By Aurora Olivares, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC
Did you call your mortgage company because you are having problems with your mortgage payment? If you live in the state of California you were given the phone number for HUD (HUD stands for The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development), a requirement under California law. (This requirement was included in Senate Bill 1137 which was passed in 2008 and is set to expire in January 2013).
If you called that number, you were likely referred to a local HUD approved agency where you can receive free housing counseling services. Many folks wonder about what the benefits may be to working with a housing counseling agency.
Here are my top 5 reasons to work with a housing counselor at a HUD-approved agency:
- Honest Advice: A housing counselor will help you by assessing your situation. We will talk to you about the good and the bad with an unbiased opinion, but we bring the background knowledge of the best practices and we uphold the national Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling. In addition, we have worked with many homeowners, banks, and servicers, and this experience means we know how to keep the process moving forward, and we know the programs that may help your situation.
- Explanation of bank letters: A certified housing counselor can help you dissect the terminology used in the correspondence issued by your lender and in the paperwork of the loan modification process. While a bank or servicer may say your loan is “going into foreclosure,” we can help you understand what the actual timeline is for foreclosure and how to look out for important things like a Notice of Default. Understanding letters from your bank or servicer can be especially beneficial for non-English speaking homeowners.
- Your Budget: A counselor will work with you to review your budget. Counselors can provide budget counseling and calculate your housing ratios so you understand your ability to afford your mortgage and explain how these same ratios could impact your eligibility for assistance. For example, a counselor can review your income vs. your housing expenses and explain to you how that will impact your eligibility for a program like Making Home Affordable.
- Communication with your Bank or Servicer: Have you submitted paperwork to your bank or servicer multiple times, or called your designated representative but were not able to speak to them? While these types of issues can’t be completely eliminated, a certified counselor may have a reliable contact with your lender or have an efficient method of submitting your documents which can help smooth out some of the bumps along the way during the lender’s review.
- Resources: We provide you with resources. Did your lender tell you if you were eligible for the Keep Your Home California program? (English Website for Keep Your Home California, Spanish Website for Conserva Tu Casa California) Were you advised if you are a good candidate for a reverse mortgage? Did your lender tell you about an up and coming program your county may be working on to aid homeowners in distress or where you could go to get the much needed repairs to your home? Odds are you were not told about some of the resources that are right in your own back yard. We are local, just like you and we know what programs are truly out there to help the community we live in.
Are you having trouble paying your mortgage and do you live here in San Jose or Sunnyvale California? If so, contact ForeclosureHelpSCC by telephone: (408) 293-6000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.
ForeclosureHelpSCC is a program that is supported by the Cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale, and staffed by housing counselors from four local, HUD-approved counseling agencies. Our housing counselors can speak to you about what your options are if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, including programs like Making Home Affordable, Keep Your Home California, the Independent Foreclosure Review, and private, in-house modifications offered by banks and servicers as well. Your housing counselor can work with you to develop a plan of action to begin dealing with the problem instead of ignoring it.
Remember, the sooner you start working with a housing counselor, the more options you will have to address your mortgage situation and potentially remain in your home.Time is not on your side, so pick up the phone and give us a call.
Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org
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