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Friday, March 31, 2006

Memphis Arrival

Had a great trip down to Memphis, but not much work got done yesterday :-)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Heading To Memphis

I'm off to Memphis today, so have to be quick. I'll be meeting with two other successful "Foreclosure Prevention" business teams (from KY & TN). It's kind of a "Master Mind" session - we talk about ideas to make all of our businesses better and how to be more successful stopping forclosures.

I'll be back in Kalamazoo late Monday, but should have time to update you from the road while I'm gone.

Blog at you later!


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

4 New People To Help

WOW! I don't know what happened yesterday, but the phone was going like crazy. I added 4 new families to help with their foreclosures! Usually, I talk to a couple new ones a day, but for some reason, Tuesday was unusual. Something in the water?

I also finally got a response from the Washington Mutual rep on a home I'm working on discounting the debt - making progress. This guy's a tough one, but it's FHA so he'll eventually crack. In the mean time, the family's still living happily in the home and the foreclosure has been stopped - so there's no loss.

Today I'm mostly focused on helping my partner sell some of her lease/option homes - at least that's the plan. My priority is helping new families that call me for help with a pending foreclosure or late payments.

I've also got to get ready for my long weekend to Memphis (more on this tomorrow).

I'll let you know tomorrow how this all went.

Until then…
Joel Zieve

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What It's Really Worth?

Wow! That's all I've got to say.

Yesterday I went met an appraiser at a house. The owners are trying to sell it. They owe $93,000. 2 years ago it appraised for $127,000.

What do you think the appraiser said it was worth yesterday? Same house, no major damage, no changes in the neighborhood?


Like I said - WOW!

How does that happen? When I tell people on the phone that refinance appraisals are ALWAYS incredibly over valued, I really mean it. This is a prime example. The bank wants to lend as much money as they can.

All is fine if the owners are planning on staying in the house a long time. But, when something happens and they can't afford it any more, and want out, what happens? They can't sell it.
Well, now I'm working on discounting the debt from $93,000 to a point where it could be sold. This is what I do! Will the bank go for it? We'll see.

Gotta run - more on this tomorrow!

"Stop Foreclosure Man" - Joel Zieve

Monday, March 27, 2006

You’re Not Alone

I just picked this off of the newswire:

In the article, there’s this quote:

Michigan reported 10,343 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, more than twice as many as were reported the previous month and one new foreclosure for every 408 households.

So, let’s see, foreclosures doubled from January to February 2006, one out of every 408 homes is in foreclosure, and the foreclosure rate in Michigan is in the top 3 in the country. And you’re still feeling guilty about your situation with the house?

Come on, it’s not your fault – look at the Michigan economy and what’s happening to everyone else around you!

The only reason to feel bad about this is if you’re not taking action to solve the problem. There are always options available to you. That’s why I created this website, so get into action and find a solution:


Friday, March 24, 2006

New Web Sites Coming Soon

Yesterday I told you I was looking forward to my meeting with our new web developer. It went great! It will be a couple of weeks before we'll see the new sites, but I'm pretty excited. Right now we've got web sites for several parts of our business (Foreclosures, Homes of Sale, a "Generic" site) and we've got ideas for other parts of our business. None of these existing sites are tired together and they all look different. This will tie them all together plus get us new ones.

Have no fear about www.StopMichiganForeclosure though as this will contain the same awesome information and still be Michigan's #1 place to go for stopping foreclosures. It will just look a bit different.

I'm a former computer geek so this stuff excites me. I'll let you know when the new sites are launched!

Oh, I also got 4 new calls (a busier day than normal) from people wanting my help with their foreclosures. After I sort through it, I should have some new stories to share.

Have a great weekend! I'm not heading anywhere - it will be a good "catch-up" weekend (don't you relish a ketchup weekend?). We're heading somewhere or have company coming every weekend in April, so this is the last one that will be all mine for a while.

Have a great one (weekend that is).


Thursday, March 23, 2006

"I Can Not Change The Laws Of Physics Captain!"…

… this of course is said with a strong Scottish ascent.

Now, if you're an original Star Trek fan, this needs no explanation. For those that aren't, here's a short one: Captain Kirk would frequently get his ship and/or crew in such situations that he'd need his chief engineer (Mr. Scott - "Scotty") to bail him out. He'd have to do things like re-start the engines in 5 minutes (a normal 60 minute process) or get the Enterprise to run at warp 12 (normal top speed is warp 8). More than one time, after this request, Scotty would reply "I Can Not Change The Laws Of Physics Captain!"

What does this have to do with foreclosures? Here's a story…

Yesterday I talked to a gal in Kalamazoo convinced she would find an answer to her problem - she just needed to talk to enough people. Now I'm all for that. Every person she talks to will have a different twist on the situation, and offer different suggestions. I certainly don't know everything! The problem is, she wanted it all. She wanted to keep her house, her cars, all of the stuff she bought on credit cards, but make most of the debt go away.

Let's just focus on the house. She had a "normal" (before she got behind) house payment of $1500 a month. She got behind because of health issues and a job loss (normal reasons that cause this - which is why so many people are losing their homes to foreclosure in Michigan. She wanted to keep her house, and have a payment of $800 a month. I did the math - she'd have to refinance at a rate of about 3% in order to get this done. There's two problems with this plan.

1) If she had perfect credit today (which she doesn't since she's 120 days late on her mortgage), the best 30 year fixed interest rate loan I've seen is a little under 6%. But of course because of her credit, no one will finance her - at any interest rate.

2) You can't get caught up by slowing down. Here's the analogy: If you're in a row boat with a small leak (a mortgage payment), as long as you keep bailing the water out (making your normal monthly payment), you're OK - you won't sink. If you stop bailing for a period of time (lose your job and can't pay), and want to not sink, you have to bail faster (start making bigger payments). She wanted a way to plug the hole (get rid of her mortgage payment but keep the house), but of course, you can't change the laws of physics.

I felt bad when I hung up - I tried to help and explain there were other options besides the eventual foreclosure that was bound to happen. But, she was just so focused on the belief that someone would have an answer, there was nothing I could do. She's going to have her head in the sand for 4 more weeks until the foreclosure sale at which point it will be too late for me to help.

The moral to the story? Realize that no one, not even Scotty, can change the laws of physics!

Today I'm meeting with a web developer as many of my web sites will be complete changing of the next month. This is exciting stuff! I'll have a report tomorrow.

See ya then!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Another Idea To Save Your Home

Here's an idea that came up last night. A gal called me who lost her job and was 3 months on her mortgage (soon to be facing foreclosure), but REALLY REALLY wanted a way to keep her house. We went through many options and concluded there was only one remaining:

Sell the house to someone - either me at a discount, or someone she knew, willing to pay slightly more than what it was worth. Who would do that? Her daughter - great idea!

So, her daughter will be talking with one of my mortgage guys today to see how soon she can close. Hopefully this will work on for the best - keep your fingers crossed for them!


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Michigan foreclosures double in two years, now 2 1/2 times U.S. rate

I just found this article on the news wire today:

Kalamazoo County is the 4th highest county in Michigan outside of the Detroit metro area.

If you’re facing foreclosure, what does this mean? You’re not alone. Honestly – bad things happened to good people all of the time, and it’s doubled in Michigan. Stop blaming yourself and just do something about it! (That’s why I’m here – put me to work).



Friday, March 17, 2006

Mortgage Broker Meetings

Yesterday I met with 2 mortgage brokers. Why would I do that?

When people fall behind on their payments, one of the things they usually do first is try to refinance their loan. In VERY VERY RARE cases this can be done - there needs to be a TON of equity in their homes. Why is this? Lenders lend based on credit and just 1 or 2 late payments on a mortgage are usually enough to prevent anyone else from lending people money. Make it 3 or 4 late and forget it.

The majority of mortgage brokers out there unfortunately try to take advantage of people behind on their payments. They make promises like there's no tomorrow, simply to extract fees form these people that are already in financial hardship. Then, when it comes time to close the new loan, something always "comes up" and they can't do it. Before you pay any $$ to a broker or lender for a refinance, check out this page.

But, I digress :-)

Back to my meetings. You see, these 2 brokers are special. Special in that they don't take advantage of people. They let them know within a couple of days if they can help them. I met with them to explain how I can help the people they can't help.

When a family is faced with the reality of a pending foreclosure, and the house is worth more (or the same) as the debt, no one will help (attorneys, realtors, brokers, etc.) There's just nothing they can do. I come in and discount the debt with their lender and save their credit from getting worse. This allows these families to start over, not from the bottom (after a foreclosure), but only with late payments.

These two brokers see the big picture. I save someone's credit, they help build it back up, and within a year or two, these families are back being homeowners and these brokers get to put them into a new mortgage. Everyone wins! That's why they'll be sending me referrals and allowing me to help more families.

Today, I'm meeting with a new person we're adding to our team. He's going to help get the word out to more people facing foreclosure so we can help more of them out. Monday I'll let you know how it went!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Mid-Week Day Off?

Well, not quite. Yesterday, I planned on cleaning the vehicle (what a mess), changing the oil, etc. Although all of this got done, I found myself on hold a good part of the day with lenders following up with them on different homes I'm working on.

Sometimes the only viable solution for families is to sell their homes (they realize this when they see they can't afford the payments any more). Most of the time, they need to get the debt discounted so they can sell it (because they simply owe more than it’s worth). So, most of my time is spent negotiating with lenders to reduce the debt so their homes can be sold (either to me a third party investor).

Now "negotiating debt with the lender" doesn't sound like a very time consuming process. And when it actually gets down to a conversation, it's not. The time challenge comes in 1) getting them the mounds of information they need to decide, 2) finding the right person to get it to, 3) getting that person on the phone to talk. I can often spend almost half of my day on hold!

That was yesterday - fortunately, I had other things I could do!

It was a very productive day, just not very exciting to watch (unless you like watching someone work on their vehicle). I’m sure I’ll have a more exiting report for you tomorrow!


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

My Real Estate Attorney

Yesterday, I (kind of) blasted attorneys. Most are so focused on protecting their interests first, it’s a joke.

I’ve been working with a Kalamazoo Real Estate Attorney that’s an exception. Down to earth, talks in English, and is solution oriented!

If you ever need one, I’ll give you his number.

Anyway, I met with him yesterday to fine-tune some of my processes, make sure I’m still doing everything I can to stop foreclosures, and to learn a little more about the foreclosure process in Michigan.

Of course I’m not an attorney, but I need to understand Michigan foreclosure law pretty well to be able to stop foreclosures (makes sense, eh?)

So, I invested a couple hours with him today (at $100/hr !) so I can better serve my clients. An investment I’m always willing to make.

Until tomorrow - Joel

“I’m Scared”

Yesterday I went to see the family in Parchment that I started working with last week. The husband said to me something I know that all families are feeling when I meet with them – “I’m scared”. This I knew, because everyone I meet with is scared – this was just unusual in that he admitted it.

There’s nothing wrong with being scared during a time of the unknown. What could be more unknown than the foreclosure process? Not only is it something that most families don’t go through, it’s something that’s almost “forbidden” to talk about. Who do we turn to that won’t make us feel guilty or ashamed? Family can sometimes be the worst!

Fear (with anything) tends to be reduced when we get educated. Because, it’s really just fear of the unknown. A good place to get answers (and educated) about the foreclosure process is a good real estate attorney. The problem there is the big $$ they’d just to educate you. The most common solutions from an attorney is “declare bankruptcy” (which of course isn’t a permanent solution and usually makes things worse (see this)), or “sorry, there’s nothing you can do, just accept it”. Lots of $$, and not much help!

As we sat and talked about their situation, I assured them I was hear to answer all of their questions and I would do whatever I could, and no charge to them, to solve their problem. After each question he asked, and I answered, I could see the fear slowly disappear, and relief come over him. They’re in the best hands now, and they knew it.

I can’t help everyone, but even when I can’t help, people are better off because they understand the process.

Knowledge = Power = Control = Less Fear

Until tomorrow morning...


Monday, March 13, 2006

Financial Reality Check

Over the weekend (yes, I do work on weekends), I spoke with a gal in Battle Creek who was in need of a major “Financial Reality Check”.

She had fallen 6 months behind on her mortgage because of health issues (couldn’t work), but is now back to work. The problem is that the foreclosure sale is 14 days away and she needed about $6K to reinstate the loan.

(“Reinstate” means to bring the loan current and pick right back up where you were).

After talking for a few minutes she told me she really couldn’t afford her regular $600 payments, even if she reinstated it. Despite this realization, she decided to take a $6K hardship withdrawal from her 401(k) to save her house.

Here’s the problem as I see it: She can’t afford $600/mo and because of the late payments on her credit, she knows she won’t be able to refinance for at least 2 full years. She’ll end up in the exact same position in a matter of months (facing another foreclosure). Only at that point, she’ll have taken a major hit on her 401(k), which is supposed to be there for retirement.

She’s having a hard time giving up her house, even though deep down, she knows she can’t afford it. Why? Well, heck, it’s been her home for 36 years!

I can understand this; I just hope for her sake she quickly gives herself a financial reality check and walks away. Otherwise, she’ll be making her situation much, much worse.

More tomorrow – Joel Zieve

Friday, March 10, 2006

How Someone's Payments Can Double

Yesterday I went to Parchment (just north of Kalamazoo) and spoke with a family who's payment almost doubled within a few months. Here's how that can happen (and it may happen to you).

1) Lender losses insurance information and thinks there's no insurance on the house.
2) Insurance agent sends proof of insurnace, but never follows-up to be sure lender got it.
3) Lender puts a $1000/yr policy on the house, and charges the home owner (double what they usually pay).
4) Lender then forces the creation of an escrow account, and expects the owners to fund it (with about $2500); plus they want the $1K for the policy they just bought.
5) $210 Escrow is added to payment (to pay future taxes and insurance)
6) $290 Escrow shortage "make-up" is added to payment (to pay the $3500 from 3 & 4 above).
7) The mortgage is variable rate, so it goes up $100.

There you have it - $600 to $1200 almost overnight, through no fault of this family.

Obviously, if you're used to a $600 payment and it goes to $1,200, you're not going to be able to keep up - neither could they. That's why they've asked me to come in, stop the foreclosure and purchase their home. I'll have to discount the debt first since they owe more than it's worth, but hey, that's what I do (call me the "Bank Bully" if you have to). The end result will be to allow this family to start over and start rebuilding their credit, while getting them out from this ridiculous house payment.

Don't thing this is rare - I see it often.

Until Monday - Joel Zieve

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Home SAS

Hey, a flight that arrived and departed on time, what do you know! After digging through the rest of the 40+ emails, and snail mail, I'm almost back on track.

I'll be heading out later this morning to visit someone new to help in Parchment. As always, all information is kept confidential - so I'll do my best to share generic information about their story tomorrow morning. I've found that there's always people out there that share similar circumstances with most families I help out.

Over the next few weeks, as I share more stories, I hope you'll see how incredibly rewarding it is to help people that are truly in hopeless situations with their homes and foreclosure. It's like being a super hero!


Oh, "SAS"? That's Mom's code for "Safe and Sound".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Just heading back home from a 4-day training event in south-west FL. These are the folks (in FL) that suggested that having a BLOG would be a great way to futhur help the people I work with to stop their foreclosures in the Kalamazoo an SW Michigan area.

Anyway, this is just a quick welcome as I have to jump on the plane shortly. So, welcome to the BLOG - who knows where this will go, but I know we'll be exploring solutions for dealing with foreclosure.

Stay tuned - and WELCOME!