A friend of mine told me the loan modification program has ended. Is this true?
QUESTION: I have fallen behind on my mortgage. A friend of mine told me the loan modification program has ended. Is this true? Is there any way I can get my loan modified?
ANSWER: The government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) ended at the end of 2016. According to those familiar with the Obama program, it is no great loss. The program was widely criticized for poor execution and failing to help consumers.
Seventy percent of those who applied were turned down.
Although that program, as poor as it was, has ended, it does not mean there is no help at all for consumers struggling under the weight of an unaffordable mortgage. Borrowers may still be able to get a loan modification, but it will take a lot of effort.
First, a word of caution: Do not accept any offers from loan modification companies promising to help you modify your mortgage or stop a foreclosure. You need to beware of scammers, false promises and companies offering a special process or solution.
If your lender sues you for foreclosure, you need to contact an experienced lawyer familiar with the foreclosure process. A loan modification company cannot stop a foreclosure lawsuit. You need to have a proper legal representative.
As for getting a loan modification, this is possible to do yourself, although it is not an easy process. There are many hoops to jump through. The most important thing to do is to reach out to your lender as soon as you begin to fall behind on your mortgage payments. Do not wait until you are hopelessly in over your head.
Reach out to your lender immediately. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed or bury your head in the sand. Reach out to your lender and say you need help.
Get the lender every document it asks for: pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, checks stubs – everything. If it loses a document or says it needs something else, get it to the lender – promptly. Fill out every form. Whatever you do, do not miss deadlines. It will just start the process all over again, or worse, result in a negative decision. It is exasperating.
But if you want to save your home, reaching out to your lender, and then complying with every request is a small price to pay.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and Out of Darkness.” Email her at email@example.com.