Mortgages and foreclosures, never popular topics, are dominating the news lately. Gradually, we are learning ways to halt or at least slow this onslaught of foreclosures ravaging neighborhoods and ruining lives. One stop-loss method is loan modification. Typically, loan mods are for homeowners who are behind in their payments and are facing foreclosure. In fact, I’ve even done a previous post about Loan Mod Myths.
Yet, loan mods do work. Here’s who will benefit from a loan mod:
Loan Modification Eligibility
Minimum of 12 months elapsed since loan origination date.
The mortgagor [homeowner] most be delinquent (3 full payments due and unpaid) or more.
Default due to a verifiable loss of income or increase in living expenses.
The Loan Modification mortgage must remain in the first lien position.
Loan may not be in foreclosure when executed.
Owner occupant, committed to occupy property as primary residence.
Mortgagor has stabilized surplus income sufficient to support the Loan Modification mortgage.
Does not have another FHA-insured mortgage.
In some cases, the banks today will modify loans for those who are less than three months late. And, banks will modify investor-owned or non-owner occupied. Banks do require financial information, such as pay stubs and tax returns, but credit scores are not an issue.
What this all means is that you must have enough income to support the new payment. Banks will not modify your loan if you cannot show you have the income to sustain the new, lower, payment.
If you can’t show the income, then the best option for you is probably a short sale which will do less damage to your credit than a foreclosure and allow you to purchase another home within 2 years, provided, of course, you’ve paid your debts during these years and you can qualify for a loan.
What about those who are not behind in their payments?
For those current in their payments, Loan Restructuring , may be the answer. If you have not missed payments or perhaps find yourself owing more than your home is worth, you may be able to redo your loans without having to bear the cost of refinancing.
How is this possible? Who is eligible for loan restructuring? Essentially, if you do not fall into any of the loan mod categories, then you may be eligible for a loan restructuring.
Loan Restructuring Criteria
- Homeowner may be current in mortgage payments or have missed a payment or two
- Mortgagor does not have to reside in the property; investment property qualifies.
- Mortgagor may receive a reduction in principal, interest and a cash refund.
- No “Hardship” letter is required.
- Existing income, debt, credit scores do not matter.
A loan restructuring may enable you to reduce your principal, especially in areas where property values have fallen drastically and many owners are thinking of “walking away.” How exactly can this happen?
In seeking to restructure a loan, the homeowner re-examines the loan at the point when it was originated. Attorneys or real estate brokers, like myself, working with attorneys search the documentation of the loan to see if it was predatory in nature or, if not, if it did not fully comply with federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act [RESPA] requirements. If a flaw is found, the original loan is voided and restructured (not modified). This allows the homeowner or his representative to negotiate with the lender from a position of strength. If the loan was “bad” from the beginning, why modify a loan to the advantage of the lender? Restructuring is clearly the best option for the homeowner.
If the loan is found to be predatory or in violation of RESPA, the homeowner may also be eligible for a refund of all or part of the original closing costs.
As we have all heard, banks packaged our mortgage loans into so-called “exotic” financial instruments and sold them all over the world. It’s these mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps which are the original cause of our Current Recession. In their bottomless greed, banks sold and resold mortgages, slicing and dicing them into parts which they cannot now put back together. It is these mortgages which are great candidates for restructuring.