First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to Moe Bedard, founder of this forum which has offered help and advice to so many people faced with the possibility of losing their homes. Like many of you, I felt like I was up a creek without a paddle before I found this forum. When the reality of losing your home sinks in, panic ultimately follows and often keeps us from being able to think logically about our options and what we need to do. I came very close to falling for one of the many "We'll Save Your Home" scams which are often advertised by impostors claiming to be attorneys or law firms who guarantee to prevent foreclosure for a fee of about $2,000! I'm sure there are certain situations where homeowners faced with possible foreclosure require the help of a reputable attorney for legal advice, but please be careful not to fall for a scammer who will take your money, sit back and watch you lose your home. I'm convinced most of them are probably investors who then go to the bank after your home is foreclosed and buy it for pennies on the dollar, re-sell and fatten their bank accounts even more. Most of us who who are behind on our mortgage payments, facing foreclosure and desperately needing a loan modification can't afford these sharks anyway!
The good news is . . . help if FREE from many organizations such as The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) , The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) and Making Home Affordable (HAMP). Here are the links:
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Making Home Affordable - Home
Unfortunately, we can’t just call our Mortgage Company and say, “I want a loan modification so lets do it over the phone right now.” It would be nice if it was that easy, but it’s not. There is a process and guidelines we all have to follow. That said, do your homework ahead of time. Being well informed and prepared from the start will make things a little easier and a lot less frustrating.
Here are a few hints for those who are just getting started and seeking information about how to get started with the loan modification process with AHMS.
NOTE: This information is based on my own personal situation and my decision on how I approached things. It is not intended as professional or legal advice and should not be considered as such. But, I hope some of this information will help you!
The following link will provide you with a 38 page PDF file with complete and detailed information about HAMP and the steps mortgage servicer's must take in effort to provide your loan modification. It also outlines all other steps they must exhaust prior to foreclosure if a modification is not an option. My best advice to you is to read this in its entirety so you understand the plan and are prepared play hardball if and when needed. Knowing this information is your best defense.
American Home Mortgage is also a member of "Project Lifeline." Here is a partial quote from the AHMS website regarding Project Lifeline:
“Project Lifeline is different than the "streamlined" ASF approach to loan modifications announced previously as it applies to a broader variety of loans. By offering the homeowner the opportunity to 'pause' the foreclosure process with just one phone call, the mortgage servicer can let the homeowner know that they’re serious about trying to find a loan modification that works, while establishing time for both parties to identify and act on possible solutions.
Note: The is where I started my process to prevent foreclosure.
Here is the link to the webpage and full contents:
When you visit this link, it will advise you to call AHMS to let them know you are interested in information about Project Lifeline. It is important that you call, but unfortunately you will get a representative whose main job is to try and get you to make a payment before providing information. We’ve all dealt with these reps who are essentially the collections team who get paid minimum wage plus commission for each payment they get from us. Obviously they are doing to hound you for a payment and ask all the questions you’ve answered a dozen or so times before. In an effort to reduce time on the phone with the rep . . . before I called, I faxed a request to 1.866.452.1837 stating that I’d read about Project Lifeline on the website and was officially requesting AHMS send the necessary paperwork via US mail for consideration of a loan modification under our US Governments Making Home Affordable Plan (HAMP). In your fax, be sure to include:
1.The date (and be sure to send your FAX on the same date and be sure you print a FAX transmittal page for proof of sending)
2.Names of borrower and co-borrower as listed on the loan docs
3.Your loan number
4.Send your letter to the attention of: Jeanne Drake, Senior VP of Home-ownership Preservation Department
5.If you have already received a “Notice of Default,” mention that you are officially requesting the opportunity to 'pause' the foreclosure process pursuant to AHMS participation in “Project Lifeline”
6.Request necessary paperwork for a loan modification under our US Governments Making Home Affordable Plan (HAMP).
7.Request written verification of receipt of your request
8.Mention that you will also be calling AHMS at 1.877.304.3100 (general number) to speak with a representative to let them know that you have faxed a request for this information
After you fax this letter (remember to print a fax transmittal page for proof of date and time of sending), wait about 24 hours and then make the dreaded call to the AHMS representative at 1.877.304.3100. Give them your name, loan number and simply tell them you are not calling to make a payment and you are not able to make a payment. Tell them that you are calling to verify that they have received your faxed letter to request a pause of the foreclosure process (per Project Lifeline) and have also requested all necessary information for consideration of a HAMP loan modification. Yes, you will still probably have to answer some questions, but just grin and bear it. Ask the rep to make a note of your call and your specific request in your file notes. Before you hang up, ask them again if they have posted those notes. Lastly, don’t forget to get the name of the person you speak with and ask them when you can expect the HAMP package in the mail.
When you hang up, send another FAX to the attention of Jeanne Drake stating that you called and spoke with (name of rep) on (date) at (time) and requested the specific information. Also mention the date the rep advised you should receive the package in the mail and that you will complete and return all information upon receipt.
If you do not get the package by the date promised, call and fax again and include a copy of your first fax request. They told me it would arrive in 5 business days, but it was actually 14 days before I received it. When I didn’t get the info on day 5, I faxed and called every other day until I got it.
NOTE: Start a contact log and be diligent about making notes of all phone, fax and e-mail correspondence. Always make a note of the person you spoke with and their direct phone number and/or extension. This log may very well be your saving grace in the future!
When you receive the packet, compile all the documents and paperwork on the list of required documentation and submit by the date indicated. In the meantime, you can go to the website and get a complete list of the documents and information you will need. Here is the link:
When you mail documents, send them with a tracking number so you can track the date and time they are received by AHMS. Better yet, send them via certified mail so you have a signature of the person who signs for them. And, just to be safe, fax those documents as well and request verification of receipt. Be sure to print the FAX transmittal page!
Once AHMS receives your info, they will review everything to make sure you have sent all required documents and let you know if they need anything else. This is usually done via mail. Once your file is complete, a member of the Home-ownership Preservation Team will be assigned as your case negotiator. It may take as little as a few days or as much as several weeks before you get a call from your negotiator. Waiting is often the hardest part, but remember… once AHMS has received your request for consideration of a loan modification, the foreclosure process is paused and time is on your side. This is where patience pays off! If you don’t hear from them by mail or phone within 20 days, it would be a good idea to make a good faith call and send another FAX to check the status of your case.
In my situation, I received a verbal approval for my loan mod within 3 weeks of returning all docs. When my negotiator stated the monthly amount of the 3 trial period payments and the decreased interest rate, the monthly payment was much higher than I had calculated based on 31% of our income. I asked him to explain how he came up with that figure and sure enough, he had miscalculated our income! He recalculated with the correct income and the monthly amount was then within a few dollars of my calculation. The recalculation also reduced the modified interest rate from 5.45% down to 2.15%. That said, if something doesn’t add up or sound right, question it! He said it would take about 2 weeks to receive the trial period documents. I haven’t received those yet, but will be sure to read over them with a fine toothed comb before signing anything. I did ask him if the payments would be the same once the loan is permanently modified. He said the monthly payments would be the same or pretty close to the same amount. He advised that the only thing that would change the payments would be an increase or decrease in escrow amounts such as property taxes and/or homeowner’s insurance or change in income.
Now, I’ll just wait and see how this all plays out in the end.
To those of you just starting this process, “Fight With All Your Might.” Bad decisions by our government are the reason our economy is in the toilet and the reason most of us have ended up in this situation. Furthermore, the government has now provided billions of dollars to help troubled homeowners facing foreclosure. In the end, it will be us, the taxpayers who foot the bill for this, hence, all the more reason to put up a fight to keep your home!
Best of luck to everyone and please share your experiences as well in an effort to help others!
Was curious and now hopeful in Idaho!!!