Tips, Hints & Suggestions
Along the way I have picked up bits and pieces of information I wish I had known earlier in the process. Some of this is general - things that might have influenced how or even whether I submitted my initial request for a mortgage modification. Other parts are more specific. For example, for some reason my loan servicer, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, has made it very hard to figure out what forms they want used and what information they want submitted how often.
The first, and I think most important, thing you should know before you set out on the long and winding path toward mortgage modification is that this process is not for the faint of heart. I mean it. It's awful! Frustrating, time-consuming, maddening, ridiculous, crazy-making. You won't know whether you're dealing with the most unprofessional idiots ever to do business or the most dishonest, corrupt company ever conceived. Before you even start, read a bit of the detailed chronology of my ongoing case with Wells Fargo and this log by a Chase Bank borrower.
You'll marvel (but not in a good way) that these large, rich and supposedly well-run companies have completely failed to set up efficient, user-friendly systems for collecting and processing the modification requests of the thousands of people in need of assistance. There's a reason for this. They do not want you to make it through the process. If they can confuse you enough, tell you enough lies, wear you down and generally drive you crazy so you either quit voluntarily or believe them when they tell you that you don't qualify, they win. No organization that wants to help its customers, that actually intends to provide the service it offers, makes it this hard to figure out how to attain that service and keeps both the timeline and the criteria a big secret. Want some idea of your odds? They're not pretty.
By the end of 2010, data from the Federal Reserve showed only "approximately 3 percent of the seriously delinquent borrowers received a concessionary modification in the year following their first serious delinquency, while fewer than 8 percent received any type of modification" at all!" A May 2011 report from the Government Accounting Office shows that about 76 percent of 394 housing counselors surveyed characterized borrowers' overall experiences with HAMP - from the time they first inquired to the point at which they received a decision - as “negative” or “very negative.”
If I knew in March 2010 when I started this process what I know now, I would not have done it. I would have stopped paying my mortgage and walked away from my home. I would have my savings intact, no credit card debt and I would be peacefully settled into a rental property. Yes, I would have walked away. I might have felt guilt and shame, but it might have been the best choice. I would not have spent hundreds of hours waiting in phone queues only to be confused or flat-out lied to, doing online research to try to figure out this process or sending and resending document after document. I would be spending all my time rebuilding my business instead of, well, building and maintaing this website.
So I urge you, before you get your hopes up reading about this wonderful program the federal government and the lenders are offering to help you keep your home, to really think about what you want. And what you can take. If you're already behind on your payments, know this process takes many months at best. If you're not mentally and physically healthy enough to take a whole bunch of stress and emotional ups and downs, you might not want to go this route. I hope this site helps you make the best decision for yourself as well as offering some assistance if you do go forth into battle.
Loan Modification Myths and Facts
The Emotional Roller Coaster of Facing Foreclosure and Keeping your Cool while Navigating the Loan Modification Process
Raging against the foreclosure machine
Read this great series from ProPublica:
Loan Mod Profiles: The Runaround
Loan Mod Profiles: Delayed Then Denied, Often Mistakenly
Loan Mod Profiles: Fed Up, Giving Up
Loan Mod Profiles: In Trial Limbo
Loan Mod Profiles: For Some, a Modification
Homeowner Questionnaire Shows Banks Violating Gov’t Program Rules
"Wells Fargo is a real piece of work. The Obama administration recently blasted the bank by name as being one of the major lenders lagging behind on their promise to help homeowners keep their properties. After receiving billions of dollars from the government to help struggling homeowners, Wells Fargo turned around and offered loan modifications to a whopping 6 percent of their borrowers."
~ Wajahat Ali, bankruptcy attorney