Thursday, January 28, 2010

Keeping Your House

"Making Home Affordable", Loan Modifications, Loss Mitigation, "HAMP", "HARP" "HASP" - all are programs of one type or another to help homeowners from losing their house. They are not working very well as detailed in prior posts. So, WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP THE HOUSE?

There is no easy way. Outlined below are steps that should be followed and followed and followed to stop a foreclosure or fend off the possibility of facing a foreclosure.

1. As soon as you believe that you might have a problem making payments, contact the lender's loss mitigation department or the Making Home Affordable ("MHA") department.

2. Get written instructions from the lender/servicer of the steps to follow and documents needed to get a loan modification.

3. Keep in mind that a loan modification ("loan mod") can be a reduction in rate for the balance of the loan, or just a deferral of a few payments. Do not under-sell your problem and if the suggested solution will not work over the long term, ask for a different program.

4. Typically, you will be asked to supply documents including at a minimum: a. Hardship Affidavit (check http:// for the form), b. Financial Statement (form lender directs you to retrieve from website), c. one or two years tax returns, d. your two most recent pay stubs, e. proof of homeowners insurance being in-place on the property, f. copy of recent real estate tax bill g. one or two months bank statements. There may be other documents required.

5. PAY ATTENTION. Provide ALL requested/required documents the FIRST TIME you send in your request/plea for a Loan Mod. The biggest reason for denial of help to a homeowner is that no all of the paperwork was sent

6. Make several copies of everything you send to the lender as the first package has a 50/50 chance of being lost

7. Send the package Certified Mail, return receipt requested. You may need proof later that you DID send the documents

8. Begin calling for the status of your Loan Mod 4-5 days after the package was received. Be prepared to spend 45 minutes on the telephone navigating the computer enhanced telephone answering system. DO NOT JUST HANG UP! This is what military folks call "Hurry up and wait". DO IT!

9. Call every 3-4 days, without fail, to check on the progress. Call even if the customer representative says not to call so often. It is your house at stake, not his/hers.

10. If you are told after 10 days that your package was not received, send a new package. Be sure to update the pay stubs. It shouldn't be necessary to re-submit everything, but it is. Just do it!

11. Check the Lender's/servicer's website to see if the is the ability to track your Loan Mod application online.

12. If you have a problem, call the lender as often as is necessary to get your answer - get a live person on the telephone. You might not get the answer you need, but it is a start

13. If it looks like a foreclosure will begin against you, or if one already has, call an attorney who deals with foreclosure prevention. One of the organizations that can help you find a lawyer is the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys at ; another is the American Bankruptcy Institute at (look for the consumer bankruptcy center). Other resources - your local Bar Association. Explain your problem and ask for a referral

14. DO NOT sign up for the "Send us $2,500 and we will fix your problem" companies. Too many of them are scams.


Below are listed the websites for 5 major lenders' Homeowner Assistance programs.

Wells Fargo

JPMorgan Chase


Bank of America and Countrywide

Author's Copyright by Richard I. Isacoff, Esq. January 2010

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