Sign In



Need Help with Your Mortgage? Help Is Still Available34Need Help with Your Mortgage? Help Is Still AvailableSean Bennett2017-02-23T05:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClass784259E2049F4A839565B7B77A596811"><p>​Still facing mortgage troubles? While the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program is no longer accepting applications, many options still exist for homeowners.  First, contact your mortgage company directly to find a possible solution to your mortgage troubles. You can also look to these federal and nonprofit organizations for information and assistance this year, and beyond. </p><ul><li> <strong>The U.S. Department of the Treasury Hardest Hit Fund<span style="font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";font-size:11pt;"><font color="#000000"><strong>®</strong></font></span><strong></strong> (HHF)</strong> </li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p> <a href="" target="_blank">State housing finance agencies</a> use funds provided by the HHF to develop programs to help families avoid foreclosure in <a href="" target="_blank">18 states and the District of Columbia</a>. Many HHF programs include mortgage assistance for unemployed homeowners, principal reduction, funding to eliminate homeowners' second lien loans, and help for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes. For details and to determine if your state has HHF funds available, contact your state's housing finance agency.</p></blockquote><ul><li><div> <strong>The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Housing Counseling Services</strong></div></li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p>HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country that can provide advice on buying a home, renting, mortgage default, foreclosure, and credit issues, at NO cost to you. <a href="" target="_blank">Use this tool</a> to search for a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you. </p><p> </p></blockquote> <img alt="alternative mortgage help resources" src="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/MHA_Outside_Resources.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:497px;vertical-align:auto;float:right;" /> <p> </p><ul><li> <strong>Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF)</strong></li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p>Partnered with and supported by HUD and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, HPF is a nonprofit organization that helps struggling homeowners navigate their budget problems and avoid mortgage foreclosure, free of charge. HPF also manages the Homeowners' HOPE™ Hotline at 888-995-HOPE™. Housing experts are available 24/7/365, providing free foreclosure prevention counseling and advice to homeowners in 170+ languages. Visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> or call 888-995-HOPE today to learn more. </p></blockquote><ul><li><div> <strong>Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)</strong></div></li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p>Known as the nation's top consumer watchdog agency, the CFPB shares resources for homeowners seeking <a href="" target="_blank">mortgage help</a>, along with information on <a href="" target="_blank">where to report mortgage modification scams</a>, should homeowners suspect they have been scammed by an individual or organization. </p></blockquote><ul><li><div> <strong>NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks</strong><span style="font-family:"calibri","sans-serif";font-size:11pt;"><font color="#000000"><strong>®</strong></font></span><strong>)</strong></div></li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p>NeighborWorks distributes grants to organizations that provide housing counseling services through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program. These grants also fund legal assistance for homeowners and the training of foreclosure counselors. More than 2 million homeowners have been counseled through the program. <a href="" target="_blank">Learn more</a>. </p></blockquote><ul><li><div> <strong>HOPE NOW</strong></div></li></ul><blockquote dir="ltr" style="margin-right:0px;"><p>HOPE NOW is an alliance between housing counseling agencies, mortgage companies, investors, regulators and other mortgage market participants. In addition to providing tools and resources homeowners can use to find housing counselors, information about scams, and more, HOPE NOW regularly hosts outreach events in cities across the country where homeowners can meet face-to-face with their mortgage company to find a workable solution on the spot. Visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> for more information. </p></blockquote><p>Remember, just because MHA is no longer available for homeowners experiencing mortgage troubles, don't give up! Many of our partner organizations may be able to help. </p><p> </p><p> <em>Séan Bennett is Director of Marketing & Outreach for the Homeownership Preservation Office.</em></p></div>
Clock is Ticking: 4 Things to do BEFORE the MHA Deadline33Clock is Ticking: 4 Things to do BEFORE the MHA DeadlineSean Bennett2016-12-05T05:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClassDAFEFC06502E4C2997F7901DD7A32E13"><p>​After nearly eight years of helping homeowners avoid foreclosure through the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program, we are down to the wire as the program rapidly approaches its end later this month. Feeling like your chances of getting help through MHA are near impossible because we’re less than 30 days away from the application deadline? No need to worry just yet. Here are four things homeowners can do as the window of opportunity to apply for mortgage help through MHA comes to a close.  </p><ol><li> <strong>Spread the word: the MHA program REALLY will end after December 30, 2016. </strong>After recently traveling to one of our final partner events last month, we found that many individuals were skeptical that the program was ending after December 30, 2016. They cited previous deadline extensions and assumed there would be yet another extension this year. Some were completely unaware that the MHA Program was ending. It is important that we stress there is NO chance for another deadline extension and that the program REALLY is ending! In fact, Congress signed the deadline into law when it passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act in 2015. </li><li>Though the application deadline is less than 30 days away, <strong>homeowners still have time to gather documentation to make the application process easier.</strong> We’ve drafted a rough <a href="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/Timeline_Graphic_img.png">timeline for homeowners to use as a guide</a> while gathering the paperwork required to submit the Request for Mortgage Assistance (RMA). Homeowners MUST submit their application before midnight on December 30, 2016!</li><li>In addition to being aware of the deadline, <strong>be careful to avoid loan modification scams.</strong>  Many fraudsters are leveraging the MHA Program end date to pressure homeowners into applying for loan modifications that simply never come to fruition, often at a heavy cost. Be on the lookout for fake “government offerings” and remember, charging fees in advance of a mortgage modification is illegal in most cases. </li><li> <strong>Should you miss the MHA application date, or run into mortgage trouble after December 30, 2016, all is not lost.</strong> Many mortgage lenders have taken note of the positive effects the MHA Program has had on the loss mitigation industry, modeling their loan modification programs after ours. We, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) even provided <a href="">guidelines</a> for the mortgage servicing industry to adopt as they retool and build out the framework for a standard universal modification process for the future. </li></ol><p> </p><p> <img alt="MHA ends Dec 30th. Call 888-995-4673 today" src="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/Blog_Image_Dec.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:500px;height:574px;" /> </p><p>Remember, there’s still time to apply for mortgage help through MHA, but troubled homeowners must act NOW to get the ball rolling on their journey to a more affordable mortgage. Still unsure of where to start? Call 888-995-HOPE™ (4673) to speak with a HUD-approved housing counselor who can help you through the process.  </p><p> <br> <em>Séan Bennett is Director of Marketing & Outreach for the Homeownership Preservation Office.</em></p></div>
Let’s Chat: A Q&A with Foreclosure Prevention Counselors 32Let’s Chat: A Q&A with Foreclosure Prevention Counselors Sean Bennett2016-11-10T05:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClassA17245637EA34965B6EE4F8AFA4D9945"><p>​Housing counseling has proven to be invaluable in helping American families not only to obtain a home, but to sustain homeownership, especially after falling on tough financial times. In fact, our friends at NeighborWorks America just released a <a title="NeighborWorks America study" href="" target="_blank">study</a> which shows homeowners who worked with a housing or foreclosure prevention counselor are <strong>nearly three times more likely to receive a home loan modification </strong>compared to non-counseled homeowners. We sat down with two housing counselors—Ivette Monnéy of the Housing & Community Services of Northern Virginia, and Jorge Rivera of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)—to chat about their role in helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. </p><p> </p><p> <strong>Have you noticed any trends or themes when meeting one-on-one with homeowners in danger of foreclosure? Are there any particular misunderstandings or questions about programs like Making Home Affordable (MHA) that frequently come up?</strong></p><p> <strong>Ivette: </strong>The trend is the fear and uncertainty felt by distressed homeowners.  This fear paralyzes them, and hinders their ability to seek solutions to the problem.  All these fears disappear once homeowners learn about their options to foreclosure, and the credit and financial consequences of the different options available.  They feel in control even if the outcomes are not what they prefer.</p><p> <strong>Jorge: </strong> It is always apparent that the community as a whole doesn’t understand what a modification process entails and the many benefits programs like MHA bring to the table.  For example, a scenario I’ve seen many times: a homeowner depletes his 401(k) in an effort to stay current, and prevents himself from qualifying for mortgage assistance, while simultaneously losing his life’s savings. </p><p> </p><p> <strong>What would you say is MHA’s biggest selling point for the homeowners who come to you for assistance?</strong></p><p> <strong>Jorge: </strong>Most homeowners are interested in saving their homes by way of a modification, but many are still underwater (owing more than their home is worth) and feel it is unjust when lenders extend terms up to 40 years in an attempt to achieve affordability.  MHA’s process requires a servicer to forgive a portion of the principal when the property’s loan-to-value ratio is greater than 115%. This is prior to extending any terms, which brings much relief to the homeowner. Prior to my current position at NCLR, I assisted many distressed homeowners who were underwater in the DC/MD/VA area, and this principal forgiveness was MHA’s biggest selling point.</p><p> </p><p> <strong>What advice would you have for families who are having financial difficulties and are really struggling to afford their monthly mortgage payments?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Ivette: </strong>My advice is not to bury their head in the sand.  As soon as a homeowner learns about a possible financial setback, he or she needs to contact the lender to discuss the options available.  Moreover, the homeowner needs to contact their local HUD-certified housing counseling agency and seek unbiased, free advice.  Be proactive!</p><p> <strong>Jorge: </strong>I would tell them that outside of a lender/servicer, who may send correspondence that is full of language that may be hard to understand, there are awesome housing counseling professionals that really care. It takes a special person to be a housing counselor and most serve the community with little reward because it’s the right thing to do.  HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country specifically to provide free counseling.  These counselors will be able to identify a homeowner’s situation and discuss the best programs or options available.  </p><p> </p><p> <strong>In what ways have you seen post-modification counseling make the difference to those homeowners who have received mortgage help and want to maintain homeownership?</strong></p><p> <strong>Ivette:</strong> Again, we encourage homeowners to be proactive, and not be afraid to call their lenders.  Homeowners who receive post-modification counseling are more prone to stay current on their mortgage payments.  They know how to recognize the signs of trouble, and when to seek help.   </p><p> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/Housing%20Counseling%20Blog.png" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> </p><p> <strong>Why do you think it’s important for housing counseling organizations to provide opportunities for these free counseling sessions with members of the Spanish-speaking community?</strong> </p><p> <strong>Jorge: </strong>The financial meltdown and housing market crash has eroded consumer trust in our banking industry across the country. This is most apparent in our Spanish-speaking community, which not only shares this national sentiment, but also is excluded further due to language accessibility. NCLR is a national voice for the Latino community, and NCLR’s Homeownership Network (NHN) will continue to partner with MHA to ensure not only that we provide bilingual services to our limited English proficient (LEP) community but we do so in a culturally competent manner.   </p><p> <strong>Ivette:</strong> Free counseling sessions are important for everyone, but most important for any minorities because, based on statistics, there is a higher rate of predatory lending and mortgage rescue scams amongst minority communities and the elderly.</p><p> </p><p> <strong>What other resources would you recommend for Spanish-speaking homeowners looking for mortgage help?    </strong></p><p> <strong>Ivette: </strong>I would recommend getting information and resources from reputable, government organizations such as <a title="HUD website" href="" target="_blank">HUD</a>, <a title="CFPB website" href="" target="_blank">CFPB</a>, and nonprofits.</p><p> <strong>Jorge:</strong> Visit the Spanish websites of <a title="MHA Spanish" href="/spanish/pages/default.aspx" target="_blank"></a>, <a title="HUD Espanol" href="" target="_blank"></a>, and <a title="CFPB Espanol" href="" target="_blank"></a>.  <br></p></div>
Fact or Fiction: Top Five Myths about MHA31Fact or Fiction: Top Five Myths about MHASean Bennett2016-10-18T04:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClassC227ADFDF4864A258C199190C2A90004"><p>​Over the past 7 years, the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) guidelines and eligibility requirements have evolved to ensure homeowners struggling with their monthly mortgage payments have an opportunity to pursue a HAMP modification or other Making Home Affordable (MHA) assistance on their road to financial recovery. </p><p>As we travel around the country speaking with homeowners, we’ve found that some early misconceptions about HAMP eligibility have stuck around.  Here are the top 5 myths about HAMP we want to clarify as we enter the last few months of the program: </p><p><strong>Myth 1: If I pay a lawyer, person or entity other than my mortgage company, they can guarantee me a loan modification. </strong><br>Not true! ONLY your mortgage company can make the decision to modify your loan. MHA offers mortgage counseling services free of charge. Just call 1-888-995-HOPE and speak directly with a HUD-approved housing expert about your options.  You should NEVER pay for a mortgage modification. If someone solicits you by offering to help you modify your loan for a fee, it is likely a scam. </p><p><strong>Myth 2: I must be behind on my mortgage payments to be eligible for HAMP. </strong><br>No way! If you are current on your mortgage but believe you are likely to default soon because of a financial hardship, you may be eligible to receive assistance with MHA. Give us a call or visit to find out more. </p><p><strong>Myth 3: I can’t apply again for MHA help if I defaulted on my HAMP modification. </strong><br>Things have changed! Under the extended eligibility requirements effective January 2015, a homeowner can re-apply for a HAMP modification if there has been a change in circumstances or at least 12 months have passed since the effective date of the last HAMP modification. </p><p><strong>Myth 4: I’m separated and can’t apply for a HAMP modification until my divorce is final. </strong><br>We can get started now! If you are separated, you just need to provide a separation agreement to start the HAMP application process. To get a copy of your separation agreement, contact the Office of Vital Statistics or similar state office in the state where your separation occurred.</p><p><strong>Myth 5: I’m struggling to pay the mortgage on my rental property, but since it is not my principal residence I’m unable to get a HAMP modification on the loan. </strong><br>HAMP is open to rental properties now as well! Thanks to expanded HAMP eligibility requirements, a person who does not live in his rental property may still receive a HAMP modification on the loan.</p><p><strong>NEWEST MYTH! Everyone keeps saying that HAMP will end this year, but we all know the deadline will be extended again, as in years past. </strong><br>Unfortunately, not true.  Although MHA was extended in previous years, the December 30, 2016 deadline will NOT change. In December 2015, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 to terminate MHA programs on December 31, 2016, so the deadline has now been written into law. </p><p><img src="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/Fact_or_Fiction_blog.jpg" alt="" style="margin:5px;width:500px;" /> </p><p>We hope this helped clear up some of the recurring myths you may have heard about MHA programs. We’ve even created a <a href="">video for you to share</a> with those in your community who may have questions or also believe some of these misconceptions about MHA. Don’t let misinformation stop you or someone you know from reaching out for mortgage help. Call 888-995-HOPE™ (4673) today.<br></p><p><em><font color="#555555" face="Helvetica">Séan Bennett is Director of Marketing & Outreach for the Homeownership Preservation Office.</font></em></p></div>
Four Reasons HAFA Outshines Foreclosure28Four Reasons HAFA Outshines ForeclosureSean Bennett2016-09-13T04:00:00Z<div class="ExternalClass73EC3650C7074E61BB0B922AF49A3CFD"><p>​When an unaffordable mortgage becomes too great a burden to bear, and all other options to modify or refinance have been exhausted, it may seem that foreclosure is the only option. That’s simply untrue! If you’re currently facing the possibility of foreclosure, consider the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives<sup>®</sup> (HAFA<sup>®</sup>) program. HAFA offers the homeowner an opportunity to exit the home and be relieved of the remaining mortgage debt through a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure (DIL). </p><p>While some may consider a short sale a substantial setback in their homeownership journey, the benefits HAFA far outweigh foreclosure. Not convinced?  Here are four reasons a HAFA short sale or a DIL provides a better alternative to foreclosure: </p><ol><li> <strong>HAFA provides $10,000 towards relocation expenses for a homeowner or tenant. </strong> A foreclosure makes the transition from your home to other living arrangements that much harder with no financial incentive. According to the <a href="">American Moving and Storage Association</a>, average costs for interstate household moves come in at $4,300, while intrastate household moves average $2,300. Homeowners (or tenants that lives in the property as a principal residence) can also use this assistance to tie up loose ends prior to the short sale transaction, and use the funds to pay off expenses such as costs of the homeowner’s legal representation in the short sale or DIL, overdue utility bills on the property, or minor repairs made after property inspection. </li><li> <strong>HAFA relieves homeowners of ALL mortgage debt on the property.</strong> In fact, our most recent stats show that homeowners are relieved of a median <a href="">$123,787 in mortgage debt after a HAFA transaction</a> (PDF). And, while a homeowner may no longer be responsible for paying the monthly mortgage after a foreclosure, some states require the homeowner to repay a portion of the mortgage debt even after the home has entered foreclosure.  Homeowners need not worry about these additional expenses when it comes to HAFA.</li><li> <strong>HAFA can provide homeowners with a shorter timeframe for financial recovery or home re-purchase than a foreclosure.</strong> Not only does a foreclosure severely damage a homeowner’s credit, finding rental housing or other living arrangements can prove to be extremely difficult as a result of poor credit. In many instances, a HAFA short sale or DIL has less adverse impact on a homeowner’s credit score than a foreclosure would. </li><li> <strong>HAFA provides homeowners with overall better management of their mortgage situation.</strong>  Unfortunately, foreclosures typically result in excessive mortgage-related fees due to the lengthy timeframe associated with the process.  With a HAFA short sale or DIL, the homeowner is in a better position to plan and control the timing of their transition out of the home. </li></ol><p> <img src="/SiteCollectionImages/blog-images/HAFA_vs_Fourclosure_Blog_op2.png" alt="" style="margin:5px;" /> </p><p>Leaving a home is never easy for homeowners who have worked hard and exhausted all other options to keep their home. HAFA can help make the transition just a little less stressful and put homeowners in a better position to own another home in the future. If you or someone you know is considering a short sale or DIL or would like to learn more about HAFA, call 888-995-HOPE™(4673) to find out if a short sale or DIL may be right for you. <br></p><p> <em><font color="#555555" face="Helvetica">Séan Bennett is Director of Marketing & Outreach for the Homeownership Preservation Office.</font></em></p></div>

Last Updated: 1/29/2016 11:07