As homeowners and Realtors know, foreclosure are eating away at the fabric of the local real estate market, putting families on the street and wreaking havoc with the values of properties in their neighborhoods. In many areas, whole blocks have been decimated by foreclosures. The mortgage industry has responded to skyrocketing foreclosure rates by increasing their outreach efforts and offering loan modifications prior to foreclosures.
For the last few months, I have had the pleasure of working with a homeowner counseling firm in addition to my work as a Realtor.
We work with many of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers, primary mortgage insurers, government agencies and counseling agencies to facilitate communication with homeowners facing foreclosure, before it is too late. As an experienced real estate professional who cares about my community and has a vested interest in preserving home ownership, my job is to help the homeowner explore the option of loan modification with their lender. I am part of a nationwide network of Home Retention Consultants (HRCs) that ensures that homeowners understand their options to avoid foreclosure and help them through the process. There is absolutely NO COST INVOLVED for a client to work out their loan with any of the major lenders we represent (Wells Wachovia, CitiMortgage, B of A, etc).
Mortgage servicers are experts at managing loans and the related collections process. However, homeowners often view communications from servicers as rigid and intimidating. As a result, many homeowners never recognize the servicer’ desire to avoid foreclosure, and thus evade communications and never pursue an alternative to losing their home.Homeowners want to stay in their homes. Servicers want homeowners to stay in their homes if at all possible. The realty is thousands of foreclosures every year that could have been prevented if only the proper doors were opened.Home Retention Consultants are experienced, highly-trained real estate professionals who live in the communities they serve. The HRCs follow up with the process to make sure the borrower’s needs are being met.
Last week I met with a gentleman who was told, erroneously, that he needed to hire a third party firm’s service, at a cost of $2500, to complete a loan modification that the lender would have done FOR FREE. As a Realtor and a Home Retention Consultant, I am appalled that there are firms out there taking advantage of families in financial crisis, and extracting money from them, at a time when they don’t have it to spare. Shame on you!
As an HRC, I see clients at the most stressful of times, and I am able to help them. Lenders are reducing mortgage balances, interest rates, terms, and payments. Yesterday I met with a homeowner who was ecstatic to learn that their were options for his family that he had not begun to explore. I came to his home with a bona fide offer of a balance reduction of his loan, which lowered his monthly payment as well. He hugged me and said that this was one of the best surprises he had had in a long time. We called the lender, he accepted their offer, and the process was started, right then and there.
I plead with all homeowners to speak with their lender now while loan modifications are being done. Contact your Realtor, who can put you in touch with the right party to get the process started. Avoid third parties who will charge you fees for services that lenders are performing for free. Your Realtor will have the expertise to assist you in this, and will be happy to do so.
As Realtors, we have a vested interest in serving our community, not just when we take a listing or make a sale, but at any time when homeowners need our service. We can help stem the tide of foreclosures, and change our markets for the better, helping everyone in our community. Speak to your clients, and help them weather this financial storm. They will really appreciate you, and so will the community you serve.