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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mortgage Tips / Facts for the American Crisis

THE PINCH - YOU CAN PINCH BACK ON

The housing market is well … well is there one? I guess if you’re buying you’re in luck. If you’re simply trying to stay in your home, the Obama Administration has created some limited time luck for you.  It’s called the “Making Home Affordable Program” and here are some tips from a former field rep. for staying on top of the banks, which are simply trying to do everything in their control to make sure you are unable to cash in on the program.  These are banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo and you can picture the rest.  
Say you just lost your job and you know if something doesn’t come up soon, you will be in jeopardy of being late on a mortgage payment - don’t wait! The banks will try to give you split payments, etc; you do not have to be behind on your mortgage to apply.  You do have to have a hardship and in this market who doesn’t.  Write it out detail by painstaking detail and then provide as much documentation as possible: doctor’s notes, bills, anything that confirms an illness, or unexpected medical care braces etc; paystubs or notes from employers cutting hours and/or the unemployment spread sheet you can get on line.  Gather your evidence and keep a copy. 

Steps so you do not feel overwhelmed…


1st  Go to this link to learn your rights and the deadlines for applications; http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/pages/default.aspx  
2nd  Ask your bank at the main 800 number or online for their “MODIFICATION DEPARTMENT” - DO NOT GO TO A LOCAL BRANCH and do not fall for the split payment we put it on the tail end of the loan speech;

3rd This is not a new loan or refinance so you will not incur extra charges, if your credit is not already hurt it might be after the 3 month trial period, but can be rebuilt;
4th   Stay away from anyone trying to charge you for help with this process.  The above link has free HUD counselors available to help you through the process;

5th  Fill out all the paperwork from your bank, and KEEP A COPY and DO NOT FAX IT IN.  That is the number one COMPLAINT followed with … “the bank said they didn’t have it, lost it, or couldn’t read it.”  Seriously, you will be wondering if you’re in high school with a late paper etc.  Send it FED EX or UPS, so you will have a tracking number with copies.  It gives your counselor or attorney evidence later;
6th  The bank will send you a handful of forms; double check this page for additional forms they may omitted and print any omitted from this list; fill out and KEEP A COPY.  http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/request-modification/Pages/default.aspx It’s strongly in your favor to print them from this site and complete and mail with the rest of their requests.  They will ask for it later to extend the time of having to help you modify your loan.  If you’re interested in keeping your home be careful not to sign the page that says “Short Sale”.  Simply put an X across it and write NOT APPLICABLE AND SEND IT IN.  Remember anything that proves your hardship, such as home repairs, auto repairs, children’s needs, sicknesses, divorce, and/or caring for a sick or older relative, job loss etc. or whatever has added to setting you back, put it all down. This is important because this is the number one area that people get dragged through, because the banks do not start their 60-90 day review until they have all your paperwork and families have reported going through the process for over a year, don’t let it be you; 

7th  Many homes across the United States have fallen in property value.  Go to your city or town hall and ask for an abatement request and/or tax re-appraisal rate.  They will most likely send an adjuster out to your home to appraise it; check your property paperwork to be sure you have everything they say you have like two bathrooms when you only have one.  These types of mistakes are multiplied in most cities and some towns. 
To be sure they are coming close to the real home value, check what other similar houses are selling for in your neighborhood and print it (just go to google for property sales ranch two bedrooms etc) and print a copy and then push your point. Minimally, it could show the bank your house has depreciated in value and should be included in the package sent in above; it could get you a great tax break.  Some people I have worked with reported receiving over a $ 500 refund on the taxes that year.  That’s in a check made out to you even if your lender pays the taxes.

8th  Call the bank every 3 days till you get an answer.  Ask…what the status is of your modification, take their name, and note the date, time and person you spoke to.  Keep a log of ALL calls and the conversation;
During the application period, they are not supposed to be able to foreclose; however don’t be surprised if you get a notice.  Contact the number above for an advocate and keep your notes handy; and/or contact your local HUD and if not relief or headway is made get an attorney. 

THE GRASSROOTS APPROACH
Loan Modification, excessive fees, and poor customer services are staples of banks, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo and then others; working as a field investigator this past year, I found that these are just a handful of  the ones who have complaints from customers related to fraud, continuous loss of paperwork, misapplied payments and excessive never ending charges! It’s no wonder there are so many sites like this http://stopbank.blogspot.com . The Truth is we can feel good about joining in some of these grass roots campaigns; it’s a little like a class action without the burden of a Judge.  Simply join with International Citizens and move your money from the Big Banks to a local credit union, and invest directly in your own community. 

THE REALITY
“The Truth” well to get a great idea about the “truth of the matter”, I honestly think Al Lewis’s column in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend 11/13/11 at this link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204224604577030320924886882.html?KEYWORDS=Al+Lewis  covers it all.  It was titled the “Truth you Honor?” and while slightly snarky it doesn’t miss a beat in pointing out the fraud and corruption in the bank industry…Big Banks are not only getting bailouts; they have a get a Get out of Jail with a $285 million settlement suit card and are unfazed because they simply pass go and collect back from you, the consumer.

In this article/case the bank of contempt is Citigroup, and the reality of these cases and the perpetuated fraud through the courts is clearly summed up by Mr. Lewis’s opening comments "We do not admit the allegations. …But if it's any consolation, we don't deny them." Snarky, fresh and to the point, an analogy you can’t miss. President Lincoln once said “He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
So take control and push it to the limits and get the facts; the worst thing that can happen is they say no; the best thing that can happen is they say yes.  It will be grudgingly annoying, but it will be worth it.  Check out your options at and what you may qualify for at: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/Pages/default.aspx .

Me, I am with Lincoln who once stated: "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.  The great point is to bring them the real facts."





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