This is a follow up post by one of our guest writers about her experiences with dealing with loan modification companies, debt settlement companies and other debt management programs. Stacey talks about her plans to get her mortgage situation sorted. I thank her for sharing her story here!
In my post detailing how I’m trying to save my home and trying to get my loan payments back on track with a mortgage loan modification, I mentioned that I was done dealing directly with my lender. Since November 2008, I’ve been trying to get a loan modification but have felt that I had not made sufficient progress to continue alone. I checked out online resources such as Home Foreclosure Fighter to help me find direction. After filling out an online form, I waited to be contacted by folks who might be able to help.
What I Learned About Loan Modification Companies
Much like debt consolidation agencies, loan modification specialists don’t work for free. I was contacted by mortgage lenders, debt companies and attorneys. All the professionals who contacted me through Home Foreclosure Fighter had one thing in common — they charged some type of fee. Unfortunately, I’m already behind on my mortgage payments and don’t have the money to spend on a speculative venture. Loan modification requires negotiations, which are unpredictable, and clearly, there are no guarantees.
I toyed with the idea of hiring an attorney since I was already behind on my mortgage payments. I spoke to one who seemed ready to take on my case, once I paid a retainer. He seemed competent enough and had the credentials; I felt that Home Foreclosure Fighter provided me with sufficient qualified resources to consider and didn’t connect me with any disreputable parties. However, I was still reluctant to pay any fees for assistance and so I decided not to pursue this avenue for now.
Dealing With The Fair Housing Authority
I went ahead and looked into other options I had that did not require me to put up money. I decided to contact Catholic Charities, an organization helping needy people from all backgrounds and religions. They referred me to the Fair Housing Authority and United Way. Both organizations are around to assist certain needy families and individuals based on their circumstances.
My husband is a disabled veteran so we qualified for their free assistance programs. While they could not provide any guarantees about the outcome of the loan modification process, I was happy that I wasn’t spending hundreds of extra dollars that I didn’t have, for this help. These organizations assist minorities, seniors, veterans, disabled people and people facing serious illness or other similar circumstances. If, like me, you’re facing mortgage payment issues and would like to avoid foreclosure, do contact them to see if you qualify for help.
My Meeting With The Fair Housing Authority
We met with Fair Housing to find out our options. We had to sign authorizations to allow them to communicate with our mortgage bank and to share our income and current hardship circumstances. There are several ways we can approach the loan modification process as it unfolds over the next two or three months. After our meeting, we realized that the resolution would not happen overnight but we were relieved that it would actually happen!
I’ve always had a progressive career, but this was the first year that we found ourselves falling behind. So I’m grateful for the Fair Housing Authority for providing us with a wealth of resources. I was actually unaware of the many resources that could temporarily help us make ends meet: here are some helpful ideas I’ve picked up:
- State programs offering assistance through the Department of Social Services for oil, electric and other utility bills that can total up to $2,500 worth of benefits. We’re working on this right now.
- Free and reduced costs for school lunches. My children are now getting lunch for $.25 a day, which saves me at least $50 monthly.
- Reduced cost health insurance programs offered by the state that could offset the expenses not covered by our veterans’ insurance, including dental and optical coverage. I am waiting for information about two programs to see what they are about.
Here’s what has happened since I’ve tried contacting my lender directly in the past year. I haven’t received any call from them, even though they’ve promised to contact me. I’ve sent them a letter indicating that I wanted to discuss how to get out of debt with a debt repayment plan and how I may qualify for a loan modification. Instead, I was denied a loan modification by certified mail. I also received a demand for thousands of dollars via registered mail from my lender; the demand pretty much told me to pay up or face foreclosure. Unfortunately, I have yet to reach anyone at Bank of America for a meaningful discussion about this: my last contact with them has been a year ago!
So here’s where I am now: the only thing I’ve received from my lender so far are a series of promises for call backs and letters of denial. This has frustrated me to the point that I’ve turned elsewhere for help. Right now, I’m hoping that the Fair Housing Authority can help me make better progress. I’ll let you know how it works out!
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