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Defending Your Home Foreclosure: An Interview with Christopher Shannon of Shannon Law Offices

By Christopher Shannon

Tell us a little bit about your experience, firm history and the areas of law that you practice.

I have been practicing real estate law in Brookline for nineteen years. My partners, Jake Walters and David Jensen, have been practicing for thirty plus years each. Our primary focus is real estate law. We represent buyers, sellers, developers and lenders. We have a team of paralegals who only work on real estate transactions, including pre and post closing title work.

Are there any ways that a homeowner in MA can stop a foreclosure?

The key is communication with the lender. First, verify who your current lender is. Many times a homeowner's note and mortgage may have been transferred or assigned to a new lender, and the homeowner is not totally sure who they need to contact. If you fall behind on your mortgage payments, call and write the lender to explain why. Explain the reason behind your late payments, whether it is a job loss, layoff or a health crisis. Try to work out a payment plan or a loan modification. If you have equity in your home, try to work out a plan so that you can gain time to sell the home. If your home is worth less than you owe, a short sale may be possible. That is where the bank agrees to sell the home for less than what is owed on the mortgage.

What should a homeowner do if the lender doesn't comply with all of the foreclosure requirements?

If you reach the point where the lender has filed the foreclosure papers in court and with the Registry of Deeds, you should hire an attorney immediately. The law around foreclosures is complex, there are many steps where a lender may stumble or not file the correct paperwork, which can give a homeowner precious time to pay back their arrearage or sell their home.

Is there anything that most homeowners don't know about foreclosures that they should know?

Don't despair. It takes persistence, but there are ways you can modify your loan, or stall the foreclosure process to give you time to work out a payment plan, or sell your property so you do not suffer a total loss.

How do MA state laws affect the foreclosure process?

Massachusetts state laws and courts are favorable to homeowners in many regards. The lenders must prove they own the note and that they have fulfilled all of the requirements of the foreclosure process. Proving ownership of the note is more complex than it sounds as it may have been assigned multiple times between lenders.

What is one of the biggest regrets you've seen people have when it comes to a foreclosure defense? What would you recommend to help homeowners avoid this?

The biggest mistake is avoiding or ignoring the problem until it is too late to repair the relationship with the lender, or to sell the property. Be proactive. Call and write your lender, explain your situation. Ask for more time.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your firm?

Email at cshannon@wsjlawoffice.com or 617-566-2300.

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