Collection company tries to collect on a Lake Elsinore, CA purchase money loan!!!

Real Estate Agent with Allison James Estates & Homes

I received a text yesterday from one of my previous clients who I helped through a short sale in Lake Elsinore, CA.  Here’s what the text said, “Any ideas why I am getting collection calls to collect a debt of $68,000 against the house?  I thought this was taken care of through the short sale? The debt collector said he was going to continue to call and report me to the credit agencies until I set up a payment plan.”  I could not believe what I was reading. I instantly called my client and asked for the contact info for this company. 

I called the collection company and asked for clarification.  I have to say, the tone and direction of the conversation was going in the toilet quickly.  The representative was taking a hard stance and insisted my client owed the money and needed to set up a re-payment plan.  I asked the rep if he was aware of CA state law regarding deficiency judgments…specifically CA Civil Code 580B (CA Civil Code 580B in layman’s terms states a home owner cannot be held liable for a deficiency judgment when their home was either foreclosed upon or short sold when the loan on the subject property was the same loan they used to purchase their home, also known as purchase money).  Since my client’s home was a short sale in Lake Elsinore, CA and was never refinanced, they fall under the protection of CA Civil Code 580B.  The rep insisted he needed a letter from my client’s attorney….excuse me….an attorney?  I’m not a rocket scientist but it’s pretty clear when you can and can’t seek a deficiency judgment.  Needless to say the call ended.

I quickly started to draft a letter to send to this collection company along with making a phone call to my real estate attorney to assist with this matter.  About 15 minutes later I received a call from the rep at the collection company stating that I was right and he was going to cease any further collection activities.  Score one for Ryan Smith! 

What concerns me most about this situation is knowing there are previous home owners who were foreclosed upon or had to short sale  that do not know the law, even agents that do not know the law and I know these collection companies will end up collecting money from people that should be free and clear.  This really gets me upset.  I only wish more agents would educate their clients about this new trend.

This is Ryan Smith from Temecula, CA signing off until next time………..



Comments (26)

Chris deLambert
Sanford, NC

Well done! 

Sep 02, 2010 06:30 AM
Jason Watton
Realty One Group of Scottsdale, AZ - Scottsdale, AZ
Realtor - Scottsdale Arizona Homes for Sale

Nice job and a head's up to us all!  Thanks!

Sep 02, 2010 07:02 AM
Perrie Hayes

Just last night in Chicago the NBC TV news featured a story on 'Zombie and Scavenger Debt Collectors"

Scary isn't it

Arlington Heights

Sep 02, 2010 07:10 AM
Shari Song
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Federal Way, WA

Thanks for posting. I heard of stories like this too. We do need to educate consumers and professionals.


Sep 02, 2010 07:16 AM
Perri Hayes
Keller Williams Team Realty - Arlington Heights, IL



Just last night in Chicago the NBC TV news featured a story on 'Zombie and Scavenger Debt Collectors"


Sep 02, 2010 07:17 AM
Andrew Stutz
Rock Solid Real Estate Co. - San Diego, CA

FANTASTIC client relations, going the extra mile! I'm glad you posted this, it is great information I will have in my agent tool box.

Sep 02, 2010 07:20 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Great job Ryan, glad your sellers had you as a listing agent. I think too that maybe a call to the attorney generals office would be appropriate voicing your concern over the collection company's tactics & the fact that most sellers might start paying on a debt that they didn't have too.

Sep 02, 2010 08:15 AM
John Wojtasiak
eXp Realty - Chesapeake, VA

Great job taking care of your client after the sale! Awesome!!

Sep 02, 2010 08:46 AM
Paul Francis
Francis Group Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes

Good Job Ryan... Nice Law that California set up concerning collections on deficiencies for short sales. There Should be a Federal Law when it comes to short sale deficiencies in my opinion.

Sep 02, 2010 09:20 AM
Simon Mills
Mills Realty - Toluca Lake, CA

And at the bottom of the food chain we have debt collectors.  They are a disgrace.  Don't think for one minute they were not aware of the law, but would rather try to take advantage of an unknowing individual and scam them out of their money.

Sep 02, 2010 09:33 AM
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Hi Ryan~  Great call!  You have served your client well!  Looks like you have gone over and above for him!

Sep 02, 2010 10:24 AM
Ryan Smith
Allison James Estates & Homes - Temecula, CA

Thanks everyone for your comments.  I'll continue to fight for what is right. 

All the best!


Sep 02, 2010 10:49 AM
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Now to double check the rules here in Washington.

Sep 02, 2010 12:28 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Ryan... you can have my listing anytime......wel done

P.S Temecula rules...

Sep 02, 2010 12:56 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

This morning a lady asked me "What are the consequences of a Short Sale?   Can they come after me for the deficiency?  What about Federal Income Taxes?

Even though I can give a true and correct answer, I advised her to contact a Tax Attorney or Real Estate Attorney. 




Sep 02, 2010 02:25 PM
Jerry Murphy, CRS, SRES
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

No doubt this is going to be the new scam making it's way through the real estate industry.  Seller's really need to scrape a few hundred extra dollars to talk to an attorney about doing a short sale.  Good job Ryan and best of luck to you.

Sep 02, 2010 03:02 PM
Nona Swann
Swann & Associates Real Estate - Indialantic, FL
Serving the needs of the Sellers in Brevard County

I sure wish Florida had that law. The banks can request a defiency judgement from the courts and sell the debt to a collection agency.

Maybe Florida needs to look at this law :-)


Sep 02, 2010 03:28 PM
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

You are a great agent!  Your client is fortunate that you are on the ball!

Sep 02, 2010 06:42 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

It's good that your client had you to turn to and to help him out of this.


I've had clients where HOAs have tried to collect after making an agreement to accept less upon sale.

Sep 03, 2010 05:42 PM
Steve McCoole
Mortgage Alliance Group - San Diego, CA - NMLS#305667 - San Diego, CA

Easy to blame the collection agency but what about the dirtbag mortgage servicer that sold or assigned that account to collection knowing full well that they had no recourse on that debt?

Sep 04, 2010 01:56 AM