Cindy Amrine Case is No Test of the Homeowner Bill of Rights

trustee-auction-postponeAn article that’s been making the rounds online — some with permission and some postings that were clearly just swiped from the Sacramento Bee — concerns a supposed violation of the Homeowner Bill of Rights law regarding dual tracking. Now, not being your average Joe citizen, this Sacramento real estate agent has read the Homeowner Bill of Rights Law in its entirety. And not being a lawyer, my opinion of this law is not to be considered a legal opinion; instead, it’s just a logical interpretation that any rational person of normal intelligence would most likely draw.

The Sacramento Bee article is about a woman and her family in Citrus Heights who are being evicted because their home on Twin Park Drive was sold on the courthouse steps to a private investment group. The owner, Cindy Amrine (Sherr) hired a lawyer to file a lawsuit against Bank of America, claiming that the bank had no right to dual tracking because of the Homeowner Bill of Rights law.

I’m not saying that lawyers take big wads of cash to file lawsuits and get paid whether or not they win the case, because everybody knows that is a fact. In fact, in this instance, I might even go so far as to say the lawyer knows she won’t win but is filing the lawsuit in a sole attempt to get a settlement for her client. It’s true, sometimes banks will pay money to settle a lawsuit, even if the bank is not guilty. It’s the way our legal system works. One doesn’t have to be guilty to pay off a plaintiff. One can simply decide it’s less expensive to bribe the plaintiff to drop the lawsuit than it is to defend it.

What I find interesting about this case is that people are incorrectly assessing this case as a “test” of the Homeowner Bill of Rights law. That law says a bank is permitted to practice dual tracking during a short sale. It’s right there in black and white. The law also says dual tracking must stop after a short sale approval letter is received, but in this case, there was no short sale approval letter, according to the story in the Bee.

I researched the property history online. The home went on the market in early March. Toward the end of April, it went to Trustee’s Sale and the pending short sale canceled. The Notice of Default had been filed the summer of 2012. I can see where the short sale agent did not expect the home to be sold out from under the seller. But we all know — those of who work in short sales — that the foreclosure department of Bank of America has nothing to do with the short sale department. The departments don’t engage with each other.

For the uninitiated though, I offer this bit of trivia for you. The Homeowner Bill of Rights law stops dual tracking during a short sale beginning January 1, 2018. Read it and weep. I predict this lawsuit by Cindy Amrine will absolutely not change how short sales are handled in California, you can count on it, on all 10 fingers. It does bring awareness that dual tracking is wrong.

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