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Bill aimed at helping widows avoid foreclosure passes state Senate

Bill aimed at helping widows avoid foreclosure passes state Senate
The wait required to get a new mortgage after a foreclosure varies by loan program and circumstances. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

A bill that would give California widows and widowers greater protections against foreclosure passed the state Senate on Wednesday.

The proposal is geared at giving surviving spouses who own their home but are not on its mortgage note a better shot at obtaining a loan modification.

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Consumer groups say survivors – including those who inherit property after a death  – face considerable resistance from loan servicers when trying to obtain modifications.

Servicers will generally accept a surviving spouse's loan payments, but red tape involved in proving ownership can stall a modification while foreclosures proceed, according to advocates.

The bill would afford survivors many of the rights borrowers gained in 2013 under the California Homeowner Bill of Rights. Among those is a ban on dual tracking – the practice of negotiating with clients to modify a mortgage while simultaneously pursuing foreclosure.

The Senate voted 21 to 13 to approve SB 1150, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton).

The bill now heads to the state Assembly.

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