take special caution when seeking legal representation related to loan modification. “Consumers should not be comforted by advertisements that claim the attorney is a member of the State Bar of California,” he said, noting that all attorneys practicing in California on a regular basis are members. “Such membership does not mean the attorney has any special knowledge, experience or expertise in the area of loan modification. In fact, it appears that many of the attorneys offering these services have little or no prior experience in the area of loan modification.” 

The following attorneys have received a significant number of complaints related to the loan modification services they were hired to perform. They are entitled to a full and fair hearing on any charges that may be filed in the future. No discipline may be imposed unless and until the State Bar proves allegations of misconduct by clear and convincing evidence.

         ▪  David Arase, Bar No. 233705, Arase Law Firm and National Housing Assistance

         ▪  Stephen Burns, Bar No. 113371, Legal Group Network

         ▪  Robert Buscho, Bar No. 122556, United Law Group

         ▪  Nicholas Chavarela, Bar No. 251632, Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group

         ▪  Steven Feldman, Bar No. 103676, Feldman Law Center

         ▪  Eric Johnson, Bar No. 224065, Avantgarde Group

         ▪  Paul Lucas, Bar No. 163076, Lucas Law Center

         ▪  Brandon Moreno, Bar No. 233750, U. S. Foreclosure

         ▪  Jeffrey Nemerofsky, Bar No. 213014, U.S. Advocacy Law Group and U.S. Financial Products

         ▪  Gregory Paiva, Bar No. 207218, Law Offices of Gregory Paiva

         ▪  Adrian Pomery, Bar No. 249664, U.S. Foreclosure

         ▪  Ronald Rodis, Bar No. 181873, Rodis Law Group and America’s Law Group

         ▪  Mark Shoemaker, Bar No. 134828, Advocates for Fair Lending

         ▪  Marc Tow, Bar No. 78429, Marc Tow and Associates

         ▪  Michael Yellin, Bar No. 255050, A Fresh Start Loan Modification

         ▪  Sean Rutledge, Bar No. 255938, United Law Group

The State Bar suggests that consumers be wary of attorneys offering loan modification services under any of the following circumstances:

  • Advertisements of the office do not expressly identify by name the attorney who is responsible for the business.
  • Office staff will not readily identify by name the attorney responsible for oversight of the business.
  • The attorney in charge of the office is too busy or not willing to meet personally with prospective clients.
  • The firm advises a consumer to stop paying the existing mortgage.
  • The business, through its advertisements or claims of its representatives, makes  claims that sound too good to be true, such as claims of a 90 or 100 percent rate of success in obtaining loan modifications, or claims that a reduction in the mortgage principal is likely to be achieved. 
  • The business demands payment of a large fee, even before obtaining a prospective client’s basic income and expense information, and information about the existing mortgage and present home value.
  • The attorney responsible for the business is not licensed to practice law in the state where the consumer resides.

There are legitimate loan modification services and ethical attorneys that are providing the promised services for their clients. Two places to start in the search for loan modification assistance are: HUD Housing Counselors, 800-569-4287, http://www.hud.gov/counseling; and HOPE NOW, 888-995-HOPE, http://www.hopenow.com

Consumers can also find qualified attorneys through a State Bar-certified lawyer referral service that can be found on the State Bar’s Web site (www.calbar.ca.gov), or by calling the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Services Directory at 1-866-442-2529 (toll free in California) or 415-538-2250 (from outside California).

Consumers having a problem with the attorney handling their loan modification may contact the State Bar at 1-800-843-9053 or visit the State Bar’s Web site at www.calbar.ca.gov to find a complaint form.

Founded in 1927 by the state legislature, the State Bar of California is an administrative arm of the California Supreme Court, serving the public and seeking to improve the justice system for more than 80 years. All lawyers practicing law in California must be members of the State Bar. In September 2009, membership reached 223,000.

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September 29, 2009 Posted by | Bank owned in Big Bear, Big Bear Market, Short Sale in Big Bear | , | Leave a comment

13 Homes Sold this Week in Big Bear, 9/26/2009

Click here to see the details on these 13 homes.

  • 9 of these homes were traditional sellers “69%”, with a price differential of  77.24% of list price and 107 days on the market
  • 4 of these homes were bank owned “31%”, with a price differential of 100% of list price and 18 days on the market 
  • Overpriced homes (over 90% of the listings) will sit with no activity until they lower the price to meet the market.  
  • With 812 active listings on the market currently, the inventory has fallen about 8% in the past 30 days.

    I can show you any home for sale in Big Bear.

    Search the Big Bear MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

    Search the Southern California MLS  (Multiple Listing Service)

    Steve Hirschler

    Associate, The Tim Wood Group

    Coldwell Banker Mountain Gallery

    42153 Big Bear Blvd.

    P.O. BOX 6820

    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

    stevehirschler@gmail.com

    909 866-3481 EXT. 217 CELL 909 725-5889

    Fax 909 866-3531

    http://www.stevesellsbigbear.com

    Follow me on Twitter

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    September 26, 2009 Posted by | Big Bear Market, Big Bear Real Estate, Sold in Big Bear | , , , , | Leave a comment

    43360 Ridge Crest in the Moonridge Area of Big Bear Lake


    THIS IS A TURN KEY HOME OR VACATION RENTAL IN THE UPPER MOONRIDGE AREA. EVERYTHING YOU NEED IS INCLUDED. ALL FURNITURE, DECOR, SMALL AND LARGE APPLIANCES, TV’S, VIDEO’S AND MUSIC, FOOSBALL TABLE, JACUZZI, LINENS AND DISHES. GREAT LOCATION WALK TO BEAR MOUNTAIN, GOLF , ZOO, AND THE NATIONAL FOREST. BEAUTIFUL DECK AND FENCED BACK YARD FOR PETS. LIVING ROOM AND FAMILY ROOM / DEN.

    September 25, 2009 Posted by | Big Bear Real Estate | Leave a comment

    4 New Bank Owned Homes in Big Bear 9/19/2009

    Listing Courtesy of Keller Williams / David Cartwright

    Listing Courtesy of Keller Williams / David Cartwright

    Listing Courtesy Century 21 Bonnie Blue

    Listing Courtesy Century 21 Bonnie Blue

    Listing Courtesy of Premier Propeties Sothebys Tom Benson

    Listing Courtesy of Premier Propeties Sotheby's Tom Benson

    Listing Courtesy of Premier Properties Sothebys Int. Tom Benson

    Listing Courtesy of Premier Properties Sotheby's Int. Tom Benson

     

    As of this morning, we have 40 bank owned  homes (REO’s) on the market, that’s only 4.84% of the 826 active listings. Please call or email if you want to purchase a bank owned home in Big Bear,

    I will get you the best deal.

    I can show you any home for sale in Big Bear.

    Search the Big Bear MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

    Search the Southern California MLS  (Multiple Listing Service)

    Steve Hirschler

    Associate, The Tim Wood Group

    Coldwell Banker Mountain Gallery

    42153 Big Bear Blvd.

    P.O. BOX 6820

    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

    stevehirschler@gmail.com

    909 866-3481 EXT. 217 CELL 909 725-5889

    Fax 909 866-3531

    http://www.stevesellsbigbear.com

    Follow me on Twitter

    Subscribe to “Ask an Expert, Big Bear Real Estate Blog”

    September 19, 2009 Posted by | Bank owned in Big Bear, Big Bear Real Estate, Homes for Sale in Big Bear | , , , | Leave a comment

    Select Your Big Bear Real Estate Agent Carefully.

    Selecting your Real Estate agent is important.

    Many times buyers and sellers in Big Bear make the mistake of selecting an out of the area agent that is not geographically competent in the Big Bear area. These agents often don’t know how to find Big Bear, so finding you a home may be very challenging. They may not know the differences between the neighborhoods of Sugarloaf and Fawnskin. This results in poor representation and dissatisfaction for you, the client.

    Agents from out of the area can’t possibly be up to date on the local market conditions and inventory. I spend 6 -7 days a week studying the Big Bear inventory and I feel like if I miss a day, my inventory knowledge will be less than my clients deserve.

    Twice in the past 30 days I have had agents that were friends or family of a buyer say they are going to represent their family member or friend in the transaction. This is fine with me, as long as I am not going to be doing their work.  Having your son-in-law that works Real Estate in Orange County call the listing agent in Big Bear and asking him or her to open the listing and show it to you, because he’s too lazy to drive up to Big Bear, open the house and investigate the property (represent you) doesn’t equate to good service.

    Is this out of area (and touch) agent now going to advise you on what to offer for the property you want to buy? They haven’t even joined the local multiple listing service so that they can be knowledgeable of recent sales and listing activity. Most of these out of area agents have never sold or owned a mountain home. You will also soon learn that they won’t be present for your home inspection, contractors bids or walk through either because it is to inconvenient to make the trip. They are only thinking about one person, and it’s not you. They won’t know who the local home inspectors are and may send an out of the area inspector to do the inspection. These out of area inspectors may not even know what a stop and waste valve is or how to test one.

    An out of area agent won’t be able to tell you about the neighborhood, or the depth of the lake in the different areas. They won’t know the procedure for winterizing your home, or the location of the stop and waste valve. They won’t know the utility companies for the home or where the offices are located for these services. They really won’t know as much as you do, since they often don’t even visit the house before writing the offer.                                                                                                             

    It’s kind of like shopping for a computer at Wal-Mart.You might get lucky and find the right computer with the features you need, but chances are you’ll wish you had a salesperson that knew about the inventory. If you’re looking for someone who doesn’t know the Big Bear Real Estate inventory, hire that out of area agent.

    I can show you any home for sale in Big Bear, but I won’t work in any other areas!

    Search the Big Bear MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

    Search the Southern California MLS  (Multiple Listing Service)

    Steve Hirschler

    Associate, The Tim Wood Group

    Coldwell Banker Mountain Gallery

    42153 Big Bear Blvd.

    P.O. BOX 6820

    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

    stevehirschler@gmail.com

    909 866-3481 EXT. 217 CELL 909 725-5889

    Fax 909 866-3531

    http://www.stevesellsbigbear.com

    Follow me on Twitter

    Subscribe to “Ask an Expert, Big Bear Real Estate Blog”

    September 14, 2009 Posted by | Big Bear Market, Big Bear Real Estate, Big Bear Real Estate Market, Real Estate | , | Leave a comment

    New Listing, Big Bear Cabin in the Mountains!

    THIS SINGLE LEVEL SIERRA STYLE HOME SITS ON A CORNER LOT, FENCED YARD WITH RV PARKING AND ROOM FOR THE TOYS, LARGE LIVING ROOM WITH WOOD BURNING FIREPLACE, HUGE MASTER BEDROOM, BONUS ROOM / OFFICE, LOTS OF STORAGE, BRAND NEW 30 YEAR COMP. ROOF, NOT A BANK OWNED AND NOT A SHORT SALE, SELLER MOTIVATED.

    Listed at $219,900

    I can show you any home for sale in Big Bear.

    Search the Big Bear MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

    Search the Southern California MLS  (Multiple Listing Service)

    Steve Hirschler

    Associate, The Tim Wood Group

    Coldwell Banker Mountain Gallery

    42153 Big Bear Blvd.

    P.O. BOX 6820

    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

    stevehirschler@gmail.com

    909 866-3481 EXT. 217 CELL 909 725-5889

    Fax 909 866-3531

    http://www.stevesellsbigbear.com

    Follow me on Twitter

    Subscribe to “Ask an Expert, Big Bear Real Estate Blog”

     

    September 8, 2009 Posted by | Big Bear Real Estate, Homes for Sale in Big Bear | , , | Leave a comment

    10 Year Deed Recording Information for the Big Bear Area

    BIG BEAR AREA 10 YEAR RESIDENTIAL RESALE RECORDINGS
                                   
    YEAR 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Monthly
    Totals
    Monthly
    Rank
    10 Year
    Average
    2009 2009 % of 10
    Year Average
                                   
    JAN 125 125 158 130 194 163 128 139 77 44 1283 12 128 68 53%
    FEB 126 158 128 148 169 173 147 112 80 43 1284 11 128 69 54%
    MAR 183 174 168 187 197 219 186 118 99 59 1590 10 159 71 45%
    APR 159 169 150 213 227 238 170 131 81 65 1603 9 160 82 51%
    MAY 151 193 182 269 200 268 171 132 99 83 1748 7 175 80 46%
    JUN 161 198 207 224 199 246 188 148 78 85 1734 8 173 98 57%
    JUL 195 180 187 247 228 275 171 108 95 104 1790 4 179 96 54%
    AUG 191 256 264 292 246 263 198 159 106 90 2065 1 207 0 0%
    SEP 231 248 199 274 281 263 228 121 82 109 2036 2 204 0 0%
    OCT 188 270 224 302 227 236 199 123 77 101 1947 3 195 0 0%
    NOV 227 217 187 241 231 224 192 115 87 70 1791 5 179 0 0%
    DEC 237 194 199 276 216 214 186 111 68 62 1763 6 176 0 0%
                                   
    TOTALS 2174 2382 2253 2803 2615 2782 2164 1517 1029 915 20634 78 2063 564 27%
    YEARLY
    RANK
    6 4 5 1 3 2 7 8 9 10          

    I can show you any home for sale in Big Bear.

    Search the Big Bear MLS (Multiple Listing Service)

    Search the Southern California MLS  (Multiple Listing Service)

    Steve Hirschler

    Associate, The Tim Wood Group

    Coldwell Banker Mountain Gallery

    42153 Big Bear Blvd.

    P.O. BOX 6820

    Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

    stevehirschler@gmail.com

    909 866-3481 EXT. 217 CELL 909 725-5889

    Fax 909 866-3531

    http://www.stevesellsbigbear.com

    Follow me on Twitter

    Subscribe to “Ask an Expert, Big Bear Real Estate Blog”

    September 4, 2009 Posted by | Big Bear Real Estate, Big Bear Real Estate Market | , , | Leave a comment