Monthly Archives: March 2012

Buy and Bail in Illinois: Q & A

What is Buy and Bail?
 Buy and Bail is a version of strategic default. The owner of a severely underwater house or condo buys a new house.  After they close on the new house, they either try to short sell the old home or stop making payments on it and strategically default on the old house.

What is the advantage of Buy and Bail?
 If a homeowner sells a home in a short sale or stops paying and loses the home to foreclosure in a strategic default, the owner will be unable to buy a new house for between 2 and 5 years.  The hit to the owner’s credit will stop them from qualifying for a new mortgage. Buy and Bail allows you to own your new house at today’s low prices and avoid renting.

Is Buy and Bail illegal or unethical or both?
 Go ahead and google “Buy and Bail” and you will see many blog posts that say it is fraud to buy a new house with the intention of dumping the old one. I disagree with that. It is loan fraud to lie on a loan application. But most loan applications just ask for your financial data and don’t require any statement concerning your current home. I have seen mortgage lenders ask the buyer for a statement explaining why they are buying a new house in the same area as their current home. Most clients explain that they have a growing family and want to take advantage of the low prices to buy a bigger house. As long as you qualify for the new loan and don’t misstate  anything on the application, there is no fraud involved in my opinion. It is total loan fraud to do a fake lease on your current property. Don’t do that, please. The rental income probably won’t help you qualify for the loan anyway (see below). I will leave the discussion of whether Buy and Bail is unethical to greater minds than mine. That is up to you to decide. Blog comments on Buy and Bail  range from “everyone who does it should be shot” to “the banks caused all this and they deserve it.”

Do I have to qualify for both mortgages?
 Yes, you pretty much have to have a high enough income that you qualify for the old mortgage and the new mortgage. Take your gross monthly income times 28% and your mortgage payments on both places cannot be more than that amount. You have to have a pretty good income to qualify. Many people apply for an FHA loan, which is only 3.5% down as the new mortgage. You can get an FHA mortgage as long as the mortgage on your old home is not FHA. They only allow one at a time. Some get Homepath financing, which requires only 3% down, has no PMI and is offered on the sales of many FNMA foreclosures.

Will my mortgage lender let me count rent I receive as income?
 Probably not. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac cracked down on Buy and Bail a few years ago and they only allow rental payments to be considered as income if you have 30% down or more in your “old” house. Most people have little to no equity in their current house, so they can’t count the rental income.

Will my new mortgage lender call my loan due if I stop paying on my old house?
 No, the two loans are totally independent of each other. If you decide to Buy and Bail your credit will drop to the low to mid 500s and will stay there for several years. This explains how quickly credit recovers after a foreclosure or short sale.

Will my old mortgage lender try to take my new house from me? 

Buy and Bail is really a strategic default. This post explains the risks in a strategic default and the same applies to Buy and Bail. If you have a second mortgage, it is not wise to Buy and Bail because the second mortgage company likely will try to sue you separately from the foreclosure.

Katie bar the door: Deficiency judgment okay with abode service

I recently ran across a new Cook County case and, while the case is interesting, I hesitate to even bring it up because everyone will think that it’s open season now for deficiency judgments in Illinois.

Trust me, it’s not. Deficiency judgments are still nonexistent to rare in Illinois.

The case is Metrobank v. Cannatello, 2012 Ill App 1st 110529. Here’s what happened: Cannatello borrowed almost $200k for a multi-family property in the south side of Chicago from Chicago Community Bank (Metrobank took over Chicago Community Bank along the way). A foreclosure was filed against him and the lender asked for a deficiency judgment of about $50k after the sheriff’s sale.

When the foreclosure started, a member of Mr. Cannatello’s family was served with the summons at his house. He lived elsewhere, not in the property being foreclosed. This is called “abobe” or “substitute” service. Any person over age 13 who answers the door at the defendant’s house can be served on the theory that  the person receving the summons will tell the defendant (and hopefully will not just throw it in the garbage). This applies to all civil cases, not just foreclosures.

To make a long story short, the court said that it was allowable to enter a deficiency judgment after abode service and that personal service on the defendant was not necessary. This is not really a surprising result.

What does this case mean? The case just makes it clear that a deficiency judgment can be entered if a member of your family accepts the summons.

Are lenders starting to get deficiency judgments? No. They are still very rare. This was a loan on a multi-family investment property from a small bank. I have said before that mortgages given by small, local lenders hold a much higher rise of deficiency judgments than your garden variety single-family home mortgage from Wells Fargo or Chase.
Should I answer the door if I am being served with a summons in a foreclosure? That is up to you.  The lender cannot get a deficiency judgment unless there is personal service (the summons is handed to you) or substitute service (summons is give to someone over age 13 at your house).  Deficiency judgments are still extremely rare, so if you are served with the summons it’s not the end of the world because it’s unlikely that a deficiency will ever be entered. But people are touchy about this and, to be honest, it seems like most of them do dodge service. I have talked to people during the period when the process server is trying to serve them and they are, shall be say, a tad jumpy about it, because it’s an unfamiliar situation, and they feel like quasi-criminals because someone is pursuing them. Some accept the summons because they literally can’t take the pressure for the two weeks that the process server attempts service.