What is a Loan Modification?

Watch this short video to learn the truth about mortgage loan modifications.

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Thanks to my wonderful and talented video producer husband, I’ve just launched the first in a series of short videos designed to help educate consumers on a variety of real estate topics.

The first in the series discusses your 8 options if you can’t pay your mortgage. Would love to hear your comments!

And please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free, confidential consultation. 619-846-9249.

First and foremost, don’t ignore the problem.   Chances are you won’t win the lottery, and your financial troubles are real.  As soon as you are 30 days late on your payment, the lender’s clock starts ticking.  There is help and you have several options.  Take a deep breath and try to look at the situation objectively.  Pick up the phone and talk to your lender.  Just remember that time is of the essence.  Acting early allows you to make the decision that is best for you.  Wait too long and your choices disappear.

Do Nothing.  It is likely the lender(s) will foreclose.  Foreclosure information will stay on your credit report for up to 7 years and may make it difficult to buy again for at least 3-5 years.

Refinance.  This is only a viable option if there is equity in your home.

Reinstatement.  This option means that you will have to pay all delinquent amounts due plus interest, attorney fees, late fees, and taxes and insurance if impounded.  If withdrawing funds from a retirement account you should consult a tax advisor.  If borrowing from friends or family make sure that all terms are in writing and that you can afford the re-payment plan. 

Loan Modification.  A loan modification re-writes your existing loan to make the monthly payments more manageable by reducing the interest rate, extending the term, and/or reducing the principal amount owed.  Your lender may participate in the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which provides incentives for lenders to modify loans.  This program and loan modifications in general have limited success.  Please read my blog post dated 10/27/2010. 

Forbearance.  In a forbearance agreement your lender arranges a repayment plan that spreads out the defaulted amounts due over an extended period of time.  It may include temporary payment reductions.  You will need to supply information that shows your financial problems are temporary and you will be able to meet the repayment requirements.

Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure.   You voluntarily sign the deed back to the bank and vacate the home instead of the bank foreclosing.  Slightly better on your credit report than a foreclosure.

Bankruptcy.  Consult a bankruptcy attorney.  Filing Chapter 7 for liquidation of debt may stall foreclosure, but your lender may be allowed to resume proceedings.  Chapter 13 may halt foreclosure, but the debt of the past due amounts will be included in a 3-5 year re-payment plan. 

Short Sale.   If your home has equity, you may sell the home without lender approval.  Lacking equity, you can opt to sell the home for less than the amount owed.  This is negotiated with your lender by a qualified Real Estate Professional.  In a short sale the lender must agree to accept less than the amount of the debt owed.  This option is more favorably reported on your credit report. 

Other alternatives.  You might want to consider renting a room in your home, or getting a second job.  If you own a small business, you might qualify for an interest-free America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loan of up to $35,000 from the Small Business Administration.  Also, if there are discrepancies in your loan documents or foreclosure paperwork, you may be able to sue your lender.  To pursue this option, consult an attorney specializing in forensic real estate work.

The most important thing you can do is not bury your head in the sand.  When a homeowner calls and tells me their home is going to auction in 5 days, there is little that can be done.  Be realistic about your financial situation.  Put it all down on paper and know exactly what you can afford today and your anticipated income over the next year.  By taking control of the situation versus letting your lender direct the action, I guarantee you will have a less stressful, healthier outcome.

Please call for a confidential, no-obligation consultation if you’d like to discuss any of these options and how they might work for  you.  To reach me quickly please call my cell phone:  619-846-9249 .  Or, leave a reply and let me know how to reach you.