ForeclosureHelp Program Manager Position Opening (San Jose California)

The ForeclosureHelp program is recruiting a new program manager, position description is below:

FORECLOSUREHELPSCC PROGRAM MANAGER
THIS IS A FULL TIME, TEMPORARY POSITION FROM JUNE 15, 2013 TO JUNE 30, 2014HISTORY AND MISSION
Housing Trust Silicon Valley (HTSV) (formerly Housing Trust of Santa Clara County, Inc.) is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the supply of affordable housing in Silicon Valley. Founded in 2000 with the support of corporate and community investors, the mission of the Housing Trust is to serve as a catalyst to develop desperately-needed affordable housing in Silicon Valley through a mix of corporate and community investors. The Housing Trust is dedicated to building and sustaining a revolving loan fund and grant-making program that will leverage other housing resources throughout the Silicon Valley. The Housing Trust is the lead agency of the ForeclosureHelpSCC Consortium (Consortium) made up of 7 nonprofit organizations.

OVERVIEW OF THE POSITION
The Manager plays a key role in the management of the ForeclosureHelpSCC Program and in coordinating the seven member organizations of theconsortium. The Program is funded through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds awarded to the Consortium. This position is for a twelve (12) month period.ForeclosureHelpSCC offers free assistance to eligible at risk homeowners and tenants in San Jose and Sunnyvale. The Manager is employed by the Housing Trust Silicon Valley. The Manager should possess excellent housing counseling and relationship building skills to work in this environment. This role will include coordination, scheduling and oversight of volunteers and foreclosure prevention counselors, as well as the day-to-day program operations. The Manager is also responsible for oversight of the Saturday satellite office. The Manager must have exceptional organizational skills and possess outstanding written and verbal communication skills. The Manager will be responsible maintaining the program’s website, blog and Facebook. The Manager will all be responsible for all Grant reporting.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
General Management (40%)
• General operations management of the ForeclosureHelpSCC Program and Center. Manage and monitor work load to ultimately meet the goals and performance measures as established in the approved Application.
a) Coordinate an effective marketing and outreach plan with consortium members, to reach homeowners and tenants who are at risk of foreclosure in San Jose or Sunnyvale
b) Ensure culturally sensitive service is provided by all staff
c) Ensure eligibility requirements are met and that at least 51% of clients are Low Moderate Income or 80% of Area Median Income
d) Provide documentation package quality control to ensure referral to foreclosure counselor is seamless and streamlined
e) Familiarity with required foreclosure prevention intake documentation and client budget preparation

Supervision and Volunteer Coordination (25%)
Responsible for the coordination, supervision and leadership of a pool of approximately 20 real estate and lending professional volunteers
• Precision scheduling of volunteers and counselors, including client language match as required

Reporting (10%)
• Ensure timely and accurate data input and reporting (experience with SalesForce, CounselorMax, or HCO Online would be helpful)
• Familiarity with federal rules and regulations, specifically Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
• Ability to detect mortgage scams and proper reporting

Outreach (25%)
• Represent the HTSV in the consortium at meetings and to the public at large
• Staff the Foreclosure Steering Committee and attend other related meetings as required and/or necessary
• Develop an effective referral relationship with health and human service, housing counseling and placement, and employment service agencies
• Coordinate on-going foreclosure prevention outreach and educational events
• Assist with the coordination of 1-2 annual foreclosure prevention fairs
• Familiarity with the various foreclosure prevention/mitigation services, including National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC), and various “Making Home Affordable” programs
• Responsible for the implementation of a Language Access Plan to ensure limited English participants have access to services

ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATIONS
• BS/BA in a related field preferred.
• HUD certification preferred
• Five years of progressively increasing responsibilities including supervision experience
• Prior foreclosure related experience both on the lending and real estate sides
• Excellent communication skills, both writing and verbal skills
• A commitment to foreclosure prevention issues strongly preferred
• Experience in maintaining websites, blogs and Facebook
• Organized, entrepreneurial self-starter; able to identify what needs to get done, then willing and able to make it happen
• Great attention to detail and follow-through. Sense of ownership; passionate for results.

Please email a cover letter explaining why you are suited for and interested in this position, along with your resume and a sample of your writing related to foreclosure and related issues.

NO CALLS PLEASE.

Benefits include Paid Medical, Dental, Vision, Life Insurance and 401(k) plan.

An equal opportunity employer to all regardless of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, marital status, disability, religious or political affiliation, actual or perceived gender identity, age or sexual orientation.

  • Compensation: Annual Compensation between $57,000 and $65,000 DOE
  • This is at a non-profit organization.
  • OK to highlight this job opening for persons with disabilities
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Foreclosure Help’s Update on the Independent Foreclosure Review, Debt Collectors, Making Home Affordable, Hispanic Homeownership,and “Zombie Foreclosures”

March Housing Update1) UPDATE: DEADLINE EXTENDED TO APRIL 26th, more information here. Today is the final day for homeowners to mail their registration forms for the Lending Discrimination Settlement between the Department of Justice and Countrywide Financial Corporation.  Borrowers must mail their forms in by TODAY (MARCH 29, 2013).  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, or visit the DOJ’s website.

2) The OCC just released a report on loan modifications in the fourth quarter of 2012 A few interesting facts about the Making Home Affordable Program (HAMP):

  • Among HAMP modifications, servicers reduced interest rates in 81% of those modifications, deferred principal in 29.2%, and reduced principal in 24.9%
  • HAMP modifications reduced payments by an average of 35.4%.

As a reminder, HAMP is currently set to expire in December 2013.  While it isn’t a perfect program, it has helped hundreds of thousands of Americans to remain in their homes, and housing counselors and advocates have already begun efforts to extend the program.

3) On March 18, 2013, Rust Consulting began mailing postcards to 4.2 million homeowners about the Independent Foreclosure Review, notifying them that they will receive payments.   According to a recording on the Rust Consulting phone number (1-888-952-9105), payments are supposed to start mailing out in the next four to eight weeks.  For more information about the Independent Foreclosure Review, visit our earlier blog post:  Independent Foreclosure Review: Update on $3.6 Billion in Cash Payments and $5.7 Billion in Modification Assistance.”   (Spanish version and Vietnamese version)

Financial Freedom, which is an affiliate of One West (formerly IndyMac) bank has been added to the Indepedent Foreclosure Review website as one of the four banks that are NOT participating in the review.  ForeclosureHelp has watched the Indepdent Foreclosure review process closely, and it seems strange that Financial Freedom would be added to the website AFTER the deadline has already passed for homeowners to apply- the deadline was December 31, 2012.   To see our other concerns with the Independent Foreclosure Review, visit:  Seven Reasons to Postpone the Independent Foreclosure Review.

A law firm in Washington DC has filed a Freedom of Information Act request related to the Independent Foreclosure Review to determine how the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency defined “independent” in the context of the “independent consultants” that conducted  the reviews.  More information: Thomson Reuters: Washington law firm sues bank regulator over foreclosure reviews

 4) Has Medical debt affected your credit report or score?   At ForeclosureHelp, some of the homeowners we assist are struggling with their mortgage because of their own medical issues, or a family member may have medical issues that have either prevented a person form working, or forced them to reduce their hours.  The Consumerist website is featuring stories about people whose credit scores have been tarnished because of Medical Debt.  Federal legislation that was introduced last year didn’t advance, so Consumerist is asking for stories from people dealing with medical debt so that Congress and lawmakers can see how this problem affects everyday Americans.  To read a few of their stories, visit:  Consumerist Readers Make The Case For Wiping Paid Medical Debt From Credit Reports

5) Speaking of debt collection, Dave Ramsey, a staunch advocate of getting out of debt, is trying a new approach to attacking debt collectors who engage in illegal debt collection practices.  Ramsey is using his bully platform (with his radio show and website) to not only educate people about their rights under federal law, but also to connect borrowers with attorneys who will sue debt collectors for violating federal debt collection laws.  The lawyers will be working on a contingency fee, meaning they don’t charge up front, but they do take a percentage of any settlement money if they are successful in their lawsuit.  ForeclosureHelp is not endorsing Dave Ramsey or these attorneys, but we do think this may put some collection agencies on notices that violating laws like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act may be very expensive if you are sued by a lawyer, and we’re happy to see more attention drawn to abusive collection practices.  We earlier re-blogged a post from the Consumerist that is helpful for consumers and we recommend reviewing it if you’re dealing with debt collectors: 23 Things Debt Collectors Are Not Allowed To Do.

6) The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals recently released their 2012 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report.   A few interesting points:

  • While the Hispanic homeownership rate has decreased from 47.5% down to 46.1% since 2010, the total number of owner households has increased by almost 500,000, due to a net increase of more than 1 million total Hispanic households during the same two-year period.  (The homeownership rate is the number of owner households divided by the total number of households).
  • In 2012, Hispanics accounted for 355,000 or 51% of the total net increase of 693,000 owner households in the U.S.
  • Hispanics strongly believe in homeownership, “Fifty-six percent of Hispanics said that a major reason to buy a home was because it represents a symbol of success or achievement compared to only 32 percent of all Americans”

7. RealtyTrac released a report on 3/28/13: “Q1 2013 Foreclosure Inventory Update.”  Some interesting stats about foreclosures and foreclosure inventory:

  • 28,821 homes in the foreclosure process in California are now vacant- meaning the homeowner abandoned the home or moved during the 1st quarter in 2013.  California has the 3rd largest inventory of these homes (which have not yet been foreclosed on), only Florida and Illinois have more.  RealtyTrac was able to assess this by comparing foreclosure records against post office records.
  • Foreclosure Inventory is still strong: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA/HUD have the largest percent of foreclosure inventory, representing 12% of the national total.  Bank of America is in second place with 11%, Wells Fargo represented 10%, and Chase is 7%.
  • There was a 58% increase in Chase being listed as the foreclosing entity as compared to a year ago, other large increases (as compared to a year ago) include Nationstar Mortgage (101%); Green Tree Servicing (89%), OneWest Bank (67%), and EverBank (61%).

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.

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.

Postpone The Independent Foreclosure Review Deadline Until After 215,000 Reviews Have Been Released

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The ForeclosureHelpSCC Consortium is sponsoring a petition on Change.org, requesting that the deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review is postponed past the current deadline of December 31, 2012.  ForeclosureHelpSCC is requesting the regulators to postpone the deadline until two months after at least 215,000 homeowners have been informed about the results of their review.  This represents only five percent of the 4.3 million homeowners who were in foreclosure from 2009-2010.

For context, a report released in November found that 800,000 more homeowners should have received modifications under the Making Home Affordable program but did not because of a few large servicers who modified loans at a much lower rate than  their peers.

The Independent Foreclosure Review was created after three regulators (the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision) conducted reviews at 14 large banks and servicers and found: “critical weaknesses in servicers’ foreclosure governance processes, foreclosure document preparation processes, and oversight and monitoring of third-party vendors, including foreclosure attorneys.

ForeclosureHelpSCC is asking regulators to extend the deadline because we are concerned that not enough homeowners have learned about the program and applied for it.  Beyond the weaknesses in the marketing plan and outreach highlighted by the GAO in a report earlier this year, we are also concerned that the results of the reviews (for homeowners who have already applied) have not been released.  We believe that releasing the results would be a powerful way to create word-of-mouth marketing about the program for homeowners who were harmed by their bank or servicers and who could be eligible to receive compensation as a result.

To sign the petition, click on this link: “Postpone the Deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review Until 215,000 Cases Have Been Released”

To learn more about eligibility for the Independent Foreclosure Review, visit this website: www.independentforeclosurereview.com or call: call 1-888-952-9105.

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.

Four Questions For President Obama and Congress about the Foreclosure Crisis Now that Elections are Over

By Sean Coffey, MPA, Program Manager, ForeclosureHelpSCC

Earlier this week, President Obama was re-elected President of the United States.  For people in the housing world, especially those of us who work with homeowners facing foreclosure, we want to know what, (if any) actions the President and Congress will take to address the ongoing foreclosure crisis, with over 5 1/2 million homeowners (nationally) “not current” as of September 2012.

A few specific issues:

1. Will the President and/or Congress intervene in any way to extend the deadline for the Independent Foreclosure Review  beyond the December 31st Deadline?   The number of eligible people who have applied for the review is far below expectations, and there have also been a number of questions raised about how independent the process actually is. The foreclosure refund program of the Attorneys General settlement, a similar program, also has a deadline fast approaching.  Depending on how many eligible people have contacted their Attorney General, it may be worth also extending deadlines for this program.

2.  What will happen with the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act?   As we discussed in an earlier blog post, not extending this debt forgiveness could have dire consequences for individual homeowners as well as the success of programs like the Attorneys General Settlement.

3. What will happen with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s overseer?   The National Fair Housing Alliance has a survey monkey poll about whether or not President Obama is going to fire the current director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Ed DeMarco.   Some advocates feel that DeMarco’s leadership has limited the GSE’s responses to the mortgage meltdown, including not allowing principal reductions.

4. Will there be any tougher consequences implemented for banks and servicers when they fail to comply with program rules in the Making Home Affordable program, or if they continue robo-signing or dual-tracking?

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

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