As many as 1 in 64 houses in the Dallas Fort Worth area have received foreclosure notices. It is happening in every neighborhood—rich, poor, no one is safe. The way the law works in Texas, a homeowner who falls behind in his payments can lose his house faster than a bronco can buck.
Thirty days after receiving the first foreclosure notice, the house is auctioned off on the county courthouse steps on the first Tuesday of the following month. It becomes "black Tuesday" in Texas.
"We just pulled our list of cases and we have over 4000–5000 on the foreclosure list for October 6th," says Allmand. "The week or two leading up to that we are just really busy trying to get that stopped."
Lawyers have a reputation being heartless thugs and no doubt a few deserve the rap, but attorney Reed Allmand, a graduate of Abilene Christian University with an undergraduate degree in finance and accounting, considers himself a fortunate man who believes that helping homeowners when he can is simply the right thing to do.
More days than not, people who come into the Allmand and Lee Law Office in Dallas Fort Worth are on the brink of losing their homes, not to mention their pride and their sanity. "Most people don't have any understanding of mortgages," Allmand says. "They don't know an adjustable rate mortgage from a fixed rate from an interest-only mortgage. They were just told you are going to get this fabulous house and this is all you are going to pay."
Many of those mortgages turned into silent killers. What homebuyers didn't know is that the annual mortgage rate was set to tick over to a higher rate year after year. "You add in the increasing cost of gas and the price of food and a lot people just can't keep up with the increasing rates," says Allmand.
More days than not, clients show up in his office in tears with a bucket full of threatening letters from creditors and banks. At no cost, zero payment, Allmand files a notice of forbearance. "They know how much they can afford to pay on the mortgage and I try to negotiate that with the bank," says Allmand.
If that doesn't work, he will file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy for them. There are fees associated with that process, but if it is done in time, before the house gets to the auction block, it can allow them to stay in the house and keep the creditors on hold long enough for the homeowner to get their finances reorganized.
"My clients come in and most of them are crying and upset. I tell them what I can do, what their rights are and get them started on a plan," says Allmand. "They are hugging me and saying they are going be able to sleep at night and the stress is off their back. I love that I can help."
A quiet spoken man, Allmand does get annoyed with vultures that are swooping down on people in foreclosure. "These [vultures] want to buy their house, they will take $1500, $2000 or $3000 from these unfortunate people, promising to help them keep their house and then they say, 'oh sorry, we couldn't do it.'" Allmand will file the same papers, often with more success, and does not charge them a dime.
Very computer literate, Allmand also uses a software program that allows him to do electronic filings with the county courthouse very quickly. Several people in the office can work on the same file at the same time. "What used to take a cartload of documents and all day, now takes 15 minutes," he says.
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If people are falling behind in their mortgages Allmand advises them to see a lawyer quickly. "That's what people do. They wait until they are on their last emotional legs, they are fighting with their significant other, their car has been repossessed or their house is up for foreclosure. They wait until they are really in crisis before they see me," says Allmand. "Better to come in as soon as things start to look dangerous."
Reed Allmand is a graduate of the Texas Wesleyan University (J.D. 2000). He did his undergraduate degree at Abilene Christian University majoring in Finance (1997). He is a member of the Dallas Association of Young Lawyers and the National Association of Bankruptcy Lawyers.