Free mortgage help events and one-on-one counseling offer options for retention or a graceful exit.
Regulators, mortgage loan servicers, and housing counselors came together last week at the South Florida Housing Roundtable sponsored by HOPE NOW. The focus of the roundtable was to discuss the state of the South Florida housing market in a post-recession landscape, as well as to plan for how to meet the unique needs of South Florida homeowners who still need assistance with their mortgages.
The roundtable also served as an opportunity for stakeholders to coordinate and form action plans for partnerships ahead of the Save Your Florida Home event sponsored by HOPE NOW being held this Thursday, November 19, from 1:00-7:00 PM at the Urban League of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale. This free event is designed to provide free mortgage help for South Florida homeowners who are still working to achieve stability following the market crash in 2008.
Consolidated Credit Housing Director Joe Cvelbar attended the roundtable, along with Tamila Eubanks of Bank of America, Bonnye Deese of the Broward Alliance for Neighborhood Devlopment, and District 9 Commissioner Dale Holness. Representatives from RealtyTrac.com, the Urban League of Broward County, BankUnited, and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida also attended to weigh on South Florida market conditions and the evolving needs of borrowers.
“The purpose of these roundtables is to foster discussion on ways various community organizations and agencies can partner to start creating new methods of collaboration to reach distressed homeowners who still need assistance,” says Cvelbar. “These discussions are valuable because it allows stakeholders to have a hyper-local discussion to relate these federally available programs to the needs of borrowers in our specific market.”
Although the South Florida real estate market is well on its way to equalizing, many homeowners are still struggling to overcome borrowing issues like negative equity and unfavorable adjustable interest rates.
“What we heard from RealtyTrac is that while Florida ranks amongst the top five states for property value recovery,” Cvelbar explains, “we also lead the nation with foreclosure inventory and time to foreclose, which sits at approximately 1,000 days here locally.”
Events like the one being held Thursday are designed to help borrowers explore options available under federal programs, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), and state programs, such as the Florida Hardest Hit Fund.
“Consolidated Credit will bring in a number of our HUD-certified housing counselors to assist on-site loan servicers and help homeowners to understand what their options are.”
HOPE NOW estimates about 300 to 400 distressed homeowners will be in attendance at this event. In the past during the height of the recession attendance at events like this could exceed 1,000, with a few events drawing in as many as 2,000 distressed borrowers at a time.
If you are a homeowner who has not yet taken advantage of refinancing or mortgage modification through programs like HAMP and HARP, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with your loan servicer or a housing counselor that can help you explore your options.
What you need to know for Thursday
The event on Thursday is free – with free parking. You will be able to meet one-on-one with a nonprofit housing expert to see if you qualify for mortgage assistance options such as loan modification or forbearance. If no options are available that allow you to retain your home, the counselor can also help you explore options for a graceful exit, such as a short sale.
“Even if a borrower is unemployed, there may be options to assist them,” Cvelbar says, encouraging homeowners who need help to come out, regardless of any financial distress or current challenges they may face. “If a borrower doesn’t have a steady source of income, programs like the Hardest Hit Fund can hold over foreclosure by making payments on behalf of the borrower for a period of time to see if there will be a change in their circumstances.
“HAMP also has a provision for unemployed homeowners who need an exit strategy. If a borrower is unable to make payments and it looks like there won’t be a chance for recovery then HAMP can allow the borrower to make a graceful exit and may even provide some help with relocation costs.”
The event will be held from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM on Thursday, November 19 at:
560 NW 27th Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311
Distressed homeowners should bring:
- 2 current pay stubs
- 2 current bank statements
- Mortgage statements
- Property tax and home insurance info
- Hardship letter
- Profit / loss statement, if you are self-employed
- Documentation of all income
For more information, visit www.hopenow.com.
More events to come, assistance available one-on-one
For distressed borrowers who can’t attend the event on Thursday, don’t worry. Events like these will continue to be held at least through next year. The HAMP program is authorized through the end of 2016, while the Florida Hardest Hit Fund is authorized through the end of 2017.
“If a homeowner can’t attend on Thursday, they should contact their loan servicer or a housing counselor,” Cvelbar confirms. “Since underwriters of different loan servicers only attend certain events, HUD doesn’t provide a central repository where homeowners can find future events in their neighborhood. A borrower’s servicer can tell them when they’ll next be in the area, or the borrower can simply reach out for one-on-one counseling that can be done in person or over the phone.”
Going through a housing counselor allows a distressed borrower to receive the same kind of help they could receive at Thursday’s housing event, minus the small chance for an instantaneous decision made by an underwriter.
“In some cases if the borrower’s servicer is at an event with a team of underwriters and the borrower has all of the documentation they need with them, then a decision can be made on the spot,” Cvelbar explains. “If the borrower walks in with everything they need, the servicer could provide an offer of trial loan modification and let the owner know what their new monthly payment would be so a decision can be made on the spot.”
Cvelbar admits these on-the-spot decisions are rare, but can happen and may offer a distinct advantage to attending Thursday, if you’re available. If not, you can still get a decision, but it may take up to a month before the loan modification is finalized.
“Over the years that these programs have been available, counselors and servicers have gotten the system down for processing these modification requests quickly,” Cvelbar confirms. “A decision is usually made within 30 days of an initial counseling session.
For more information on home retention options, call Consolidated Credit at 1-800-435-2261 to speak with a HUD-certified housing counselor today.