Los Angeles Business Journal
Facing the possibility of foreclosure, California homeowners may be hit with more than just losing their homes. Due to a loophole in state law, they also can be sued by their lender. To prevent this, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) is sponsoring Senate Bill 1178 by State Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro), which will extend anti-deficiency protection for consumers who have refinanced their original mortgage loans and now are facing foreclosure.
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MAKING SENSE OF THE STORY FOR CONSUMERS
- Currently, if a homeowner defaults on a mortgage used to purchase his or her home -- known as a “purchase money mortgage” -- the homeowner's liability on the mortgage is limited to the property itself. Unfortunately, the original law did not extend the purchase money protection to loans that refinance the original purchase debt, even if the refinance only was to obtain a lower interest rate.
- Californians who refinance a property currently do not have protection if they default on a mortgage greater than the property’s value. Called a “deficiency” liability, under current California law, the lender can sue the former homeowner for the amount of the deficiency even after taking back the property.
- Recent years of low interest rates and aggressive marketing campaigns by lenders have induced tens of thousands to refinance mortgages. Few homeowners realized that by refinancing their mortgage, they were forfeiting their protections and now are personally liable.