There has been much in the news in the past few weeks about mortgage modifications for homeowners who are having trouble making their house payments. Many are having difficulty qualifying for modifications, and so far the government’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has had disappointing results.

Last month I was working with a Eureka homeowner in financial distress who had attempted to modify their loan thru HAMP. Three months later they where declined for a HAMP modification because a mathematical equation the lender used had determined it would be better for the lender to foreclose then to modify the loan. The lender then offered an “internal” modification, but only if the homeowners would pay an extra $80,000 on the loan if in the future they paid off the loan or sold the house. My clients declined and we successfully pursued a “short sale”. It was a very emotional decision, but financially it was there best option.

As a side note, the lender also found a reason to decline these homeowners for participation in the governments Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA). If we had been successful in a short sale under HAFA, the lender would have had to offer the borrowers $3,000 relocation assistance.

Not all lenders are as devious as this lender was, but this experience was an example of how some lenders tend to manipulate or just completely ignore rescue programs meant to help distressed homeowners and lenders. My counsel remains for distressed homeowners to be proactive with their lender and be realistic about their options.

The Washington Post recently reported that “troubled homeowners who receive housing counseling are 60% more likely to avoid foreclosure and have their mortgage payments lowered significantly than borrowers who navigate the process themselves.” I can help homeowners facilitate the process of loan modification and discuss other alternatives to foreclosure if a modification is not an option.

As a CDPE, I feel it’s my duty to help anyone I can during these hard times. If you would like to know more about mortgage modifications and whether or not you might qualify, please feel free to contact me.