June 26, 2012 1:56 am
For those facing foreclosure — or who fear they may face it in the future — a call to a HUD-certified housing counselor can help. In fact, a recent study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) highlights the effectiveness of housing counseling in helping homeowners remain in their homes.
To help homeowners better understand the housing counseling process, the financial experts at MMI offer the following rundown of what to expect from a session with one of MMI's HUD-certified housing counselors:
Prior to calling, make sure you know and/or have access to the following information, as the counselor will ask for these things in order to better assess your situation: your monthly income; monthly expenses; debts and assets; and mortgage information – including servicer, payment amount, interest rate, amount of loan, date loan was acquired and your last contact with servicer.
A typical phone call lasts about an hour and begins with the privacy disclosure. Your counselor will then take time to answer any questions you may have. You will then be asked to discuss your specific hardship (the reason you're having difficulty making payments), which will give your counselor an accurate understanding of your situation in order to make the best possible recommendation.
Your counselor will explain your options based on your specific situation. Upon gathering the necessary information (listed above) and reviewing your specific hardship, your counselor will recommend the nonprofit resources and services that will be of most benefit to you. Then you will be offered information on all of the options available to you, as well as the foreclosure information specific to your state.
You will then review an action plan, which your counselor will create based on the information covered in the session. You will receive a written copy of the action plan, which will be used to prepare a recommendation to your lender based on the option that best fits your needs (if you choose an option).
At the conclusion of the counseling session, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in a conference call with your lender to go over the recommendation and see if your lender will be able to assist you. You should note that, while telephone contact is not required and is completely optional, it is an important part of the process in order for your lender to help you avoid foreclosure.
In the event you are not able to work with the lender to keep your home, you will be told what to expect and you may be offered a post-foreclosure counseling session. In this session you will learn more about what to expect after you transition out of the home.
If you are already in foreclosure, the most important thing you can do is stay in contact with your lender and seek help as soon as possible. While the foreclosure process varies by state, there a number of options that may allow you to slow or suspend the foreclosure activity — all of which your counselor can explain to you in detail.
Source: Money Management International
Published with permission from RISMedia.