Demystifying Foreclosure Misconceptions: Tune in as Attorney Peter Cozmyk Talks with The Legal Odyssey Podcast

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Attorney Peter Cozmyk had the opportunity to interview with The Legal Odyssey Podcast. In the captivating episode, Mr. Cozmyk candidly shares his personal journey, including facing foreclosure firsthand, which ultimately paved the way for his career as a highly-respected foreclosure lawyer in Ohio and Illinois. 

During the interview, Mr. Cozmyk expertly dispels common misconceptions surrounding foreclosure and imparts invaluable advice to alleviate fears associated with potential home loss. Whether you’re looking to listen to the full episode or prefer a quick read, you won’t want to miss out on the wealth of wisdom Mr. Cozmyk has to offer.

Tune in to the full episode here and unlock Mr. Cozmyk’s profound insights, or dive into his insightful tips below. Get ready to be inspired and empowered!

Why did you decide to become an attorney?

I didn’t originally set out to become an attorney,  I was actually going to be a scientist. I went to school for physics and got a degree, but then I couldn’t really find a job as a physicist in Ohio. I said to myself, I need to do something else and I ended up going to law school. Throughout the journey of law school, I discovered that my talents are much much better suited for law than they are science. I’ve loved being an attorney ever since.

What inspired you to dedicate yourself to foreclosure defense specifically?

When I was younger, I purchased a house with good value. I know that it had good value because I probably looked at 100 houses. My realtor probably went crazy dealing with me. I made sure that I got a really good value. It was a house in Parma, Ohio and before I knew it,  I outgrew the home because of my family size. Right before I went to sell the property, the bubble burst and with all of the bank issues that were going on with all the mortgages and mortgage-backed assets, the market collapsed. I couldn’t even get $100,000 for my home, so it ended up going through foreclosure. I have been on the other side, I know what it’s like to have your home foreclosed on. I have even experienced a couple of family members who went through foreclosure as well. I’m not just an attorney who happens to know about real estate. I am an attorney who has been on the other side, I have actually been a foreclosure defense client. I hired a foreclosure defense attorney during this time period and, so, I know exactly what it’s like to be on the other side of a foreclosure.

What does your firm, Cozmyk Law, stand for?

Cozmyk Law Offices, LLC is a consumer law firm that focuses primarily on foreclosure defense. We are dedicated to helping people, not only through their experience with Cozmyk Law, but to help them not be afraid and to help them understand that they have options. People come to us from all sorts of backgrounds and they have all sorts of different goals. Some people don’t want to keep their home. They want us to help them get out with the least amount of damage. Some of the people want to keep their home at all costs. Other people can’t really keep their home, or so they think, but we end up finding ways for them to get to keep it anyway. Some people want to file a bankruptcy. There are so many different ways you can solve a foreclosure. There are ways to keep the home, there are ways to not keep the home, there are ways to assist in getting time to sell a home. There are so many different options. At Cozmyk Law, we always talk to each individual client and go over all their options, what they can do. One thing that a lot of people do is they just bury their head in the sand. They get served with foreclosure notice, they start packing up their bags like they are being kicked out, but they don’t have to do that. We’ve even had cases where people were just going to let it go, but we were able to get them cash in the Cash for Keys program. There are things out there that people may not even know about that can help them, and that’s where we come in. I care about people greatly, I guess I’m kind of a bleeding heart and I don’t know if that’s good or bad but, I feel their pain when they talk to me. Sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re upset and I feel it. I want to help these people find a solution. It’s important to me that Cozmyk Law Offices, LLC has integrity, that we as a team, always care about other people. When I hire someone I try to find out if they seem like someone who’s going to care or just someone who’s here for a paycheck. I think that everyone that works for me genuinely cares about our client’s well-being and that makes me really proud.

I always try to think, “What if this was my mom going through this,” “What would I do?” Would you just ask your mom some robotic message or would you truly listen and try to help her? We truly try to take each client and treat them as part of the Cozmyk Law family. Yes, it is a business, we’re obviously trying to make money and make a living, but those don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can care about somebody. and still run a business and that’s what I strive to do.

What are some common misconceptions that an individual may have when they receive a notice of foreclosure?

If you fall behind on your mortgage, you’re going to get a notice of default from a lender saying you have 30 days to pay this off or else we’re going to demand the whole entire debt be paid, and we’re going to file a foreclosure action. But what if you don’t have that money? There are life circumstances that cause people to fall behind and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t recover. There are many options to save your home and it doesn’t require you to pack up your bags and leave in most cases. 

Loan Modification

Many lenders will offer what’s called a loan modification. A loan modification is almost like a refinance where they’re gonna take the money that you owe and spread it over a new loan term, cure the default and let you start making your payments again. You have to apply to the lender for the loan modification, but it is something that can save somebody’s home. It is the most common solution that lenders offer when you fall behind on mortgage payments.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is another solution that can help to save your home. Some people might think that if you file a bankruptcy, you’re going to lose all your stuff. That’s not how bankruptcy works. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy specifically, you get to keep your home. You’re also going to get to keep at least a car. Contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of personal belongings you get to keep when you file a chapter 13 bankruptcy. Even a bankruptcy doesn’t mean you’re going to lose everything. 

Non-retention Foreclosure Options

As I said before, there are also non-retention options. If you don’t want to keep the property, you could walk away, but then the bank can come after you for the money that you still owe if the house doesn’t sell for enough. Many people do not realize that you can do things to get that amount you would owe wiped out in many cases. Whether it comes to keeping the home or not keeping the home, doing nothing is about the worst thing that you can possibly do. It’s worth it to at least call a foreclosure defense attorney to talk to them because the phone call is free. The consultation with a foreclosure defense attorney is typically free. We’re going to let you know if we can help you or not; and so, why not make that phone call? 

How can an attorney help apply for a loan modification?

There are many companies that make a lot of promises. There are companies that are, what we call them, foreclosure rescue companies, and they will say things like, “We will get you a loan modification.” First of all, there is no law that requires a lender to give you a loan modification. It’s a process which a person could handle on their own, but it’s really complex. What we do at Cozmyk Law is much more advanced than just simply paper shuffling, which is what a foreclosure rescue company is going to do. There are laws that can protect the borrower and an attorney can make a big difference with their knowledge of these laws. For example, the Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act is called RESPA. It requires a lender to follow specific procedures when working on someone’s loan modification application. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard clients say, “We submitted a mod and we never got a response.” Well, that’s not going to happen if you go through me (Cozmyk Law) because we’re going to keep a paper trail, we’re going to file notices of error which can accumulate to the point where we can sue them in federal court on your behalf if they are not getting back to us on time. We are going to make sure that they follow these detailed laws around your loan modification application. In addition, it’s important to understand that at some point in time during the foreclosure process, even if they (the lenders) say they’re working with you, they’re probably going to file a foreclosure action. It’s called dual tracking. You can look it up on Google, it happens all the time, where they’re on one hand saying, we want to work with you, we’re going to help you, just do this, don’t worry about the lawsuit, but on the other hand, they’re filing that lawsuit, an attorney is going to court trying to take your home. Well, at Cozmyk Law, we’re going to step in and we’re going to defend that legal action on your behalf. We’re going to file an answer. We’re going to do discovery or whatever else it takes to make sure that you’re protected on the litigation side so that you have enough time to work out a loan modification. If you go with a foreclosure rescue company or try to do it on your own, you may lose your case in court and run out of time before you even get an answer. It’s not as easy as it might look to fight a foreclosure action, but at Cozmyk Law and other foreclosure defense law firms, we have the knowledge to do that on your behalf.

I have been doing this for over a decade and I’ve seen all the players in the field. It’s the same magistrates, the same courts, the same attorneys on the other side. We have reputations that are very good in the community, in the courts and with the other attorneys. We also have experience dealing with the specific attorneys that back many mortgage lenders. They know if I say I’m going to do this, that I’m going to do it. We don’t have to worry about them thinking I’m bluffing, because that’s not what I do. It really works to your advantage to have someone who’s actually specialized in the field. A general practice attorney, for example, could be hired for a foreclosure or loan modification, but if you hire someone who specifically practices as a foreclosure defense attorney, loan modification attorney, you get an added advantage that you wouldn’t have by simply hiring a random lawyer.

What advice would you give someone to help them find the right foreclosure defense attorney in Ohio or in Illinois?

When you are searching for a lawyer in Illinois or Ohio to help fight foreclosure or to help apply for a loan modification, you need to add the word ‘foreclosure’ to your search. You want a lawyer who actually has done foreclosure work before. So you go to Google, you type foreclosure lawyer or foreclosure attorney, and you read about their website. Let me give you an example, if I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and you hire me to do foreclosure, what am I going to do? I’m going to say you should file a bankruptcy, right? I’m a foreclosure defense attorney, so my first goal is to try to save your home. We can file bankruptcy if it comes to that, but we use a bankruptcy as a last resort. We call it the nuclear option because it’s the last resort. At Cozmyk Law, we try to keep clients out of bankruptcy to protect their credit. I think a foreclosure attorney has a better perspective on what’s the best path for you to take with your home. Don’t just search for an ‘Ohio lawyer’, search for ‘Ohio foreclosure attorney’ or ‘Illinois foreclosure attorney.’ Start from there and just make sure when you talk to them that they seem to know what they’re talking about with respect to a mortgage because, you can say you know stuff but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you do.

Words of Wisdom from Peter Cozmyk for those Dealing with Foreclosure:

You just have to understand that the banks don’t need another house on their books. It is possible to get a loan modification to save your home but, you have to understand how to work through the process. The lenders hire loan servicers. The loan servicers do not work for you. They may talk like they are calling to help you, but know that they work for the investor. A loan servicer actually makes more money when you are in default than they do when you’re current on your loan. They don’t have any incentive to build a program where they process your documents the right way or they get you out of default quickly because they’re not working for you. They’re going to say things like, “Oh, we want to help you,” but really, they’re just doing their job to work for the investor. You don’t want to deal with them on your own. You want to deal with someone who knows how to navigate that red tape, because that’s what it is. It’s just a bunch of red tape you have to get through, but you’re probably going to be surprised at all the options you have if you just don’t run away from the situation, just reach out to a foreclosure attorney.

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