Is Bankruptcy Right for You?

If you are facing financial challenges and considering bankruptcy in Bellevue, Seattle, or Washington State, watch the following video which has Bellevue Bankruptcy Attorney Jonathan Smith discussing bankruptcy in Seattle, Bellevue, and Washington State, specifically Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on King 5 New Day Show.

The first thing you should do if you are facing bankruptcy in Bellevue or Seattle in King County is contact bankruptcy attorney Jonathan Smith at Advantage Legal Group. We will take a look at your specific financial situation and discuss the best option for you. Jonathans has been practicing law in Bellevue and Seattle Washington for over 23 years. We’ve seen it all. The ups and downs. The 2008 financial crisis and economic downturn. We’ve been practicing Foreclosure Defense Law and are a Northwest leader in mortgage mediation and mortgage modification.

Give us a call if you are considering bankruptcy in Washington State so you can make an informed decision. Advantage Legal Group is a debt relief agency helping Bellevue and Seattle residents with bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, mortgage mediation, and mortgage modification for 23 years in the Northwest.

If you are facing foreclosure on your Bellevue or Seattle area home in Washington State, bankruptcy may or may not be the best option. As an experienced Foreclosure Defense Law Firm in Bellevue, Seattle, and Federal Way, WA.  Advantage Legal Group will ask you specific questions related to your unique financial situation. If you are behind on your mortgage payments or maybe you did a mortgage forbearance with your mortgage lender because of Covid-19 and you can’t make up the payments to get current. There are many circumstances where the better option for you may be mortgage mediation or mortgage modification.

Give us a call at 425-45209797 so we can help you make an informed decision on whether Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the right decision for you.

Bellevue Bankruptcy Attorney Bellevue Washington Lawyer
Bellevue Bankruptcy Attorney Bellevue Washington Lawyer

Is Too Much Technology Hurting our Relationships?

The technology is all around us and it’s no big secret that we should have some balance in this department in our lives. But, when it comes to the professional world versus the social world, is there a balance to oversharing, being formal, and general overuse of technology?

In the real estate industry technology is now king. We send things through email, files through text, and can practically do everything on our phones. But where is the balance between social interaction, technology, and real relationships? You want to show your clients that you are well versed in tech-savvy instruments and yet remain relational when needed.

I read this article today in Realtor magazine about this exact topic and while this is a lengthy article, I’d like to summarize some of the main points in the article and add my own spin on it. Author Melissa Tracey gave three offenses that many people do with technology both personally and in their business. Let’s break the three down and talk about a more appropriate way to use technology for good medicine evil.

Author Melissa Tracey gave three offenses that many people do with technology both personally and in their business. Let’s break the three down and talk about a more appropriate way to use technology for good medicine evil

#1. Oversharing.

I understand that on Facebook we sometimes post pictures of our dinner or maybe a cute family photo but when we go overboard with kitten videos, multiple vacation photos (that seem more like bragging then sharing) and post so many times a day that people just want to unfriend us (which they usually will just hide us), then we’ve crossed into the realm of oversharing. We are a “me” society. The term “Sophie” is now in the dictionary we’ve become so obsessed with ourselves that we have forgotten to look outward. We’ve shared so much about our own lives, we have almost forgotten that there are other people’s lives out there to be a part of.

Melissa makes several points to oversharing and how to limit all the talk about me, me, me.

First, don’t make every post about you. If everything you only talk about is you, your life, your emotions, and your drama, people will start to tune you out.

Seek a connection. Really reach out, comment, and talk to other people on their social media networks tagging them, and truly being interested. You’ll be surprised at how many relationships you can foster.

Think about how much value the post has before publishing. This is really information that I want out there forever? (This is something to do before being a neighbor created. Never post drunk).

#2. Melissa’s second offense is overuse.

Are you posting on twitter or social media outlets 10 to 30 times a day? That’s probably overload and more people will just hide or unfollow you then actually find what you are saying to be of value. Don’t just simply coast for the sake of throwing up a post. It’s okay not to be connected all the time. There is now a new word for this rush of anxiety and fear some people get when they realize they are disconnected. It’s called Nomophobia. And a recent study estimated that up to 67% of the population could have this fear. That’s crazy! We need to be able to unplug, step away, and look at the world in our immediate circle, not the global circle that is the Internet.


Here are some simple ways to avoid technology overuse.

Monitor your use. Is your phone the first thing you grab in the morning? If you wake up in the middle of the night do you check it? You may have a problem.

Turn off your phone if you are around other people. It shows that you are generally concerned for their attention and you will gain a lot of respect when people know you really care.

Pay attention to nonverbal messages. If you are always glued to your screen what messages that sending to other people? Nowadays, nobody watches a concert; they instead watch it through their phones while videotaping it. That’s probably a video they’ll never watch again.

#3. Melissa’s third offense is being overly informal.

There is a point to being responsive and on the ball, especially when it comes to customers, but you also don’t want to be so informal that you send blank emails, abbreviations in texts and use poor grammar. A study shows that 43% of people surveyed would be less inclined to tour the home if the online listing contains misspellings or improper grammar. This sends a signal to people the details are not important. Even if it’s only subconscious if the agent misses these small details, are they missing the bigger ones later. We all understand that people are human and typos happen, but if it happens too often and just becomes ridiculous, it simply a lack of caring.

The bottom line is to slow down, proofread, edit, and don’t be abrupt. Emotions can be misconstrued over text and email very easily. Ask yourself if the text is important here or a phone call be better? Try not to get too comfortable using technology because don’t forget, on the other end there, is an actual human being.


Is Mortgage Forbearance a Good Idea?

Is Mortgage Forebearance a Good Idea?

Because of all the unemployment right now an estimated 4.1 million Americans have explored forbearance for their mortgage. Many experts perceive more homeowners will seek this protection unless the pandemic and current issues start to normalize. So what is forbearance?

Forbearance is the act of “pausing” your mortgage payments.

This is a basic economic rescue package for the economy and for homeowners. It acts as a cushion or breather for homeowners to get back on their feet. But is a mortgage forbearance a good idea? Here’s what you should know about mortgage forbearance.

You need to know which company services your loan and which company owns it, which may be different. The servicer is the organization you make your payment to and get your statements from. You can look up your mortgage servicer by searching the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems website or simply look on your statements. Who owns the loan pays a role in what relief options are available to you.

70% of all mortgages are federally backed, which includes loans such as USDA, VA, and FHA. The remainder has mortgages held by private investors or banks.

The forbearance is not a mortgage modification or mediation but allows homeowners to suspend their mortgage payments for a certain period of time. The payments are not forgiven and they must be repaid later but each servicer has different options for their borrowers. They may pause the payments altogether or offer a reduced payment during this time instead. People who have federally backed mortgages that may be facing financial hardship due to the pandemic are typically given the right to forbearance for up to one year. Borrowers can request a 180-day forbearance that can be renewed and many borrowers are doing just that or at least going the 90 days with the option of extending it if necessary.

There are no additional fees, interest, or penalties that is tacked onto the account, which makes it a great option for many homeowners. Those with privately-held loans, however, don’t have the same options. They may have different relief and repayment options so it’s important to go directly to your servicer or owner or both if necessary.

It’s important to understand who is responsible for payments that might typically go into an escrow account such as homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, often included in the mortgage payment. If they are not covered by the servicer, the homeowner should continue those payments if possible.

Homeowners with federally backed loans don’t have to pay back the missed payments all at once but can be spread out over time, tacked them on to the end of the loan, or make a lump sum payment at the end of their mortgage. Borrowers that go into forbearance and return to making normal monthly mortgage payments can opt to repay those missed payments when the home is sold or refinanced.

Homeowners with privately-held loans must negotiate the best available option with their servicer, which may include extended payments or repayments over time. Make sure you understand the logistics and the rules around forbearance so that you’re not stuck with a balloon payment that you can’t afford.

Forbearance may hurt your credit score, however, the credit of homeowners who sought protection because of the pandemic is not affected. This is definitely a better option than simply not paying altogether. It comes down to communication and negotiation. Simply not paying could lead to foreclosure and severe damage to your credits.

More: What to Do if Foreclosure is Looming

Feel free to contact our office at any time for more answers to your forbearance questions, mortgage modification, or through a counselor with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Most of these counselors are free of charge and you can always file a complaint about your servicer should they not offer any type of options.


More Resources

Can  You Negotiate Closing Costs?

How Much Does it Cost to Sell Your House?

20 Tips for Getting a Job During a Pandemic

Is Forbearance an option? [Source]



Mortgage Forbearance | How It Works Under Cares Act

How Does Mortgage Forbearance work under the  United States Treasury Cares Act?

Being Licensed Washington State Attorneys practicing bankruptcy and mortgage mediation law in Bellevue and Seattle, WA. we often get asked about how mortgage forbearance works under the United States Treasury Cares Act. In a Media Release on April 3rd, 2020 the CFPB or
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a video on How the mortgage forbearance works under the cares act.

Due to the Covid-19 Outbreak, many mortgage lenders are offering Forbearance assistance. Forbearance means your mortgage lender or bank may be willing to pause or reduce mortgage payments for a limited period of time. It does not eliminate your payment or erase what you owe on your mortgage. With a mortgage forbearance missed or reduced payments must be repaid at a future date.

It is recommended that if you are able to make or keep up with your home mortgage payments, do so. A forbearance only delays the payments to a future time when you’ll have to make them up on top of your normal mortgage payments.

Here is the video regarding How Mortgage Forbearance Works Under The Cares Act that was released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB.

For information or questions regarding legal assistance for your home mortgage, mortgage mediation, mortgage modification or bankruptcy in Washington State including King, Snohomish and Pierce counties and the cities of Bellevue, Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, Olympia, and Western Washington:

If you have any legal questions regarding mortgage forbearance with your mortgage lender or bank, please give us a call. We may have some insight into different legal options for you besides forbearance including mortgage mediation or possibly even bankruptcy. When we have additional information regarding your unique financial situation then we can discuss your legal options.

Contact Advantage Legal Group in Bellevue at 425-452-9797 

Homeowner Relief from COVID-19

Homeowner Relief from COVID-19

While some of us still might be getting a paycheck others of us may not and with your mortgage payment looming that can be extremely stressful. With the outbreak of coronavirus, homeowners may find themselves in challenging situations unable to make their mortgage payments. 7 out of 10 Americans live paycheck to paycheck and have less than $1000 in the bank. This can bring on stressful times for those of us that still need to make our mortgage payment. So what kind of homeowner relief from COVID-19 is available?

According to Fannie Mae, if Fannie Mae owns your loan, their Disaster Response Network can help navigate the mortgage relief process and offer other solutions to financial challenges. If you need mortgage help, Fannie Mae is available.

If the coronavirus has caused you to lose your job or income there are options. Homeowners may be eligible for forbearance plans to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

Homeowners will not incur late fees during this time.

The credit bureau reporting of past-due payments of borrowers that are currently in a forbearance plan is suspended as well.

After the forbearance, a servicer must work with the borrower/homeowner on a permanent workout option to help maintain or reduce monthly payment amounts as necessary. This might include a loan modification.

Foreclosure sales and evictions of borrowers are suspended for 60 days.

While we don’t think that this outbreak and quarantine will last for 12 months, it is important to act quickly. If you have a Fannie Mae loan and are unable to make your mortgage payments, you can contact their Disaster Response Network for assistance. Their HUD-approved housing counselor can assist you in your needs and come up with a personalized action plan.

If your mortgages to Freddie Mac, similar forbearance assistance may also be available.


Because new mortgage rules with the coronavirus can change daily, it’s crucial that homeowners communicate with their lender about the latest options available to them. What might not have been available last week could be available today. The important thing is to keep you in your home, prevent or avoid foreclosure, and develop a plan for the next year ahead.

For more information on loan modification, questions on bankruptcy, and mortgage mediation, contact our office at any time.

Will a Loan Modification Lower Our Payments?

Will a Loan Modification Lower Our Payments?

If you’re looking to alter your mortgage payment or you need some form of a loan modification, you’re probably wondering what it is, how it can help, and what this means for your credit and your finances moving forward. One of the common questions I get is will a loan modification lower your payments?

Loan modification

A loan modification is a modification or a change to the original terms of your mortgage. If you’ve had a financial hardship or if you have a high risk of losing your home based on medical bills, job loss, or financial change, your lender may allow you to modify your existing mortgage. The goal is to reduce the monthly payment for a time or permanently in order to keep you in the home until things get better.

There are several different directions for loan modifications.

Principal reduction – This is where your lender will eliminate a portion of the debt allowing you to repay less than you originally borrowed. Your lender will recalculate monthly payments based on a decreased balance. Most lenders are very reluctant to do this so you’re likely to have them alter other features of the loan instead of lowering your principal amount.

Lower interest rate – Your lender may reduce your current interest rate. This can also reduce your monthly mortgage payments and save you money over time. Sometimes these rates are temporary or they can be negotiated to be permanent for the life of the loan or Intel the borrower refinances or sells the property.

Extended terms – This is where your lender will extend how many years you have to pay the loan back. This will lower your monthly interest rate but it will be more costly over time since you be paying more in interest. This option is also referred to as a re-amortization.

Fixed-rate – Your lender may switch you from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate loan in order to keep you in the home and keep the monthly payments the same rather than going up or down based on the interest rates.

Postpone payments – Your lender may allow you to skip a few payments, which is a good temporary solution if you have a job change, job loss, or you have medical expenses that need to be paid first.

What happens if your lender refuses to talk to you about a loan modification? Contact our office today. We handle a lot of different cases with mortgage modification and loan modifications to keep you in your home and keep your payments low.



How Fast Can My Credit Score Come Back After Bankruptcy?

How Fast Can My Credit Score Come Back After Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can be a scary word but it also can mean freedom and relief from major stress. There are a lot of reasons why someone might choose to file bankruptcy, either a divorce or painful separation from someone that has ruined your credit, medical injuries or bills, or even job loss. Bankruptcy is nothing any of us should enter into lightly, but it may also be the best option. One of the most common questions we get is how long does it take to reestablish credit after a bankruptcy. Here are some important answers to how fast can your credit score come back after you’ve suffered bankruptcy.

It’s important to know that bankruptcy can and probably will cause your credit score to drop dramatically. There’s no way to underestimate the impact of a bankruptcy and it is one of the worst things you can do to your credit score, however, if you don’t need your credit score for any other major purpose in the next few years, it may be worth it to get you out of the stress and payments of medical bills, credit card debt, or other issues that are proving just too difficult to handle on your own.

Bankruptcies can also cause long-term damage to your credit report. Any public record of a chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. Chapter 13 or any accounts included in the bankruptcy as well as third-party collection debts, tax liens, and judgments can stay on your credit history for up to seven years.

Related: Chapter 7 Vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

The good thing is that the negative impact the bankruptcy has on your credit will diminish over time. Time is definitely on your side when it comes to re-establishing your credit. Here are some key things to do to ensure that time is not only working for you but when the time comes for that bankruptcy to drop off, your credit score will skyrocket.

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#1. Check your credit report frequently.

Credit reports aren’t perfect and you may find errors from time to time. It’s important to check your credit history after bankruptcy as scary as it may be. Just a bite the bullet and do it. Did you know that 25% of US consumers have found errors on their credit reports that may affect their score? As soon as your bankruptcy is complete make sure that the accounts that were discharged are reported as “discharged. Verify that they have a zero dollar balance and that the bankruptcy filing date is correct so that you can remove this bankruptcy as quickly as possible.

#2. Consider a secured credit card or a credit builder loan.

I know that you’re thinking you just got out of debt so why would you get more in debt? But to rebuild your credit means you have to have a certain history of positive impacts on your credit, which means rebuilding credit. Get a small secured loan or credit card and pay it off every single month.

#3. Consider becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account.

If you have a trusted friend or relative consider asking them to add you to their credit card account. Your credit will benefit from their positive history, as long as they have some. You can use the credit card in your name and it’s a good way to rebuild your credit.

#4. Ask for the consumer credit bureaus to report any payments.

If you are making on-time payments whether it’s to your car payment, student loan, or even rental payments, ask your landlord to report your monthly payment to Equifax, Experian, and/or Trans Union if possible. Of course, you can control is someone else is going to do it, but it is a step to reestablish your credit.

More: How long does it take to Increase a Credit Score?

Again, it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 years for your credit to come back depending on the type of bankruptcy you’ve chosen and how quickly you’re willing to repair it. If you need help with any bankruptcy attorney issues or have more questions on bankruptcy in western Washington contact our office at any time.

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