Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac May Allow Some Deeds-in-Lieu

Freddie Mac Deed in Lieu of foreclosure

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager, Foreclosure Help

Bloomberg reports that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac recently announced a change to assist homeowners who are current on their mortgages but who are upside down and now need to move.

The title of the article “Fannie To Allow Walkaways by On-Time Borrowers: Mortgages”  is a bit dramatic, as homeowners will still need to demonstrate a hardship, and the deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (handing the house back to the bank) will still be reported to credit agencies.  In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may also require homeowners to pay back some of the difference between the outstanding mortgage balance and the current value of the property if they have the means.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been criticized in the past because of their reluctance to use principal right downs to assist homeowners.  Kurt Eggert, the author of “Limiting Abuse and Opportunism by Mortgage Servicers” suggested in the Bloomberg article that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “playing catch-up” and that this change should have happened earlier.

According to the article, the new program is aimed at homeowners who have remained current on their mortgages, but need to move out of their home because of a job offer, deployment, illness or other hardship.  Homeowners will also need to demonstrate that they have a 55% percent debt-to-income ratio.

In their report for 3rd Quarter 2012, (FHFA: “Foreclosure Prevention Report Third Quarter 2012“) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reported allowing 3,994 deeds-in-lieu during Q3 2012.   In comparison, the two agencies allowed 33,972 short sales.

There were 145,000 delinquent Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae mortgages in California as of September 30, 2012 (out of a total of 3.5 million Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac loans).

To read more about the changes, visit Bloomberg: “Fannie To Allow Walkaways by On-Time Borrowers: Mortgages

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

January Foreclosure Update for California

California 2013 Foreclosure Update

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelpSCC

1) Debt Forgiveness at the state level.   The Federal Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act was recently extended for another year.  While debt forgiveness in now extended for another year at the federal level, this same forgiveness has not been extended at the state level in California.  According to a press release from the California Association of Realtors, Senate Bill 30, which was recently introduced by Senator Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), would exempt the taxation of forgiven mortgage debt at the state level.  The bill was referred to the Committee on Government and Finance on January 10, 2013.

2) Homeowner Bill of Rights went into effect on January 1, 2013.   ForeclosureHelpSCC has translated the information about the Homeowner Bill of Rights into 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”).   We encourage homeowners to remind their banks and servicers about this new law in California, especially the ban on dual tracking, the required single point of contact, and the new protections for tenants in foreclosed home in California, which is now 90 days.

3) Litton Loan Servicing and Saxon Mortgage companies both agreed to settlements similar to the Independent Foreclosure Review process that was dramatically changed in January.  The settlement will include $232 million in direct payments to homeowners and $325 million in “other assistance.”   You can see a press release about their settlements here:  Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have reached agreements in principle with the Federal Reserve Board to pay $557 million in cash payments and other assistance to help mortgage borrowers.

4) Scam letters continue to target homeowners:  Homeowners visiting our office for a housing counseling appointment continue to bring in official-looking letters from companies that are offering modifications, debt forgiveness, and other assistance with mortgages.

As a reminder, it is ILLEGAL to charge an upfront fee for a loan modification in California.  Also, when a homeowner stops paying their mortgage, a Notice of Default can be filed by the bank or servicer with the County Recorder’s office (after you miss the second mortgage payment).  This is public record, and people use this information to send out official looking notices/advertisements to homeowners.

It is really important to carefully read any mail you receive.  Also, be very cautious about companies that contact you who promise or guarantee they can modify your loan.  At the end of the day, it is your bank or servicer (and possibly the investor who holds your mortgage) who will decide whether or not the loan is modified.

5) Foreclosure Crisis continues in California:  While the numbers of Notices of Default have reduced, a recent Realty Trac report indicates that California is still in the top ten in terms of foreclosure rates, and one out of 430 homes  has a foreclosure filing in California.

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California

La Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en CaliforniaLa Declaración de Derechos de los Propietarios de Vivienda en California se convirtió en ley el 1ro de Enero de 2013 para asegurar prácticas de préstamos justas para los propietarios en California.

Las leyes han sido diseñadas para garantizar un proceso de embargo de hipoteca justo y transparente para los propietarios. Las provisiones más importantes incluyen:

1. Restricción del seguimiento doble en el proceso de embargo: Las agencias que dan servicios hipotecarios están restringidas de continuar con el proceso de embargo si el propietario está trabajando un proceso de modificación del préstamo. Cuando un propietario completa la aplicación para una modificación, el proceso de embargo es pausado hasta que la aplicación haya sido completamente revisada.

2. Garantiza un punto de contacto único: Los propietarios se les garantiza un punto de contacto único mientras navegan el sistema y tratan de mantener su vivienda. –una persona o un equipo en el banco que conocen la verdad de su caso, tiene los documentos y pueden obtener una decisión sobre su solicitud de modificación de préstamo.

3. Verificación de Documentos: Los prestamistas que registren múltiples documentos no verificados serán sujetos a una penalidad civil de hasta $7,500 por préstamo en un recurso iniciado por un fiscal civil. Los prestamistas que estén en violación serán sujetos también a una sanción por parte de los organismos de otorgamiento de licencias incluyendo el Departamento de Corporaciones, el Departamento de Bienes Raíces y el Departamento de Instituciones Financieras.

4. Cumplimiento: Los prestatarios tendrán la autoridad de acceder a una compensación por violaciones “materiales” en las nuevas protecciones del proceso de embargo. Las reparaciones por mandato judicial estarán disponibles antes de una venta de embargo y la recuperación de daños estará disponible después de la venta.  (AB 278, SB 900)

5. Derechos de los inquilinos: Los compradores de casas embargadas están obligados a otorgar a los inquilinos un mínimo de  90 días antes de iniciar el proceso de desalojo. Si el inquilino tiene un contrato de arrendamiento por un tiempo fijo con fecha de inicio anterior a la transferencia del título de propiedad, el nuevo dueño deberá honrar el contrato de arrendamiento a menos que pueda demostrar que se aplican las excepciones con el fin de prevenir fraude. (AB 2610)

6. Herramientas para combatir legalmente el fraude hipotecario: El límite legal para procesar legalmente los crímenes relacionados a las hipotecas ha sido extendido de uno a tres años permitiendo a la oficina del Fiscal General investigar y procesar crímenes de fraude hipotecario mas complejos. Adicionalmente, la oficina del Fiscal General puede utilizar un gran jurado estatal para investigar y procesar a autores de crímenes financieros que involucren víctimas en múltiples condados. (AB 1950, SB 1474)

7. Herramientas para evitar la plaga: Los gobiernos locales y las entidades encargadas por mandato judicial tienen herramientas adicionales para combatir la plaga causada por múltiples casas no habitadas en los vecindarios, desde mayor tiempo para que los propietarios arreglen las violaciones al código, hasta medidas que obligan a los dueños de propiedades embargadas a pagar por el mantenimiento. (AB 2314)

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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Five Important Policy Updates For California Homeowners and Tenants in 2013 Related to Foreclosures, Short Sales, and the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights

New Laws in 2013 for California Homeowners

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

1) Independent Foreclosure Review: The New York Times broke the news on December 31 that the Independent Foreclosure Review may be replaced.  The article explains that regulators and banking officials have been meeting in hopes of designing a less cumbersome, less expensive way of compensating homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by their banks or servicers.  During the few weeks leading up to the December 31st deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review, we received an increase in phone calls and google searches which went to our blog pages explaining how to apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

However, we were also very concerned about the many shortcomings of the review (read our compilation of media reports at a previous blog posting: “7 Reasons to Postpone the Independent Foreclosure Review”), and so we created a petition on Change.org asking regulators to postpone the deadline until after they had released the results of at least 215,000 cases.   The regulators in charge of the program have not yet released any information about their plans, and we suggest that homeowners and former homeowners continue watching the news, checking our blog, and checking the website for the Independent Foreclosure Review for any updates.

2) Mortgage Debt Forgiveness: Housing Wire reports that the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act was extended for another year.  This is an important policy win for homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages because without this extension, debt forgiveness from a modification, short sale, or foreclosure would have been taxed in 2013. For more information, visit our previous blog: Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side

3) Unemployment benefits were also extended as part of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations.  Homeowners in California who are struggling to pay their mortgage should consider applying for the Keep Your Home California Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.  More information at our previous blog here: “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?”

4) The California Foreclosure Refund deadline is fast approaching- it’s January 18, 2013.  As part of the Attorney General Settlement, there is a foreclosure refund for homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by one of the large five banks (Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).  For more information, see our previous blog: “California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement”

5) Homeowner’s Bill of Rights:  This set of laws went into effect on January 1, 2013, and are designed to address the many loan servicing abuses that homeowners have experienced since the foreclosure crisis began.  These include “dual-tracking” (processing a foreclosure while a modification request is also being considered), having to speak with multiple people at their bank or servicer (banks and servicers are now supposed to provide a single point of contact), and other provisions.  In addition, when a person purchases a foreclosed home in California, if there are existing tenants, the new owner must give them a 90 day eviction notice.  This is an additional 30 days more than the previous 60 day requirement.  For more information, visit the Attorney General’s website: California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

I wrote my master’s thesis on similar legislation enacted in North Carolina, and one of the big “take-aways” from my research is that these types of laws are only effective to the extent that homeowners know about their rights under the law, and have the knowledge to complain to regulators when the law isn’t being followed or the ability to hire an attorney and sue their bank or servicer.  So, ForeclosureHelp will be making strong efforts to educate homeowners about their rights under this new legislation.

California Homeowners should also know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also proposing mortgage servicing regulations, nicknamed the “no run-around” rules.  Homeowners can also file a RESPA request if they are seeking information from their bank or servicer, or if there is a dispute about payments being credited, etc.  For more information, see our previous post: “New Mortgage Servicing Rules Proposed- What Does it Mean for You? Part 2 of 2”

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

¿Por Qué Trabajar Con Un Consejero de Casa?

Consejero En el programa de Foreclosure Help frecuentementenos pregunta por qué un propietario debe reunirse con un consejero de casa.  Usted puede ver una entrevista (en español) en Univisión sobre el programa ForeclosureHelp aquí.

Aquí están nuestras 5 razones principales para trabajar con un consejero de vivienda en una agencia aprobada por HUD:


1. Consejos Honesto: Un consejero de casa le ayudará a evaluar su situación. Vamos a hablar con usted acerca de lo bueno y lo malo con una opinión imparcial. También tenemos el conocimientos básicos de las mejores prácticas y los estándares de la industria nacional para la consejería para los propietario de vivienda. Además, hemos trabajado con muchos propietarios de viviendas, bancos y administradores, y esta experiencia significa que sabemos cómo mantener el proceso en marcha, y sabemos que los programas que pueden ayudar a su situación.

2. Explicación de la correspondencia de su prestamista: Un consejero de casa certificado puede ayudarle a entender la terminología utilizada en la correspondencia de su prestamista y en la documentación que se usa durante el proceso para modificación el préstamo. Mientras su prestamista le puede decir que su préstamo se va “ir a la ejecución hipotecaria”, nosotros le podemos ayudar a entender lo que el tiempo real es de la ejecución hipotecaria y la forma de estar al tanto para cosas importantes como una Notificación de Incumplimiento.

3. Su presupuesto: Si usted está solicitando una modificación de préstamo, el banco va a pedir su presupuesto. Un consejero trabajará con usted para revisar su presupuesto. Los consejeros puede darle consejería acerca de su presupuesto y calcular sus relación de deuda de la vivienda-al-ingreso familiar para que entienda su capacidad de pagar su hipoteca y explicar cómo esas mismas relaciones podría afectar su elegibilidad para recibir asistencia. Por ejemplo, un consejero puede revisar sus ingresos contra a los gastos de su vivienda y le explicará cómo afectará su elegibilidad para Making Home Affordable.

4. La comunicación con su banco o Prestamista: ¿Ha presentado documentación a su banco o prestamista múltiples veces, o llama su representante designado, pero no pudieron hablar con ellos? Este tipo de problemas no se pueden eliminar por completo, un consejero certificado puede tener un contacto fiable con su prestamista o tener un método eficaz de presentar los documentos que pueden ayudar a solucionar algunos de los obstáculos en el camino durante la revisión del prestamista.

5. Recursos: Debido a que trabajamos en esta industria, sabemos cuáles son los programas, los recursos y las opciones que están disponibles para ayudarle en su situación. También sabemos si un banco o prestamista no está siguiendo las pautas del programa y puede ayudar a resolver ese problema. Somos locales, al igual que usted, y podemos decir acerca de los programas locales y estatales que pueden ser útiles.

La oficina Foreclosure Help está compuesto por los consejeros de Asian Inc; Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley; Project Sentinel; and SurePath Financial Solutions.  Las cuatro agencias son aprobados por HUD.

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 a 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Para hacer una cita con un consejero casa, llámenos: (408) 293-6000

Loan Modification: How To Be Successful

By Stephanie Vang, HomeOwnership Program Manager at Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Do you ever wonder what does it take to get successful loan modification from your lenders?  How long is the loan modification process?  From our experiences of working with distressed homeowner in imminent danger to default and homeowners already in foreclosure; the answer to these questions is TIME.  You must take time away from your busy work schedule to visit your lender’s website to educate and empower yourself and you must allow time for your lender to respond to your request.

Lenders put useful links on their website to help struggling homeowners know their options.   By empowering yourself with this information, you will be better equipped when communicating with your lender about your hardship.  Although every homeowner’s hardship is unique, banks and servicers know which homeowners did their research and which ones did not.  You must take at least a day or two to fully understand what options are available.  You should also visit helpful sites like: www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org, or www.conservatucasa.org, www.hud.gov, and knowyouroptions.org.

You must also take time to prepare a timeline of events with concrete dates of when your hardship started.  When applying for a loan modification, it takes twice if not three to four times the effort as when you initially purchased or refinanced your home.  Like before, you have to get all your documentation ready and prepare yourself when calling your lender.

This call should not be made during a 15 minute break and not during your lunch hour.  This call should take place when you have more than two hours to spare.

Through Neighborhood Housing Service Silicon Valley’s Successful Loan Modification Survey, 31% of the homeowners that were able to prevent foreclosure noted a wait time of 20 – 30 minutes when calling their lenders.  Of the 31% percent, half noted that they outreached to their lender once a week to verify that status of their loan modification and had to repeat the same information every time they contacted their lender.  Some even designated a specific notebook where they recorded the date, time, the conversation, the lender’s representative and the representative’s I.D. number.

Lastly, loan modification varies from lenders to lenders.  If you’re applying for a loan modification, do not expect to get your lender’s response within 30 days.  On average, loan modification can range from 30 to 45 or more business days in response time or longer.  During this time frame, you must stay focused on your goal and stay connected with your lender.  Set aside ample time when calling, designate at least one day out of the week to call and always prepare yourself when calling your lender.  These are some helpful tips from our past homeowners who received successful loan modification.

You may also enjoy our earlier blog posts related to this topic:  “Maggie’s Five Rules for Working With Your Bank or Servicer,”Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is NOT on your Side,” and “Five Reasons Working With A Housing Counselor is Better Than “Going Alone.”

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Help with rental assistance after a foreclosure – What’s out there?

By Yvonne M. Castillo, Housing Counselor at SurePath Financial Solutions, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

What’s out there for me to rent?” and “where to do I begin to research rentals?”With more people becoming displaced as a result of foreclosures, short sales or because of deeds-in-lieu of foreclosures, these questions are being asked by many, many people.

One place you can go to begin your search is at www.scchousingsearch.org. It is a very informative website to search for rental housing in Santa Clara County.  It provides information on various types of rentals including, apartments, townhomes etc. This website can help you find available rentals in different cities throughout Santa Clara County.  You can also call and speak with a live person who will assist you in looking for a rental- call Toll-Free: 1.877.428.8844.

Before you begin your search, it is a good idea to know what size rental you are looking for and how much you can afford to spend on rent. If you are looking to rent something larger such as a house, you can also check out websites such as www.zillow.com or www.craigslist.org. At www.craigslist.org you can tailor your search to different areas of the bay area.

Before you begin your search it is important that you review your credit history and score as a credit evaluation is required with most rental applications. You can order your credit reports from the three bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion through www.annualcreditreport.com.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, each one of the three agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) is required to provide you a free copy of your report once a year.  While you are ordering your reports it is a good idea to purchase your credit score.  Your credit report is free but the scores have to be purchased- the fee is around $8.00 per score.

Check to see what is listed on your reports and also what your scores are before you submit a rental application to a landlord or property management company. You want to check for any unpaid debts or judgments within the last two years. If your credit report does have recent unpaid debts you can contact a HUD-approved credit counseling agency such as SurePath Financial Solutions to receive a free consultation to review options on improving your credit.

Note: If your report does show a foreclosure it will remain on your credit report for seven years but, the effects of the foreclosure will lessen with time – refer to the My FICO website.

With so many people seeking rental housing these days, landlords and property management companies can be very selective regarding whose applications they approve. Each landlord or property management company has their own set of guidelines to follow in order to approve an application. For example, a landlord or property management company may require a credit score of 650 or higher and your gross income to be two to three times the monthly rent. Some may require no recent bankruptcies and no convictions for specific criminal activity etc.

If you have a foreclosure or short sale on your credit report, it may be better to mention it to your potential landlord before they pull your credit report.  They may be willing to still rent to you if you put down a larger deposit, or if you have good references.  Or, if they tell you that they absolutely will not rent to somebody with a foreclosure or short sale, then you can save the fee that you will pay for them to pull your credit report.

Landlords will also check for recent unpaid debts or unresolved judgments and if you’ve been evicted from previous rentals or foreclosed homes. If you have recently paid some outstanding balances, it might not show on your credit report right away. If the updates are not reflected on the credit report, make sure to mention it with your application, so you can show proof of resolved debt issues and that may help you through the rental process.

Be prepared to pay a non-refundable fee of approximately $20-$35 per person in the application, for them to run your credit report.  If you are approved, you will be asked to pay a security deposit, first and/or last month’s rent. Some landlords or property management companies may consider a larger security deposit to allow for pets and they may request all adults over the age of 18 who will be living in the home to fill out an application.

If you do not qualify for a rental, some property management companies will send you a copy of your credit report they requested and will include the reasons why you did not qualify.

If you do not immediately qualify for a rental then another strategy is to see if you can possibly rent a room (www.craigslist.org also has listings from room rentals) or stay with family or friends for a short term while you find a more permanent housing. The qualification for renting a room might be simpler compared to an apartment, but you will still need to provide proof of income, a security deposit and possibly referrals from previous landlords. The option of renting a room will give you some time to increase your savings, pay off some debts and work on improving your credit so later you qualify to rent a place on your own.

One thing the rental application does not list but you will definitely need is a lot of is patience. You will need patience as you search for and apply for a rental because more people are looking to rent now. You will also need patience while working on improving your credit. As mentioned before, it may take up to 45 to 60 days for your credit report to reflect activity such as paying off debts. As stated above, if you would like information and assistance improving your credit, you can contact a HUD- approved credit counseling agency for a free consultation. Then, the next time you submit a rental application you will have a better chance of qualifying for the rental you are seeking.

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 our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement

By JoAnn Parrott, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

Today’s Post is about the Foreclosure Refund Program, part of the national Attorneys General Mortgage Settlement.

 What is the Foreclosure Refund Settlement program?    
The foreclosure refund program is one of three parts of the national attorneys general settlement with the five largest banks.  As part of this $25 billion settlement, approximately $1.5 billion has been earmarked for the foreclosure refunds.   The five banks (Chase, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America/Countrywide, Citibank, and Wells Fargo/Wachovia) agreed to compensate homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure inappropriately between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.

The remaining money is being used to provide up to $3 billion (nationally) in refinancing for homeowners who are underwater.  In addition, up to $17 billion is being used for modifications (including principal reductions), short sales, and monetary assistance for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes.

Is my lender part of the Settlement program?  The participating lenders are Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).

Am I eligible to apply?  YES – Regardless of the circumstances you are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past, if your lender is participating in the program, you can apply.

How do I apply?  For the foreclosure refund program, you may receive a claim form as well as general information regarding the program from the National Settlement Administrator.  Kamala D Harris, California’s Attorney General, explained in a press release that letters are being mailed directly to 432,584 California homeowners between September 24 and October 12, 2012 about the foreclosure refund.  If you believe that you are eligible for the foreclosure refund but did not receive a form, you can call the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator at 1-866-430-8358, Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

Once you receive the letter in the mail, you will need to complete the form and mail it back, or you can also fill it out online (but you’ll need the claim number from the letter you received, so don’t throw it away).  More instructions are on the National Mortgage Settlement website. 

For the other two parts of the settlement (refinancing and loan modifications), you can contact your lender directly to ask about your eligibility and the bank’s timeline for implementing these options.

How long do I have to apply?  The deadline for submitting a claim for the foreclosure refund is January 18, 2013.

What if I don’t get a letter?  If you don’t receive a letter by October 31, 2012 or if you have a different address now, contact the National Settlement Administrator at 866-430-8358 (M- F from 5am-5pm PST) or send an e-mail with your current mailing address to administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

Do I need to hire somebody to help me apply?  NO – The claim form is easy to complete.  If you have questions, call 1-866-430-8358 (M-F from 5am-5pm PST) for help or send questions via email to: administrator@nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

What if I’m contacted by an agency that wants to help me?  Be aware of possible settlement-related scams.  Do not provide personal or financial information or pay money to anyone who claims to provide settlement-related assistance.  If you believe someone is conducting a scam, contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit at http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general.

What do I have to prove with my claim?   Once you are qualified, you do not need to prove financial harm to receive a payment nor do you give up your right to pursue legal action against the lender.

If you want, you can also apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review Process.  It is a settlement with other regulators and 14 banks and servicers based on robo-signing issues that occurred between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.  The Independent Foreclosure Review deadline is soon: December 31, 2012.  More information on this program is available at our blog post about the Independent Foreclosure Review  (scroll down to the bottom of the post) or on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

How much money will I get?  The amount of your refund depends on the total number of homeowners who decide to participate.  The estimated number of participants nationally is approximately 2 million people.

When will I get my money if I am eligible?  Payment checks are expected to be mailed to eligible participants in mid-2013.

What if I still own my property but need help paying the mortgage?  Contact your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency to discuss your options.   To locate a HUD agency, call 800-569-4287.

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 Joseand the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: 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: help@foreclosurehelpscc.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

Rebuilding credit after a Foreclosure or Short Sale

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

Building and maintaining credit is frequently on the minds of homeowners here in San Jose and Sunnyvale.  It’s no secret that your credit takes a hard hit during and after a foreclosure or short-sale.  Once you are more than 30 days late on your mortgage, it will be reported on your credit report, and your credit score will be impacted negatively. To learn more about how a foreclosure, a short sale without a deficiency, a short sale with a deficiency, and a bankruptcy impact three typical homeowners, read the FICO Banking Analytics blog posting: “Research looks at how mortgage delinquencies affect scores.

As homeowners are unable to pay their mortgage or secure a workout with their lenders, they may fall further behind on their payments, and their credit report will worsen.                 A homeowner’s credit is impacted throughout this progression until the entire delinquency is resolved.

Let’s fast forward.  What happens after someone goes through the foreclosure process? 

The foreclosure proceedings are reported to the credit bureau by your lender and will be noted on your credit report for the next 7 to 10 years.  However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t re-build your credit after a foreclosure or short sale and become a homeowner again.

Here are 5 tips on how to rebuild your credit so you can prepare yourself if you decide to purchase a home in the future or need to apply for other types of credit after going through the foreclosure process.

  1. Pay your debts on time.  Paying your minimum monthly payment on time will reflect positively on your credit report.
  2. Keep low balances on your credit cards.  If you have a credit card with a revolving balance, try to keep the balance at about 30% or less of the overall credit limit for that account.  For example, if your credit limit is $10,000, you should try to keep your balance below $3,000.
  3. Pay more than your minimum monthly payment.  By simply paying $1 more per month than your required minimum payment, it will register positively on your credit score.  It could be $1 or $100 more than minimum amount you are being billed.  Use this method to maximize your ability to pay off debt faster and start to rebuild your credit.
  4. Keep your older credit accounts open.  The longevity of an account plays a role on how your credit score is calculated because potential lenders like to see that you have a history of using credit and paying your bills.  Therefore, if you close an older account, it’s going to negatively impact your credit score.  If you need to close credit accounts, consider eliminating newer accounts first.
  5. Avoid quickfix schemes.  Claims to be able to fix your credit in less than 90 days may not be the most dependable outlets.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If you decide to seek professional assistance to help resolve your credit issues, make sure they are a reputable organization.  One quick way to research if an organization is providing legitimate credit counseling assistance is to see if they belong to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a nonprofit, membership organization which holds its member agencies to high standards.  Visit their website: www.nfcc.org to learn more or to find a credit counseling agency close to you.

In conclusion, rebuilding your credit report and score after a foreclosure or short sale will take time and dedication and there are no “quick fix” schemes to fix your credit.

If you haven’t already, you may want to obtain your free credit report. And a reminder from the Federal Trade Commission: AnnualCreditReport.com is the ONLY authorized source for the free annual credit report that’s yours by law. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report for free from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — every 12 months.

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 our website 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