On any given weekday, lawyers preparing for a Court appearance, or representing their clients in meetings will bring the weight of that client’s burdens with them. With rights, freedom or property at risk, a lawyer’s success will depend upon his ability to overcome the challenges of an adversarial justice system where stakes run high. When a homeowner facing a financial crisis with the looming threat of foreclosure walks into the Law Offices of Daryl Jones, he knows the challenges are truly personal. For Jones to be successful, he may need the spirit of a fighter pilot, the diplomacy and negotiation skills of a seasoned politician, and the soul of a family man of faith. Fortunately for Jones and his expanding list of clients -- he has all three.
“People come to me when they think they’ve run out of options,” Jones explains. “Desperation has set in and, many times, they’ve been treated unfairly by banks and mortgage companies. Nothing is more personal than fighting for your home,” says Jones. What began as helping a few friends save their homes from foreclosure during the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, attorney Jones has turned into a thriving practice that has risen to the top ranks of real estate legal practices in South Florida. Recently named the best foreclosure defense firm in South Florida for a second year in a row, Jones is keenly aware of the impact of his work in keeping families grounded and saving what is for most their largest financial investment. In addition to a growing real estate practice, Jones’ firm represents homeowners in ongoing and new foreclosure actions, and specializes in obtaining loans modifications that lower mortgage payments to a level suitable for both the homeowner and lender.
“My payment was difficult to afford, and I tried to negotiate a loan modification with the mortgage company myself, but was rejected,” says M. Johnson, one of Jones’ many satisfied clients. After retaining Jones’ firm, Johnson’s mortgage was re-negotiated with a 32% reduction in her monthly payment, a savings of $411.57 a month – money she could set aside for emergencies and to help rebuild her financial standing. “It’s important to reach out as early as possible if you start to experience problems,” Jones recommends, “You may unknowingly have options that an attorney can shed light on. I don’t give up, even when a sale date has been set, my team and I are going to fight for you.”
Navigating loan terms, payments, and strategies for modifying a mortgage is a useful skill that Jones developed from years as an insider in both the banking and political arenas. Having left active duty with the U.S. Air Force in 1984, Jones transitioned from a distinguished career as a fighter pilot and flight instructor to a full time law student at the University of Miami. In 2007 he retired from the Air Force Reserve as a “full bird” colonel. Never one to back down from a challenge, this U.S. Air Force Academy honors graduate approached his legal education and career with the same fervor as his many years of flight training and military duties – with a devotion to preparation. Armed with a law degree and a calling to public service ahead of him, Jones successfully ran for his State legislative seat in South Miami- Dade in 1990, being named Freshman State Representative of the Year by the Miami Herald. He then served in the Florida State Senate from 1992 to 2002. He was instrumental in passing legislation benefitting homeowners, victims of Hurricane Andrew, Bright Futures Scholarships, and other consumer-related legislation.
During his tenure as a legislator Jones gained an intimate knowledge of financial regulatory issues that significantly impacted Florida families. He strongly advocated for reform of foreclosure laws to the benefit of borrowers, many of whom were at the financial whim of a few powerful banks. As consolidation of the banking industry continued, many homeowners were left behind, some with sub-prime mortgages without justification. Now, Jones is able to see how important this early work was to mitigating risks to both parties after the recent economic crisis.
Ironically, it was a ten year tenure on the Board of Great Florida Bank that became the impetus for many of the strategies Jones utilizes today to help homeowners save their properties from foreclosure. “From the bank management side, I could see how underwriting risk impacts the bank’s bottom line,” Jones revealed. “Bank officers don’t want to lose their jobs by writing bad loans,” he continued, “When I structure a mortgage to reduce risk to the bank, while lowering the payment so the homeowner can easily afford it, this creates a win for both sides.”
This insider knowledge of banking standards and the mortgage underwriting process has helped Jones and his team devise plans to negotiate successful solutions in even the most challenging situations. His firm utilizes a proprietary system that has gained widespread acceptance by lenders, and is highly regarded by judges whose decisions are critical to keeping homeowners in their property. In fact, over the firm’s ten year existence, it has a 99% track record of successfully saving clients’ homes in court, and negotiating mortgage solutions in the borrower’s favor.
“When I meet with a client for the first time,” Jones explains, “I need to know their primary goal . . . do they want to keep their home, protect their credit, get into another home, or something else.” Clear objectives greatly improve chances for a successful resolution.
Every member of the firm plays a key role in the success the law firm has achieved. Sharing Courtroom duties with attorney Jones is Faequa Khan, Esq., who is currently President of the Muslim Bar Association for the State of Florida. Ms. Khan earned her juris doctorate degree from the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida. Durel Jones, the firm’s home retention specialist, is the lead negotiator who manages the flow of information to and from lenders, and ensures negotiations are on track. Paralegals, Ed Romanowski and Sittia Waters, provide excellent legal research and support, while assisting with marketing efforts. Jailyn Arteaga handles the firm’s administrative duties and assists with client communications.
“Very few situations are insurmountable,” Jones says with the enthusiasm of a young fighter pilot. “I want to help my friends and neighbors become new homeowners, and if they are having a problem, keep their homes. I want them to feel confident that with our help, they have a plan that works, and a team fighting for them every day.” With roots firmly planted in South Florida, Attorney Daryl Jones has every reason to be optimistic about the future, and the ability of families to thrive despite setbacks. With the wind at his back and occasional divine intervention, Jones is helping families see clear horizons and hope for a brighter day ahead.