Tag Archive | "Foreclosure"

Mortgage Trouble? Short Sale or Loan Modification – Which Is a Better Option?

Mortgage Trouble? Short Sale or Loan Modification – Which Is a Better Option?

Description: This article describes the pros and cons of short sales and loan modifications. It offers some useful tips for deciding which would be the best option for you.

When you agree to enter into a mortgage on a home, you are agreeing to abide by specific terms set out in a loan agreement. You agree to a payment schedule and a payment amount, based on the amount of the mortgage loan and the interest rate offered by the mortgage company. But what are your options when you find that you can no longer abide by the terms of the agreement? For whatever reason, if you find yourself unable to meet your mortgage payments, there are several options available.

Loan Modification
The first thing you should look into would be a loan modification. A loan modification is simply the process by which the terms of the original mortgage agreement are changed. In a mortgage agreement, the mortgage lender holds a lien on the property until the mortgage is paid off. Loan modifications that benefit the borrower are typically changes in the interest rate, or to change from a variable to a fixed interest rate. Changes could be made in the accrual of late fees and penalties or could even be in the length of the loan. A fifteen-year mortgage could be lengthened to a thirty-year mortgage. The borrower can be in default, in bankruptcy or in foreclosure when these loan modifications take place. The modifications take place at the discretion of the mortgage lender. Often, it is their financial best interest to modify the terms of the loan because it would ensure that the buyer would continue to pay the mortgage, which would be more valuable to the lender than foreclosure.

Certain criteria must be met in order for a loan modification to be considered. Those criteria can change, so it’s good to check with your lender or with your attorney to find out if you qualify for a loan modification. Loan modification is a good option for people who are basically financially stable, but who need the mortgage to be restructured in order to keep current.

Short Sale
A short sale, in real estate, occurs when the property sells for less money that the borrower owes on the home. A short sale is usually done to avoid foreclosure on a property, something a mortgage lender usually wants to avoid. In a short sale, the mortgage lender agrees to discount a loan balance because of some financial hardship on the part of the borrower. Most of the time, the mortgage lender agrees to take the entire proceeds from the sale of the home as payment on the mortgage, agreeing to forgive the outstanding difference owed by the borrower. This usually occurs when the borrower cannot afford to pay the mortgage anymore and the bank does not want to foreclose.

What’s best for you?
• Saving your home and avoiding foreclosure is the primary goal in deciding what the next step is for you and your family. If you are experiencing a temporary

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What Should A Homeowner Do Upon Receipt of a Foreclosure Notice, NOD, or Notice of Default?

What Should A Homeowner Do Upon Receipt of a Foreclosure Notice, NOD, or Notice of Default?

202px-foreclosedhome3If you are behind in your mortgage payments, it is likely you have received a Notice of Default (NOD) also known as a Foreclosure notice from your lender. A Notice of Default (NOD) is a public notice to you, as well as the world, that you have defaulted on your mortgage and the lender intends to take foreclosure action if you do not pay by the regulated redemption period. What should you do if you receive a NOD?

Immediately Contact the Lender

You must NOT ignore the NOD, other foreclosure proceedings, or your lender. Call them at once and tell them about your situation. Most lenders are willing to work with their borrowers on keeping their loan in good standing and helping through financial difficulty to ultimately avoid foreclosure. The problem arises when borrowers have financial difficulty and simply stop paying on their mortgage without any explanation to the lender.

Discuss the Mortgage Payment Options

When you contact your mortgage lender, discuss with them your financial situation and what you can do to keep your loan current. If you have a significant change in your income, or your mortgage payment was increased considerably, you may be eligible for a loan modification based on your current income.

A loan modification changes the terms of the loan, such as the interest rate or lifespan of the loan, to create a lower monthly payment. While this means less income for the lender, if you are unable to meet your current mortgage obligation, yet still have a regular income, it is a better alternative than foreclosure. You will have to provide financial information and a hardship letter to your lender. If you are not comfortable with mortgage terms and issues, hire a professional service to negotiate on your behalf.

In addition, you may discuss payment forbearance or forgiveness of past-due debt. In many cases, lenders are willing to forbear loan payments up to three to six months to help a borrower get back on his feet financially. In cases of extreme financial difficulty, some lenders may even forgive payments and fees in arrears and allow the borrower to start fresh if they promise to keep current.

Consider a Short Sale Before a Foreclosure

There is almost no reason to walk away from a home and allow a lender to foreclose. If, ultimately, you cannot afford the mortgage, you can sell the home and pay the lender what is owed on the mortgage. However, this may be more difficult if you owe more than what your home is worth on the market. Many homeowners in mortgage trouble are finding this to be the case with falling real estate market values.

However, a lender can be persuaded to accept a “short sale” on a home. In this situation, they agree to let you sell the home for the lower market value, pay them the full proceeds from the sale, and then write off the outstanding balance. Why do lenders agree to a short sale? Ultimately, it is cheaper than proceeding through a full foreclosure process, which involves attorney’s fees, holding losses, and an inevitable short sale from the lender’s end as well.

A NOD is not the end of the road for a homeowner. It is just the first legal process in foreclosure. Remember that you have the right to discuss and re-negotiate your mortgage. Although you may lose your home, there are options to sell so that the lender does not foreclose and you prevent further credit issues.

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Should I Trust My Bank or Hire a Negotiator To Modify My Mortgage?

Should I Trust My Bank or Hire a Negotiator To Modify My Mortgage?

loan-modification-should-i-trust-my-bankIf you’re having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payments, then perhaps a mortgage loan modification might be the answer. A loan modification can reduce your monthly mortgage payments and help you keep current with your mortgage based upon your financial means. However, when you talk to your bank or mortgage lender about a modification, are your or the bank’s best interest involved?

The bottom line is the answer to this question. The bottom line for the lender is to make income in the form of interest on money they lend to others. If a borrower fails to make payments as agreed in the mortgage terms, then the lender may have no choice but to foreclose on the home and recoup their losses on the resale of the home. Usually a foreclosure is a great expense to the lender in attorney’s fees, filing fees, and losses incurred while holding the property for sale. All efforts to avoid foreclosure should be taken by the lender, including modifying the loan in extreme cases to help a borrower repay the loan.

Getting Professional Modification Help

Although foreclosures are not desired by lenders, they still have many strict guidelines in making and modifying mortgages to suit the owners and investors of the lending company. Subsequently, it may appear ironic that lenders want to avoid foreclosure, but are also not willing to work with borrowers to negotiate a reasonable settlement for both parties.

A professional foreclosure help specialist company can help you with a loan modification by talking to your bank directly and working with them on your behalf to resolve a mortgage into more affordable terms. These companies are usually run by experts in the mortgage finance industry and present many advantages over a DIY endeavor:

Experience – Many of these professional modification negotiators have been operating for years and have extensive experience in negotiating new mortgage terms. They are familiar with the foreclosure and loan modification process and know what it takes to reach a deal, with even the most stubborn lenders.

Contacts – Foreclosure help specialists usually work with the biggest loan mortgage companies in the country and have many contacts within each. By having and continuing good relations with lenders, they have an upper hand in renegotiating your contract.

Results – In most cases, foreclosure help can secure an agreeable mortgage modification that is acceptable by both lender and borrower. If not, then they can work with the lender on an exit plan to avoid foreclosure by a short sale. In a short sale, you may end up selling your home for less than is owed on the mortgage, but the lender accepts the short amount and writes off the balance. This bodes much better for your credit report than foreclosure.

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What Can I Expect If I’m In Foreclosure?

What Can I Expect If I’m In Foreclosure?

foreclosure-lgIf you are having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payments and find yourself needing foreclosure help, you are not alone. Millions of homeowners have lost their homes due to foreclosure over the last few years. In 2008 alone, over three million foreclosures occurred in the United States. If you are in foreclosure now, what should you expect and how can you manage this stressful situation?

What is Foreclosure?

Foreclosure, also called default on a mortgage, occurs when a borrower fails to meet the terms of a mortgage secured by real estate. Usually, the first stage of default is delinquency caused by a late payment.

If a borrower continues a delinquency and fails to make the scheduled payment and subsequent payments, the mortgage company will begin the foreclosure process by filing a Notice of Default (NOD). This is a public notice filed in the home’s county recorder that describes the borrower’s default, as well as confirms the lender’s intention to foreclose on the home if the mortgage is not promptly brought up to date.

How Does the Foreclosure Process Unfold?

The process of foreclosure after the NOD is different from state to state. Some states have requirements that mortgage lenders give plenty of time for a borrower to redeem the mortgage and keep their home. This process can take up to a year and even up to two years from the beginning process of foreclosure until a defaulted homeowner is evicted and the house sold at auction. Some states, on the other hand, allow lenders to give little time for loan redemption, and the final foreclosure could occur in less than a year.

However, all homeowners in the foreclosure process can expect many letters from the lender and the lender’s attorney asking and demanding that the loan is paid, even while they are pursuing foreclosure. Once a homeowner fails to redeem their loan during the NOD timetable, the mortgage lender proceeds with asking for a judicial or non-judicial (depending on state laws) home sale and auction to recover their losses. As mentioned, a foreclosure auction sale could be months, even a year or more, after the first delinquency.

What Are Alternatives To Foreclosure?

If a homeowner truly wants to keep their home, they should talk with their lender about alternate solutions. Here are some possibilities to avoid foreclosure:

  • Loan Modification – Negotiate with the lender to change the interest rate or other terms that can effectively lower a monthly mortgage payment to a more affordable level. You will have to detail your financial statements and present a hardship case and hardship letter to your bank.  Sometimes this may require the help from a professional mortgage modification specialist company.
  • Forbearance – In some cases, a mortgage lender may be willing to issue forbearance on payments for a limited time, usually three to six months, giving the borrower time to get caught up on his finances.
  • Short Sale – If a borrower cannot financially afford the mortgage any longer, he or she may be forced to sell the home in order to pay the mortgage in full. However, what if the final selling price is less than what is owed on the mortgage? A mortgage company may agree to a “short sale,” where they accept the market price for the home and write off the balance. This is a better alternative than foreclosure for both the lender and borrower.

Foreclosure is a last resort for a homeowner who can no longer afford a mortgage. The best practice to avoid this process is to constantly keep in contact with a lender and work out an agreement that avoids the hassle, expense and defeated humility of foreclosure.

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The Obama Plan: What the Bailout Means to People Who Need Debt Relief

The Obama Plan: What the Bailout Means to People Who Need Debt Relief

debt-bailout-and-your-mortgageMillions of Americans are feeling the stings and arrows of the declining economy. In 2008, over 250,000 homes were foreclosed each month – which translates into three million homes foreclosed in the entire year. More credit card debt is racked up each month, and millions of Americans are looking to consumer credit counseling services for debt management help. Now that newly elected President Obama has signed his stimulus bill into law, what does that mean for the average American with debt management issues?

Who the Plan Will Not Help

First and foremost, Americans must realize that the stimulus plan is not “free money.” People who have uncontrollable debt management issues will not suddenly see their debt wiped away. With that said, the plan does provide debt help to those in serious trouble with their mortgages and credit card debt.

Remember that the bill is a financial plan to help stimulate the American economy, not pay off personal debt. However, by helping Americans manage and control debt, more expendable income can be spent on goods and services – which is exactly how the plan hopes to revive the economy.

How the Plan Can Relieve Mortgage Debt

Millions of American homeowners are feeling the financial crunch of extreme adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) interest hikes or job loss, and they find themselves unable to make their regular mortgage payment. With an average of 250,000 homes foreclosed per month, what are homeowners to do?

The mortgage bailout portion of the stimulus package tags $75 billion for the setup and aid of getting mortgage borrowers back on their feet to avoid foreclosure. Though the federal funds will not give you free money to pay off your back payments or reduce your principal balance, the money will be used to set up a government intermediary program that puts qualified borrowers and lenders together to discuss real solutions to mortgage problems.

A homeowner who is suffering a financial crisis and is having trouble meeting mortgage obligations can use the program to help set up and negotiate a loan modification. However, if you are not delinquent on your mortgage and have the financial ability to pay your mortgage, this plan will not help you. In addition, should you have an inability to provide evidence of future employment, mortgage companies are unlikely to help you through this plan either.

A loan modification is a change in the original mortgage terms, such as a lower interest rate or extension of payments that reduces the monthly payment amount. Working with the lender in this fashion could result in the forgiveness of much of the principal balance, limited forbearance, and ultimately, help homeowners keep their homes and avoid the expense and trouble of foreclosure.

The Benefit of Tax Rebates

President Obama has also passed tax rebates for most Americans. Taxpayers will receive a portion of their 2008 paid taxes back to them in cash. Some of that money may be needed to pay back taxes owed or can be spent directly on reducing piling credit card debt.

Americans who are careless about their debt management and spend more than their means will not see much help. It is people who are responsible and are making real efforts to pay off debt who will benefit from the stimulus bill.

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Tips on How to Write a Hardship Letter for a Loan Modification or Short Sale

Tips on How to Write a Hardship Letter for a Loan Modification or Short Sale

foreclosure-lg1A hardship letter is a letter written to your bank or mortgage company telling them why you can no longer afford to make the payments on your home. This letter describes your hardships and specifically what has happened that caused you to fall behind.

Based on the current credit environment, hardship letters are being used as a tool to help homeowners avoid foreclosure on their homes. The result can be a modification of the loan or the acceptance of a real-estate short sale by the bank.

Some basics to remember in writing your hard ship letter are to:
• Write the letter in your own words with feeling. Also show your appreciation for their time. A real person will be reading this.
• Be specific on your hardship. Good examples of hardships would be: A significant cut in pay or loss of employment, a medical issue that prevents you from working, or becoming a single parent with out child support.
• Provide the reason you fell behind on your monthly payments. Detail each delinquency with specific dates.
• Provide an offer to resolve the debt issue and show a willingness to cooperate in a solution to retain your home.
• Provide documents that show that your are having financial hardship. Examples could be recent late notices on bills, your taxes from the previous year and your bank statements.

For specific examples of a hardship letter you can use click here:  Sample Hardship Letter For Loan Modification

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How Specifically Do Lenders Modify My Loan?

How Specifically Do Lenders Modify My Loan?

If you are a homeowner interested in and qualify for a loan modification, it is important to keep in mind that the lender is forgiving a portion of your debt. There are several types of loan modifications that a lender can offer you: interest rate, length of amortization, principal balance reduction for a first mortgage as well as for a second mortgage. Principal balance reduction is the most coveted approach of all loan modifications. Make sure to avoid quick fix loan modifications that may be offered to you such as a simple forbearance, short sale, deed in lieu, or temporary interest rate reduction. These types of loan modifications may seem appealing at first, but they will generally hurt you in the medium- to long-term.

While your home can be repossessed through foreclosure if payments are not made, the lender or the loan modification company cannot make any changes unless all individuals on the mortgage agree. Your notarized permission must be received to implement any changes.


Interest Rate
The simplest feature in a loan modification that can be adjusted by a lender is the interest rate. If the interest rate is lowered, so is the mortgage payment.

If you are a homeowner who originated a sub-prime short term adjustable rate mortgage several years ago at 5% and then saw it adjust to 9%, for example, you probably are having quite a bit of difficulty making the additional monthly payment. Now that loan modifications are more available from lenders, you have another option.

All lenders are willing to aggressively lower interest rates for loan modifications to qualified applicants when they are not requesting a reduction of the balance reduction of the mortgage or an increase in the length of amortization. A lower interest rate on the mortgage is the simplest, safest and most cost effective loan modification for lenders.

Length of Amortization
Length of amortization refers to how many years a borrower will be paying back the mortgage. The most typical timeframe is 30 years. The amortization does not reflect the length of time that the interest rate is fixed, just the total years that the mortgage will be repaid. For example, if you have a five-year adjustable rate mortgage amortized over 30 years, the interest rate will adjust after five years and can adjust up or down for the remaining 25 or until refinanced. In order to make payments more affordable, a lender may offer you the option to stretch out the loan modification payments over 40 or 50 years. This will lower your monthly payments considerably since you would now have an extra 10 or 20 years to pay off the loan modification. Any recalculation of the amortization is always done using round numbers. The options for loan modification are 30, 40 and occasionally 50 years.

Stretching out the amortization in a loan modification does not help the higher interest rates nearly as much as it helps the lower rates. During the mortgage boom, sub-prime lenders were much more inclined to offer longer amortization for loan modifications since they were qualifying the borrower with around the same payment as the 30-year loan but they were collecting 10 more years worth of interest.

Stretching out the amortization for a loan modification has additional benefits. Borrowers who paid interest only payments for the first few years were not paying down any principal. That means that your loan lost a year of amortization each year. Therefore, if you were to have kept your loan, it would have converted after the interest only period into a fully amortized fixed loan of usually 20 or 25 years. Those payments are enormous compared to the new 40- or 50-year term. Lengthening the years of repayment in a loan modification might be helpful but usually not enough to turn around a troubled homeowner’s financial situation.

Principal Balance Reduction
The principal balance reduction is the most coveted of all loan modifications. The lender is forgiving a portion of your debt. Simply speaking, you just do not owe that money any more. Banks and lenders are very reticent to do this because this is a loss that is not recoverable and therefore not given away easily.

When banks or lenders do grant a principal balance reduction, it is because the value of the property is so much less than the balance owed that there is no reason for the homeowner to remain. If you owe $500,000 on a $400,000 property, would you want to pay those huge mortgage payments only to realize that you are still upside down? Even if you were to wait it out until the market recovers, you would not know how long it would be until the property value appreciates to $500,000 again. It would be wiser to walk away from the home, take the credit hit, and rent a very similar house down the street for half the monthly payment.

Principal balance reductions help in more ways than just reducing your debt. It also reduces your payments and the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan.

Principal Balance Reduction involving a 1st and 2nd Mortgage
Principal balance reductions are much easier to get when you have a first and a second mortgage because in the instance of a foreclosure, the lender of the second mortgage is likely to get nothing. The proceeds from a foreclosure will result in the first mortgage getting paid off first. Then whatever is left over goes to the holder of the second trust. Holders of second mortgages are absorbing massive losses while recuperating nothing. Since lenders realize this, they are much more likely to grant a reduction. The banks or lenders would rather get 10 to 20 cents on the dollar rather than nothing. If you cannot make your payments, you are going to lose your house. Lenders are going to do what it takes to prevent that. If the same lender owns your first and second mortgages, you are in the overall best position for a principal balance reduction.

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What Banks Are Looking for to Grant a Loan Modification

What Banks Are Looking for to Grant a Loan Modification

If you are a homeowner considering a loan modification, keep in mind that a bank is as interested as you are in avoiding foreclosure. If you are a borrower who can continue to make payments, a bank will make every reasonable effort to help you modify your loan. However lenders will not grant loan modifications to every applicant. If you are a borrower and you cannot show the ability to repay the loan on time and consistently for the foreseeable future, then a bank would lose more money in the process and there is little benefit for the lending institution to do a loan modification with you. Foreclosure is a better option for the bank.


A loan modification becomes more of a liability than a foreclosure to the bank when the borrower stops making the payments. Foreclosure is designed to rectify this situation while incurring the least amount of losses from the borrower.

The notion behind turning around a liability is based on income. What amount of income can a homeowner allocate to the mortgage payment while still making ends meet? Is this a reasonable number for the bank to agree upon for a loan modification and let the homeowner stay in the house? What is the loss comparison between the proposed loan modification and the foreclosure? Can that homeowner actually make the loan modification payments that are proposed? What proof of income and cash flow is provided to back up these proposals?

If a bank agrees to a loan modification in lieu of foreclosure and the borrower still cannot make the payment, the bank is likely to lose even more. When a loan modification is agreed upon, the borrower usually has a forbearance period. The borrower’s status is also made current and past due balances are erased. Sometimes those balances are forgiven and other times they are added to the principal balance. Here is an example of the losses that the bank will take if the borrower still cannot meet the modified loan payments:

If a borrower is 90 days late when a loan modification is agreed upon and the forbearance is for three months, the bank is not receiving any payment during that time. The borrower then becomes current and is given a fresh start. But if after the loan modification is complete, the borrower starts missing payments again, the bank must now start the entire foreclosure process again.

Lenders generally will give the homeowner a few months into the loan modification before they file a notice of default, leading to foreclosure. Lenders will eventually foreclose on the property and get about the same in return at auction as they would have had they not engaged in a loan modification with the borrower. The difference is that if the property had gone into foreclosure, they would have had the money months earlier and not spent the time and resources modifying the loan. Loan modifications are very expensive to the bank, especially when they do not work, which is why banks place more stringent requirements on borrowers now to prove their ability to meet the loan modification standards in lieu of foreclosure before adjusting the terms.

More specifically, it is difficult to say exactly what the banks are looking for prior to granting a loan modification, however, ideal candidates have a number of the following characteristics:

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Why loan modification is a hot topic

Why loan modification is a hot topic

Loan modification is not a new practice, however it is more common now due to the mortgage crisis, declining home values and the economic recession. When property values are remaining consistent or are rising, your ability to get a loan modification tends to be very difficult. When a home facing foreclosure has equity, the bank takes a minimal loss or no loss at all. With nothing to gain the bank has no interest in approving a homeowner for loan modification with a track record of financial difficulties. The lender can place the property in foreclosure, find a new homeowner who can make the payments on time and remain profitable. Banks do not want to engage in loan modifications or deal with a risky borrower in a stable economy.


Declining property values combined with tougher lender guidelines and adjusting interest rates have resulted in the loan modification boom. No one is going to buy a home for 15%-30% above market value and no lender is going to refinance that property. Your mortgage, or mortgage-backed security, is the collateral for the note that a bank lends a borrower.

In the current economy, equity in homes has dwindled and, in many cases, has become negative. In lieu of foreclosure, banks would rather reduce the borrower’s mortgage payments and/or balance. Neither banks nor borrowers have power in these difficult times. In fact, banks and borrowers must work together to avoid foreclosure to not only keep families in their homes but also turn this recession around. Loan modification might mean immediate financial losses for our banking institutions, but the long-term mortgage payment losses are minimized versus mass foreclosures.

Millions of Americans have taken out high home equity loans against their mortgages in markets that were at the time appreciating but now have rapidly depreciated. Then, when the homeowner’s adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) changes and the payment can no longer be made a bank will try to refinance the mortgage, only to discover there is little chance. Most homeowners believe their only option is foreclosure. Since they cannot make the payments, sell, or refinance, are there other options other than foreclosure? The first options that a bank gives are a short sale, deed in lieu of foreclosure, or forbearance agreement.

With so many homeowners wanting to keep their home and a vast supply of empty homes, the banks are forced to revisit their loan modification strategy. In today’s economy, banks are willing to engage in loan modification to keep people in their homes. They can reach many more homeowners by doing so and continue receiving monthly mortgage payments.

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Comparison Shopping: Loan Modification or Refinance

Comparison Shopping: Loan Modification or Refinance

For qualified homeowners that need to renegotiate the terms of their mortgage with their lender, a loan modification is a good option when properties values are dramatically declining. Loan modifications are the best recourse for homeowners looking to renegotiate the terms of their loans, because the homeowner is unable to make payments under the original agreement or because the value of the property is worth less than the homeowner owes on the mortgage. Loan modifications also serve the needs of lenders that would prefer to avoid foreclosure and a sale of the asset at a significantly reduced price.

Refinancing is advisable in a stable or increasing market. It gives homeowners the ability to take cash out when needed, lower their interest rate, and fix their interest rate, among other options. In today’s declining market, refinancing is available to a much smaller group of homeowners — only those who are current with their mortgage payments, have a strong credit history and job security, disposable income after all bills are paid, and significant equity in their property are eligible.

Comparison Shopping
Whether you will be able to refinance or qualify for a loan modification depends on your individual situation. Most homeowners interested in making a move in this market are the ones who are in trouble and therefore do not qualify for a refinance. If you are behind on your mortgage, always attempt a loan modification first. When a homeowner is late but can show the ability to pay a lower payment, the benefits from a loan modification will greatly outweigh that of a refinance. The interest rate on such a loan modification will generally be lower than that of an on-time homeowner with good credit who pays to refinance.

Getting approved for a traditional refinance is extremely difficult. Since Wall Street is no longer purchasing loans from originating banks, lenders have cut programs to less qualified homeowners. When considering refinancing in a market where equity has evaporated, causing balances to exceed value, there is no option to refinance. This is true for all homeowners, sub-prime as well as qualified homeowners.

If you are a homeowner that is upside down, you would have no option to refinance and your best bet would be to seek out a loan modification. If you are not late but are upside down, loan modification companies such as ours can make it a seamless and transparent effort that could potentially knock tens of thousands of dollars off of your principal balance. Who could argue with that?

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