Many people facing foreclosure can feel hopeless and overwhelmed. It is important for people to know that you have options and what those options are. First, you should know that there is help available and you do not have to face the foreclosure process alone. Wyoming Housing Network is a non-profit organization that provides free foreclosure counseling. Our counselor has over 25 years of experience and is committed to helping you stay in your house.
Below you will find important information that our HUD Certified Housing Counselor and Foreclosure Counselor, Beth Skidmore, shares with people regularly.
What can you help people with?
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“As a certified counselor, I can work directly with your lender on your behalf. I can negotiate options and assist with gathering needed paperwork. I will walk the entire process with you and keep in contact with the lender about progress and outcomes.”
What is the first thing you tell people who reach out to you?
“Do not be embarrassed or ashamed. Studies show that it takes one financial crisis for most people or families to find themselves struggling to keep up with bills and make their mortgage payment. Illness, job changes, work injury etc. happen. There is no judgement and my goal is to help you stay in your house if possible.”
How far behind on a mortgage payment before the foreclosure starts?
“Typically, you must be 120 days behind before your lender starts the process. However, you do not have to be 120 days behind to reach out for help from Wyoming Housing Network. As soon as you miss or think you will miss a payment, we can help you with creating a budget and a plan to get back on track.”
What are your options if you are 120 days past due?
“If you are facing a hardship and can show proof of it, you can apply for a loan modification, forbearance, or repayment plan.”
What is a loan modification?
“This option is a restructuring of your mortgage and makes your monthly payment more affordable. Usually, this will extend the life of the loan and can sometimes even lower the interest rate you are paying. It all depends on the type of loan you have and the terms of your loan.”
What is a forbearance?
“It is a temporary postponement of mortgage payments. It can help you stay out of foreclosure. However, when a forbearance ends all the past due payments become due at that time. This can help people who are waiting on benefits to start or settlement of legal matters. Sometimes once the forbearance is over, and the hardship circumstances have been settled, a loan modification can be appropriate.”
What is a repayment plan?
“It is a way to pay back on your mortgage when it is in arrears. Usually, it involves paying your regular mortgage payment along with an additional amount added to pay the past due amount.”
What is the most important thing that clients can do to help themselves and you save their house?
“Have your paperwork in order and turn it in quickly. Many times the lender will ask for paperwork, such as pay stubs, bank statements, and legal documents. Once paperwork is turned in, they will ask for additional information. If the foreclosure process has started, timeliness is important. It is sometimes frustrating for clients but getting things to your counselor quickly helps them help you. Also, be honest with me. I cannot help you effectively if you withhold important details.”
What if the foreclosure happens?
“Sometimes foreclosure cannot be avoided. There will be a sale date set and you have 90 days to buy the home back, but you must pay the entire amount. If that is not possible for you then at that point my goal is to help you start again. We will work on finding you secure housing, budgeting, and moving forward. If foreclosure happens it does not mean that people cannot ever own a home again. Our plan would be to get you prepared and in a position so that if you wanted you could own a home again in the future.”
What other things should individuals be aware of?
“People should be very wary of fraud and scams. You should never pay for foreclosure counseling or help. Scammers will claim to work with your lender, have you send payments or money to them directly, but in reality they are not working with your lender at all and then disappear when the lender forecloses on the house. Any payments should be made directly to your lender. If you are unsure about an offer or service you have been contacted about, we can help you investigate it. We help people sort through scam information. We also counsel people if they have been a victim of fraud.”
Knowing your options and reaching out for help are ways that you can avoid losing your house to foreclosure. Wyoming Housing Network’s mission is to strengthen Wyoming communities by providing quality resources and opportunities for people to reach their housing goals. Through housing education, counseling and strong partnerships, we work to create and preserve affordable housing in Wyoming. If you want to know more about us you can visit www.whninc.org or for foreclosure questions you can contact Beth Skidmore at 307-233-8511.