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Mortgage Foreclosures & Loan Modifications

When your home is in foreclosure, the mortgage companies have hired law firms that do nothing but foreclosure to take your home. They know what they are doing. Mortgage foreclosure is so specialized that in both Illinois and Wisconsin, there are specialized and very complicated and technical laws covering just mortgage foreclosure. In order to defend against foreclosure, you need attorneys who are dedicated to foreclosure defense.

Why do you want to hire Lakelaw to help you defend against mortgage foreclosure? Lakelaw is leader in foreclosure defense in both Illinois and Wisconsin.

Click the below button to watch David Leibowitz in a Lake County Bar Association video about the foreclosure process in Illinois.

Watch Foreclosure Video Now

You want to keep your home

You need time to catch up

To keep your home, you are going to have to come up with a way to pay your mortgage. If you can afford to do this, chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a good way of getting caught up. It particularly might be a good way of catching up if you have a reasonably affordable first mortgage and your second mortgage is not backed up by any equity at all. This is called lien stripping. Lakelaw has helped innumerable people stop mortgage foreclosure in its tracks using chapter 13. And Lakelaw has helped innumerable people get rid of underwater second mortgages using lien stripping both in Illinois and in Wisconsin. If you want to use chapter 13 to help you save your home, you need to do this before a foreclosure sale in Illinois and before confirmation of that sale in Wisconsin.

You want to modify your mortgage

Most people in mortgage foreclosure have unaffordable mortgage payments. They entered into predatory mortgage loans or Option ARMS or high interest rate loans or mortgages with negative amortization. These exotic and complicated mortgages were good for Wall Street investors but bad for Main Street homeowners. Mortgage modification is very complicated. Mortgage companies and their investors really don’t want to modify mortgage loans. But they must go through the process and if you play your cards just right you might be able to modify your mortgage. There are government-mandated programs such as HARP, the Home Affordable Repayment Plan, HAMP, the Home Affordable Modification Plan, and even 2MP, the Second Mortgage Modification Plan. In addition, every lender or mortgage servicer has its own modification program. Lakelaw can help you through this process. Here’s what we can do for you to help you see if you can get a mortgage modification:

  • We can show you what options are available
  • We can show you what documents your lender needs in order to consider your modification request.
  • We can help you gather the necessary documents
  • We can see to it that the documents get to the right place
  • We can follow up with the lender if the lender claims not to have received the documents
  • We can coordinate your mortgage modification efforts with the court – frequently there is a mortgage mediation program in place which helps you with mortgage modification.
  • We can use your mortgage modification efforts in order to help you with your mortgage foreclosure defense.

You want time in your house before you move on

Mortgage foreclosure is not a particularly fast process in either Illinois or Wisconsin. At Lakelaw, we don’t delay your case just for the sake of delay. But we can force the lender to prove its case – and that’s not always so easy for them. We can raise legitimate defenses. We can challenge facts that you don’t know to be the case. We can engage in discovery in order to find documents from the lender that can be helpful to your case. We can resist motions for default or for summary judgment. We can raise legitimate affirmative defenses. All of this appropriate defense will extend the time that you will have in your home before you need to make decisions about your next steps. Every case is different. Most of our clients have enjoyed extended periods of time in their homes in the course of Lakelaw’s disciplined and ethical mortgage foreclosure defense.

You want to avoid a personal judgment for a deficiency

In Illinois, it is possible for a lender to obtain a judgment against a homeowner for the difference between the amount obtained in the foreclosure sale and the amount due on the mortgage note. Fortunately, this is rarely the case in Wisconsin. Lenders trade the right for a deficiency in order to get a faster foreclosure most of the time in Wisconsin.

Lakelaw has helped its clients to avoid personal liability in many ways.

  • Deeds in lieu of foreclosure – Lenders would rather take back the house without litigation knowing that if they had to defend a foreclosure against Lakelaw, it would take them years to get the house back. If the lender takes the house back through a deed in lieu of foreclosure, there is no deficiency judgment.
  • Consent judgment of foreclosure – Homeowners can agree to a consent judgment of foreclosure without lengthy and costly foreclosure defense proceedings. In exchange for a prompt resolution of the case, lenders waive any right to a deficiency judgment.
  • Short Sale Homeowners can try to sell the house for less than is actually due on the mortgage. The homeowner gets the benefit of avoiding a foreclosure judgment and the lender will release its lien for less than the full amount of the loan. Frequently, it will waive any further rights to collect on the mortgage note.
  • Bankruptcy – If all else fails, bankruptcy remains as a legitimate option to avoid personal liability on a mortgage foreclosure deficiency. Lakelaw is among the leaders in bankruptcy in Illinois. Lakelaw is one of the few firms in Chicago equally adept at mortgage foreclosure defense and bankruptcy.

You want to defend against improper conduct by your lender and even sue your lender.

Lenders and mortgage servicers sometimes engage in improper conduct. They may not apply your loan payments correctly. They may not grant you a mortgage modification agreement after you made the required trial payments. They may not have followed rules established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lenders may have violated the Truth in Lending Act or the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. In cases like these, you want to defend against mortgage foreclosure and even file counterclaims against your mortgage lender. Lakelaw has been there and done that for its clients. This requires a big commitment from you. Ask us about the costs and benefits of this approach.

Why choose Lakelaw as your mortgage defense attorneys?

David Leibowitz was sought out to be a charter member of the Association of Foreclosure Defense Attorneys of Illinois. He has been a frequent speaker at its meetings. Lakelaw was also sought out to be the only private law firm in Wisconsin to head up a homeowner preservation project organized by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Administration. In this project, David Leibowitz and Catherine Doyle of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee led symposia throughout Wisconsin to teach attorneys about basic mortgage foreclosure defense. Ryan Blay, our supervising attorney in Wisconsin, was among the leaders who assisted in the organization of the court annexed mediation program in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. The judges of the Circuit Court in Lake County asked David Leibowitz to train attorneys in Lake County about basic mortgage foreclosure law and practice. He trained over 100 attorneys and made a video all about foreclosure. He won the prestigious Liberty Bell Award from the Circuit Court for his service to the Court.

Should I hire a “Mortgage Modification Firm?”

Mortgage modifications, whether through the Obama mortgage modification program, the Home Affordable Mortgage Program, (HAMP), the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) or private non-HAMP or non-HARP mortgage modification agreements are all too rare and all too few.

Even worse, too many mortgage modification firms promise results that they can’t deliver. Never pay a mortgage modification firm an upfront fee. You can get help from a HUD approved agency, which can be found at At Lakelaw, our Chicago foreclosure lawyers will defend your case. If we are successful in your foreclosure defense, we might avoid a deficiency judgment against you. An attorney might also be able to negotiate a favorable modification to your mortgage. Law firms are not subject to regulation as a mortgage modification firm in either Illinois or Wisconsin.

Beware of anyone who promises you too much when defending against mortgage foreclosure.

Remember, mortgage servicers don’t want to modify your loan. They want to foreclose.  They make more money by foreclosing than modifying. Mortgage modification costs servicers money. Don’t believe anyone who tells you anything different.

Our Waukegan bankruptcy attorneys focus on two main avenues of financial freedom: consumer bankruptcy and foreclosure defense. Foreclosure cases in Lake County, Illinois, now are subject to mandatory mortgage mediation. A former Lakelaw attorney, Jim Simon, now city attorney in Champaign Illinois helped the court establish this program. We can also guide you through the mediation process in Kenosha, Racine or Milwaukee providing advice and guidance through a complicated process against local and national banks as well as mortgage servicers such as Ocwen, Nationstar, Green Tree, Seterus, Select Portfolio Services and many others.

Please call us at (262) 694-7300 in Wisconsin to learn how we can help. We have two convenient Wisconsin offices to serve you. In Illinois, reach us at 847 249 9100 for service either in Chicago or Waukegan.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mortgage Foreclosure in Illinois & Wisconsin

Lakelaw is one of the few law firms that can defend your mortgage foreclosure case whether it is in Illinois or Wisconsin. Many of our clients have real estate in both states. The laws in Illinois and Wisconsin are different. We have experience protecting our clients’ rights and interests in both states. The questions our clients ask us have different answers depending on the state where you live.

What is a foreclosure?

Foreclosure is the process where the lender sells your real estate to pay your mortgage loan.

What is being foreclosed?

Strictly speaking, what is being foreclosed, or taken away from you, is your right to pay back the mortgage – or redeem the mortgage. In addition, the lender is wiping out any claims or interests of anyone who has a lien or mortgage against your property junior or behind its mortgage. Practically, however, after foreclosure, you will lose your home and have to move.

What is a foreclosure complaint?

A foreclosure complaint is the legal paper that starts a mortgage foreclosure proceeding. The plaintiff mortgage company files the complaint in the court. You may hear about the complaint before you even get served. Lots of people – lawyers, mortgage modification companies, speculators and scammers – will send you mail or even contact you directly trying to “help” you. You should ignore most of this help and only deal with people you know and trust.

What is a summons?

This is important. A summons is the legal paper you get along with the complaint. It tells you that you must answer the complaint within a specified period of time. If you don’t a judgment could be entered against you. It is important to respond to the summons promptly. In Illinois, you might be allowed to file an answer, affirmative defense or counterclaim after the initial deadline. But in Wisconsin, you almost certainly will not. In Wisconsin, there is a 20-day deadline to answer a summons. It is extremely important to meet that deadline. If you don’t, you’ll most likely lose any rights you would have had to defend against the foreclosure.

What is a scheduling conference?

In Wisconsin, once you file an answer or other response to a complaint, the court will set up a conference with your attorney and the plaintiff’s attorney to schedule discovery and other pre-trial activities. This is important because it gives you an idea as to how long you have to defend your case and how long you will remain in your home. It gives you time to plan for modification or bankruptcy options.

What happens next?

After you file an answer, affirmative defense or counterclaim, we can commence discovery. We can demand that the plaintiff provide us all information they have about your loan. This information may give us vital clues we can use to defend against foreclosure in your case. There may be issues of fact as to whether the plaintiff has the right to sue on your mortgage. This may help us negotiate a favorable settlement for you.

What is reinstatement?

Reinstatement is the right to bring your mortgage current by catching up on payments you haven’t made in the past. You have 3 months to do this in Illinois. Most mortgage lenders in Wisconsin will also afford you the opportunity to reinstate your loan.

What is redemption?

Redemption is the right to pay off the mortgage in full. You have at least 7 months to do this in Illinois and at least 6 months to do this in Wisconsin. It may be difficult for you to actually redeem your mortgage, particularly if you owe more on the house than it’s worth.

What should I do when faced with mortgage foreclosure?

Each family has a different situation. At Lakelaw, we help you analyze your own situation from both a personal and an economic point of view. We want you to make good decisions based on what is good for you and your family and based upon what is possible from both a legal and business point of view.

Does Lakelaw represent people and business in commercial foreclosures?

Yes, Lakelaw represents people and business in commercial foreclosures in Illinois and Wisconsin. Lakelaw never represents banks. Sometimes, we represent private people or businesses which hold mortgages on Illinois or Wisconsin property.

What is a receiver?

A receiver is a person who takes possession of real estate for the benefit of the lender during the course of a foreclosure. The receiver collects the rent and takes care of the property, making sure that there is no waste or decay to the property during the course of a foreclosure.

Can I avoid the appointment of a receiver?

Unless you have a very strong defense to foreclosure, you probably can’t avoid the appointment of a receiver. The only sure way to avoid appointment of a receiver is to file a bankruptcy case under chapter 13 or chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code before the receiver is appointed.

How do I pay for foreclosure defense?

Lakelaw asks that you pay a retainer when you first hire our firm and then to make monthly payments thereafter to support our ongoing representation.