Facing foreclosure can be overwhelming, but help may be just a phone call or a few clicks away now. If you cannot make your mortgage payments, speaking with a housing counselor or other professional may help you determine what the consequences are and what your options may be. Other resources include local community programs, information online, or your neighborhood Realtor. Some of the available Foreclosure Prevention Resources are as follows:
HUD-Approved Housing Counselors
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors housing counselors who can talk to you about your situation and help you decide what to do. HUD approved housing counselors are prohibited from charging you a fee for foreclosure prevention counseling services (you should be aware of this because there are people out there claiming to be a part of HUD and charging you for help – this is illegal). Call 800 569-4287 or go to www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm.
Hope Now Alliance is a cooperative effort by mortgage counselors, lenders, and others to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Hope Now has a Homeowner’s Hope Hotline that provides foreclosure prevention counseling free of charge at 888 995-4673 or go to www.hoepnow.com.
Neighbor Works America
This is a nonprofit organization that administers housing counseling agencies funded through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. For its list of foreclosure counseling agencies, call 202 220-2300 or go to www.nw.org.
Making Home Affordable
The Making Home Affordable Program provides government subsidized refinances and loan modifications for homeowners in distress. Under the Home Affordable Refinance, eligible borrowers of loans backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which are GFE’s (Government Sponsored Enterprises), can take advantage of historically low interest rates by refinancing up to 125 percent of current market value. Under the Home Affordable Modification, eligible borrowers can obtain more affordable mortgage payments by modifying their existing loans. For more information, go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov.
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
This is the federal governmental agency that regulates all national banks. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has a number of resources for consumers, community groups, and bankers to help them preserve their home ownership, avoid foreclosure, and protect themselves against foreclosure and debt elimination scams. Contact 800 613-6743 or www.freddiemac.com/avoidforeclosure/workshops.html.
There are many resources on foreclosure prevention. You may want to go to HUD’s website at www.hud.gov/foreclosure, or Fannie Mae’s website at www.fanniemae.com. For tax information, go to www.irs.gov or www.ftb.ca.gov. For credit information, go to www.fico.com. For information about the HAFA program and short selling your home go to www.GoTracy.com .
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Add a comment | Monday, August 16, 2010
If you are facing foreclosure it can be overwhelming and the first question you will probably have is regarding possible alternatives. Once you know your alternatives you will find it a lot less stressful and that is a good thing. Homeowners with distressed loans often ignore their alternatives to foreclosure until it’s too late. Homeowners should consider other options right away and not “let it ride” until it becomes such a big problem there are no options to foreclosure.
The first option to look at is a loan workout plan with your lender. If you are experience difficulty paying your mortgage, you should immediately contact your lender or a housing counselor to try to work something out. If you just need a little time to get back on your feet, your lender may agree to a loan workout plan to temporarily reduce or suspend your payments, allow you to repay what is past due in monthly installments, or provide some other type of relief.
Another option to look at is loan modification. Even if your financial situation is severe and long term, you should contact your lender or a housing counselor to try to work out a solution. Your lender may agree to a loan modification to permanently change one or more of your loan terms. A loan modification may involve a reduction of your loan term, loan balance, or other changes to your benefit and make your payments more affordable. Your lender may participate in the government subsidized Home Affordable Modification program, which gives monetary incentives to both lender and borrower for modifying certain distressed loans. For more information about this alternative click here.
In addition to the above a short sale may be right for your particular financial situation if you feel you will not ever be able to catch up. Selling, however, may be challenging if you are upside down, where your loan balance is actually higher than the property value currently. As with foreclosures, short selling will affect your credit report, and possibly affect your tax liability and personal liability, along with other consequences. However, you may avoid the stigma of an actual foreclosure and allow you to take a pro-active approach in dealing with your distressed loan. Contact a housing counselor. You may even qualify for the HAFA program. Contact a certified HAFA agent.
Also, you may qualify for a refinance, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or bankruptcy. Contact your lender for questions about their requirements for a refinance or deed in lieu. Contact a housing counselor. Remember, doing nothing will only add to your problem and time may eventually not be on your side.
Add a comment | Thursday, August 12, 2010
The best way to avoid foreclosure related scams is to get tough. Scam artists intentionally seek out the weak and hope to take advantage of you when you are in a distressed situation, such as foreclosure or losing your home and worried you are not going to be able to handle the stress. When you are down and out you will tend to believe anything, even if it sounds too good to be true. This can make you a specific target for the unscrupulous scam artist.
It is important to remember, outwardly scam artists tend to be clean cut, well spoken, and often seem to know a lot more about your situation than you do. They often attempt to lure people by belonging to, or pretending to belong to the same racial, religious, social, or other group as their victims. They will often say or do whatever you want to hear or have them say in a very convincing manner, often agreeing with your plight and seem to empathize with you.
With certain exceptions, someone who charges you a fee to negotiate with your lender on your behalf must be licensed with the California Department of REal Estate. You can do a quick check, or “License Status Check” by going to www.dre.ca.gov. You should also conduct further investigations before doing business with someone offering to help you by checking public records, the Better Business bureau. and the Internet, asking for and verifying references and going to the physical address to verify one actually exists.
Another clue is when someone tries to push you into making a decision right now, or making false deadlines. If they give you a deadline ask to see it in writing from a source you trust. Taking time to ask friends, family, or just discuss the decision with someone else is always a good idea. If and when you do finally sign a document, know what you are signing after you have had a chance to read it, and don’t allow the person to leave without giving you copies of what you signed. Never believe anyone who tells you, “it doesn’t matter what it says in the contract, here is the truth”. A written contract almost always trumps a verbal promise.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t ever allow someone to talk you into doing something illegal, or let them convince you it’s OK because everyone is doing it. Do not comprmise your position by getting involved in anything underhanded. Once you agree, you will be less likely to blow the whistle on the scam artist if you too are involved in the scheme. The bottom line is the more you know about foreclosures, the less likely you will be duped.