Attorney advises homeowners use nonprofit foreclosure counselors

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Kelly Bidelman (left) of Legal Aid and Defender Association meets with Gwendolyn Miller (center) and Rob Weber of MSU Extension before a free clinic for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb residents on preventing home foreclosures.

Photo by John Meiu

Michigan State University Extension and Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc.  conducted a free clinic for residents of Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties on preventing home foreclosures Aug. 15 at the VerKuilen Building in Clinton Township.

The clinic covered homeowners’ rights in the foreclosure process, effective strategies to avoid foreclosure and work out affordable solutions, and beneficial insights of housing counseling and home retention options.

“We want to help you understand your financial situation and what help might be available,” Jean Lakin, extension educator in MSU Extension’s Macomb County office, told clinic attendees.

“Unfortunately, Michigan is not a very consumer-friendly state,” Kelly Bidelman, managing attorney of LAD’s Macomb County office, told attendees.  Current state law favors lenders over home owners, she said.  There is no incentive for lenders to modify agreements instead of foreclosing because their losses are covered by insurance, she said.

 Michigan has amended its foreclosure laws, Bidelman said, and after January 2014 mortgage servicers will be required to comply with the new loss mitigation procedures implemented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Bidelman warned attendees to avoid for-profit home foreclosure counselors who offer their services for a fee.  She said they should use counselors at nonprofit agencies such as MSU Extension because their services are free and they have no financial incentive to seek modified mortgage agreements unfavorable to home owners.

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