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Homeowner Tips for Getting Loan Modifications

Homeowners dealing with the load modification process offer some tips to make sure others can succeed. The most important: Get help, stay organized and don’t give up.

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Weeds overrun the yard of a vacant home for sale on May 12, 2009, in Elgin, Ill. More than 700 homeowners shared advice with ProPublica on how to navigate the government's loan modification program. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

ProPublica asked a simple question of more than 700 homeowners dealing with the administration's mortgage modification program: Knowing what you know now, what tips would you give someone who's struggling with a mortgage payment?

Their advice: Get help, stay organized, and don't give up.

In total, 718 homeowners, all of whom applied for a loan modification through the Home Affordable Modification Program, volunteered tips and tricks for struggling homeowners. While more than a third of respondents were skeptical about the value of program, the majority of respondents suggested simple steps homeowners should take to survive the process of applying for a modification. Culling through the hundreds of responses, three pieces of advice stood out.

Don't do it alone. The most popular suggestion was a simple one: Don't be afraid to ask for help. One hundred thirty-five respondents advised struggling homeowners to hire lawyers, contact their elected representatives, alert the media and file complaints with a variety of government agencies; they also advised homeowners to rely on emotional support from friends, family and other homeowners in the same situation. As one California homeowner put it, "Find others to talk to, or you will go crazy."

One of the most recommended resources for struggling homeowners was the HOPE Hotline, at 1-888-995-HOPE. The Treasury Department-sponsored hotline, operated by the nonprofit Homeownership Preservation Foundation, helps connect callers with HUD-approved counselors who can provide struggling homeowners with information and support. Homeowners who suspect their servicer of making mistakes can escalate their case to a special HOPE Hotline team. The Hotline can also connect homeowners to local HUD-approved counselors; homeowners can access the list of counselors directly at HUD's website.

Stay organized. Research and organization were important themes among respondents, with 125 of them advising homeowners to take notes, to do online research, and to get everything in writing during their campaign to get a loan modification. For many respondents, the process of applying for a loan modification stretched across months, involving an ever-changing parade of customer representatives that 64 percent say gave them contradictory answers at times. Respondents recommended everything from pen and paper to certified mail, phone recorders and video cameras to keep track of the process. As one New Mexico homeowner explained, "document your journey thoroughly -- you will never be able to recall or communicate all the madness you will go through."

Just keep trying. Another 48 homeowners stressed the importance of making mortgage payments by any means possible. Despite what 52 percent of respondents say they were told by their servicer, homeowners do not have to be behind on a mortgage to be eligible for a HAMP modification. By making their monthly payments, however painful, struggling homeowners can prevent themselves from descending into a spiral of debt, and perhaps avoid the loan modification process altogether. As one Massachusetts homeowner put it, "Sell your furniture, car, dog and your soul to the devil to get your mortgage payment. The banks are liars, incompetent and not trustworthy."

Others offered optimism to those searching for loan modifications, asking struggling homeowners to not give up the fight. Ninety respondents told homeowners that they had to "be relentless," to "persevere" and to "just keep trying." Many who stuck with the program remarked that it eventually paid off, with one homeowner saving over $25,000 after treating the application process like "a part-time job." While most described the struggle as heroic, at least one respondent put her advice bluntly: "It sucks, but stick with it."

Still others gave homeowners common-sense advice, ranging from tips on how to getting a consistent story from your servicer (by building a relationship with one or two representatives you can reach directly) to how to improve your application's viability (by watching your spending and not using your ATM card for eating out). One Maryland homeowner spoke for a handful of respondents in stressing the importance of being polite. "Above all, don't be combative on the phone, or the entire conversation and time spent on hold will be for nothing."

But some respondents were less hopeful about the value of the program. 193 respondents advised homeowners to steer clear of the program altogether, describing it as "pointless," "humiliating," "hopeless" and "not worth the hassle." "Quit paying, save your money and find an apartment," said one Nevada homeowner, echoing a common theme of many of the more downtrodden responses. "They're going to get your house anyway they can."

To many of these homeowners, the loan mod program is at once deeply frustrating and their best shot at securing their home and financial future. They have spent months, sometimes years, navigating a bureaucratic maze set up by their servicers, all the while in the dark about the final the status of their loan modification.

For struggling homeowners looking to start the process of a loan modification, one Florida homeowner may have had the most practical advice of all: "Pray."

Protip for American homeowners: Pay your mortgage.

It’s commets like these that makes a divided nation more divided and reduces life to a set of rules never to broken no matter what. Chris would have fit right in with the “off with their heads” group in the Dark Ages.

Kate needs to grow up.  This is America.  We are all responsible for ourselves.  Once you start looking to government to solve the problems we become Russia.
If the nation is divided it is because of people like Kate who think they are entitled to special treatment when they cannot meet their obligations. 
If you cannot pay your mortgage then sell your house and down size.  If you lost your job then start planning immediately for the worst.  That is life.  Not off with your heads, it should be grow up and take responsibility.  We are not in Russia.

Protip for American homeowners: Walk away from your mortgage. Your house isn’t work anywhere near what you owe, so why pay rent to the bank for the next 20 years when your house *may* be worth near what you paid/owe on it *if you’re lucky*.

To Fred . Have you been in Russia? I really don’t think so. And to Chris. Why don’t you say something nice instead of judging people without knowing their predicament.
And to Kate don’t pay attention to these guys they just showed up here to annoy all of us.
These two maybe hanging around wall street or in some banks because they always have something negative to say, and trying to be little people. Karma will visit them soon.

Jesus Maria Alvarez

Sep. 15, 2010, 6:59 p.m.

The “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” crowd have something that the rest of us mere mortals lack: they are fully in charge of their destiny. Misfortune, lost jobs, derailed business decisions, sickness or national emergencies never cross their paths.

If you don’t find that picture depressing enough, then you have the “smart” crowd showing up in tandem. They equate government intervention with a totalitarian gulag-fest. These are the same folks that would make a case against the post office, the fire department and the Center for Disease Control if they understood irony.

Neither is interested in civilized, respectful, beneficial discussion. I suspect I know their favorite radio personalities.

Jean MacDonald

Sep. 15, 2010, 8:04 p.m.

RUSSIA???  93% of the Russian Politburo was re-elected to the same seats. In America, I believe it is 98%!!!! God Bless Democracy!!!

The corruption among our officials, the “revolving door”, campaign “contribuations”, Dick Paulson and his cronies in the US Treasury, etc, is much worse here, and so is the brainwashing of the American public who think it is the “homeowner’s” fault for this “plunder” of our national Treasury, and wealth of the middle class.

There are some good tips in the article however if I may expand on one point made; it was suggested that an applicant can have their case escalated at the Hope hotline. In the GAP June 2010 report on TARP and the modification effort the GAO was very crical of Treasury’s Hope Hotline.  Just so everyone knows when a case is escalated the facts of the case are not - there is no one reviewing the facts of the case but rather they are just recording your complaint. This was just one of the deficiencies’ with Treasury’s implementation of HAMP highlight in the GAO report.

Steve…Thank you for an excellent point…the report you refer to is accessible online…it is in-depth but informative. Jesus…very well spoken. I admire your insight. To everyone I suggest prayer….whatever your religion or belief. If you are an atheist my advice is double. God bless all!!!! Believe it or not there are better things to come…for it is written and promised.

If anyone is interested I wrote a response to the GAO report, the authors of the report contacted me to discuss my points and the solution we are proposing to Treasury.  I can make the comments available if requested.

Steve…I know that I would appreciate any and all info that you have to offer. Wow…pretty cool that they contacted you. My Senator is the Chair of the Appropriations Committee (Daniel Inouye). I have talked to his office staff here locally and I am putting together info to send him. Was told he would receive some 2 weeks earlier if mailed from here to Honolulu office rather than Washington route ( Due to anthrax scare awhile back). I would appreciate your input as well to send. I truly do not believe some of our politicians really are fully informed. Maybe if their aides would visit sites such as ProPublica…they have done a great service to people in dire need and are to be commended. I for one…once I get my head back above water…will be sending them a donation.

We are human being not a bunch of animals. Some views like the one of Fred are rude and out of touch. It is not that the government has solve the problem, but it is a way for many who are not in condition as Fred.
Dont speak unsin about Rusia, you dont have any clue

We are human being not a bunch of animals. Some views like the one of Fred are rude and out of touch. It is not that the government has solve the problem, but it is a way for many who are not in condition as Fred.
Don’t speak bla bla about Russia, you don’t have any clue

A housing counselor can help you navigate the great bureaucracy of the servicers.  You can find them yourself at http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm
In NYC, you can be referred by calling 311.

Know the HAMP rules and guidelines
Record names, dates,times, and departments when call Customer Service/Servicers
Provide and keep copies of “All” documents requested and sent.
Don’t give-in or give-up
Be persistent

Terry Bottalico

Sep. 16, 2010, 12:11 p.m.

finally, after over 18 months from the first missed payment..the mod came thru…


So my approach.

Only call on Fridays. NEVER on a Monday.

Be nice and friendly to the person on the other end.
Follow up documents sent with emails..did you receive…

Be organized:

When docs are requested send a cover letter including who and what docs are are requested

like: per telephone conversation of————-. Mr———has requested the following 3 documents: 1. Last years tax return. 2.  the months bank statement…. these documents can be found in the attached PDF…


Save these letters in your computer. Make it easy on yourself because you will be asked over and over so do get mad just play the game.

Create a file on the desktop called mod.

Buy a scanner learn how to scan forms and create a PDF to attach to emails.

Save form templates: your letterhead and the address of where it is going. Make it buisness like.

Send a email one week and call the next..keep polite pressure on. Once docs are requested follow up and make sure they arrived..by email. Keep your name at the top of the pile.

Treat this as the buisness transaction it is. This was easy for me as I am a contractor and used to writing buisness letters. For others, I suggest learning how to write a letter….A well constrcucted letter has more power and may be acted on faster or given more importance. 

Your cover letters and emails with attachments are the evidence the bank needs to do the mod these will be presented to those who make the decision..make em good.Poorly worded, incomplete requests simply have a less chance. 

good luck.

PS my mod keeps me in a severly under water home. My wife is ill so this was a must. If were just me, as beautiful as my home is, I may have let it go. It will be 10 years or more..if ever will this home have positive equity.

Note to Fred.
Are you working with a bank?
Sounds like one of our “smug” commenting negotiators to me.
How about every else?

Instead of writing negative comments and wasting your time as well as ours, post your comments on another web site where there are perfect Americans that must live in Russia for periods of time.
But I am one person that is happy for you to be so perfect and to have it all under control. I also hope while riding to your perfect job, from your on time mortgaged house and probably no kids or spouse to worry about, a truck doesn’t broad side your vehicle, and make it necessary to ask for some help. I don’t know about the others reading but I would tell you to go back to Russia and take Chris and all your “friends” with you.
But thank you for your ignorant comments; it’s nice to feel angry at someone other than the banks.
Why don’t you go sit in on a cancer therapy group and cheer them up.

Thanks to all the others, especially Steve and Roy. I would like to talk to you further and especially want to see your response to the GOA report.
That’s my avenue for help, the politicians. Roy is correct in assuming they really don’t know it’s not working. I have been emailing ProPublica’s stories/links to my elected officials and to Bank of America’s executives. I don’t think they like what they are reading. I am finally getting results, my loan has suddenly been “prioritized to the highest level”. Yeah right…................sorry to sound so cynical, but it’s been 16 months, everyday!
Thank you once again ProPublica!

Richard Zombeck

Sep. 16, 2010, 12:19 p.m.

It never ceases to amaze me that there are still people who make comments like the ones left by chris and fred. The level of ignorance and callousness that goes into comments such as these is mind boggling.

How about the 20 year veteran in NC loosing his home? The family in PA who had their home stolen (yes stolen) from them by Chase?

We’ve collected plenty at http://www.shamethebanks.org

So the sanctimonious tone is ok? Eight million people got up one morning and collectively decided to be irresponsible? Is that what happened?

A comparison to Russia says is all though. You guys really need to research the issues before commenting on them.

Richard Zombeck
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-zombeck

Terri - great comments. Fred - not worth response.

I have a permanent HAMP mod. I got it after 16 months of relentless pressure. Three denials preceeded the mod.

Agree with the advice to keep records of everything.
Agree to get names, etc., and to follow up any promises or requests with a written document detailing who made the request or promise. I would send those to the mucky mucks at your bank.

I copied everyone I could think of when I wrote the mucky mucks. From my senator (thank you Senator Boxer for your help; got nothing from Feinstein) to the OCC to SIGTARP and Barney Frank and everyone in between.

If you are in a HAMP trial and they try to make you keep paying endless trial payments, contact the hamp escalations team.

The contact numbers for this team and others can be found on shamethebanks as well as http://www.beingmiddleclass.org. We are working together in this fight.

And one last point. “just sell your house” is a ridiculous answer. Most of our homes are underwater. If people sell, the bank needs to first agree to a short sale. And that in itself is a nightmare. Then you need to figure out if you are in a recourse or non-recourse state, because your state could tax you on the difference between the amount of the sale and your total owed.

Sigh. This is a collosal nightmare with no end in sight.

Seshan Subramanian

Sep. 16, 2010, 12:43 p.m.

I agree with Ray williams.
Know the HAMP rules and guidelines
Record names, dates,times, and departments when call Customer Service/Servicers atleast twice a week.
Provide and keep copies of “All” documents requested and sent. I HAD TO SEND ALL MY DOUCMENTS ATLeAST THREE TIMES.
Citimortgage are notorious for losing or misplacing documents.
Don’t give-in or give-up.
Be persistent.Never lose your temper.
I just got my mod approved and my account"BOOKED” after an excruciating 18 months of patiently calling, and abiding by their requests.
You will be successful.Patience is a virtue.

I submitted my loan mod in 11/09 to chase bank. i called chase home assistance every week to see whether the application is being reviewed by an underwriter. good luck to all loan mod seekers. i am talking to a wall. Chase representatives sent me from one department to another without success. I think that chase is trying to buy time to resolve the problem and at the meantime chase is benefiting from federal aid for helping homeowners. It seems that it is a sham operation to milk public money. Chase representative told me that this is a game. Please comment.

Gabor-Thanks. You’re a gem. So many great posts-Steve, Barabra, Terry. Wow. Fred &Chris;-without going into the gory details, I have paid my mortgage, owned a small business, played by most of the rules for my entire life, thanks for asking. What did me in wasn’t not being grown up or irresponsible. It was the for profit medical system that did me in-a brain tumor to the tune of $275,000.00 or there about, and a cancelled10 year policy right about 2 weeks after the discovery of such tumor. And you’re damn right I’ll look to the government to solve this problem-they created it.
I was fortunate. Although I have life long difficulties to deal with, I’m alive, tumor-free and yes, collecting all that Social Security I paid into all those years while I was being responsible. I was also able to get a HAMP mod. I’m certain it took years off my life, but when you’re sick it is important you not be homeless. At this point value lies in having a home, not how much it will give me in profit.

Very good suggestions from many-perserve, do not get emotional on the phone, anything you mail, mail it “registered” and politely call them on evey detail that is incorrect. And while I agree with Terry,  Fred,you probably are not worth a response, I think it is important to provide another narrative. Too much attention is given to false myths of simplistic morality on so many issues in this country today. For all of you still deep in trying to get a modification, don’t despair. Change comes slowly, but it does come.

Why are hard-working and honest homeowners treated like second-class citizens by the banks? We are just trying to have a secure future and a place to live in comfort just like everyone else. Why have a program like this if it doesn’t work and the banks will not cooperate?

Hi All - I work for a non profit doing loan mods full time. The HAMP guidelines are great, but the reality is, they are just that, “guidelines.” We can’t make the banks follow them and without litigation, we can’t enforce them. I’ve seen some good mods come through and today, the worst one ever crossed my desk…Original balance $303,000 @7% for a PITI payment of $2415 30 year fixed rate. Borrower lost his job, fell behind, got a another lower paying job, applied for LM, was put on a TP immediately, made 7 TP payments was offered a PM on 9/10/10 for new balance $334K @7%, PITI $2512 amortized aver 460 months (38 yr 4 months) with a $207,060 balloon payment due at the end of the term! How do you attach a balloon payment at 2/3 the original loan balance to the end of a fully amortized loan? Thank you EMC/Chase!

Bottom line people, if you are 25% or more underwater, you are looking at 12+ years to break even again assuming you are appreciating now at a mere 3%. In CA, we are still declining so throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars into a negative equity hole just makes no sense. I’ve done the math, I do it everyday, I advocate for people just like you and it makes more sense to cut your losses, go back to renting for a while and enjoy your life a little, or in my case, a lot!

Roy and Lesa I would be happy to supply you with the response, please forward me your email address, mine is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

It would be good to get the response to anyone that will listen.  I will tell you this, during my conversation with the GAO they asked if I would testify at future hearing on the findings of the report.  As of yesterday there are no hearings scheduled in the house or senate with any of the appropriate committees, I also checked with the GAO and they told me they have not heard of any either. This report highlights the deficiencies’ in the HAMP program and recommends what they call in the report “Executive Actions”. There is a solution to each of the GAO recommendation available but yet no one is listening in DC. 

Babs, there are many answers to your question,  the main problem is still what has been the problem from the start; the servicers are not built to handle the shear volume, they do not have the trained professional processors or underwriters, they also do not have the technology. If you are interested go to our web site - http://www.aahmp.org.  On the right side of the page you will see “Flash Presentation” that presentation was created in Feb, 2009, but unfortunately here we are 1.5 years later and the same problems still exist.

HAMP is a good program if it was implemented properly.

One thing I did to try and got some additional assistance from was to write a letter to my Senator-Feinstein- in CA.

She has a ‘group’ set up to forward requests to the lenders to postpone the foreclosure date and to review you for a loan modification. She will also get the Comptroller of the Currency involved if that is the gov’t agency that monitors your loan.

You MUST specifically request these items (postpone foreclosure and review for loan mod) because that puts it in writing for them.
It took over 3 months but a liason to the vice president of Wachovia contacted me and they suspended my foreclosure so they could review me again for a loan mod.  They said I would be sent to an “escalation division”.  It has been 3 weeks after they transferred me again to another dept., so we’ll see. This has got to be my 6th attempt at HAMP.
I keep pushing because I believe that my income should qualify and I have owned and paid for my home for 15 years and now have severely reduced income and can’t keep up with the payments any longer.

Good luck

Cyn - when I asked Feinstein for help I got no where. This is good news. So you write her office and ask for her “group” to help postpone the foreclosure and get you reviewed for a loan mod? Is there a name for this group?

This is great. I was really not a happy constituent of Ms. Feinstein, but this gives me hope. Can you say a little more about the group?

So…..I was crazy enough to think that all was going smoothly and that I would have a mod soon…..BIG WISHFUL THINKING!
It all started in March last year (2009) when I realized that we were going to have our income reduced. I contacted BoFA at the time with a request for payment reduction, and they said no. They went on to say that Government programs would soon to be out to help struggling homeowners…and eventually there were. HAMP was here soon after.
Fast forward to March of 2010….I received a MHA packet to fill out. Did so promptly and sent the package back within days. By this time, I had been laid off and was on unemployment, but my husband was still working. I received another FedEx a week later stating that I had not enclosed proof of income.( which I figured they meant unemployment stubs, as I had included the hubby’s pay stubs). I sent that stuff off and fast forward to June..I received a “you were denied HAMP as you did not send your docs in time”...What? After calling all the numbers that I had and being transferred a million times, through different depts, (1hr 30min later), I was told that all was ironed out and that I should just wait for a decision on the HAMP request.
I have since had to send and resend stuff that I was told was missing…Tax returns, pay stubs, more tax returns…..
fast forward to now…...I got a letter from a company called RECONSTRUCT that has now been assigned our condo for pre-foreclosure procedures. I call BoFA and they say that they know I am still waiting on a loan mod. So, I ask them why then the foreclosure start, and they say that it’s procedure. I tell them that I have had it and that they can have the Condo.
I am emotionally detached from all this now and I am ready to call it quits, but as I have already gone this far,I might as well. I am ready for whatever happens, but until they chase us out of our apartment, we are not leaving! We will save as much as possible until then to get a rental.
For those that have got to the trial payments, at least you can say, you are a step ahead…..I am not even seemingly close to being considered for trail payments, let alone, a permanent mod!
Good luck to you all!

Beatrice, you may be in a better situation than those who get a TP. At least you can save your money instead of giving more to the bank only to STILL BE DENIED. Happens all the time!

@Steve: Thank you for your info - we can all use the sort of “in the know” insight you provided because so many of us wanted to believe the HAMP program was actually designed to rescue people who’‘re losing their homes because of the massive fraud perpetrated by the banks. We really don’t want to believe our own government would tell us one thing but do another - which if we weren’t so stress that’s the only conclusion a rational person could come to. It just doesn’t make sense that Congress & the Treasury would grandstand about the program yet build absolutely no enforcement preventing further complicity of the very banks whose actions caused an economic meltdown. 

That being said . . . I’ve contacted the HOPE Hotline several times and, some glaring FACTS are inescapable:

1. HOPE has no power to force the servicer or bank to grant a modification - anyone savvy enough to buy a home has the ability to negotiate - so why was this agency created in the first place?
2. I’ve noticed - not sure if anyone else has - the majority of the people answering initial Hotline calls have heavy accents - did Congress- in the midst of the biggest unemployment crisis since the depression - outsource the HOPE agency?
3. In my experience I’ve worked with more than one nonprofit thru HOPE and one - Homeownership Preservation Foundation - miscalculated my mortgage in violation of the guidelines (stated they did not add homeowner dues because they “didn’t do it that way” and relayed to my servicer that I was ineligible for HAMP although they didn’t tell me & I went over the Affidavit with the counselor over the phone & dues were included in the calculation. Because of that I was offered another in-house mod by Wells Fargo.
4. I contacted HOPE again after the mistake & HOPE referred me to the “Escalation dept.” - & that person also had a heavy accent. After I relayed my info he told me I needed to “convince” him Wells Fargo violated the guidelines - in other words I needed “proof” yet Wells Fargo has denied me three times but never put anything in writing. Wells Fargo’s mods are higher payments, higher interest rate & thousands in fees + loss of 12 years of equity with a 30 year note starting over again. I’ve been denied the HAMP mod three times & each time I was verbally denied for a different reason. After 1 1/2 years the 3rd denial was because ” . . . you filed bankruptcy in 2003 and that disqualifies you for HAMP”.
4. Neither HOPE, or the banks are trying to hide the fact they didn’t even bother to learn the guidelines much less implement them - like it’s a big inside joke and the American people are the punchline.
5. I’ve never in my lifetime seen federal directives completely ignored by corporations with absolutely no repercussions or penalties - as if the White House & Congress is powerless over the Treasury (which is actually a private for profit consortium of banks) but need us to believe in this fraud of HAMP & hope we don’t notice they’re all laughing behind our backs for our gullibility & hope (why it was named HOPE).

I feel more & more like the U.S. has been hijacked by greed, fraud, arrogance & massive corruption more dangerously undemocratic than the worst 3rd world country ever was because the U.S. is perpetrating as a society of laws but those laws do not apply to the rich & powerful.

After being turned down twice and burning up one fax/ copier, I am starting on round three of the mod program.
The union job went overseas, the banks got bailed out,
I ‘.m still in the house, for how long I don’t know.  Told the wife tonight that I had at least send in the late charge.  Told to send in a payment and then told by another not to send in payment, I am confused.
I am glad to be working now.

@Beatrice: Please do not give up & give your condo back - please. I don’t know if you’ve contacted the HOPE Hotline (sometimes helps because they conference in the bank & claim they have a direct line to negotiators).

Ask HOPE to transfer your call to the escalation dept. You haven’t gotten a denial yet but you have been denied (say Chase won’t give you the denial in writing). When asked how bank violated HAMP - say you were told you were denied because you’re getting unemployment (which is a violation of HAMP) & stress that you’ve asked for a denial in writing but was ignored. Let escalation know you’ve been trying for over 18 months & Chase has set a foreclosure date. Make sure you fax the escalation release back immediately & then call back to make sure they got it. Ask what happens next as you’re facing imminent foreclosure.

If you don’t get some assurance the escalation will stop the foreclosure - file Chap. 13 & let the bankruptcy judge sort it out (they’re starting to pay attention to HAMP), plus Chap. 13 will stop a foreclosure & give you some time to work out something. Just don’t give up.

Begin with another call to Chase & pretend this is your 1st call to request a loan mod & say you want to do your financials over the phone to get started & you’ll fax in the other docs (HAMP Affidavit, App., proof of income, hardship letter, tax return release) - everything is so disorganized it may slip through.

@ Linda L., thanks for the encouragement and the tips. I will do as you suggest and take it from there.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that as of the last phone call with HMA dept, I was told that even after sending in the Tax returns again( oh, because they were not dated…...They are copies, duh…??) I should contact the IRS and get the T456(?) proof that we filed taxes, even though we signed a release to BoFA for that? Wonder why I am fed up?

Linda L, excellent observations, Hope Now was created by Treasury as part of pressure put on the Administration by Congress.  I too took the position from the start that the US Government would not let the backbone of our economy for the past 60 years, “Real Estate” crash. I am afraid I was mistaken.  I have been involved in the process since Oct 2008. We submitted through the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Service Committee a plan in Dec 08 and Jan 09 respectfully, 75% of HAMP guidelines mirrors our submission. It was great to hear in Feb 2009 the Obama Adm. announce HAMP.  The parts that where omitted was the time table in which these determination of eligibility must be completed and who would do the work. Obviously the servicers had to be involved since they are under contract to service the loans for the investors however we known from the start they did not have the manpower or technology to complete the job. We proposed, as I stated, to have professionals assist the servicers in this massive undertaking, we where denied and a monopoly was created between the servicers and Treasury with the use of TARP funds. HAMP is a $75 billion program which allows for the cost of doing the work - the problem is the servicers do not want to share those funds with anyone nor after repeated request to Treasury will they allow funding to anyone but the servicers.  They (Treasury) say the servicers have to decide to give us a contract.

In Nov 2008 Congress passed what was called TARP 2.  Among other changes to the original TARP (EESA-2008) was specific language we where able to get put in was the Treasury Secretary to use “any means required to stop foreclosures including the use of sub-servicers”.  The bill passes the house but the Senate would not bring the bill up for a vote.  We where also able to get Mr. Frank to agree under the “Cram down” bill an amendment that stated that this work could not be outsources oversea with the use of taxpayers money, that was defeated in the Senate by I think it was four votes.

Ocwen has announce last week that they are letting 1,000 people go by the end of Nov from their loss mitigation dept in CA and Fl, but are outsourcing 1,200 new jobs in India and Uruguay. I do not think Hope Now is outsourcing but I can be wrong.

You mentioned HPF and others miscalculating income; this happens because the servicers and others do not have professionals that have been doing this work for years doing the job.  Most servicer hire clerk level employees to be underwriters. My organization ran a very successful pilot program in a northeastern state, there where more than a few times our processors had to explain to the servicer what the guidelines where.

In regard to enforcement of the guidelines; in Nov 2009 Treasury announce that they would start to “fine and or sanction” servicers if they did not get their act together - it never happened, In May 2010 Mr. Geithner, at a Senate hearing stated that Treasury would start to go after the servicer for funds they already received for doing the work but they never completed.  In the GAO report there is a response from Treasury to the report where they state they where going to go after the money already given to the servicers - did any of this happen, if it did no one knows about it.

In my opinion the only structure that can save this process in Fannie Mae but after 9 months working with them and 6 months waiting for an answer about a proposal they asked us to submit - we where notified two weeks ago that they (Fannie Mae) have decided to stray with the servicers they have a relationship with.  So much for Fannie Mae coming to the rescue. I can report that Fannie Mae did notify the servicers two weeks ago that they will no long allow and auction to be postponed for a short sale or modification,  that they (Fannie Mae) will start to adjust compensation, or incentives as it is called, if the servicers do not start to get through these files.  Now the servicers are taking the position that they must move quickly on foreclosures.  The GSE’s have lost over $230 billion dollars of taxpayers money since the government took them over, now what was once a strategy to stabilizing real estate values by preventing foreclosure where possible appears to have changed, that scares me.  It really is worrisome since Fannie was our only chance to force compliance of the overall strategy. Now if a servicer has not done their job in the time frame required they the servicer feel they have to go to auction or be fined by Fannie.   

I am sorry; I could spend hours on the subject.

Steve…I will e-mail you my contact e-mail..Thanks as your info should be a very helpful addendum to package I’m putting together for Senator Inouye and others. In reference to homeowner association dues mentioned earlier…are they considered with a mod? I was informed they are not…Bummer because I am paying 2 HOA’s on my property.

HOA are to be included in the waterfall approach. Hee is a good site to help people by understanding what are the rules. This is just another example of the plan not being implemented properly.

http://makinghomeaffordable.gov/borrower-faqs.html
On the right side of the page there is a “modification calculator”  when you click on that link you will see in the first question about HOA dues.

quote:  “...Eight million people got up one morning and collectively decided to be irresponsible? Is that what happened?...”

That is EXACTLY what happened, and many still cannot bring themselves to face it:

A crazed horde of housing gamblers, flush with funny money(from liar loan pools fraudulently conveyed as AAA securities) bid prices up to INSANE levels…then the music stopped.

Answer one question if you disagree:  Can house prices rise more than people’s incomes?  Witness.  The.  Aftermath.

If you are $100,000+ upside down and in a NON-RECOURSE STATE
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=non-recourse+states+for+mortgage+debt&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql;=&oq;=&gs_rfai=C1MnbPdOTTLXlL4P8pASbjenvCwAAAKoEBU_Qj8ux
the best thing you could possibly do is

1) stop paying, and secure that money where it cannot be seized for a future down

2) stay as long as possible; literally until the sheriff comes, then

3) rent and save until your credit comes back and prices are in line with price/income and price/rent historical averages

MANY large corporations are doing Strategic Defaults:  StuyTown in NYC for $ Billions
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=stuy+town+default&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql;=&oq;=&gs_rfai=CBWDNHNKTTIuwEo-GNKe7jYIMAAAAqgQFT9AFLVQ
Maguire Properties Inc. in LA for a $Billion
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=Maguire+Properties+default&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f&aqi;=&aql;=&oq;=&gs_rfai=CLa_7RtKTTL_5IZ-qoASq58GFDAAAAKoEBU_QHAqK

and for good measure the National Mortgage Brokers Association in Washington DC for a measly $40 million or so.
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/02/mba-walksaway-from-hq/

Extra points for the latter’s CEO to both say ““What about the message they will send…by defaulting?’, and refusing to discuss his employer having done so.

Would you expect yourselves to adhere to a higher standard of behavior than some of the largest, most powerful financials in the world?

Don’t.  And please don’t dismiss we who do not want to pay upside-down borrowers principle forgiveness ie a free down payment to condone/reward their overpaying in the past.

Falsifying a mortgage application is a felony.  Anyone care to admit to it?  That millions did is what created this debacle; not me pointing it out.

I am very, VERY sorry for all the people who got sucked into this fraud of biblical proportions.  For God’s sake, please summon the enormous courage necessary and do what is best for you and your families.

These people could give a hoot about you staying in your home; what they are after is to trick you(once again) into keeping those payments coming.

Rather than thinking of your mortgage as a “moral obligation” as some here seem to be suggesting, I strongly recommend treating it as a business transaction just as corporations do (e.g. WSJ had an article about Morgan Stanley’s strategic default on San Francisco office buildings).  Rather than hiring a lawyer, I suggest you consider hiring an objective CPA or CFP to look at your existing financial situation and help you determine if a strategic default makes financial sense for you.  There are many factors to consider before walking away: moving costs, the hit to your credit score (keep in mind that many employers consider credit score before making a hiring decision), your emotional investment/attachment to your home, the social stigma of walking away, and whether your state allows clawbacks on the remaining unpaid balance of a mortage (this clawback has forced some people into bankruptcy *AFTER* they already had their home foreclosed…as Linda L suggests, filing for bankruptcy can halt the foreclosure process).

When my wife and I bought our home in 2006, we purposefully bought a home where only one of our salaries could cover the mortgage and all other monthly expenses.  We put down 10% on the home and got a 30-year fixed mortgage @ 6% with PMI payments.  We ended up with a mortgage payment where our total monthly expenses including food, mortgage,and utilities amounted to roughly 60% of one of our take-home-pay amounts.  Unfortunately, we got divorced in 2008 and now I have the house and the mortgage.  The home has dropped in value by roughly 40% since that time and the current mortgage balance is 30% higher than Zillow’s Zestimate and about 35-40% higher than BofA’s current estimate.  I’m fortunate enough to still have my job and still be able to afford my mortgage payments.  Nonetheless, I’ve looked into the HARP program, but since my loan has PMI, they’ll only refinance 105% of its current assessed value as opposed to the more familiar 125% number often discussed.  For me, this means I would have to fork over a significant amount of cash (at least 25% of the currently assessed value) just to get the mortgage balance down to the 105% mark.  I’ve personally been struggling with the “stay or walk away” question for about a year now.  I’m planning to stay in my home even without a loan modification, but this is only after careful consideration of my specific situation.  I realize many of those trying for a loan modification don’t have this luxury of keeping their house without one.  Do seriously consider whether walking away makes sense for you if you haven’t already.

@Fred:  Selling your house and downsizing if you can’t afford your mortgage only makes sense for those who actually have equity in their homes.

thesoothsayer

Sep. 17, 2010, 7:47 p.m.

Chris and Fred are part of the problem, greed.  They have no clue what is really going on because it hasn’t happened to them. They don’t care if the 40 million Americans who paid their loans on time and weren’t over leveraged had their jobs sent overseas and now have nothing to replace the income.  They are what has caused this mess, and when it comes apart, we will be coming for what they have first, just like they took what we have because they only care about themselves.

@Dave B. - thank you for sharing as you raise very sobering points about a reality that is affecting even those who still have financial means to keep paying their mortgage but face just as much loss as those who no longer have means - stay or leave? This nightmare literally has every homeowner in this country treading water and/or drowning. Now I fully understand the fury of Lou Dobbs & his tirades against the forces attacking the middle class. What’s even saddier & scarier is the party (not that much politically-involved) now playing Americans against each other by directing focus away from their involvement in destroying the economy, but charading with their “Taking Our Country Back” tours & demonizing everyone but themselves to deflect responsibility by stirring up hatred - they can’t discuss how to help or solve problems because they caused them so don’t even bring them up - just blame the powerless & poor - playing to a mob mentality so people busy hating don’t think & question. It’s so sad & scary that’s how the hardworking middle class is being destroyed.

@Steve - thank you for your hard work as an advocate & for giving us an insider’s view of the machinations of the Treasury & the banks & confirming many of our opinions that it’s not rocket science to bring this crisis under control - it’s just that the forces that be either can’t see the forest for the trees or have no intention whatsoever of providing solutions by doing the opposite of what will work. Too bad there’s no “tea party” approach to solving the foreclosure & employment crisis rather than both ends playing the middle - it’s even scarier people can’t see the party scheming to get back into power is only playing up bigotry & hatred & won’t even discuss the foreclosure crisis or the employment crisis or anything else desperately relevant because they had the power to stop or prevent it but did nothing while enriching themselves. Can the public demand those meetings & hearings be televised with Treasury & why is everything happening behind closed doors? Is anyone challenging Treasury & Geithner? Will your delegation meet again & will you keep us updated? Thank you so much.

& Frank actually makes a good point because he’s right - what he relates is what facilitated the success of the robber barons - us. And we didn’t ask questions because we think people are mostly good & because we were too busy being happy & all so it was like taking candy from a baby. As the affected nation we should be storming Congress & forcing hearings & bringing this misery out in the open.

@Beatrice (my mom’s name) - I thought the HAMP Affidavit also included a release form that allows the bank to request your tax returns for years they specify & applicants only needed to sign it - that’s another point to bring up with the escalation team.

It is not a matter now of “just paying the mortgage”. With so many people out of work, it affects all of us. Self employed people rely on the income of others. When others lose jobs, self employed also lose income. Small businesses are suffering and not hiring. Large businesses are laying off. The housing market crashed. People have lost equity in their homes, so working with their bank on a refinance (one way to renegotiate a loan) is just not possible. So the next best solution in this situation, in order to save our homes, is to ask the bank to extend the term of the mortgage or reduce the interest rate (both of these could happen in a refinance). That is not the same as seeking welfare, so please don’t equate homeowners seeking modifications as moochers off of the govt. We still want to pay off our mortgages and are not seeking a free ride. Today’s times are not like the 90’s. Many, many Americans are suffering economically. We are hardworking taxpayers who want to save our homes. Underwater or not, for many of us, our homes’ values are not purely based on the market.  The sad thing is that so much consideration is given to the economic well-being of citizens of other countries instead our own. When we are suffering, it’s considered shameful and irresponsible to try to get help in these depressed economic times. It is never black and white.

I posted a response this morning but I do not see it here; maybe it was to long but I want to answer your questions Linda.

First let me say thank you for your kind works but more importantly your heart felt comments about the situation and the frustration we all feel. My “for-profit” organization are advocates however we are also businessmen that are under the silly notion that if you build a better mouse traps people will come. The truth of that statement is yet to be seen. Two major servicers liked our technology so much they have decided to try and build their own version. There is $75b available to handle this crisis which is enough to have a significant impact. The problem is who will get that money for doing the work.

Is anyone challenging Treasury; the GAO and Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) reports both highlight the problems in the system.  The GAO has been around forever and the COC was set up as part of TARP to protect the taxpayer’s money. The structures are in place but if our representatives in DC don’t call for the hearings and the media does not push the issue nothing will happen.

CSPAN cover the majority of the hearing therefore they are televised when they take place. We just need the political will by our politicians to make that happen. You would think the long term implication by not handling this crisis in a timely manor would be enough to move people.  I use the word timely because the longer this drags on the worst it is for all parties involved. It all comes down to the basic economic concept of supply and demand.

AAHMP which I am Executive Director, have been working everyday on the issue. We ran a successful pilot program in NH with the non-profits which my Founding Members funded to prove our concept - which we did. My next step, which I am trying to raise seed money for now, is to create a weekly Reality TV Show. We have a production company ready to move on the project, they feel the networks would be very interested in a show like this.  Every week we would follow the case of real people and the battle they are going through but using our proven concept to show how we can help the servicer get the work done quickly and efficiently. We hope to pressure all the parties involve to participate or be seen by the America TV audience as not using all the resources available to them. During the show we will also examine, based on that specific case, what are the guidelines of HAMP.  We hope this will help people to have a better understanding which will help them through the process regardless of the outcome.

Steve What network your program will be on?
I have watched many hours of Congressional Oversite Committe hearings. Good luck with the show.

The problem is Bankers, not telling the truth, Allison is in wonderland and Timothy Geithner made it clear this program was not created to help homeowners.

The politicians are told many times by different bankers untrue stories. As long as homeowners can’t be present we are screwed.

for any one dealing w/ BofA i have THE best #‘s to get their attention and would be happy to share.my e-mail is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Michael - could you post those numbers here for us all? It’s not smart for anyone to send an e-mail to someone we don’t know, but I certainly appreciate the offer!

Gabor, we do not yet know. You are so right about Allison and what the banks say about the process. The main reason for this is the lack of transparency and is one of the points brought up by the GAO report.  Freddie Mac is responsible to monitor the system, if you read the section in Treasury new HAMP handbook it gives the servicer 30 days to provide the compliance information Freddie requests. The technology is available to monitor the process in “real time”.

to barbra c. good point. if I post the #‘s i hope i am not compromised.
these # are all associated with the office of the president, excutive consumer relations advocacy for BofA.if anyone has similiar #‘s for other banks I would appreciate it and keep the info. confidential !

818-223-5641

866 599 2541

877-877-2670

I would suggest that prior to calling at this level you should be very sure of how you qualify under the current guidelines.if you question your qualifications,leave a post and i would be happy to clarify.good luck

To Barbara C and anyone else who might be interested. Personally I know that Michael ( like Steve here in this site) know what they are talking about. He is not only extremely helpful, but knowledgeable. GOD Bless ALL, Roy

Michael (and Roy) thank you. I’m not a BOA victim myself (My nightmare has been with Chase and I do have a HAMP on my first). I am active on http://www.beingmiddleclass.org, so will be posting those numbers for the B of A folks there.

This battle can be so discouraging at times. I know so many people on the threshhold of losing their homes. I myself am talking with a lawyer about bankruptcy tomorrow, because Chase will not negotiate a settlement on my second and I am not about to keep it with the home worth less than the first, which I have already affirmed.

I wish there was someone out there with real solutions for us. I know that Treasury started this MHA farce with an attitude towards giving the market time to absorb foreclosures (rather than have them happen all at once) and it makes my blood boil. Main Street America is in such pain, and many of us are getting exhausted in this fight. But we can’t stop, because there are newbies every day just beginning. If we can help them cut some corners and reduce a little stress, it’s worth it. If their fight seems destined to be lost (and unfortunately most are), we try to help them with their Plan B.

But every once in a while there is good news, or a new tactic, and it helps me and us keep pressing forward. Thank you again.

Michael I was just about to copy and paste those numbers and I read your whole post and you are asking to keep them confidential.

Can you explain? Do you mean for the numbers themselves to be confidential? Forgive me for saying this, but I would never have asked you to post if they were confidential because now that they are even on this site they are in the world.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Foreclosure Crisis

Foreclosure Crisis: Banks and Government Fail Homeowners

Banks and the government have fallen short in helping homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

The Story So Far

Systemic failures at the country’s banks and mortgage servicers have exacerbated the most severe foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, and government efforts to limit the damage have fallen short. ProPublica created an unrivaled database of homeowners who have faced foreclosure, opened a Facebook page to encourage homeowners to share their stories, wrote profiles of some of them, and incorporated their experiences into our reporting. We also provided a comprehensive rundown of the numbers behind the crisis.

More »

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