IMPORTANT NOTICE: DOMINION REAL ESTATE PARTNERS, LLC IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE GOVERNMENT, AND OUR COMPLIMENTARY SHORT-SALE NEGOTIATION, IF NEEDED, IS NOT APPROVED BY THE GOVERNMENT OR YOUR LENDER. EVEN IF YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER AND USE OUR COMPLIMENTARY SERVICE, YOUR LENDER MAY NOT AGREE TO CHANGE YOUR LOAN. IF YOU STOP MAKING PAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE, YOU COULD LOSE YOUR HOME AND DAMAGE YOUR CREDIT RATING.
A reinstatement is the simplest solution for a foreclosure, however it is often the most difficult. The homeowner simply requests the total amount owed to the mortgage company to date and pays it. This solution does not require the lender's approval and will 'reinstate' a mortgage up to the day before the final foreclosure sale.
- Benefit: Does not require the mortgage company or lender's approval.
- Drawback: Requires that a homeowner be able to pay all back payments, fines and fees.
Forbearance or Repayment Plan
A forbearance or repayment plan involves the homeowner negotiating with the mortgage company to allow them to repay back payments over a period of time. The homeowner typically makes their current mortgage payment in addition to a portion of the back payments they owe.
- Benefit: Allows the homeowner to make back payments over time.
- Drawback: Requires that a homeowner be in a financial position to pay not only their current mortgage, but also a portion of the back payments owed. Some mortgage companies will require a homeowner to 'qualify' for forbearance.
A mortgage modification involves the reduction of one of the following: the interest rate on the loan, the principal balance of the loan, the term of the loan, or any combination of these. These typically result in a lower payment to the homeowner and a more affordable mortgage.
- Benefit: Reduces the payment a homeowner is required to make on a monthly basis and may reduce the principal balance of the loan
- Drawback: Requires that a homeowner 'qualify' for the new payment and will often require full documentation. Lender has to be actively pursuing modifications.
Rent the Property
A homeowner who has a mortgage payment low enough that market rent will allow it to be paid, is able to convert their property to a rental and use the rental income to pay the mortgage.
- Benefit: Allows homeowner to keep property indefinitely.
- Drawback: The issues that can arise with a rental property are many, and rent often does not cover the full cost of property ownership and maintenance.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
Also known as a 'friendly foreclosure', a deed in lieu allows the homeowner to return the property to the lender rather than go through the foreclosure process. Lender approval is required for this option, and the homeowner must also vacate the property.
- Benefit: Many times in a successful deed in lieu, the lender will forego their right to a deficiency judgment.
- Drawback: Requires that a homeowner vacate the property, and a deed in lieu may be reported to credit bureaus as a foreclosure.
Many have considered and marketed bankruptcy as a 'foreclosure solution,' but this is only true in some states and situations. If the homeowner has non-mortgage debts that cause a shortfall of paying their mortgage payments and a personal bankruptcy will eliminate these debts, this may be a viable solution.
- Benefit: Does not require lender approval.
- Drawback: If a homeowner cannot afford their mortgage payment, a bankruptcy will only stall—not stop—the foreclosure process. Bankruptcy can be costly, is damaging to credit scores, and can only be declared once every seven years.
If a homeowner has sufficient equity in their property and their credit is still in good standing, they may be able to refinance their mortgage.
- Benefit: In some cases, this will lower payments.
- Drawback: In today's market, a refinance will almost always raise mortgage payments, and is an expensive process.
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (military personnel only)
If a member of the military is experiencing financial distress due to deployment, and that person can show that their debt was entered into prior to deployment, they may qualify for relief under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The American Bar Association has a network of attorneys that will work with servicemembers in relation to qualifying for this relief.
- Benefit: If qualified, this will lower payments on all consumer debt in addition to mortgage payments.
- Drawback: Must be active military to qualify.
Sell the Property
Homeowners with sufficient equity can list their property with a qualified agent that understands the foreclosure process in their area.
- Benefit: Allows homeowner to avoid foreclosure and harvest some of their equity.
- Drawback: In many cases today, homeowners do not have sufficient equity to sell their property without negotiating a short sale (see next solution).
If a homeowner owes more on their property than it is currently worth, then they can hire a qualified real estate agent to market and sell their property through the negotiation of a short sale with their lender. This typically requires the property to be on the market and the homeowner must have a financial hardship to qualify. Hardship can be simply defined as a material change in the financial stability of the homeowner between the date of the home purchase and the date of the short sale negotiation. Acceptable hardships include but are not limited to: mortgage payment increase, job loss, divorce, excessive debt, forced or unplanned relocation, and more.
- Benefit: A short sale allows the homeowner to avoid foreclosure and salvage some of their credit rating. This also keeps foreclosure off the individual's public record, and in many cases will allow the homeowner to avoid a deficiency judgment. Borrower may qualify for another mortgage in as little as 24 months (as opposed to five years for a foreclosure).
- Drawback: Short sales can be a trying process in which a homeowner is best served by contracting with a qualified real estate agent to guide the way.
This represents only a summary of some of the solutions available to homeowners facing foreclosure. Please call me today for a free confidential evaluation of your individual situation, property value, and possible options.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is understandable to have questions when coping with a new and challenging situation, especially when a home is at stake. The reality is that millions of homeowners across the country are finding out that they have more questions than answers. We hope that the following information will help you better understand the circumstances. If you have further questions not addressed below, or would like additional information resources, feel free to Contact me.
Do I qualify for a short sale?
The qualifications for a short sale include any or all of the following:
- Financial Hardship – There is a situation causing you to have trouble affording your mortgage.
- Monthly Income Shortfall – In other words: “You have more month than money.” A lender will want to see that you cannot afford, or soon will not be able to afford your mortgage.
- Insolvency – The lender will want to see that you do not have significant liquid assets that would allow you to pay down your mortgage.
What is a mortgage modification?
A mortgage modification is a process through which your mortgage lender changes any or all of the following:
- Your interest rate
- Your principal balance (through a reduction)
- Your loan terms (example: from an adjustable to a fixed rate)
This process can allow borrowers to stay in their property when they can no longer afford their current mortgage payments.
Why would a lender modify my mortgage?
Lenders have realized that in some cases it is better for them to work with current borrowers to lower payments or possibly improve terms in order to keep homeowners in their properties. The average foreclosure can cost a lender from 35-50% of the value of a property, so keeping borrowers in their homes is a good option for everyone.
What do I need to qualify for a mortgage modification?
According to the Making Home Affordable Web site (www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov), you will need the following information for your lender to consider a modification:
- Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement
- Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the house
- Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards
- Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans and car loans
- Your most recent income tax return
- Information about your savings and other assets
- Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of your household, including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources
If applicable, it may also be helpful to have a letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to reduce or expenses to increase (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.)
How do I qualify for a mortgage modification?
The first call you make should be to your lender, have the information above ready to discuss with them and call your customer service line to ask them what options you have available. If the person you speak with does not understand what you are asking, you can ask to be referred to one of the following departments (different lenders have different names for these departments):
- Loss Mitigation
- Mortgage Modification
Prior to contacting your mortgage lender you can quickly complete an eligibility test at www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov. This test will let you know if you are eligible for a modification through the government-sponsored Home Affordability and Stability Program (HASP). For a list of mortgage lenders and servicers, visit www.HopeNow.com.
What if I don’t qualify for a mortgage modification, can’t afford my home, and owe more than it’s worth?
You are not alone and foreclosure is not the only option. If your mortgage lender or servicer will not work with you to reduce your payment, you may want to consider a short sale. Agents like me, with the Certified Distressed Property Expert® Designation, have undergone extensive training in how to process and negotiate short sales. A short sale allows you to sell your home for less than what you owe and avoid foreclosure. Speak to your market expert to see if you may qualify.
What is a Home Affordable Refinance?
If Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owns your mortgage, you may be eligible for a Home Affordable Refinance. This will allow you to refinance your home and often lower your payments.
What are the qualifications for a Home Affordable Refinance?
According to the resources released by the government, following are a list of qualifications:
- You are the owner occupant of a one- to four-unit home
- The loan on your property is owned or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (see Useful Links)
- At the time you apply, you are current on your mortgage payments (you haven’t been more than 30 days late on your mortgage payment in the last 12 months, or if you have had the loan for less than 12 months, you have never missed a payment)
- You believe that the amount you owe on your first mortgage is about the same or slightly less than the current value of your house
- You have income sufficient to support the new mortgage payments, and the refinance improves the long-term affordability or stability of your loan