New Analysis of 2009-2011 Census Data: For Wealthiest 7%, Assets Increased 28%, but for Remaining 93%, Assets Decreased 4%

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelp

A new analysis of Census Data by the Pew Research Center reveals that the wealth gap in the United States continues to grow, and that the “economic recovery” is mostly benefiting wealthy people.

For example, the mean net worth of the eight million households in the upper 7% increased by an estimated 28%, from $2.4 million in 2009 to $3.1 million in 2011.  In comparison, people in the lower 93% (111 million households) saw their mean net worth decrease 4%, from $139,896 in 2009 down to $133,817 in 2011.

This large difference is due mostly to the differences in assets.  For example, for households with a net worth of more than $500,000, 65% of their wealth is from financial holdings like stocks, bonds, and retirement accounts, while only 17% of their wealth is based on their home value.

In contrast, for household with a net worth of less than $500,000, half of their net worth is from their home, and only 33% is from financial holdings like retirement accounts.

The analysis also examined the time period from 2005 to 2009 (when the housing market crashed), and found that mean net worth declined by 12% for “households as a whole but remained unchanged for households with a net worth of $500,000 and over.”   For the over $500,000 group, they had a mean net worth of $1,590,075 in 2005; $1,585,441 in 2009, and $1,920,956 in 2011.

This data was interesting in light of the work we do at ForeclosureHelp- for many homeowners who live here in San Jose and Sunnyvale and who contact our program, they have already attempted at least once to ask their bank to modify their mortgages.  Unfortunately, modification requests don’t always go smoothly the first time (paperwork gets lost, etc), and many homeowners cite a list of reasons they don’t want to apply again (it’s been referred to as “modification fatigue”).

However, the analysis above clearly demonstrates that a house is the largest asset for most Americans, and that’s why we encourage homeowners to meet with one of our housing counselors who is certified in foreclosure prevention counseling.

The counselors know the programs like HAMP, HARP, or Keep Your Home California, and can work with you to understand your eligibility for these programs and to submit a modification request- even if you’ve asked for a modification before and were unsuccessful.

For more reasons working with a housing counselor makes sense, visit our earlier blog post:  Five Reasons Working With A Housing Counselor is Better Than “Going Alone”

En Espanol: ¿Por Qué Trabajar Con Un Consejero de Casa?

This post has also been popular with our blog visitors: Helpful Resources if You’re Facing Foreclosure By Foreclosure Help SCC

To read the full Pew analysis, visit: A Rise in Wealth for the Wealthy; Declines for the Lower 93%

Foreclosure Help is a program funded by the city of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the city of Sunnyvale, and we can directly assist homeowners  and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale who are facing foreclosure.  However, we are unable to assist homeowners/former homeowners in other cities and states.  If you need housing counseling, we suggest using the interactive map on HUD’s website.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose through a HUD Community Development Block Grant and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit us: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org

Our housing counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.Nuestros consejeros puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

fair_housing_logo

FAIR HOUSING AND ANTI-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

It is the policy of ForeclosureHelp not to discriminate against any person because of that person’s race, color, religious creed, sex (gender), sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status (households with children under the age of 18), source of income, disability, medical condition or age. Color or “ethnic group identification” means the possession of the racial, cultural or linguistic characteristics common to a racial, cultural or ethnic group, or the country or ethnic group from which a person or his or her forebears originated. As required by law, we agree to take the affirmative steps needed to further fair housing.

ForeclosureHelp will consider any and all requests for reasonable accommodation in the application of its rules, policies, practices, and services, and in the use of its physical structures, in accordance with the requirements of state and federal laws. You can ask ForeclosureHelp to consider any reasonable accommodation you may have. Please consult with the Program Manager to request this accommodation.

Deadline for US Dept. of Justice Settlement with Countrywide Extended Until April 26, 2013

Countrywide Settlement

UPDATE: Deadline extended until April 26, 2013, for more information, visit the DOJ website: English version   Spanish version.

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager at Foreclosure Help

This is a reminder that homeowners who received a letter about a US Department of Justice Settlement with Countrywide Financial should send in their registration forms soon because the deadline has been extended to April 26, 2013. 

press release from the US Department of Justice explains why Countrywide settled with the Department of Justice:

The $335 million settlement fund being administered by Rust was created as part of resolving the United States’ allegations that Countrywide Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against more than 200,000 qualified Hispanic and African-American borrowers across the country who received mortgage loans from 2004 through 2008, as well as allegations of discrimination on the basis of marital status by encouraging non-applicant spouses to sign away their rights in jointly-held property when the applicant spouse took out a loan in his or her own name. Letters will go out at a later date to borrowers potentially affected by the alleged marital status discrimination.

There are 200,000 homeowners who are eligible to recover money from the settlement in this case, and the registration form deadline is February 28, 2013.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

Eligible homeowners would have received a letter from the US Department of Justice, the Settlement Administrator, or Countrywide/Bank of America.    Individuals with questions about the United States v. Countrywide Financial Corporation lending discrimination settlement may contact Rust, in English or Spanish, by telephone at 1-800-843-5148 or by email at info@CWFLSettlement.com.

When will the money be sent?

According to the US Department of Justice press release:  “In mid 2013, the Settlement Administrator plans to mail a letter with the exact payment amount and a release form to those who return the response form.”

How do I know this is legitimate?

Good question, there are still lots of scam artists who send official looking letters.

According to the US Department of Justice:

All mailings from Rust related to the lending discrimination settlement will have the seal of the United States Department of Justice and use the return address “Countrywide Fair Lending Settlement Administrator, c/o Rust Consulting, PO Box 8048, Faribault, MN 55021,” and will ask victims to return response forms to that address. Any potential scams related to the Countrywide lending discrimination settlement should be reported to Rust by telephone at 1-800-843-5148, or to the Department of Justice at 202-514-4713.

Where can I get more information?

Notification Begins to Borrowers Eligible for Payments from $335 Million Lending Discrimination Settlement Between the Department of Justice and Countrywide Financial Corporation (United States v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al. (C.D. Cal., December 2011)

Comienza la notificación a prestatarios con derecho a recibir pagos del fondo de resolución de $335 millones por discrimen en la otorgación de préstamos entre el Departamento de Justicia y Countrywide Financial Corporation ((United States v. Countrywide Financial Corp., et al. (D.C. Cal., diciembre 2011))

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.

Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Another Possible Loan Modification Scam: They’re Alive and Well in California in January 2013

District Attorney cracks down on Loan Modificatoin Scams

By Sean Coffey, Program Manager, Foreclosure Help

According to a January 25, 2013 article in the Santa Maria Times, (DA’s office investigating loan modification/foreclosure fraud case) a fraud case involving an alleged loan modification/foreclosure consultant in the Santa Maria area is being investigated by the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office.

According to the article, the organization may have operated under the names Hermandad Hispanic Group, Crown Point Education, and America Asset Management.

If you are a homeowner who believes you have been taken advantage of by this company, the District Attorney’s Office is requesting that you contact District Attorney Investigator Jennifer Glimp at 737-7871. For Spanish speaking homeowners, contact District Attorney Investigative Assistant Maria Chavez at 346-7519.

If the allegations are true, this will be yet another sad case of homeowners who believed something that was too good to be true.   When homeowners ask us about loan modification companies, we remind them that it is illegal in California to charge an upfront fee for a loan modification.

Red lights for homeowners to look out for include:

  • A company that is being pushy and trying to sell their services
  • A person who promises to stop a foreclosure
  • Anybody who guarantees a loan modification

For homeowners who have been illegally charged an upfront fee here in Santa Clara County, Foreclosure Help will make referrals to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office (Real Estate Fraud Division) and we also will refer the homeowners to the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley who can work with homeowners and pro bono attorneys to seek restitution.

As a reminder, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  There is absolutely nobody who can truthfully promise or guarantee you a loan modification.   Your bank or servicer is the only entity that will make the decision about whether or not your loan can or will be modified.  It’s also important to know that your bank or servicer may be limited from granting a modification because of the investor who actually holds your mortgage.

When you stop paying your mortgage payments, the bank or servicer will file a Notice of Default, which is the first step in the foreclosure process.  This Notice of Default is public record (It’s filed at the Santa Clara County Recorder’s office- you can search records by name by clicking on the left side of the screen “official documents” and searching by grantor/grantee name), and so you will likely start receiving LOTS and LOTS of mail, phone calls, visits, etc. from “experts” who want to “help.”   Services like Foreclosureradar.com allow people to obtain contact information (and info about their mortgage) for homeowners in default and then contact them.

If you’re not sure where to turn, we recommend speaking with a HUD approved foreclosure counselor.  They can help you identify your options, discuss programs like Keep Your Home California or HAMP with you and make a plan forward.  The best part is that the counselors don’t have a financial incentive to guide you towards a certain outcome.  This means they can give you a unbiased, clear analysis of your situation and your options to avoid foreclosure.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nếu bạn là một sinh hoạt chủ sở hữu nhà ở San Jose hoặc Sunnyvale và đang đấu tranh với nợ nhà, xin vui lòng liên ForeclosureHelpSCC, một chương trình được tài trợ bởi thành phố San Jose và thành phố của Sunnyvale ở (408) -293-6000 hoặc truy cập trang web của chúng tôi: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Nhân viên tư vấn của chúng tôi đã được HUD chấp thuận có thể giúp bạn đánh giá các lựa chọn của bạn, tìm hiểu thêm về các chương trình của liên bang và tiểu bang có thể giúp bạn với các vấn đề thế chấp của bạn, và sẽ giúp bạn tạo ra một kế hoạch phía trước.

Xin lưu ý: Tất cả các nội dung trên Blog ForeclosureHelpSCC được cung cấp thông tin duy nhất và không nên coi là hợp pháp hoặc tư vấn thuế. Nếu bạn có bất cứ câu hỏi , xin vui lòng liên hệ với chúng tôi qua đường dây nóng: (408) -293-6000, hoặc truy cập vào trang của chúng tôi: http://www.foreclosurehelpscc.org hoặc gửi email cho chúng tôi:help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Helpful Resources if You’re Facing Foreclosure By Foreclosure Help SCC

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

As 2012 draws to a close, it’s worth taking a quick snap-shot of the past year.  Pete Carey wrote earlier this week in the San Jose Mercury News about the reduction in foreclosures during the month of November, and we hope that this trend continues.

We also want to highlight a few blog postings written for homeowners by the certified housing counselors who staff the ForeclosureHelpSCC program:

Time Sensitive issues for homeowners:

Independent Foreclosure Review:  The deadline for this program is December 31, 2012.  To learn more about this program (eligible homeowners could receive $500 to $125,000 plus lost equity), visit our earlier blog postings:

California Foreclosure Refund:  Also designed for homeowners who dealt with an improper foreclosure, but this program is limited to the big five banks.  The deadline for this program is January 18, 2013.  For more information, read our blog on it: California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement

Keep Your Home California: Unemployment Assistance Program.  Aurora Olivares, one of the housing counselors who staffs the Foreclosure Help program, wrote an excellent overview of this program: “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?”  With recent estimates that 400,000 Californians could lose their unemployment benefits unless Congress extends them, it is particularly important for homeowners who are unemployed to get their applications in NOW while they are still receiving unemployment.  A homeowner WILL NOT qualify for Keep Your Home California Unemployment Assistance program unless they are receiving or are approved for unemployment benefits.

Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act: This has not yet been extended, but we are hopeful that it will be tied into the current negotiations about the fiscal cliff.  For more information about why this is so important, visit: “Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side”

General Resources for Homeowners from our blog this year (A big THANK YOU to the certified housing counselors from Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, Project Sentinel, and SurePath Financial Solutions for writing these posts).

1) Credit Repair, Credit Issues, Rebuilding Your Credit, Pulling Your Credit Report:

2) How to work with your bank when you are seeking a modification:

3. Advantages of Working with a certified housing counselor from a HUD-approved agency:

4) Renting after a foreclosure or short sale:   Help with rental assistance after a foreclosure – What’s out there?

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.   Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Si usted es dueño de una casa en San José o en Sunnyvale y están luchando con su hipoteca, por favor póngase en contacto con ForeclosureHelpSCC, un programa financiado por la ciudad de San José y la ciudad de Sunnyvale, al (408) -293- 6000, o visite nuestro sitio: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. Nuestros consejeros aprobados por HUD puede ayudarle a evaluar sus opciones, aprender más acerca de los programas federales y estatales que pueden ayudarle con sus problemas de hipoteca, y le ayudará a crear un plan para seguir.

Por favor, tenga en cuenta: Todos los contenidos incluidos en el blog ForeclosureHelpSCC se proporciona únicamente a título informativo y no debe ser considerada como consejo legal o fiscal. Si usted tiene alguna pregunta, por favor no dude en contactarnos a nuestra línea directa: (408) -293-6000, o visite nuestro sitio:www.foreclosurehelpscc.org o envíenos un correo electrónico: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Loan Modification: How To Be Successful

By Stephanie Vang, HomeOwnership Program Manager at Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Do you ever wonder what does it take to get successful loan modification from your lenders?  How long is the loan modification process?  From our experiences of working with distressed homeowner in imminent danger to default and homeowners already in foreclosure; the answer to these questions is TIME.  You must take time away from your busy work schedule to visit your lender’s website to educate and empower yourself and you must allow time for your lender to respond to your request.

Lenders put useful links on their website to help struggling homeowners know their options.   By empowering yourself with this information, you will be better equipped when communicating with your lender about your hardship.  Although every homeowner’s hardship is unique, banks and servicers know which homeowners did their research and which ones did not.  You must take at least a day or two to fully understand what options are available.  You should also visit helpful sites like: www.makinghomeaffordable.gov, www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org, or www.conservatucasa.org, www.hud.gov, and knowyouroptions.org.

You must also take time to prepare a timeline of events with concrete dates of when your hardship started.  When applying for a loan modification, it takes twice if not three to four times the effort as when you initially purchased or refinanced your home.  Like before, you have to get all your documentation ready and prepare yourself when calling your lender.

This call should not be made during a 15 minute break and not during your lunch hour.  This call should take place when you have more than two hours to spare.

Through Neighborhood Housing Service Silicon Valley’s Successful Loan Modification Survey, 31% of the homeowners that were able to prevent foreclosure noted a wait time of 20 – 30 minutes when calling their lenders.  Of the 31% percent, half noted that they outreached to their lender once a week to verify that status of their loan modification and had to repeat the same information every time they contacted their lender.  Some even designated a specific notebook where they recorded the date, time, the conversation, the lender’s representative and the representative’s I.D. number.

Lastly, loan modification varies from lenders to lenders.  If you’re applying for a loan modification, do not expect to get your lender’s response within 30 days.  On average, loan modification can range from 30 to 45 or more business days in response time or longer.  During this time frame, you must stay focused on your goal and stay connected with your lender.  Set aside ample time when calling, designate at least one day out of the week to call and always prepare yourself when calling your lender.  These are some helpful tips from our past homeowners who received successful loan modification.

You may also enjoy our earlier blog posts related to this topic:  “Maggie’s Five Rules for Working With Your Bank or Servicer,”Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is NOT on your Side,” and “Five Reasons Working With A Housing Counselor is Better Than “Going Alone.”

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.  Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.

Free Foreclosure Resource Fair: October 20th at Overfelt High School

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at ForeclosureHelpSCC

Do you live in Santa Clara County?  Are you struggling to make your mortgage payments?  Has your income gone down?  Would you like to speak with somebody who knows about the mortgage programs and settlements and can give you honest advice?

If you would like to get all of this information in one place, then you should come to a free Foreclosure Resource Fair here in San Jose on October 20th, from 9am to 3pm at Overfelt High School.

At the fair, you can meet one-on-one with a HUD certified Foreclosure Counselor who knows the system.  They can help you find solutions and develop a plan forward.  You will learn about which programs can help you, and scams that can hurt you.

Tax and legal experts at the event will give presentations and we’ll also have a free shredding truck for you to safely shred your old documents.

Assemblymember Jim Beall, who represents the 24th District for California, will also speak about recent legislation to address the foreclosure crisis here in California.  His office is helping to organize the event, and Assemblymember Beall explains, “In this tough economy, many families are living from paycheck to paycheck, struggling to meet their mortgage. Homeowners facing default who attend the foreclosure prevention fair can get effective counseling and learn how new laws passed by the Legislature can protect them.’’

Jeffrey F. Rosen,the District Attorney for Santa Clara County states “Real estate fraud, and particularly foreclosure rescue scams have a devastating impact in our communities.  We are proud to partner with ForeclosureHelpSCC and other non-profits to protect homeowners from real estate fraud, and hold con artists accountable for their misdeeds.”

Dr. John Porter, the Superintendent of Franklin McKinley School District and its Children’s Initiative,explained the impact of foreclosures on children and neighborhoods:  “I have seen how the stress and disruption of foreclosure hinders a child’s performance in school and affects their classmates.  And foreclosures take their toll on the whole neighborhood with the lack of income and resource that make children feel less safe and secure.”

Time and space with a housing counselor is limited, so if you would like to meet with a counselor, please call ahead of time to RSVP.  You can call (408) 293-6000 to reserve your space.

WHEN: Saturday October 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Overfelt High School, 1835 Cunningham Ave., San Jose, CA.

WHO:  ForeclosureHelpSCC is a consortium of non-profits serving the community and led by the Housing Trust of Santa Clara County with Asian, Inc., Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, Neighborhood Housing Services, Project Sentinel, SurePath, and volunteers from Santa Clara County Association of Realtors, funded by the cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale. Other non-profits and banks will be there to offer information

WHY:    In July more than 1,000 families in Santa Clara County were impacted by a foreclosure proceeding, per Realty Trac. The foreclosure crisis may have passed its peak but a statewide study by the Center for Responsible Lending found, “Over 50% of existing single-family homes sold in California in 2011 were short sales or bank-owned foreclosures. ‘Lost Ground, 2011‘ found we are only about halfway through the foreclosure crisis.”

MORE INFORMATION: Please call the ForeclosureHelpSCC office: 408-293-6000, visit our website for the foreclosure resource fair, or email us: sean@housingtrustscc.org.

Refinance vs. Modification: What are the differences?

By Yvonne Castillo, Housing Counselor at SurePath Financial Solutions, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

With the housing crisis all around us in San Jose, Sunnyvale, and other cities in Santa Clara County, we hear some buzz words over and over, words such as foreclosure, modification, refinance and short sale. As a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, we often hear questions about the differences between modification and refinance, and which one is the best one to choose. The information below explains some of the main differences between these two options.

REFINANCE
What is a refinance?  A refinance is a new loan that you take out to pay off your old loan. A traditional refinance will require you to have equity on the property (up to 20%) to request a new loan.

Reasons why people refinance:  There are many reasons you may want to refinance your existing mortgage. For example, you may do it to lower your payments or interest rate. Or, to consolidate your 1st and 2nd mortgages, to extend or shorten the length of your mortgage, to change lenders, or to add or remove someone from your existing mortgage.

What happens when you refinance?  It is similar to the process of when you received your original mortgage. Because this is a new loan, you will receive a new loan number and your new loan may have different terms than your old loan.

Before you contact a lender to consider refinancing you should order your credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (consider using Annual Credit Report to get an idea of the information included in your credit report). Generally speaking, the higher the credit rating you have, the better an interest rate you can qualify for, and the more money you will save. You will also need to show sufficient income to afford the new payments as well as your household expenses.

Unemployment and temporary disability benefits are considered temporary forms of income. Therefore, they are not acceptable forms of income when refinancing. You should also be current on your mortgage, car and credit card payments for approximately the past twelve months when considering refinancing as an option to remain in your home.

What costs are involved in a refinance? When refinancing there can be origination, processing and closing costs. Some lenders may waive some of these fees by including them into the loan balance. Check with your lender about any up-front or financed cost involved.

What if I do not have equity in my property? If your property is worth less than what you owe and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, you may want to learn more about the Home Affordable Refinance Program, also known as HARP. This is one of the federal programs to assist homeowners to refinance their loans even if they don’t meet the equity criteria. You can learn more about the program on the Making Home Affordable website.

MODIFICATION
What is a loan modification? It is a temporary or permanent change of the terms of the current mortgage agreement that is usually requested to make the mortgage payments more affordable.

What is the main reason why people request a loan modification? The main reason to consider a loan modification is to have more affordable mortgage payments and remain in your home, especially if you do not qualify to refinance your mortgage. You have to be experiencing a financial hardship which has made it difficult to make your current mortgage payments or missed one or more of your mortgage payments. It’s important to note that banks and servicers do not consider it a financial hardship if your only reason to modify your loan is because you owe more on your mortgage balance than the home is currently worth (also known as being “upside down”).

What terms can be changed in a modification? When receiving a loan modification you will keep your current loan number but some of the terms on your mortgage will be modified. This could include lowering your interest rate, or modifying an adjustable rate mortgage (where the interest rate varies) to a fixed rate mortgage where your mortgage payments and rate will remain fixed for the life of the loan. In some modifications, the interest rate is lowered for a few years (for example, a modification under HAMP can go as low as two percent), and then gradually increases over the course of a few years.

Will my payments be lower with a loan modification? For many households the loan modification has allowed them to reduce their mortgage payments and bring their loan current. However, it is important to note that if your current loan is an interest only loan, then changing it to a fully amortizing loan (where you are paying interest and principal) could result in an increase of your mortgage payment. However, banks and servicers can address this issue by lowering the interest rate, or lengthening the life of the loan (for example from 30 to 40 years).

In some limited cases, a loan modification may reduce or defer the balance owed. The homeowner may have a wish list of how they want their bank or servicer to modify their loan, but ultimately it is up to the bank or servicer (and sometimes the investor(s) who own the mortgage) whether or not they will modify the loan, and if so, how the terms will be adjusted.

Are there costs involved with a loan modification? Generally, there is no origination, processing and closing costs included when doing a loan modification. However some lenders will charge a small loan modification fee that is added to the balance of your loan and disclosed in the loan modification documents.

What information will be reviewed in a loan modification? Your bank or servicer will require a complete financial disclosure to evaluate the possibility of granting a loan modification. Information regarding your household income and expenses, amount of debt, proof of income, reason of the financial hardship, debt to income ratio etc, will be required to evaluate your modification request. If you have stopped making your mortgage payments, your bank or servicer will review if the non-payment is a result of the financial hardship. The bank will also want to see that there is a sustainable action plan going forward that will allow you to have sufficient income to continue paying your modified mortgage.

If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and want to know if either of these options will be applicable to your case please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Jose and the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. HUD approved counselors are available to provide free counseling sessions that will help you review your finances and evaluate the options for you.

Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org