As a realtor for EXIT Realty in Santa Clarita, Chris Gabledon not only provides traditional real estate services such as helping people buy or sell a home but, in the down economy, helps troubled homeowners by processing short sales and loan modifications, as well. In troubled times, it is best that you turn to professionals like Mr. Gabledon, who can help go over your options with you and objectively figure out the best course of action for you to take, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP).
What is the Home Affordable Modification Program? The U.S. government program “provides eligible homeowners the opportunity to modify their mortgages to make them more affordable” with the goal of lowering the monthly mortgage payment to less than 31 percent of the household’s total income. In other words, homeowners that can no longer afford to make monthly loan payments may qualify for a loan modification. Enacted in February 2009, the program has since been modified earlier this year with expanded flexibility:
for mortgage servicers and originators to assist more unemployed homeowners and to help more people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth because their local markets saw large declines in home values.
In order to make the home loan modification permanent, struggling homeowners must take these steps:
- Find out if you qualify to participate in the free home loan modification program. Complete this questionnaire on the Making Home Affordable website to determine whether you are eligible or not.
- Start the loan modification process by submitting an “Initial Package” to your lender, which includes the following:
Request Form (Request for Modification and Affidavit)
Tax Form (Form 4506T-EZ)
Verification of income
- Follow up with your mortgage lender to make sure that they received the Initial Package and if additional paperwork is needed.
- Complete the trial period of the loan modification by following the payment requirements and providing any additional documentation in a timely manner.
- Once you successfully complete the trial period and all paperwork has been received on time, your home loan modification will become permanent.
During this down economy, millions of homeowners have suddenly found themselves behind on their mortgage payments and vulnerable to scam artists that make promises they cannot keep. While the federal government did create the Home Affordable Modification Program to help these troubled homeowners, scam artists are doing their best to get to uninformed and desperate homeowners first. The federal government has setup a toll-free number, the Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673), providing information about the Making Home Affordable Program. They have created a video, “How You Can Avoid Foreclosure Scams“, providing a list of things to look out for so that you can avoid becoming prey to scam artists.
Tips to avoid scams
- Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan.
- Scam artists often target homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage commitment or anxious to sell their homes. Recognize and avoid common scams.
- Beware of people who pressure you to sign papers immediately, or who try to convince you that they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house.
- Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company to forgive your debt.
- Never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.
Remember, even though you maybe months behind on your mortgage and are at risk for foreclosure, you are not without answers. However, applying for a home loan modification maybe a daunting and overwhelming task for you to take on by yourself. Chris Gabledon of EXIT Realty can help ease the application process for you, making sure you only have to go through it once.
Francis M. Unson
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