By Sean Coffey, Program Manger, Foreclosure Help
Unfortunately, some of the homeowners who call Foreclosure Help have already lost their house to foreclosure or are so close to a trustee sale that their only option to delay a trustee sale is to file bankruptcy. Based on these conversations, we are providing a few points that might be helpful for people who are starting this process. This is not legal advice/financial advice, and if you have questions, call us.
1) Deal with the problem earlier. Meeting with a housing counselor can be one of the first steps to dealing with the problem. Is the housing counselor going to have 100% good news? Not necessarily, but they will provide you with a clear, unbiased, analysis of your situation and what state programs (like Keep Your Home California) and federal programs (like the Making Home Affordable Program) could be helpful with your situation. For example, if you were recently laid off, the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program, part of Keep Your Home California, could pay your mortgage for up to nine months while you secure a new job. If keeping the home isn’t an option, counselors can discuss things you need to know about a short sale, and also discuss transition assistance programs, like Keep Your Home California’s Transition Assistance Program.
2) Made this process a priority. There’s an old saying: “Nobody cares about your home like you do.” If you are trying to address the situation, you’ll need to 100% engage in the process and “be in the driver’s seat” to make sure that the process continues moving forward. You should not rely solely on your bank or your housing counselor to handle the problem for you. They are part of the process, but you need to be the driving force, making follow-up phone calls, checking in with your bank or servicer, and making sure that you spending sufficient time with the process, and that you are the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease.”
3) Worked with a housing counselor from the beginning. Our society has become very specialized- think about the number of specialized services that you rely on in a given week. You have your car fixed by a mechanic because they know what they’re doing. In working with a counselor from a HUD-approved agency, you are getting specialized services from a trained professional, who is bringing the skills, training, and contacts that can make the difference in getting your loan modified, getting honest advice about your situation, and escalating your case at the bank when necessary. Housing counseling agencies are paid for through government and private grants, and this means they don’t have an incentive to “sell” you on a particular option. Instead, they’ll give you an honest evaluation of your options and empower you to decide what you want to with your home.
4) Got all of my paperwork together. You are essentially asking the bank or servicer to re-write an IOU. To do this, they are going to need all of your documents they requested, and you have a much higher chance of success if you get all of the documents together, send them all in at the same time, and have confirmation from the bank or servicer that they received the paperwork. Are you going to send this paperwork in more than once? Probably. If you want the modification process to move forward, you need to get all of your paperwork together, organized, and into the bank or servicer, and getting it in a few days ahead of the deadline will give you a “buffer” in case the paperwork gets lost along the way. Don’t forget to call 2-3 days after you mail in your paperwork, and confirm that they received all of the paperwork and that there is nothing else they need.
5) Not believed the “too good to be true” scam artist who promised to modify my loan. It seems unbelievable that there are still scam artists going after homeowners in desperate situations. And yet, we still see examples of these letters every week from homeowners who received them in the mail, with offers to modify loans or provide other “assistance.” Phone calls, house visits, and even word-of-mouth referrals are another way that scam artists will contact you.
Reasons you should view all offers of “help” critically:
- It is illegal in California to charge an upfront fee to modify a mortgage.
- The foreclosure process doesn’t stop just because you hired a scam artist. If you hire a scam company, and it takes you three months to figure out that they took your money and didn’t do anything, you are now 3 months into the foreclosure process, with fewer options, and more pressure from the bank.
- If you’re spending money paying a scam artist, that’s less money that you have to pay your mortgage.
- They will say whatever you want to hear, regardless of whether or not it’s true. It would be great if 100% of people were going to get their loans modified, but the reality is that there are a number of other variables (like the NPV test, your income, who the investor is, whether or not your bank is participating in government programs, the size of your mortgage, etc) that will determine if and to what extent your loan is modified. For these reasons, anybody who promises a loan modification is telling you a lie in order to get your business- and you should run away from them (and report them to the District Attorney).
- There are FREE housing counselor services available that are paid for through a government grant. These skilled, experienced, counselors are from agencies certified by the federal government (HUD), and will provide you an unbiased analysis of your situation and options.
6) Made a contact at the bank or servicer. Think about all the jobs you’ve had. Were there ever situations where your authority or discretion could help or hurt a customer? Or, where you could share information with a customer that would help them better understand a process, product, or timeline? Think of the waitress who tells you “No, you don’t want that meal, this other meal is our most popular.” Now, apply that to your experience with the customer service person at the servicer or bank. If you can make “friends” with the person, they may be willing to share tips or strategies with you that can help you in this process.
While the new California Homeowner Bill of Rights (Spanish: La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California and Vietnamese: Luật Dân Quyền cho Chủ Nhà ở trong Tiểu Bang) California mandates a single point of contact (and you should remind your bank or servicer about this), it’s also a good policy for you to try and develop a single point of contact at the bank who knows your story and who will be there throughout the process.
If you have questions, please contact your housing counselor directly, or call Foreclosure Help at 408-293-6000 or email us: email@example.com. You can also visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org
If you are struggling with foreclosure in San Jose or Sunnyvale, please give us a call. The sooner you pick up the phone, the sooner we can help, and the earlier you start in the process, the more options you will have to create a plan forward.
If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.
Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.
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 or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.
Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.
Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: email@example.com.
Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.
Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.
Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Six Reasons to Deal with Your Foreclosure Problem Today, not Tomorrow (foreclosurehelpscc.wordpress.com)
- Helpful Resources if You’re Facing Foreclosure By Foreclosure Help SCC (foreclosurehelpscc.wordpress.com)
- Five Important Policy Updates For California Homeowners and Tenants in 2013 Related to Foreclosures, Short Sales, and the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights (foreclosurehelpscc.wordpress.com)
- Another Possible Loan Modification Scam: They’re Alive and Well in California in January 2013 (foreclosurehelpscc.wordpress.com)