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California Homeowners Can Stop Foreclosure with Loan Modifications, Forensic Loan Audits and Negotiated Mortgage Loan Modification Terms.
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04 Feb 11 Chase Opening Mortgage Help Centers in California

JPMorgan Chase announced that the bank was set to open a mortgage help center in Fresno California later this year.  The Chase Homeownership Center continues to get good feedback from their customers nationally. Even as California mortgage programs remained at the most affordable level in 50-years, not enough homeowners qualify for mortgage refinancing to reduce their monthly payments.

Chase continues to reach out to provide mortgage help and foreclosure relief to homeowners across the country.  These home loan relief centers are part of their national expansion to assist distressed homeowners to avoid foreclosure.  Eileen Leveckis, a spokeswoman for Chase in San Francisco said, “We started this whole initiative in response to the crisis.”

Chase first opened the homeownership centers in 2009 and they recently announced more expansion in an effort to extend mortgage relief on a local level. In June in Northern California, the bank opened a Walnut Creek center; other sites launched last year in Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

Five to eight loan officers would be redeployed from other Chase locales to staff the Fresno center, part of a 19-state, 25-center expansion of the mortgage help program. “We want to reach as many homeowners as possible and try to help,” said David Lowman, CEO of Chase Home Lending, in a statement. “The best way to help borrowers find ways to stay in their homes is to sit down face-to-face and discuss their individual circumstances.”

Since the home foreclosure prevention program began, Chase has met with 120,000 customers at its current 51 mortgage relief centers, the company said. Chase has promised many new mortgage help centers in 12 new states, including Oregon and Utah and they are opening additional centers in the Oxnard-Westlake-Simi Valley area and in Texas, Washington and eastward. According to Leveckis Chase has prevented 468,000 foreclosures with their loan modification programs, short sales and term extensions since 2009.

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14 Sep 10 Underwater Mortgage Relief

Attention homeowners who are struggling with an underwater mortgage – - – good news may have arrived.  HUD recently announced a new mortgage relief program that targets distressed homeowners who are trying to refinance a mortgage but have been unable to qualify because of negative equity.  The Emergency Homeowner Loan Program was developed to assist borrowers who have been able to pay their mortgage on time, but unable to refinance because their mortgage is greater than their property value.

In the recent past, the Obama administration has attempted to help the struggling housing market but most of mortgage relief initiatives have failed. Refinancing underwater mortgage loans has certainly become a common challenge that thousands of homeowners appear to be ready to embrace.  This new FHA program which started last week is often referred to as the FHA short refinance because the 1st mortgage balance is written down to the present market value, thus “short refinance.“

This refinance relief program was created to help to borrowers with underwater mortgage liens refinance into reduced principal mortgage loans. The maximum amount allowed to be forgiven is 10%. To help facilitate the news refinances, the U.S. Treasury has pledged to offer incentives for existing second mortgage liens who agree to “full or partial extinguishments” of the liens.  So, this new FHA plan that is boasting to help 1.5 million homeowners has me a bit concerned.The major obstacles most borrowers are facing are that their present mortgage lender has to agree to write off at least 10% of the principal balance on the 1st mortgage lien.  Like some of the past loan modification and FHA Secure programs, this mortgage relief effort is voluntary in nature and requires the consent of both first and second mortgage lien holders.

The government has placed aside $14 billion in TARP funds to help support this new program. But the question of the foreclosure day is, “Will lenders and mortgage servicers cooperate?”  Qualifying for the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program or FHA short refinance may be difficult but the financial rewards are significant so we recommend that you attempt to get qualified.  Getting your mortgage balance reduced and your monthly payment lowered are two amazing feats worth striving for.

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14 Aug 10 Obama Mortgage Relief Success Challenged in California

California Lawmaker Challenges the Obama Administration’s Claim of Successful Mortgage Relief

Underwater mortgages, short sales and home foreclosures have taken their toll on the California housing crisis.  Ask the struggling local homeowners how the California loan modification process is going.  Yet the Obama Administration continues to  act as if property values are rebounding and we are out of the woods economically.  I’m not sure where the President is getting his news from, but California has not turned the corner yet on the housing crisis.

Most distressed homeowners will tell you that get approved for a mortgage modification is almost as difficult as it is to be approved for a California mortgage refinance.  Foreclosures have become a serious problem in most of California and the Federal loan relief simply has not been attainable for most homeowners in the state.

Qualifying for California Loan Modification Programs

A Democratic congressman has issued a letter to President Obama slamming Housing Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan for claiming in an editorial that California’s Central Valley has seen an improvement from the height of the subprime mortgage crisis.

California Loan Relief is in High Demand!

The scathing letter is a rare on-the-record criticism of the Obama administration’s policies from a Democratic lawmaker and reflects the frustration many in Washington are feeling over the federal government’s pace of efforts in providing mortgage relief struggling homeowners.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., noted that the three biggest cities in his district are ranked in the top 10 of RealtyTrac’s foreclosure list and claims Donovan has a “fundamental disconnect” between the reality on the ground and the fairy dust the administration is spreading.”  Cardoza says that Donovan failed to note the delinquency rate in his district has risen to more than 16% when he touted the decline in foreclosure rates in the Central Valley.  “In most simple terms: things are not getting better in the Central Valley, they are getting worse,” he wrote.  “We’re not going beyond the comments the secretary made in his editorial,” HUD spokesman Jerry Brown told FoxNews.com.  The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

In the opinion article, published Wednesday in the Fresno Bee, Donovan declared that “thanks to comprehensive efforts of the Obama administration and local leaders, we see strong evidence that the region’s housing market is improving.”  Donovan held up Central Valley as an example where the administration’s efforts have led to a decline in foreclosures. He noted that nearly every part of the Central Valley “has seen a substantial decline in foreclosures since this time a year ago.”  “This improvement is the result of, in large part, the array of targeted tools the Obama administration has provided to communities in this region, to the state and to homeowners to begin stabilizing the housing market,” he wrote.  But Cardoza argued that the administration’s primary housing programs – the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) – “have not been effective in delivering aid to the hardest-hit communities.”  “Instead of taking ownership for these failures and taking decisive action to correct their obvious flaws, the secretary’s column is just another example by the administration to defend the existing programs while turning a blind-eye to the magnitude to this crisis.”

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09 Aug 10 Mortgage Relief Scams Targeted by FTC

Unfortunately many unscrupulous loan modification companies have committed mortgage relief fraud with shady loan mod scams across the country.  The Federal Trade Commission announced in April of 2009, it would pursue “fraud and deception by mortgage loan modification and home foreclosure companies,” The agency seeks to halt “the proliferation of mortgage relief scams targeting distressed and vulnerable consumers who are delinquent or facing foreclosure,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. He was joined by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and representatives of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and various state enforcers. See also its Nov. 24 release on Operation Stolen Hope.

Mortgage Fraud Victims

In this video, Latour “LT”Lafferty, attorney with Fowler White Boggs, identifies which mortgage fraud schemes consumers should look out for.

On July 29, the FTC announced Home Assure LLC, a company allegedly deceiving consumers with promises it could save their homes from foreclosure, will pay $2.4 million to victims in a settlement with the FTC. The case is part of the agency’s continuing crackdown on scams that prey on financially distressed homeowners.   The agency’s complaint alleges “Home Assure LLC conducted a nationwide marketing campaign designed to take advantage of struggling homeowners by offering so-called mortgage relief and home foreclosure prevention services. Home Assure typically charged consumers up-front fees of $1,500 to $2,500.” Company representatives falsely claimed its “special relationships with lenders would enable it to get favorable loan modifications or stop foreclosures, and that the company had helped thousands of consumers avoid foreclosure.”

The FTC works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices. The agency sends complaints to Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies Read more from this Tulsa World article.

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19 Jun 10 Are California Loan Modification Plans Working for Lenders?

Thousands of struggling California homeowners have been screaming for years to get additional mortgage relief. Did you know that banks holding mortgage notes foreclosed on nearly 200,000 homes in California last year? Worse yet, it looks like the California loan modification plans are not working because 2010 toll looks like it will increase last year’s totals for loan defaults. California state lawmakers continue to try and plead with the lending banks to do extend more loan workouts that help both sides. Yet homeowner advocates say a serious problem remains. SB 1275 would prevent mortgage lenders and banks from foreclosing on borrowers who are seeking to modify their loans.

According to the LA Times, Many mortgage lenders are “overwhelmed and disorganized but they continue to foreclose on borrowers who are actually in the process of finalizing a home loan modification that would ensure more affordable monthly payments. At a time when the housing market is flooded with foreclosed homes, this doesn’t help anyone. The federal government rolled their attempt to stem the foreclosure crisis with the Home Affordable Modification Program that was created to stop lenders from foreclosing while a modification is pending, but other initiatives don’t.

California Senators Mark Leno and Darrell Steinberg are proposing to extend the same protection to all Californians seeking loan modifications. The California loan modification bill (SB 1275) would stop a home loan lender or mortgage service company from initiating the foreclosure process until after a mortgage loan modification application was denied. It’s a modest change that wouldn’t require mortgage lenders to change the terms of any loan modification program. Nor would it require lenders to do more to reach borrowers before foreclosing than state law already requires or to slow down foreclosures on borrowers who are beyond help. The law would require mortgage lenders to notify borrowers who get behind on their home loan payments about the foreclosure process and the availability of home refinancing or loan modification options, if any. And if borrowers applied unsuccessfully for a loan workout, the mortgage company would have to send them a letter explaining why they were denied and how they can appeal the decision before filing a notice that the mortgage was in default. The purpose of the bill was not just another attempt to help homeowners avoid making their mortgage payments; but it was created to help protect lenders from themselves. A recent report revealed that Housing counselors say the No. 1 problem is poor communication between mortgage companies and distressed borrowers.

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07 Jun 10 Qualifying for the Federal Loan Modification Program

The last thing distressed homeowners need is more run around when they apply for a loan modification plan. The Obama administration has extended mortgage relief with the new federal loan modification program. One of the concerns people have is loan modification eligibility. Not every borrower will qualify so before you risk losing your house, find out if you qualify for the federal loan modification program. These home loan relief initiatives were created to help struggling homeowners, overcome financial hardships with foreclosure preventions with a loan workout.

Are You Eligible for a Government Loan Modification Plan?

Are You Eligible for Obama’s Loan Modification Program? To be eligible for mortgage loan modification options under the federal initiative, borrowers should be able to meet the following basic requirements:

o The home for which the loan being modified must be the primary residence of the applicant.

o The value of the present home mortgage cannot exceed $ 729,250 for a 1-unit property.

o The existing home loan should have been approved before 1st January, 2009.

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17 May 10 Home Affordable Modification Plans Failing?

According to CNN Money there are 637,353 distressed homeowners that remain in a trial loan modification agreement. The rate at which of borrowers entering the Home Affordable Modification Program HAMP has slowed as servicers have begun to implement new requirements to gather income documentation at the beginning of the mortgage relief process.

Is HAMP helping second mortgage lenders? New home loan modification statistics released by Treasury provide additional insight into just how well servicers are doing in converting trial mortgage modifications to permanent status. The six servicers who verified borrowers’ income before placing them in trials have transferred more than half to long-term adjustments, with HomEq Servicing and Ocwen Financial Corp leading the way with 83% converted. Those lending companies using stated income or no limited documentation approach, however, have yet to hit the halfway mark.

According to the State Department, the California loan modification program has not had much success either because borrowers still can’t afford their mortgage loan, even after the lender modifies the loan to a reduced monthly payment. The largest mortgage loan servicers are behind most of the top lending banks like, with Bank of America 25%, Wells Fargo at 25%, JPMorgan Chase at 22% and Citigroup at 21%. Homeowners also languished in trial loan modifications at certain servicers. Some 76% of those in the trial phase at Saxon Mortgage Services and 72% at JPMorgan Chase have remained at that stage for at least six months. Servicers, who met with Treasury and Housing Department officials last week, told the administration they would clear the bottle-necked process by the end of June.

According to industry insiders, major changes to the federal loan modification program are coming soon in the wake of criticism that the Obama administration must offer federal mortgage relief to struggling borrowers. Starting June 1st, homeowners will have to provide all their income verification documents before they are put into trial modifications. This will make it harder for troubled homeowners to start the process, but it should make it easier for them to qualify for permanent assistance. Refinance loans have been difficult for most homeowners to qualify for because of depleted equity and slumping credit scores, so the loan modification has become an important part of the foreclosure prevention equation.

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01 Feb 10 San Diego Home Foreclosures Rise

DataQuick reported recently that home foreclosures in San Diego County surged last month, even as default notices dropped to their lowest level in more than a year. Analysts read those contradictory signs as further evidence that the local market might be stabilizing, since foreclosures pave the way for purchases by financially strong buyers. Fewer defaults mean either a decline in distressed owners or greater action by mortgage lenders to offer loan modifications or refinance mortgages to prevent a foreclosure. But they said other factors, such as rising delinquency levels, higher interest rates expected this spring and continuing high unemployment, point to uncertainty in housing for the foreseeable future.

DataQuick reported that home foreclosures totaled 1,515 in December, up 41.9% from November and up 20.9% from a year earlier. It was the biggest stack of foreclosures since June’s 1,630. Meanwhile, notices of default, the first legal action on the road to foreclosure, dipped 11.5 % from November’s 2,122 to December’s 1,878, the smallest figure since November 2008. It was down 38.5 % year over year. To real estate agents hungry for inventory of low-cost foreclosures to sell to bargain hunters, the upsurge in foreclosures promises to refill empty lists of homes for sale, although agents have complained in recent months that banks aren’t moving quickly to list those properties as a California short sales possibly increasing their bottom line..

On the default side, the continuing decline reflects the pressure being placed on lenders to work with troubled owners by modifying loans to make them more affordable, at least on a short-term basis, or allow properties to be sold as short sales — sold for less than the outstanding mortgage balance. “Clearly, many lenders and (loan) servicers have concluded that the traditional foreclosure process isn’t necessarily the best way to process market distress,” DataQuick President John Walsh said.

DataQuick analyst Andrew LePage said San Diego had the state’s highest large-county foreclosure spike in December. “It’s a mystery,” he said of the increase. Home foreclosures were up only 19 % in the six-county Southern California region. Many analysts warned against extrapolating from the latest data to assume that widespread distress on the wane. “Because the economy is no better and values have not come back significantly, there’s pressure on banks to postpone notices of default in an effort to seek alternatives,” said Mark Goldman, an adjunct professor of real estate at San Diego State University. He said San Diego might be nearing a “rough landing” and some price increases in certain areas. But the high-end part of the market still appears weak.

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27 Jan 10 California Mortgage Defaults Down 24%

According to DataQuick the number of homes entering the first stage of foreclosure fell in the fourth quarter compared with the previous quarter, says a sign that banks are working with delinquent borrowers. Clearly, loan modification programs have helped thousands of California homeowners avoid foreclosures. Fewer Californian borrowers entered foreclosure during the last three months of the year as bailed-out banks appeared to step up their work with delinquent homeowners, according to data released this morning, although the number of homes taken back by banks rose slightly. California mortgage rates remain low, but most borrowers are unable to qualify for a refinance, so loan modification plans have become more important than ever.

The number of homes entering the first stage of foreclosure, or receiving notices of default, declined 24.3% during the fourth quarter from the prior three months, according to county data collected by DataQuick, a San Diego research firm. The decline in the default number is significant because any new wave of foreclosures will first be detected by that measure, according to the firm. Meanwhile, the number of homes taken back by lenders through trustee sales ticked up 2.1% in the fourth quarter over the third. The trustee sale is the final stage of California’s foreclosure process. “Clearly, many mortgage lenders and servicers have concluded that the traditional foreclosure process isn’t necessarily the best way to process market distress,” MDA DataQuick President John Walsh said. He said banks have been negotiating with distressed borrowers to keep them in their homes and increasingly turning to “short sales” in which the banks accept an offer that is less than the value of the outstanding mortgage; banks end up taking a loss on such deals. At the same time, big banks are feeling intense pressure in Washington to work with troubled borrowers through the Obama administration’s Making Home Affordable program. Much of that relief has been temporary.

Through December, banks had lowered mortgage payments for 172,288 California borrowers, but only 7.8% of those modifications were permanent, according to government data. Many experts consider that record a failure and fear that if the government doesn’t improve its performance those mortgage loans eventually will go into foreclosure and put pressure anew on the state’s housing market.

While the number of California mortgage delinquencies declined to 8.71% at the end of the fourth quarter from 8.87% at the end of the third, according to data from Equifax and Moody’s Economy.com, the percentage loans that were 120 days or more past due increased to 4.7% from 4.51%. Those figures indicate that the Obama administration’s efforts to help troubled homeowners have allowed some borrowers to stay out of default but kept many in a kind of late stage of delinquency limbo, said Celia Chen, senior director of Moody’s Economy.com. If the majority of borrowers who have received temporary loan modifications under Obama’s program are unable to get permanent changes to their bad credit-mortgages, another wave of foreclosures could follow, she said. “Given what we see in terms of the number of distressed properties that are in the pipeline, we do expect that home foreclosures will mount as borrowers are not able to make it from a trial modification to a permanent modification,” Chen said. “This will cause home prices to start falling again.” A total of 84,568 notices of default were recorded at county recorders offices during the fourth quarter, an increase of 12.4% from the fourth quarter of 2008. Trustees deeds recorded, or the actual loss of a home to foreclosure, totaled 51,060 during the fourth quarter, up 10.6% from 46,183 for fourth-quarter 2008. An all-time high for notices of default was reached in the first quarter of 2009 at 135,431.

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13 Oct 09 California Passes New Mortgage Loan Modification Bills

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger approved 7 new mortgage relief laws that affect loan modifications and a range of mortgage processes. The new loan modification law will restrict how lawyers and loan modification companies can receive money. California loan modification options may quickly disappear without a financial motive for professionals to negotiate mortgage loan modifications. This law will affect a variety of consumer homeowner protections to home-mortgage holders and may permit a few to keep their homes.

The governor signed AB 260 which will take effect January 1, 2010 and will tighten restrictions on mortgage brokers so they will be unable to steer borrowers towards riskier, higher-interest loans when they qualify for safer, more affordable home mortgages.

The mortgage relief law will also prohibit negative-amortization home loans, which offer monthly payments that do not include any principal or even all of the monthly accrued interest, which can cause the amount of a home loan to increase over time.

The law also limits prepayment penalties to no more than 2% of the home loan balance and gives state regulators the power to enforce federal lending laws. The governor vetoed similar legislation last year at the urging of some groups in the mortgage and real estate industries. The California Association of Mortgage Brokers, the California Mortgage Association and the California Association of Realtors opposed this year’s version of the bill to no prevail.

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