The new deal
Renegotiating with banks and landlords
As the economy grows more uncertain, many people find themselves wondering how to get out from under their bills. One option worth considering is renegotiation—changing the terms of your loans and leases.
Financial help is case by case, due to the idiosyncrasies of the system. There is, unfortunately, no formula for fixing your finances in one step. So a third party may be the answer.
Auriton Solutions, a national non-profit with a regional office in Chico, helps people find resources for their credit, finances, mortgages and other loans. Certified Credit Counselor Bryan Trotter says there are lots of “vultures” out there who will say they need $3,000 to help you modify a loan, when in reality there is nothing they can do for you that a firm like Auriton (www.auritonnew.org, 896-2262) can’t do for free.
Auriton’s role in renegotiating is to provide the customer with a variety of options—and as someone who has been doing financial counseling for eight years, Trotter knows the ins and outs of the system. He says he is realistic and honest with people when advising them on situations because he doesn’t stand to benefit in any way.
Counselors “get to be flashlights in people’s lives when they’re completely clouded,” Trotter said. If there’s a situation in which he can’t help, “there’s always something I can refer people to—although there are always some people who are dissatisfied because they didn’t get the answer they wanted to hear.”
When it comes to renegotiating a lease, the answer might be “no” … though not necessarily.
As Georgie Bellin, a broker with The Group Real Estate, explained: “Right now everybody is pretty much in the same boat—it’s kind of like when you’re in college and everybody is broke. Everybody is having financial difficulty; nobody is exempt.” Because of this, she continued, most companies, whether they hold your lease or your credit, are receptive to renegotiating.
Her suggestion: Make an attempt on a payment to show good faith.
On the commercial side of real estate, many businesses in Chico are going to the owners of their buildings and laying out their case—that they don’t want to lay people off, but if there’s a way they could stay where they are with a reduction in rent for six months, then they could revisit their lease terms later.
It’s a solution that keeps tenants in their spaces and leaves landlords not having to fill vacancies. Local property owners seem to be receptive, Bellin said: “People are willing to help each other stay in business because none of us are immune to what’s going on.”