Homeowners Say Customer Service is Still a Problem when They Contact Their Bank or Servicer

Lost documents, robo-signing, getting different messages from different bank departments, broken verbal promises for modifications, loan servicing being transferred, and unexplained modification denials- are these all things of the past with settlements like the Independent Foreclosure Review, Attorney General Settlement, and here in California, the new Homeowner Bill of Rights?

Not exactly.

At the national level, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently made its complaint database public and complaints about mortgage loan servicing issues represent 55% of the 90,000 complaints. The Bureau is making the data public and asking for people’s ideas on how to use the data.  As an example, the Bureau created a sort-able spreadsheet that allows users to sort by the type of complaint, company, etc.

HousingWire recently touched on some of these issues in their April 23rd article, “Loan mods, inaccessible websites irritate servicing customers the most.” The article describes Craig Martin’s recent presentation where he said that loan modification and inaccessible/difficult to maneuver websites are two top complaints of homeowners.   Martin is with J.D. Power and Associates, which publishes an annual rating on mortgage loan servicers.

In J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent survey of 5,623 homeowners ,  BB&T, Regions Mortgage, SunTrust Mortgage, Chase, and PNC Mortgage were ranked the highest quality.  In comparison, the five lowest rated banks/servicers were Aurora Loan Services, OneWest Bank (formerly Indymac), Homeward Residential, Nationstar Mortgage, and Ocwen Loan Servicing.   You can see the full chart of all the banks on page 4:  J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Amid Record-Low Interest Rates and Improved Loan Modification Programs, Customer Satisfaction Increases

If you live in San Jose or Sunnyvale and you’re struggling with your mortgage, you may want to sit down and meet with a housing counselor from ForeclosureHelp.  At your appointment, they’ll review your mortgage, your income/monthly budget, and then help you understand your eligibility for programs like HAMP, HARP, in-house modifications, and Keep Your Home California– a program that over 600 Santa Clara County residents have already accessed and used.

The services at ForeclosureHelp are paid for through a federal Community Development Block Grant from the City of San Jose and from a grant from the City of Sunnyvale- so there is no charge to the homeowner.

 Other resources to review:

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warns mortgage servicers about legal protections for consumers when transferring loans

The CFPB takes action against mortgage insurers to end kickbacks to lenders

Maggie’s Five Rules for Working with Your Bank or Servicer

California Monitor (for Attorney General Settlement with 5 largest banks) Website

###

Foreclosure Help is a coalition 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.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

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 (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

Advertisements

Do Student Loans Contribute to Foreclosure Crisis? What We’ve Seen from Homeowners in San Jose and Sunnyvale, CA

Foreclosures caused by student loan debt?USA Today reported yesterday (“Nobel winner: Cut student loan rates” ) on one of the proposals that has been put forth by Senator Elizabeth Warren (Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act)  to deal with what some have termed the next subprime mortgage bubble- student loan debt.

Right now, student loan interest rates on Government-subsidized Stafford loans will increase in July 2013 from 3.4% to 6.8% unless Congress acts.

Senator Warren’s proposal would instead have the interest rate tied to the Federal Reserve’s discount rate, which is currently .75%.   In presenting her proposal, Warren explained that this would mean student borrowers would pay the same interest rates that large banks pay when they borrow money from the Federal Reserve.

Is student loan debt the next subprime bubble?  It could be, especially if the rates are allowed to increase to 6.8%.   Here at ForeclosureHelp, we work with homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgages in San Jose and Sunnyvale, California.    Based off a few recent cases of homeowners we’ve worked with, we can say that student loan debt is a very real problem for homeowners.

It could be the single person, who is already struggling with their mortgages, perhaps had their student loans in deferment, but can no longer defer the loans and must start paying them.   This extra expense, which could range from anywhere from $200 to $1,000 more a month, has to come from somewhere.

Or, it could be the parents who co-signed on student loans because they wanted their kids to go to college, but are now struggling to pay these loans in addition to other expenses like the mortgage, food, gas, etc.

Student loan debt, unlike credit card debt, can’t be eliminated through bankruptcy except in some limited cases (see the Nolo resource page below).   While there are options like deferment, it seems like a more concrete, lasting change will be necessary.   The status quo- with students trapped  by overwhelming amounts of student debt, has translated to fewer first time homebuyers, a “drag” on the economy, and is also part of the reason that the housing sector continues to limp along.  In fact, Forbes (Student Loan Problems: One Third Of Millennials Regret Going To College) cited a recent study of millenials in which 1/3 said they regret having gone to college and would have been better off working instead.

So, here at ForeclosureHelp, we are very interested to see how Congress addresses the student loan debt crisis because we know it has very real implications for homeowners here in San Jose and Sunnyvale, or for recent graduates would like to be homeowners at some point, but have a large overhand of debt that will prevent that from happening for another 10-15 years.  When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau asked Americans for their ideas on dealing with the crisis, they heard from almost 30,000 people- demonstrating that this is a very real problem for too many Americans.

A few resources that may be helpful:

Top 10 Student Loan Tips for Recent Graduates

Mapping Your Future: Manage your student loan debt

NOLO.com: “Student Loan Debt in Bankruptcy”

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Helping borrowers find ways to stay afloat A path forward to spur affordable repayment options

###

Foreclosure Help is a coalition 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.

ForeclosureHelp partners include the Housing Trust Silicon Valley (lead agency), the Fair Housing Law Project at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, SurePath Financial Solutions, Project Sentinel, Asian Inc, Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley, and the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors.

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 (408-293-6000 or via email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org) to request this accommodation.

Installment Loan Borrowers Being Saddled With Unnecessary Insurance Add-Ons

Ouch! Propublica and Marketplace just published a story about installment loans…One borrower who is profiled in the story thought she was paying 90% APR, but with extra “add-on” fees, her effective interest rate was 182%!!!

Consumerist

Installment loans are typically, shorter-term, high-interest, loans to borrowers with severely damaged credit. These loans usually have longer terms than the 2-3 week turnaround for payday loans, and the borrower agrees to pay the money back in equal, monthly installments, but some of those who have worked at installment lenders say these loans are laden with charges aimed at getting around interest-rate rules and keeping the borrower in a cycle of indebtedness.

View original post 490 more words

March Madness: 9 Important Updates on the Independent Foreclosure Review, Short Sales, Modifications, and Foreclosures

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager at Foreclosure Help

1) Foreclosure Reviews Update: Updated information about the Independent Foreclosure Review was released on February 28th (see our previous post: “Independent Foreclosure Review: Update on $3.6 Billion in Cash Payments and $5.7 Billion in Modification Assistance”).   The Wall Street Journal reported (“Foreclosure Files Detail Error Gap”)  that statistics cited by the Office of the Comptroller Currency in January (when they stopped the reviews) about the number of foreclosure errors made by the banks painted a more favorable picture of banks and servicers than was accurate.

According to the WSJ, the OCC said in January that 6.5% of files that had been reviewed had errors that would have required compensation, but then lowered that figure to 4.2%.  However, the WSJ points out that 11% of files reviewed by Wells Fargo and 9% of Bank of America had errors that would have required compensation to homeowners. Of the 6,983 files reviewed by PNC Financial Services, 23.9% had errors that would have required compensation.   Consultants who reviewed files were quoted in the article, one suggested that she saw error rates as high as 45-80% for certain batches of loans for Wells Fargo, while another who worked on reviews for Chase said that reviewers were told to avoid loans originated by EMC Mortgage.

Yves Smith, founder of the blog Naked Capitalism, has written extensively about the many issues with the Independent Foreclosure Review.  She explains in a recent post that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), have all requested additional information from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Comptroller of the Currency, Thomas Curry, about the review process and how the decision was made to end the reviews.  Smith suggests that whistle blowers should be invited in to discuss their work, and that files should be reviewed.

2) 30 Days to Process a Short Sale?  During a HousingWire webinar, Bill Carr, VP of short sales for Chase Bank explained that they are trying to close short sales in 30 days or less.  Some housing advocates have been concerned about the proportion of “housing relief” (required under the AG settlement and the updated Independent Foreclosure Review settlement) that banks and servicers are providing through short sales instead of modifications that would keep people in their homes.  Here in the Bay Area, a flood of all-cash investors is currently pushing out other potential buyers for short-sales and regular sales.  This influx of cash from hedge funds and from foreign countries is reducing the amount of affordable housing options available for first-time home buyers in San Jose and will likely mean an overall reduction in owner-occupied homes in San Jose.

3) National Consumer Protection Week: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has written a number of helpful posts on their blog during the past week as part of a series for National Consumer Protection Week.  We’ve highlighted a few below:

4) Keep Your Home California was featured in a guest Op-Ed by Claudia Cappio, the Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency, which manages Keep Your Home California.  She explains: “Keep Your Home California has assisted more than 22,000 homeowners, with $260 million since February 2011. We want to help many more.”  To read the whole article, visit: Modesto Bee: “Program helps keep struggling homeowners afloat”

5) Payday Lending in Sunnyvale: The Coalition Against Payday Predators (CAPP) reported that the Sunnyvale City Council voted to authorize a study to determine if the city council should regulate payday lenders in Sunnyvale.   CAPP also summarized interesting new research on payday lending from the Pew Charitable Trust’s Small Dollar Loans Research Project.  Fact number four was especially interesting: 27% of people who have received payday loans reported that they had overdrafts in their checking accounts as a result of a payday loan trying to withdraw funds.  This statistic appears to contradict the payday loan industry’s suggestions that payday loans are cheaper than overdrafts and help people avoid overdrafts: “Pew Charitable Trusts issues its second report on payday lending”

6) Too Big to Fail = Too Big to Jail?   This phrase was recently used by Senator Elizabeth Warren during a congressional hearing where she asked regulators about the percent of cases against financial executives that had actually gone to trial.   At a separate hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder was grilled about the fact that no Wall Street executives have landed in jail (yet) as a result of the financial meltdown.  Frontline’s recent series “The Untouchables” has focused on the lack of jail-time for Wall Street executives.  The show is free to watch on Frontline’s website.

7) Language Issues in Loan Servicing: National CAPACD wrote a guest Op-Ed about the fact that recent mortgage loan servicing standards failed to address language issues for homeowners who speak languages other than English.   Jane Duong explains:

“Banks have demonstrated the capacity to meet language needs when it comes to selling financial services, like originating new mortgages or opening bank accounts. The question however is once these new customers have difficulty making their mortgage payments, are the banks meeting their customers’ mortgage servicing needs?”

The issues addressed in her guest column are especially applicable here in San Jose, Sunnyvale and the rest of the Bay Area.   Homeowners who contact us at Foreclosure Help report that they appreciate being able to speak to housing counselors who speak their language, whether it’s English, Vietnamese, or Spanish.   The counselors also help translate materials on our blog like the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights (English, Spanish, Vietnamese) which helps us get important information to more homeowners.  Read the full article here: Improving Language Access Can Prevent Foreclosures

8) 2012 “Report Card” on Programs to Reduce ForeclosuresProgress and Peril: A Status Report on the Compact for Home Opportunity” released by the Opportunity Agenda describes efforts made in 2012 to address foreclosures, restore communities affected by foreclosures and to keep homeownership accessible.   Policies/programs and their progress (or lack thereof) during the past year are addressed, including: mandatory mediation (prior to foreclosure); investing in pre-and post-purchase counseling; reforming mortgage loan servicing; using land banks to strengthen communities; improvements in credit-scoring; protecting tenants in foreclosure situations, and many more.  Read the full report: Progress and Peril: A Status Report on the Compact for Home Opportunity.

9) Slower Foreclosures for the Rich?  Marketwatch reported that some statistics suggest that homeowners in high-dollar homes are able to remain in their homes longer after they stop paying their mortgages, and may receive more favorable loan modifications.  The author cites RealtyTrac records for 2012, in which 85% of homes worth $1 million or less were eventually repossessed after receiving default notices.  However, for homes that are worth more than $1 million, only 28% were repossessed.  The article suggests that carrying costs are higher for these homes, the homes are more difficult to resell later, and when they are re-sold by the bank, it’s often at a substantial loss.  Wealthier homeowners may also be able to hire attorneys who can try to postpone the foreclosure.  Read more: “How luxury-home owners dodge 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 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.

This is a great list to refer back to if you have collectors calling you, and you can also submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which now regulates about 60% of the debt collection industry (all collectors with more than $10 million in annual receipts): http://www.consumerfinance.gov/pressreleases/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-to-oversee-debt-collectors/

Consumerist

Though it sometimes seems like debt collectors will try anything, even impersonating Ed McMahon, to their money, the law actually puts some pretty strict limits on what these people and companies can and can’t do.

View original post 478 more words

Five Important Policy Updates For California Homeowners and Tenants in 2013 Related to Foreclosures, Short Sales, and the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights

New Laws in 2013 for California Homeowners

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

1) Independent Foreclosure Review: The New York Times broke the news on December 31 that the Independent Foreclosure Review may be replaced.  The article explains that regulators and banking officials have been meeting in hopes of designing a less cumbersome, less expensive way of compensating homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by their banks or servicers.  During the few weeks leading up to the December 31st deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review, we received an increase in phone calls and google searches which went to our blog pages explaining how to apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.

However, we were also very concerned about the many shortcomings of the review (read our compilation of media reports at a previous blog posting: “7 Reasons to Postpone the Independent Foreclosure Review”), and so we created a petition on Change.org asking regulators to postpone the deadline until after they had released the results of at least 215,000 cases.   The regulators in charge of the program have not yet released any information about their plans, and we suggest that homeowners and former homeowners continue watching the news, checking our blog, and checking the website for the Independent Foreclosure Review for any updates.

2) Mortgage Debt Forgiveness: Housing Wire reports that the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act was extended for another year.  This is an important policy win for homeowners who are struggling with their mortgages because without this extension, debt forgiveness from a modification, short sale, or foreclosure would have been taxed in 2013. For more information, visit our previous blog: Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side

3) Unemployment benefits were also extended as part of the Fiscal Cliff negotiations.  Homeowners in California who are struggling to pay their mortgage should consider applying for the Keep Your Home California Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.  More information at our previous blog here: “Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?”

4) The California Foreclosure Refund deadline is fast approaching- it’s January 18, 2013.  As part of the Attorney General Settlement, there is a foreclosure refund for homeowners who were improperly foreclosed on by one of the large five banks (Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).  For more information, see our previous blog: “California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement”

5) Homeowner’s Bill of Rights:  This set of laws went into effect on January 1, 2013, and are designed to address the many loan servicing abuses that homeowners have experienced since the foreclosure crisis began.  These include “dual-tracking” (processing a foreclosure while a modification request is also being considered), having to speak with multiple people at their bank or servicer (banks and servicers are now supposed to provide a single point of contact), and other provisions.  In addition, when a person purchases a foreclosed home in California, if there are existing tenants, the new owner must give them a 90 day eviction notice.  This is an additional 30 days more than the previous 60 day requirement.  For more information, visit the Attorney General’s website: California Homeowner Bill of Rights.

I wrote my master’s thesis on similar legislation enacted in North Carolina, and one of the big “take-aways” from my research is that these types of laws are only effective to the extent that homeowners know about their rights under the law, and have the knowledge to complain to regulators when the law isn’t being followed or the ability to hire an attorney and sue their bank or servicer.  So, ForeclosureHelp will be making strong efforts to educate homeowners about their rights under this new legislation.

California Homeowners should also know that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also proposing mortgage servicing regulations, nicknamed the “no run-around” rules.  Homeowners can also file a RESPA request if they are seeking information from their bank or servicer, or if there is a dispute about payments being credited, etc.  For more information, see our previous post: “New Mortgage Servicing Rules Proposed- What Does it Mean for You? Part 2 of 2”

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.

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.