In 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury created programs to reduce the numbers of home foreclosures expected from the overwhelming mortgage crisis. Depending on your bank, you may qualify for a temporary loan modification lasting approximately three months, or a more permanent modification. Under the Making Housing Affordable Program, homeowners may qualify for very low interest rates of about 2 to 3 percent for the first five years with a step-up to the prevailing 30-year mortgage rate for the remainder of the loan. This rate will remain fixed for the remaining life of the loan. Some servicers do not provide permanent mods, so ask first.
Ask your servicer for a written outline of what you are required to submit and the necessary timeline. Make your payments early and turn in everything your servicer requires at least a few days prior to the deadline. Then check back to ask if your payments and documents have been received. Always write down the name and contact information at the end of every phone conversation you have with your lender.
Transact all business with the same person at your servicing bank, if possible. If there are any problems with lost documents or bad information, it is important to have one person to hold responsible, otherwise you will be blamed.
Ask for a receipt every time you turn in documents. Typical complaints from applicants involve having to submit the same papers repeatedly because the servicer loses them. Then the servicer declines permanent acceptance because paperwork was not turned in on time.
Ask for a receipt every time you make a payment. Don't assume that a cashier's check provides a receipt. Servicers have been known to lose checks, so it is your duty to prove that you paid on time. A receipt provides that proof.
Items you will need
- Mortgage statement
- Bank checking and savings account statements
- Income tax returns
- Pay stubs or other proof of income
- Utility bill as proof of residency
- The Home Affordable Modification Program is part of that program. Under HAMP, if your mortgage payment exceeds 31 percent of your total before-tax monthly household income, you may qualify if you meet certain other qualifications. You must occupy the home and be in default or in danger of going into default on your loan because of a financial hardship such as a significant decline in income, divorce, death of a supporting family member or disability. Mortgages under $729,750 and you must show enough income to be able to afford the modified payments. Make sure everything you turn in to your servicer supports these requirements.
- When you make your HAMP application, ask your servicer about their policies on mortgage modifications. For example, some servicers only offer temporary mods. Although the U.S. government has attempted to force servicers to fairly evaluate and approve applicants, the only way you can assure your loan will be permanently modified is to be vigilant in monitoring your servicer and keeping detailed records.
- MortgageLoan.com: No Promises in Mortgage Loan Modification
- Bankrate.com: Borrowers Look for Mortgage Modification
- Making Home Affordable: Understanding the Trial Period
- Making Home Affordable: Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP)
- Foreclosure Business News: Home Foreclosure Resources Advertise Start a Foreclosure Clean Up Business Buy Foreclosures Cheap Contact the Editor HSBC Home Loan Modification Help: Yes, You Can Get a Permanent Modification and Even a Principal Reduction — Here’s How
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