Free Foreclosure Resource Fair: October 20th at Overfelt High School

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelpSCC

Do you live in Santa Clara County?  Are you struggling to make your mortgage payments?  Has your income gone down?  Would you like to speak with somebody who knows about the mortgage programs and settlements and can give you honest advice?

If you would like to get all of this information in one place, then you should come to a free Foreclosure Resource Fair here in San Jose on October 20th, from 9am to 3pm at Overfelt High School.

At the fair, you can meet one-on-one with a HUD certified Foreclosure Counselor who knows the system.  They can help you find solutions and develop a plan forward.  You will learn about which programs can help you, and scams that can hurt you.

Tax and legal experts at the event will give presentations and we’ll also have a free shredding truck for you to safely shred your old documents.

Assemblymember Jim Beall, who represents the 24th District for California, will also speak about recent legislation to address the foreclosure crisis here in California.  His office is helping to organize the event, and Assemblymember Beall explains, “In this tough economy, many families are living from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to meet their mortgage. Homeowners facing default who attend the foreclosure prevention fair can get effective counseling and learn how new laws passed by the Legislature can protect them.’’

Jeffrey F. Rosen,the District Attorney for Santa Clara County states “Real estate fraud, and particularly foreclosure rescue scams have a devastating impact in our communities.  We are proud to partner with ForeclosureHelpSCC and other non-profits to protect homeowners from real estate fraud, and hold con artists accountable for their misdeeds.”

Dr. John Porter, the Superintendent of Franklin McKinley School District and its Children’s Initiative,explained the impact of foreclosures on children and neighborhoods:  “I have seen how the stress and disruption of foreclosure hinders a child’s performance in school and affects their classmates.  And foreclosures take their toll on the whole neighborhood with the lack of income and resource that make children feel less safe and secure.”

Time and space with a housing counselor is limited, so if you would like to meet with a counselor, please call ahead of time to RSVP.  You can call (408) 293-6000 to reserve your space.

WHEN: Saturday October 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Overfelt High School, 1835 Cunningham Ave., San Jose, CA.

WHO:  ForeclosureHelpSCC is a consortium of non-profits serving the community and led by the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County with Asian, Inc., Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Neighborhood Housing Services, Project Sentinel, SurePath, and volunteers from Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, funded by the cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale. Other non-profits and banks will be there to offer information

WHY:    In July more than 1,000 families in Santa Clara County were impacted by a foreclosure proceeding, per Realty Trac. The foreclosure crisis may have passed its peak but a statewide study by the Center for Responsible Lending found, “Over 50% of existing single-family homes sold in California in 2011 were short sales or bank-owned foreclosures. ‘Lost Ground, 2011‘ found we are only about halfway through the foreclosure crisis.”

MORE INFORMATION: Please call the ForeclosureHelpSCC office: 408-293-6000, visit our website for the foreclosure resource fair, or email us: sean@housingtrustscc.org.

Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

In a famous Rolling Stones song, Mick Jagger told us that “Time is on My Side.” However, this is NOT the case if you are having trouble paying your mortgage here in San Jose or Sunnyvale, California. While you have probably heard stories of people not paying their mortgages for a long time and remaining in their home, these stories are the exception, not the rule.

In today’s post, we are going to review three “time issues” that homeowners should consider if they are having trouble paying their mortgage:

1. Foreclosure timeline in California: Once you miss your first mortgage payment, it will be reported on your credit. However, it isn’t until after you miss your second mortgage payment that your bank or servicer can file a Notice of Default. This is the first step in the foreclosure process. While it is serious, you still have at least 90 days after the Notice of Default is filed before you could receive a Notice of Trustee Sale. During that 90 days, you can bring the mortgage current or work with your bank on an arrangement like a modification or repayment plan.

After the 90 days has passed, then your bank or servicer can send you a Notice of Trustee Sale. A Notice of Trustee Sale tells you that the home is going to be sold in three weeks. These are the minimum time frames allowed by law. Your bank or servicer may move slower than these time-frames, but they can’t move any faster.

An important note: the Notice of Default and Notice of Trustee Sale are both public record, so you may be contacted by people who want to “help.” I’m biased, but based on our experience cleaning up after these “experts,” I would be very wary about accepting help from people that call you. In fact, in California, it is illegal to charge an up-front fee for a loan modification.  Instead, if you’re here in San Jose or Sunnyvale, call ForeclosureHelpSCC (408-293-6000), where we can set up an appointment for you to meet with a trained housing counselor from one of our four HUD-approved counseling agencies. We are funded by federal and local grants, so we do not charge the homeowner for our services.

2. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act is currently set to expire at the end of 2012.
Earlier this month the Los Angeles Times reported on a topic that has many people in the housing world concerned: “Mortgage debt relief may bring new pain: a tax bill.”  The Times explained that a law passed in 2007- The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is set to expire at the end of the year. Prior to enactment of this law, if you had a foreclosure or a short sale, the difference between what you owed and what the house ultimately sold for (at auction or via a short sale) was considered taxable income. The same issue would apply for principal reductions. For example, if you had a mortgage balance of $450,000, but short-sold your house for $400,000, then the $50,000 difference would have been considered income by the IRS. However, under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, that income has been exempted.

As the Times notes, many of the new settlements, like the Attorneys General settlement, include principal reduction, and much of the relief isn’t slated to begin until 2013. Kevin Stein from the California Reinvestment Coalition pointed out that the relief offered under these settlements won’t be nearly as meaningful if homeowners are being taxed on it.

While there is legislation pending to extend the debt forgiveness, nobody knows for sure what will happen. If an extension is not put in place, homeowners who already face difficult financial situations could find themselves facing a large tax bill.

3. Independent Foreclosure Review Program This is the third “time issue” for San Jose and Sunnyvale homeowners to consider. In our earlier blog post, we explained the details of the Independent Foreclosure Review for homeowners who dealt with issues related to robo-signing from 2009-2010. The deadline to apply for this program is December 31, 2012.

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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.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

Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?

By Aurora Olivares, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Have you heard of the Keep Your Home California program? (KYHC) Are you unsure how the program works to help struggling homeowners avoid preventable foreclosures? A few homeowners I’ve worked with here in the Bay Area are good examples of how Keep Your Home California works.

Are you like Michelle?

I recently was contacted by a woman who was laid off two months ago. She received a flyer from her local EDD office about the Keep Your Home California program. Michelle had used up her savings and was concerned about her ability to pay her mortgage while unemployed. I met with her the following day to go over the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance (UMA) program. Michelle met all the requirements in order to apply for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program and her application was submitted the same day.

Michelle kept in contact with the Keep Your Home California team and provided all documents needed for the eligibility review. Michelle’s review went smoothly and she was approved for the UMA program. Michelle was approved to have KYHC make her payments for up to up to 9 months while she looked to secure new employment and had KYHC administer her first mortgage installment before her payment was due, helping her preserve her credit.

Here are some quick facts about the Keep Your Home California program:

Your lender/servicer must participate in the program in order to qualify for the Keep Your Home California funds. Each lender/servicer can participate in as little as one or in all four of the Keep Your Home California programs.

Is my bank or servicer participating in Keep Your Home California?
Check this list: Servicers Participating in Your Home California

There are 4 award programs:

  • UMA-Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Is designed to assist unemployed homeowners who are receiving EDD benefits.
  • MRAP-Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: This program can help by reinstating past due payments.
  • PRP-Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their property is worth, may be eligible for a principle reduction.
  • TAP-Transitional Assistance Program: Provides a payment of up to $5,000 to help homeowners, who cannot retain their home transition into new housing.

The Keep Your Home California program applies to primary mortgages in first position only. Second mortgages or home equity lines of credit are not eligible for Keep Your Home California programs. The property must be owner occupied and located in the state of California. The loan balance on the first mortgage is below $729,750. The homeowner(s) cannot be in bankruptcy while applying for Keep Your Home California Program.

Will you be the next success story?
To find out more about these four programs, or to set up an appointment with a housing counselor who can discuss these programs with you, contact ForeclosureHelpSCC by calling us at (408) 293-6000. You can also email us at help@foreclosurehelpscc.org or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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

Nancy’s Nine Rules for an Effective Relationship With Your Housing Counselor

By Nancy Rueda, Housing Counselor at Asian Inc., one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Trying to find assistance during a difficult time with your mortgage may be overwhelming, but there are trained housing counselors who can help you learn about your options so that you can make an informed decision. Today I’m sharing a few tips that will help you get the most out of your time with your housing counselor.

1) Take notes – At a housing counseling appointment you will learn a lot of new information about mortgage assistance programs, and what your options are if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. As part of your appointment, we will also give you a handout that explains the foreclosure timeline and process in California. It can be really helpful to take notes so that you have something to refer back to after your appointment.

2) Bring questions to the appointment: Before meeting with your housing counselor, write your questions and bring them to your appointment. That way you won’t forget any important questions or concerns you have about your mortgage.

3) Arrive on time: Housing counselors are assisting a number of homeowners at any given time. By being on time, you can ensure that you get the full time allotted for your appointment with your housing counselor.

4) Share all important information with your housing counselor. There are two really important reasons for you to make sure you’re sharing all relevant information with your housing counselor. First, similar to a doctor making a diagnosis, a housing counselor needs all information about your mortgage, financial, and income situation so that they can do a thorough analysis and make sure you’re informed about all options available to help you. If you only provide them with half the information, then you may miss out on learning about all of your mortgage options. Second, if your housing counselor is advocating on your behalf with your bank or servicer, they need to be operating with the same information that the bank or servicer has in order to be an effective advocate for you.

5) Awareness: While friends and family members may have received a loan modification, each mortgage situation is different. The banks and servicers (and in some cases, an investor who may or may not approve of a modification) all have different programs and policies. This could mean that the same bank provides two very different modifications for two houses on the same street. Or, because of investors, the bank may be allowed to modify one mortgage, but not the other.

6) Documents, documents, documents: If you are submitting a request for a loan modification, you will be asked to provide a lot of documents to your housing counselor. Housing counselors can’t submit incomplete packages to the bank or servicer. By providing all of the documents at one time, you can make your case go smoother and it will be easier for your housing counselor to submit a package to the bank. If a housing counselor has to wait on documents, it can slow them down in submitting a package to your bank or servicer. In addition, during the time your housing counselor is waiting for “late” documents, the documents you already submitted may become out of date, and you will have to submit new ones.

7) Follow up with your servicer – After your housing counselor informs you that your workout packet has been submitted to your servicer, follow up with your servicer. Do not wait for your housing counselor to remind you. It’s suggested that you follow up with them every week and make sure to write down what was discussed, the date, time, the name of the person you spoke with and their ID number on your note book. If you are giving information to the bank or servicer, it should match the information that your housing counselor submitted in the package. If circumstances change (i.e. you get an increase or decrease in pay), let your housing counselor know.

8) Keep your housing counselor updated – There will be times when your bank or servicer will contact you directly and may request additional information from you. Don’t forget to contact your housing counselor and inform them of what was discussed or what was requested from you. If you had to fax documents to your servicer, send them to your housing counselor as well, that way they are aware of what was provided to your servicer.

9) Be patient, polite and proactive – As overwhelming as this process is, housing counselors are here to assist you in learning about your options, which may include a short sale, modification, or in some cases, letting go of the home and planning a successful “exit strategy.” Regardless of which path you decide to take, it’s a “team approach” and your active participation is important. Being patient, polite, and proactive will also be helpful in communicating with your bank or servicer, since you may have to be the messenger between different departments at your bank or servicer.

Have you worked with a housing counselor before? Do you have any comments or tips you would like to share?

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.

New Mortgage Servicing Rules Proposed- What Does it Mean for You?

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced on August 10th proposed rules with the goal of improving customer service for homeowners when they interact with their loan servicers.  Today we’ll look at the first half of the rules.

Mortgage loan servicers are the people that “service” your mortgage by collecting your monthly mortgage payment.  In many cases, the servicer doesn’t actually own the mortgage. Instead, the servicer’s job is to collect your payment, take a small cut for themselves, and then send the rest of your payment to the investors that own your mortgage.   (The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a diagram of this arrangement: Securitization Diagram.) However, some banks did keep mortgage loans after they made them, and continue to service the mortgages.

Homeowners have no authority over who services their loan, and the servicing of their loan could be transferred to multiple different companies over the course of the loan.  Homeowners can’t “shop around” if they have a servicer that provides poor customer service, and some experts have suggested that this arrangement may lead to servicers providing poor customer service without any consequences.

The new mortgage servicing rules, announced on August 10 by Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would address poor customer service that some homeowners have experienced from their servicers.

The new rules would require servicers to:

  • Mail clear monthly mortgage statements with clear information about the principal, interest, any fees being charged, escrow, and the amount and due date of the next payment.
  • Warn customers earlier if an interest rate on an adjustable rate mortgage is going to adjust.
  • Inform customers about the consequences of not having property insurance, and alternatives to “force-placed” insurance (this is insurance that a servicer buys for the consumer if they haven’t bought it themselves, in many cases, it costs more than regular property insurance).
  • Reach out to homeowners and inform them of options to avoid foreclosure.

In our next post, we’ll look at the second half of the CFPB’s proposal.

Do you have any rules that you think loan servicers should have to follow when collecting your mortgage payments?

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