On Thursday the sound of success, money, and maybe a home being saved, rang out at the San Jose Convention Hall. On one side of the convention hall were homeowners who need help with mortgages they can no longer afford; on the other, the lenders.
And bringing them together, face to face, is a counselor from the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, or NACA, "It's much harder for a lender to say no to somebody when they're looking in their eyes and meeting their children than over the phone," NACA Founder and CEO Bruce Marks said. "That personal interaction is what gets it done and you have a NACA negotiator right there with you to make sure it gets done."
Marks has been at this for 24 years, but he only took his Boston-based non-profit on the road about four years ago, after the subprime disaster unfolded.
Linda Urquhart first came to an event like this one in San Jose two years ago, after her household income was cut in half, "The bank discouraged me and told me that NACA could not help me and they had the final say, so we stopped the process and went through the process with the bank only to have them try to foreclose on us," homeowner Urquhart said.
So she came back to NACA and got a $200,000 reduction in principal and a $700 reduction in her monthly payment. She's so happy with her outcome that she brought two of her friends to get help, "Come and come early, get in line no later than 6:30," Urquhart said. "If you come the last two or three days and don't come early, you're not going to be seen." When jokingly asked if she's sure she's not on the payroll, Urquhart said, "I'm positive! I'm just excited about getting my loan modification."
And it's all free for the homeowner, "We get paid by the lender, never by the homeowner," Marks said. "Homeowners never pay anything, ever." NACA gets paid by the lender after the homeowner has made three consecutive successful mortgage payments.
Homeowners don't have to be facing foreclosure to get help. You can also get a loan if you're a first time buyer. They'll also help if you've already lost your home, they might be able to help you get it back, or get up to $125,000 back.
The NACA event at the San Jose Convention Center started Thursday and continues through Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can register for the event online.