Homeowners facing foreclosure or having trouble making their monthly mortgage payments will have another opportunity this month to meet with lenders to try to modify their loans.
A foreclosure prevention workshop will be held March 29, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 K St., in downtown Modesto. The free event is aimed at homeowners from throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley, one of the worst regions in the country for foreclosures.
The workshop is sponsored by The Bee, the city of Modesto and the state.
Credit counselors who have been trained by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be there to offer free advice on avoiding foreclosure.
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Representatives from many mortgage lenders will participate. Lenders will speak one-on-one with their current borrowers about ways mortgage contracts or monthly payments might be modified to make it possible for families to keep their homes.
So far, the lenders and mortgage servicing firms expected to participate include Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Wilshire Credit Corp., Carrington Mortgage Services, Wachovia, IndyMac, OptionOne and Litton Loan Servicing.
For homeowners whose lenders are not there, personal counseling will be offered to help determine what options might be available to prevent foreclosure.
Lenders can alter mortgage contracts numerous ways to make it easier for homeowners to make payments and stay in their homes.
Also, deals can be made to enable borrowers to get out of loans without a foreclosure appearing on their credit record.
According to FreddieMac, here are some of the things lenders may agree to do:
FORBEARANCE -- A temporary reduction in or suspension of mortgage payments until the homeowner's finances improve.
LOAN MODIFICATION -- A written agreement that permanently changes the loan terms to make the payments more affordable.
REINSTATEMENT -- An agreement to let the homeowner pay a lump sum for the amount past due in trade for stopping a foreclosure.
REPAYMENT PLAN -- An agreement that gives a fixed amount of time to repay what's past due along with regular monthly mortgage payments, which enables homeowners to eventually become current on payments.
SHORT SALE -- If the house can be sold for a price below what is owed on the loan, the lender may accept the lower amount and write off the rest of what's owed.
DEED IN LIEU OF FORECLOSURE -- The mortgage can be canceled and the title to the property voluntarily transferred back to the lender.
ASSUMPTION -- A qualified buyer may be permitted to take over the mortgage debt and make the mortgage payments.
But not all homeowners are eligible for such concessions. Persuading a lender to modify a mortgage takes preparation and proof that a homeowner meets certain criteria.
That's why homeowners planning to attend the March 29 workshop should bring all the information they can to document their financial situation, including all the paperwork they have about their mortgages.
Here are some examples of what homeowners should bring to meetings with lenders or credit counselors:
FINANCIAL HARDSHIP LETTER -- Write an explanation of your hardship or reason for being delinquent on your mortgage. Include what you plan to do to resolve your hardship.
LOAN DOCUMENTS -- Original mortgage contracts and all recent letters from your lender.
INCOME STATEMENTS -- Copies of your most recent payroll stubs or income records.
BANK STATEMENTS -- Copies of your account balances and stock portfolio statements.
FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURN -- Including copies of last year's W-2 statements.
BILLS AND EXPENSES -- List monthly expenses, debts and obligations, including utility, medical and credit card bills as well as property taxes and auto loans.
ASSETS LIST -- Detail what you own, such as cars, boats or vacation property.
CREDIT REPORT -- If possible, bring a copy of your credit report and check it for errors.
To help organize their finances, homeowners are encouraged to fill out a simple expense and asset report before the workshop.
An easy-to-print copy of a family budget form is posted at www.modbee.com/housing.
Homeowners who cannot attend the workshop can get free or very low-cost advice from HUD-certified housing counselors.
Here's whom to contact to schedule an appointment:
ByDesign Financial Solutions (Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Mid-Counties, Modesto), 800-750-2227, jthompson@bydesignsolutions. org, www.bydesignsolutions.org, 1101 Standiford Ave., Suite D-4, Modesto.
ByDesign Financial Solutions (CCCS of Mid-Counties-Merced), 800-750-2227, jthompson@bydesignsolutions. org, www.bydesignsolutions.org, 3351 M St., Suite 100, Merced.
ByDesign Financial Solutions (CCCS of Mid-Counties- Stockton), 800-750-2227, jthompson@bydesignsolutions. org, www.bydesignsolutions. org, 2291 W. March Lane, Suite A-110, Stockton.