Unfortunately, by the time most distressed borrowers seek help to avoid Foreclosure, they have often been struggling with income loss, divorce, legal or health issues for so long that theyre are not only falling behind financially but they are as one fellow put it to me: "taking drugs to just to sleep at night from the stress". This does not paint a picture of a person ready and able to put up a decent defense with their bank or have the energy to direct their own loan modification or self help bankruptcy. Far from it. Being financially strapped as well, paid legal help is usually out of the question.
Asking for Help: I often suggest to folks that they have a serious family sit down with other members of their extended family or community who might offer some relevant advice. They may need help clarifying their priorities. Next up are the free resources listed below. Feel free to share them.
Consumer Advocates: Below is a current list of resources that I keep handy. Certainly encourage anyone struggling with their lender about their home loan to contact their State Attorney General as they hold the responsibility to protect consumer rights. The Making Home Affordable free counseling is heavily weighted toward conventional banking guidelines. Which is not all bad. However, many people don't fit the conventional mold may indeed qualify for a private lender option in spite of being denied for MHA or HAMP. Always always ask for help and ask again.
Feel free to share this list with anyone you know in financial/mortgage distress:
The Obama Administration's Making Home Affordable Program includes opportunities to modify or refinance your mortgage to make your monthly payments more affordable. It also includes the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives Program for homeowners who are interested in a short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure: http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov For a free HUD Counselor call: 1- 888 995 4673
For state specific help go here: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/fc/
On a case by case basis, we refer to local modification colleagues (licensed brokers and loan originators who specialize in this area) They may negotiate your case if you prefer to have someone do this for you. They employ our Federal and State guidelines. Usually modifications agents charge between $1500 and $2,000 total fee. This process can take three to six months or more. There are no guarantees. Check out loan modification agents with your State Attorney General and BBB to verify they are legitimate.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly or cannot get help from your lender contact:
1. Washington State Attorney General investigates consumer scams. They may take legal action against an company found to be abusing consumer laws in this state. STATEWIDE TOLL FREE 1-800-551-4636 http://www.atg.wa.gov I print out the form or send folks this link and they they can file complaints online.
2. Washington State Department of Financial Institutions. They oversee Washington Banks and Brokers and will investigate on your behalf. Washington State Department of Financial institutions requires that any provider offering loan modifications be licensed as a loan originator, mortgage broker or consumer loan company. Check the Call: 1-877-RING-DFI. ONLINE complaint about a Mortgage Broker, Bank or Modification Agent: http://www.dfi.wa.gov/cs/cscomplaintform.htm
3. Home Foreclosure Legal Aid. Homeowners seeking Legal representation who are unable to afford a lawyer should contact the Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project, a partnership of the Washington State Bar Association and the Northwest Justice Project. Call 1-877-894-HOME (4663).
4. National Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. http://www.occ.treas.gov/customer.htm Homeowners may register a complaint to the OCC who performs oversight on National Banks. They will inform the Bank of your complaint and follow up on their response to you. http://www.helpwithmybank.gov HelpWithMyBank.gov provides assistance to customers of national banks. The site includes answers to common questions and helps walk people through the process of contacting the OCC for additional assistance. Visit the site to learn more about the OCC Customer Assistance Group or call these numbers
Contact OCC CAG (Consumer Assistance Group)
- Toll Free: 1-800-613-6743
- TDD Number 713-658-0340
- FAX: 713-336-4301
- Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Eastern, Monday-Friday
- Mail: Customer Assistance Group,
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
- Online Customer Complaint Form
5. Contact your Congressional Representatives! Your congressional representatives have the ability to intervene with banks and financial institutions on your behalf. We know clients who have gotten good results from taking a three pronged approach of filing complaints with several agencies at the same time. It is your right as a consumer to request help. http://www.congress.org type in your zip code for your representatives contact details.
Referral Partners: Gather a great group of local people who have success in these areas: Loan Modification, CPAs, Bookkeepers, Bankruptcy Attorneys, Short Sale Realtors and Debt Consolidation or Credit Restoration Agencies. Just offering personal referrals means a lot to someone in distress. Naturally you want to know the people you refer to are reliable and STAY reliable. One of my great referral partnerships backfired when my partner changed course, and I am still smarting from the distress they caused several folks.
Bouncing Back From Short Sale or Foreclosure: This post outlines how a homeowner start working toward credit recovery the moment they start working on a solution to their immediate situation. To most folks in trouble today, the hope of home ownership again is a vision worth hanging onto.
We do not offer advice about matters outside our area of expertise, which is mortgage lending.