As an Atlanta foreclosure lawyer, it is apparent to me that in today’s economy, many people are having problems with their mortgage payments and their mortgage companies. Many people have suffered a loss of income that has affected their ability to make their monthly mortgage payment. Others have found themselves stuck in homes that are worth far less than what is owed on the mortgage. Should you have any trouble making your mortgage payments, you likely are going to have to deal with a mortgage company in order to retain your home and move on with your life. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
Our Georgia loan modification lawyers realize Mortgage Companies and Banks were not prepared for the economic changes that have occurred in the housing market. Over 3.3 million homes have gone into foreclosure since January of 2008. The Banks simply do not have the employees, time or resources to adequately deal with the number of foreclosures and loan defaults that are occurring. This means long delays in modification deals, never speaking to the same person at the bank twice and general confusion that can lead to losing your home in foreclosure, even if you think that you are negotiating a modification or that you have an agreement concerning you arrearage in place with your lender.
Complicating the situation even further is the fact that most mortgages in Georgia provide that any foreclosure are “non-judicial”. This means that the lender does not have to use the court system to foreclose on your property and sell your house. Instead, they are allowed to send you a notice that they intend to sell your house on the courthouse steps on the first Tuesday of the next month. They also publish this notice in the local paper. Then when four weeks have passed, they auction the house at a sheriff’s sale to the highest bidder.
Fortunately, legal options are available those are facing foreclosure. In Georgia, mortgagors are required to use the utmost good faith in their dealings with you.
Specifically, O.C.G.A. § 23-2-114 provides:
Powers of sale in deeds of trust, mortgages, and other instruments shall be strictly construed and shall be fairly exercised. In the absence of stipulations to the contrary in the instrument, the time, place, and manner of sale shall be that pointed out for public sales. Unless the instrument creating the power specifically provides to the contrary, a personal representative, heir, heirs, legatee, devisee, or successor of the grantee in a mortgage, deed of trust, deed to secure debt, bill of sale to secure debt, or other like instrument, or an assignee thereof, or his personal representative, heir, heirs, legatee, devisee, or successor may exercise any power therein contained; and such powers may so be exercised regardless of whether or not the transfer specifically includes the powers or conveys title to the property described. A power of sale not revocable by death of the grantor or donor may be exercised after his death in the same manner and to the same extent as though the grantor or donor were in life; and it shall not be necessary in the exercise of the power to advertise or sell as the property of the estate of the deceased nor to make any mention of or reference to the death.
The Supreme Court of Georgia has interpreted this statute to mean that a mortgagor must deal with a mortgagee in the utmost good faith, and if they do not, then the mortgagee may have a cause of action against the mortgagor for not acting in good faith. This includes lenders and banks failing to negotiate in good faith with the homeowner regarding payment and when lenders fail to provide the proper notices in foreclosure. If a court determines a foreclosure to have been in violation of these duties, then the foreclosure may be rescinded or the homeowner may be awarded monetary damages.