Q) If I can’t or don’t want to attempt a loan modification on my own, what is my best alternative?
A) Call 888-995-HOPE or go to www.hopenow.com. The HOPE Alliance is made up of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved counselors and lender representatives who will work with you. Most of the time, there is no charge, but some HUD counselors charge a small fee, usually $50 to $100.
Q) If I decide to use a loan-modification company, how do I know if it is legitimate?
A) Your best indicator is if the loan modification company was referred to you by someone you know and trust who has had a pleasant, successful experience with the company.
One of the warning signs of unscrupulous loan modification companies is collecting an upfront fee. We have heard of upfront fees as high as $7,500, just to provide the information we have provided you at no cost!
Unscrupulous loan modification companies and counselors are everywhere. Now, just about every state in the country has passed laws regulating “foreclosure rescue” or loan-modification services. While each state has its own version, just about every state prohibits the charging of upfront or advance fees.
In fact, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner has announced that the federal government is cracking down on scammers, and he encourages state attorneys general to do the same.
Take our advice: Pursue loan modification yourself using our guidelines, or use the HOPE Alliance.
Q) Should I hire an attorney?
A) That is a decision for you to make. If you have been served with a foreclosure filing, however, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
If you cannot afford an attorney, Legal Aid in your area can offer some limited services, often free or at a reduced rate.
Q) If I cannot get a loan modification and I cannot afford to make payments on the property, what is my next best strategy for the future?
A) Unfortunately, our best advice to you is to sell the property as soon as possible.
If you have equity in your property, it is in your interest to sell and put any equity you have in your pocket to start again when your personal situation is better.
If you owe more on the property than it is worth, you can still sell. This is called a short sale. A short sale essentially amounts to a settlement in which the lender accepts less than what is owed on the property.
The benefit of a short sale is the opportunity to settle the account once and for all and not have to worry about a deficiency judgment in the future. A short sale is not an automatic settlement, but most lenders will consider the account settled if there is a hardship situation. Keep in mind that a short sale must be approved by your lender. Pay attention to the details of the lender’s short sale approval.
Q) If I modify my loan, will my credit scores improve?
Proceed to Frequently Asked Questions
A) For the sake of your credit scores, it is important that you make your new mortgage payments on time and manage the rest of your credit in a timely manner.
With on-time payments, your credit will improve over time. It won’t happen overnight, but with each month that passes, your credit score will continue to rise.
The information contained in this document is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as or substituted for legal advice. The potential loss of one’s property is a serious issue. Recipients of this document hereby disclaim any liability against the author, Scott Tennell, Delray Credit Counseling, and its employees and officers.