In a recent California case (as reported by firsttuesday) “an owner of property defaulted on a mortgage encumbering the property, causing the lender to record a notice of default (NOD). Prior to the trustee’s sale, the owner’s loan broker arranging financing to pay off the delinquent mortgage requested the lender postpone the trustee’s sale, which the lender did. The lender’s representative also orally promised to further postpone the sale on a further request from the loan broker. Before the trustee’s sale, the loan broker called the lender’s representative and left messages requesting a further postponement of the trustee’s sale. The lender’s representative did not respond. The trustee’s sale was not postponed and the property was sold. Unaware of the foreclosure sale, the broker and owner completed the financing and forwarded the payoff funds to the lender. The lender refused receipt of the payoff funds. The owner suffered money losses due to the loss of his property by the lender’s foreclosure and the cost of obtaining the payoff funds. The owner made a demand on the lender for the losses, claiming the lender was liable since the owner relied on the lender’s oral promise to postpone the trustee’s sale on request. The lender denied liability for the owner’s losses, claiming the oral promise to postpone the trustee’s sale was not enforceable since the lender received no consideration for the promise. A California court of appeals held an owner of property is entitled to money losses from a lender who orally promises to postpone the trustee’s sale of the owner’s property when the owner relies on the promise to his detriment since the owner’s detrimental reliance on the lender’s promise serves as a substitute for the consideration necessary to enforce an oral promise. [Garcia v. World Savings (2010) 183 CA4th 1031]”

What does all this mean?

It means that – in some very limited circumstances – a borrower CAN compell the Bank to honor an ORAL agreement NOT to foreclose. It is a very difficult promise to enforce, and most judges (especially one particular one in Contra Costa County) simply don’t give a damn; they feel overloaded with “just another mortgage case.”

If you think you have a situation where a foreclosure should not have happened, give us a call…

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