Six Reasons to Deal with Your Foreclosure Problem Today, not Tomorrow

Deal with your Foreclosure Today, not TomorrowBy Sean Coffey, Program Manager at Foreclosure Help

Editor’s Note: Foreclosure Help is a program funded by the Cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale, California, to assist  homeowners and tenants in these two cities.  If you are outside of San Jose or Sunnyvale, we suggest locating the nearest HUD-approved housing counseling agency on the HUD website:   HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agencies.

1) It’s almost impossible to stop a trustee sale at the last minute:   We have had a number of homeowners in San Jose or Sunnyvale who contacted Foreclosure Help a week before the trustee sale, or even a day or two before the trustee sale.  While we will make every effort to assist them, the unfortunate truth is that options become very limited the closer you are to a foreclosure trustee sale.   The bank/servicer can’t necessarily postpone the sale if it’s too close to the sale date (because of their internal policies), and there isn’t time to get your documents together and submitted and accepted by the bank or servicer.  While we can try and overcome some of these obstacles, it is far less stressful and you increase your chances of success if you can begin working with a housing counselor when you first have problems with your mortgage.  Filing bankruptcy may be an option to stop your trustee sale, but it’s better if you’re making the decision to file bankruptcy because you’ve considered all your other options and it makes the most sense in your situation.  Filing bankruptcy also takes time to do, and filing it a week or two before your trustee sale (instead of trying to do it the day before) will give you the time you need to meet with a reputable attorney, get your paperwork together, etc.

2) Don’t let “bank run-around fatigue” be the reason that you let go of your home.   In the beginning of the foreclosure crisis, many homeowners I spoke with had no idea where to turn, what to do, or how to work with their bank.  Now, in 2013, most of the homeowners that contact our program have already tried working with their bank once or twice to request a modification.  They may have been denied a modification for any number of reasons, including:

  • The bank or servicer said the package was incomplete (even though you may have sent the same documents to them multiple times).
  • The bank or servicer said that the Net Present Value (NPV) test was negative.
  • The bank or servicer did not give a reason.
  • The bank said they would call me, but they didn’t, so I assumed they were working on it, but it turns out they weren’t, and my file was closed.
  • My income wasn’t sufficient when I first submitted my request.

These are all complaints that homeowners cite when we ask if they’ve tried to modify their loans before.   This is where working with a HUD-approved housing counselor can be so important.  While you as a homeowner are only working on one mortgage, a certified housing counselor has likely worked with hundreds of homeowners before your case.  This means they bring experience and expertise in assisting you, can help you put together a complete and accurate package to send to your bank or servicer, will work with you on your budget to increase your chances of a modification, and often have contacts/channels at banks or servicers that ordinary homeowners (or “expert loan modification companies”) do not have access to.

3. If you’re able to hold on, the market is improving.   Ask any real estate agent in San Jose or Sunnyvale about the market right now, and you’ll hear how dramatically it’s improving.   If you’re able to get a modification from your bank so that you can continue making payments, then you will have time for the equity in your home to increase as the market continues to improve.

4. Foreclosure Stress is not good for you or your family.  You’ve probably heard that money issues are one of the biggest stresses in a marriage.  It is incredibly stressful to deal with foreclosure, mortgage, and money issues, and it impacts the entire family.  Part of the stress may be the uncertainty you feel about whether or not you have a real chance at a modification and holding on to your home.  By working with one of our HUD-approved housing counselors, you’ll get a much better understanding of the programs that exist like HAMP, Keep Your Home California, HARP, etc.

Instead of wondering about your eligibility for these programs and whether or not they could have helped you save your home, come meet with a housing counselor who will give you a direct, unbiased assessment of your situation.   While we can’t guarantee a loan modification (and we’d recommend running away from anybody who guarantees you a loan modification) , we can help you understand your eligibility for programs and how to be a successful candidate for a loan modification.

5. Your friend means well, but they don’t know what they’re doing:  You may have had offers of help from a friend who is an attorney or a real estate agent who thinks they can help you.   While they may have good intentions, the end result is often ugly.  We’ve had a number of homeowners who contact us after a failed attempt at a modification by an attorney or a loan modification expert.   Sometimes they’ve paid for the modification, sometimes it was done for free.   (As a side note it is ILLEGAL in California to charge an upfront fee for a loan modification).

The bottom line is that you want to work with a housing counselor who knows the programs inside and out, who doesn’t have an incentive to “sell” you on a particular solution (like a short sell), and who knows the foreclosure timeline and process in California.   Good intentions are nice for birthday presents and greeting cards, but when it’s your home on the line, you need to seek out expert, trained, and certified counselors.

6. Our services are already paid for by the Cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale through a grant:  This mean we don’t charge homeowners for our services.  This means our housing counselors can give you an honest, up-front assessment of your situation and they’re not financially motivated to try and steer you towards a certain outcome.

Call us at: 408-293-6000, visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org, or send us an email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org.   The sooner you call us, the more options you have and the more helpful we can be.

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.

What is a Credit Report and Why is it Important to You?

Why is a credit report important?Editor’s note: If you haven’t applied for the Independent Foreclosure Review yet, there is still time, but the deadline is December 31, 2012.  For more information, visit our blog: Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline is December 31, 2012. Learn How to Apply Here.  Spanish: La fecha límite para La Revisión Independiente de la Ejecución Hipotecaria es el 31 de diciembre 2012. Aprender a aplicar aquí!  Or visit the website: www.independentforeclosurereview.com, or call the program: 1-888-952-9105

By JoAnn Parrott, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.

A credit report is more than a collection of financial information and statistics. A credit report displays and represents your financial picture.   A credit report is an accounting of how you have handled your past finances and debt and is a gauge of how you will continue to do so in the future. The credit report determines if you are credit worthy or may be a credit risk to those who offer credit (also known as creditors).  The credit report helps creditors decide who gets credit or who does not.

If you have been financially responsible in the past and have good credit, you probably don’t think twice about credit.  It is just there for you whenever needed.    However, if you have no credit or poor credit, managing your daily financial life may be difficult.

WHAT IS IN A CREDIT REPORT?

If you have never applied for personal credit, you probably don’t have a credit report history.  But, if you have applied for and used credit in the past, a basic credit report consists of your name, current and recent addresses, Social Security Number, date of birth and current and previous employers.  The report also displays each credit account registered in your name,  the date the account was opened, the credit limit on a credit card or loan, the payment terms, the balance owed, the monthly payment amount, and a record of your payment history (i.e., how many times you paid on time or were late).  This information is contained in your credit report even if you personally have not applied for credit but have agreed to be a co-signer or authorized user on someone else’s credit account.

TIP:   If you are a co-signer on a credit card or loan account, you are responsible for the debt if the other party fails to keep the monthly payments current.  If you are an authorized user, you are not responsible for the monthly payments or the balance due if the account is not kept current.  So, be VERY careful about agreeing to be a co-signer on an application for credit.

A credit report also lists each time you have applied for credit – these are known as ‘inquiries.’  By viewing the ‘inquiries’, creditors can determine if you have applied for too much credit or have been recently approved for additional credit. If the number of applications or approvals is too high, creditors may deny you if it appears you are trying to acquire too much credit too quickly.

TIP:  This can happen to new homeowners or young adults when they want to decorate a new home or apartment.  If you apply for and are denied credit, this may have a negative impact on your credit report and credit score.

WHAT IS NOT IN A CREDIT REPORT?

Information NOT contained in a credit report consists of checking and saving account balances, bankruptcies that are more than 10 years old, charged-off debts or debts placed for collection that are more than seven years old, gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, medical history or criminal records.  Judgments generally remain on a credit report for 7 years from the date filed, whether the debt was paid or not.  If paid, the judgment entry changes from UNSATISFIED to SATISFIED but still remains for the required length of time.  Unpaid tax liens remain indefinitely.

NO CREDIT?  WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

In the everyday world of credit, there are two types of credit cards and loans – Secured and Unsecured.

SECURED CREDIT CARD If you have poor credit or no credit and know you will have a need, you may want to apply for a secured credit card.   A secured credit card is an account in which you deposit your own money (generally a minimum amount) to be used for future credit transactions.   A secured credit card gives you the ability to use the money (up to a certain amount) as a credit card – i.e. charge movie tickets or order a pizza – until you can apply for a less restrictive unsecured credit card.  Most secured credit cards do not allow the total amount of money deposited into the account to be consumed by charge transactions.

The creditor retains a portion of the money as a ‘cushion’ to cover unexpected events, such as non-payment.  If your charges exceed the allowed amount, there can be substantial fees and penalties applied.  If you don’t keep the account in good standing, the creditor can deny future credit transactions you attempt to do.  Not a happy thought if you want to treat a friend to lunch and your card is denied!  In some cases, if the past due amount becomes too high; the account may be closed or suspended.  The account will continue to accrue interest charges, fees and may even be subject to collection action.  Most secured credit cards also carry annual expense fees.

TIP:   Secured credit cards physically look the same as unsecured credit cards.  There is no way of telling that your card is a secured card.  After a period of time if you have established a positive payment history and adhered to the secured credit card terms, you may apply for an unsecured credit card or loan.  There is no specific time period to do this.  Just be cautious about applying for too many cards.

SECURED CREDIT LOAN: This type of loan is used for high dollar purchases that cannot be paid in full each month – i.e. the purchase of a car or house.  This type of loan is for a specific dollar amount and time period.  If the loan payments are not kept current, the owner of the loan can repossess or take back the item – i.e. the car.  In this case, the car is security for the debt.   Generally without exception, a mortgage loan is secured by the property.  If the mortgage payments are not made, the mortgage holder will take the property in a foreclosure sale.

UNSECURED CREDIT CARD:   An unsecured credit card is a line of credit that is available to you with no restrictions (up to the credit limit), as long as the account is in good standing.   For example, if you charge the purchase of clothing on your unsecured credit card and you don’t pay the full or minimum amount by the Due Date,  the creditor will not repossess or take back the clothes.  However, the account could still be assessed fees and penalties and may be closed or suspended if the matter is not resolved.  Any past due payments will be recorded on your credit report.

UNSECURED CREDIT LOAN:    This type of loan can be for any amount and time period, but is generally not a standard product offered by creditors for large loan amounts.   Creditors want their loans secured by an item of value if there is a default on the account.  The best use of this loan type would be for personal loans among family members or friends where, if payments are not made, no property is attached to the loan and therefore there is no repossession.

TIP:  For most secure and unsecured credit card accounts, it is recommended that the full amount charged be paid in full each month to avoid interest charges and to assist in building a good credit history.  Keeping  any loan in good standing is a good idea.

HOW TO GET A COPY OF YOUR CREDIT REPORT?

On November 22, 2003, through the Fair and Accurate Transaction (FACT) Act, consumers were given the right to obtain a free copy of their credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 major credit bureaus.  These credit bureaus collect and analyze credit transactions for their clients (AKA creditors) i.e., banks, credit unions, and retail establishments for example.    The 3 major bureaus are:  Experian (www.experian.com, 1-888-397-3742), TransUnion (www.transunion.com, 1-800-916-8800), and Equifax (www.equifax.com, 1-800-685-1111).

To obtain a copy of your credit report or reports, you can contact the credit bureaus directly, visit their websites, or use the website:  www.annualcreditreport.com .  This website provides access to each credit bureau report.  A consumer can apply online for a single report or for all 3 reports at the same time.  There are companies who will help you track the contact and accuracy of your credit report for a fee.

TIP:  It is recommended that a consumer stagger their credit report requests every 4 months between each bureau.  In most cases, the same credit information is on each bureau’s report, but sometimes in a slightly different format.  By staggering the reports, a consumer can track activity over the time period as well as the contact of each report.

TIP:  Each time YOU look at your own credit report, there is no ‘inquiry’ activity recorded. However, each time you apply for credit through a third party, there is an ‘inquiry’ recorded.  So, if you apply for too much credit, the next third party you apply to will see the ‘inquiry’ activity and possibly may deny the application for credit due to excessive applications.  Also, there is a chance that the volume of applications may affect your FICO score.  BE CREDIT SMART!

WHAT IS A FICO CREDIT SCORE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU?

Attached to each report is a credit score known as a FICO (Fair Issac Corporation) score.  The FICO score can range from 300 to 850, but the majority of scores usually fall within the 600s and 700s.  Your goal is to have the highest number possible based on your use of credit and the history contained in your credit report.  Each one of the credit bureaus has their own FICO score criteria.  A FICO score may differ between the 3 credit bureaus because not all creditors submit to each bureau.

A FICO score is a combination of many credit associated items.  Based on the type of credit, a FICO score is made up of the following percentages:

  • 35% for history;
  • 15% for length of credit;
  • 10% for newly acquired credit;
  • 10% for types of credit; and
  • 30% for amount of debt owned on credit cards and loans.   A few examples of what can lower a FICO score are:  late payments, too high of credit used against credit limit, past due payments, too many credit cards, judgments, collections, or too many applications for credit.

It is possible to obtain your FICO score by contacting each credit bureau for their process or at the www.annualcreditreportcom website, but there is a fee.  However, if you pay a credit reporting and tracking agency, you may be able to obtain the FICO score free of charge.

If you discover errors within your credit report, you should contact the providing bureau directly.  If they don’t correct the errors, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at 1-855-411-2372 or TTY/TDD 1-855-729-2372 and/or file a complaint with the CFPB at  http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/headline-now-accepting-credit-reporting-complaints/ ; or send a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, P. O. Box 4503, Iowa City, Iowa 52244.

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.

Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline is December 31, 2012. Learn How to Apply Here.

Independent Foreclosure ReviewBy Sean Coffey, Program Manager at Foreclosure Help.

There is just 31 days left to apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review.
The Independent Foreclosure Review was included in a settlement between federal regulators and 14 banks for the way they processed modifications and foreclosures in 2009 and 2010.

Eligibility: If a homeowner was in any sort of “foreclosure action” between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010, and they feel it was improperly processed, then they may want to learn more and consider applying.  A foreclosure action does not necessarily mean the house was sold, the homeowner could still be in the home.

A foreclosure action includes:

  • the home being sold through a foreclosure judgment,
  • the loan went into the foreclosure process but the homeowner brought the mortgage current or entered a payment or modification plan,
  • the home was in foreclosure and the home was sold, the borrower participated in short-sale, or gave the home back to the bank via a deed-in-lieu, or
  • the mortgage was in foreclosure, the mortgage is still behind, but a sale has not yet taken place.

It also has to be the primary residence, and it only applies to the 14 banks/servicers included in the agreement.

The 14 banks and servicers are:

There is more information about eligibility on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

SPANISH: There is also information in Spanish about the Independent Foreclosure review available here: ¿Qué es la Revisión Independiente de la Ejecución Hipotecaria?   También: Guia para completer el formulario

If you know of any homeowners who are potentially eligible, please encourage them to contact us with questions.   If a review finds their modification or foreclosure was improperly processed, depending on the situation, the homeowner could receive financial payments, ranging from $1,000 to up to $125,000 plus equity that was lost in the foreclosure.  For more information on the financial penalties, view this chart: Financial Penalties. Thus far, the number of eligible people who have applied for a modification is far below the projections (See this June GAO report for more information), so it is important to get the word out before the deadline passes in December.

The Independent Foreclosure Review is different than the foreclosure refund program, which is part of the Attorneys General Settlement.  The deadline to apply for the foreclosure refund in California is January 18, 2013.  For more information about the foreclosure refund, visit: “California Foreclosure Refund Program, Part of the Attorney General Settlement”

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.

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.

1 in 5 consumers receive a different credit score than their lender

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

A recently released report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau raises some serious concerns about credit scores and the credit bureaus that create the scores.

Credit scores are important because they are a large of the equation in determining the price that a person will pay for credit. A person who is perceived as a good credit risk (as judged by a high credit score) will likely obtain a lower interest rate for a loan as compared to somebody who is a bad credit risk (as judged by their score).

That’s why the results from the study are so troubling. The Bureau studied 200,000 credit files from the three big credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) and found that about one in five consumers would receive a “meaningfully different score than would a lender.” This has harmful implications for consumers, because they could be either applying for credit that they can’t obtain (because the score they’re seeing is higher than the potential lender is seeing). Or, they could end up paying more for credit than they should because the score the consumer saw is lower than the score the lender saw.

Thirty of the credit bureaus (representing 94% of all bureaus) will come under the supervision of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on September 30, 2012, and it appears that there is a lot of work to be done.  In the mean time, the Bureau suggests that consumer shop around for credit and check their credit reports and correct any inaccuracies.

To learn more about this study, visit: “Analysis of Differences between Consumer- and Creditor-Purchased Credit Scores”
You can also read our previous blog post: “Rebuilding your credit after a foreclosure or short sale”

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

Foreclosures in San Jose and Sunnyvale: Three Reasons Time is Not on Your Side

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager of ForeclosureHelpSCC

In a famous Rolling Stones song, Mick Jagger told us that “Time is on My Side.” However, this is NOT the case if you are having trouble paying your mortgage here in San Jose or Sunnyvale, California. While you have probably heard stories of people not paying their mortgages for a long time and remaining in their home, these stories are the exception, not the rule.

In today’s post, we are going to review three “time issues” that homeowners should consider if they are having trouble paying their mortgage:

1. Foreclosure timeline in California: Once you miss your first mortgage payment, it will be reported on your credit. However, it isn’t until after you miss your second mortgage payment that your bank or servicer can file a Notice of Default. This is the first step in the foreclosure process. While it is serious, you still have at least 90 days after the Notice of Default is filed before you could receive a Notice of Trustee Sale. During that 90 days, you can bring the mortgage current or work with your bank on an arrangement like a modification or repayment plan.

After the 90 days has passed, then your bank or servicer can send you a Notice of Trustee Sale. A Notice of Trustee Sale tells you that the home is going to be sold in three weeks. These are the minimum time frames allowed by law. Your bank or servicer may move slower than these time-frames, but they can’t move any faster.

An important note: the Notice of Default and Notice of Trustee Sale are both public record, so you may be contacted by people who want to “help.” I’m biased, but based on our experience cleaning up after these “experts,” I would be very wary about accepting help from people that call you. In fact, in California, it is illegal to charge an up-front fee for a loan modification.  Instead, if you’re here in San Jose or Sunnyvale, call ForeclosureHelpSCC (408-293-6000), where we can set up an appointment for you to meet with a trained housing counselor from one of our four HUD-approved counseling agencies. We are funded by federal and local grants, so we do not charge the homeowner for our services.

2. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act is currently set to expire at the end of 2012.
Earlier this month the Los Angeles Times reported on a topic that has many people in the housing world concerned: “Mortgage debt relief may bring new pain: a tax bill.”  The Times explained that a law passed in 2007- The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act is set to expire at the end of the year. Prior to enactment of this law, if you had a foreclosure or a short sale, the difference between what you owed and what the house ultimately sold for (at auction or via a short sale) was considered taxable income. The same issue would apply for principal reductions. For example, if you had a mortgage balance of $450,000, but short-sold your house for $400,000, then the $50,000 difference would have been considered income by the IRS. However, under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act, that income has been exempted.

As the Times notes, many of the new settlements, like the Attorneys General settlement, include principal reduction, and much of the relief isn’t slated to begin until 2013. Kevin Stein from the California Reinvestment Coalition pointed out that the relief offered under these settlements won’t be nearly as meaningful if homeowners are being taxed on it.

While there is legislation pending to extend the debt forgiveness, nobody knows for sure what will happen. If an extension is not put in place, homeowners who already face difficult financial situations could find themselves facing a large tax bill.

3. Independent Foreclosure Review Program This is the third “time issue” for San Jose and Sunnyvale homeowners to consider. In our earlier blog post, we explained the details of the Independent Foreclosure Review for homeowners who dealt with issues related to robo-signing from 2009-2010. The deadline to apply for this program is December 31, 2012.

Are you having trouble paying your mortgage and do you live here in San Jose or Sunnyvale California? If so, contact ForeclosureHelpSCC by telephone: (408) 293-6000, email: help@foreclosurehelpscc.org, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.
ForeclosureHelpSCC is a program that is supported by the Cities of San Jose and Sunnyvale, and staffed by housing counselors from four local, HUD-approved counseling agencies. Our housing counselors can speak to you about what your options are if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, including programs like Making Home Affordable, Keep Your Home California, the Independent Foreclosure Review, and private, in-house modifications offered by banks and servicers as well. Your housing counselor can work with you to develop a plan of action to begin dealing with the problem instead of ignoring it.

Remember, the sooner you start working with a housing counselor, the more options you will have to address your mortgage situation and potentially remain in your home. Time is not on your side, so pick up the phone and give us a call.

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

Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, Part of Keep Your Home California: How Does It Work?

By Aurora Olivares, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC

Have you heard of the Keep Your Home California program? (KYHC) Are you unsure how the program works to help struggling homeowners avoid preventable foreclosures? A few homeowners I’ve worked with here in the Bay Area are good examples of how Keep Your Home California works.

Are you like Michelle?

I recently was contacted by a woman who was laid off two months ago. She received a flyer from her local EDD office about the Keep Your Home California program. Michelle had used up her savings and was concerned about her ability to pay her mortgage while unemployed. I met with her the following day to go over the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance (UMA) program. Michelle met all the requirements in order to apply for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program and her application was submitted the same day.

Michelle kept in contact with the Keep Your Home California team and provided all documents needed for the eligibility review. Michelle’s review went smoothly and she was approved for the UMA program. Michelle was approved to have KYHC make her payments for up to up to 9 months while she looked to secure new employment and had KYHC administer her first mortgage installment before her payment was due, helping her preserve her credit.

Here are some quick facts about the Keep Your Home California program:

Your lender/servicer must participate in the program in order to qualify for the Keep Your Home California funds. Each lender/servicer can participate in as little as one or in all four of the Keep Your Home California programs.

Is my bank or servicer participating in Keep Your Home California?
Check this list: Servicers Participating in Your Home California

There are 4 award programs:

  • UMA-Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Is designed to assist unemployed homeowners who are receiving EDD benefits.
  • MRAP-Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: This program can help by reinstating past due payments.
  • PRP-Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their property is worth, may be eligible for a principle reduction.
  • TAP-Transitional Assistance Program: Provides a payment of up to $5,000 to help homeowners, who cannot retain their home transition into new housing.

The Keep Your Home California program applies to primary mortgages in first position only. Second mortgages or home equity lines of credit are not eligible for Keep Your Home California programs. The property must be owner occupied and located in the state of California. The loan balance on the first mortgage is below $729,750. The homeowner(s) cannot be in bankruptcy while applying for Keep Your Home California Program.

Will you be the next success story?
To find out more about these four programs, or to set up an appointment with a housing counselor who can discuss these programs with you, contact ForeclosureHelpSCC by calling us at (408) 293-6000. You can also email us at help@foreclosurehelpscc.org or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org.

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