There are remedies but you need to act quickly
“Come see me early.”
That’s the first thing housing counselor Dan Beveridge tells anyone facing mortgage troubles. “There are a whole lot of things to know, and your neighbors aren’t going to tell you.”
Beveridge is the foreclosure expert at the Community Housing and Credit Counseling Center in Chico, an offshoot of the nonprofit Community Housing Improvement Program that counsels the credit-challenged at no cost. He’s been busy lately, so busy that he can see most people only once. “My intention is to give them the entire bag of tricks in that first meeting,” he explained.
One common misconception is that people have to be behind on mortgage payments to qualify for help. Not so. Beveridge’s advice is to make an appointment the first time a late fee is incurred. That’s the point at which the window of opportunity for some loan-modification programs, such as the federal Home Affordable Modification Program, opens—to stay open only a short while, just two months in HAMP’s case.
Unfortunately, the people he sees are often five or more months behind, “so I’m in a bad spot from go” in helping them.
Every mortgage is different, depending on the bank or the company servicing a delinquent loan. Some use the federal program, others don’t. “Almost nobody” will reduce a loan’s principal in order to reduce monthly payments, Beveridge said, but many will drop the interest rate, extend the terms or create a balloon payment down the road to do so.
Other advice: Keep a record of everything, including every contact with the lender. And keep documents such as pay stubs and bank statements current; they expire after 60 days.
Beveridge said that between one-fourth and one-third of his clients obtain a loan modification. That may not seem like many, he said, but it’s seven times more than those who try it on their own.
The CHCCC can be reached at (530) 891-4124.