Foreclosure filings nationally rose 33 percent in June compared with the same month last year, according to data collected by RealtyTrac, Inc. While the company is the nationally recognized source of foreclosure information, analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows wide discrepancies as the statistics pertain to metro Atlanta.
By any standard, the number of Georgia homeowners on the verge of losing their homes, and those who have already done so, is in the thousands. This week’s Voice of the Expert is Mechel Glass, director of education for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta. She provides critically important tips for people who find themselves fighting for their homes.
If you are behind on your mortgage payments, you are not alone. Millions of Americans either are late on their mortgage, or have been recently.
During this mortgage crisis some people have successfully worked with their lenders to bring payments up to date. In many of those cases help came in the form of a loan modification.
A loan modification is a change to your mortgage terms, such as extending the length of your loan, or reducing the interest rate.
Here are Glass’ five points to keep in mind when seeking help with a past-due mortgage:
1. Seek help! Studies show nearly half the people who lose homes to foreclosure never talked with their lender. Ignoring your lender’s phone calls and letters guarantees you will lose control of events.
2. Contact your lender’s loss mitigation department as soon as you think you may fall behind. If you are already behind and are getting calls from the collections department, be aware that it is the loss mitigation department, not collections, where employees are able to offer a loan modification.
3. Keep a contact log near the phone so you can track the names and contact information for everyone you speak with. Mortgage servicers are swamped with people calling these days, so it’s up to you to document any progress you make toward a solution.
4. If the negotiation process is overwhelming and you want a third party to help you get a loan modification, beware of the growing incidence of scams preying on people with mortgage problems. Two red flags are if a company “guarantees” it can get you a loan modification, or if it charges a big upfront fee. Only the lender can guarantee a result and there is no reason to pay for help with a loan modification.
5. If you are not comfortable calling your lender on your own, or are not sure what to say, please call a HUD-approved certified credit counseling agency where you can get help. Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta helps people save their homes from foreclosure every day. Counseling is confidential and free. To get started call: 1-800-251-2227.
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