Homeowners struggle to work with lenders

September 29, 2008 7:13:53 PM PDT
The bailout package was to include a provision requiring mortgage lenders to work with their clients, to avoid foreclosure. The bill didn't pass and many who've tried to negotiate with their lenders didn't get anywhere.

"Project Lifeline has the potential to offer new solutions to responsible, able homeowners, who want to keep their homes," said Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson back in February 2008.

Paulson in February, promised embattled borrowers some help, in the form of federal legislation designed to force lenders to work with them, rather than force them into foreclosure.

Michelle Roberson from Antioch, took the government at its word. After falling behind on her mortgage payments, she worked out a forbearance agreement with her lender. If she made her $4,300 payments for at least six months, the lender would work out a loan modification. Roberson held up her end of the deal, making more than $30,000 in payments since January.

Last week, Litton Loan Servicing sent her a letter, denying her modification, with little explanation.

"It's heartbreaking you know. All this time I'm just giving away my money for me to probably be on the streets next month," said Roberson.

As it turned out, Michelle Roberson's fairly typical of borrowers who tried to negotiate or seek loan modifications from their lenders.

Elaine Brooks-Cox counsels people facing foreclosure in Contra Costa County. Since last October, her agency has worked with 937 families, of those, only 47 successfully obtained loan modifications.

"The clients feel like their backs are against the wall because they're doing everything that's been told for them to do, and the lenders aren't cooperating," said Elaine Brooks-Cox, with Pacific Community Services.

Despite the lack of a bailout package in Washington, mortgage broker Scott Simonich is still hopeful about the future.

"Our people will be able to get where they need to get on their loans, whether it's through refinancing, or through modification, or through sale of their homes," said Scott Simonich, from BWC Mortgage Services.

At this point, it's not clear whether Congress plans to offer any more help in the near future.


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