The Florida Legislature anticipated that many title agencies, real estate profesionals and loan profesionals e.g. mortgage brokers and real estate brokers would supplement their business by helping distressed homeowners. In light of the complaints recieved by the Attorney General’s office regarding persons whom were swindled, cheated or just misguided, the legislature reacted with the passing a new Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practice.
Essentially, this new law prohibits non-lawyers from charging upfront fees for any type of loan modification and/or foreclosure defense services. Apparantly this targets the common complaint that once an initial fee is paid, little or no action follows by the consultant.
While the law’s technical deficiencies are not within the scope of this article it is safe to write that these statutes will add to much litigation. What is important to remember is that whether you are a foreclosure rescue consultant or a potential customer of one, it is essential that an attorney is consulted about the services in an effort to ascertain the viability of the rescue plan.
My firm, for example, permits clients to bring in their consultant or the consultants to bring in their customers, in order to advise whether the anticipated track is advisable. This can typically be accomplished without paying more than a reasonable consultation fee.
When locating an attorney for this purpose, it will be important to locate one which has experience with closing real estate loans, performing title analysis as well as Truth In Lending calculations. Finally, the attorney that is understanding of the parties’ needs in a situation such as this will honor the need to place no time limits on a consultation for a flat fee.