Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Modification Nightmares

I have to wonder how many people Obama's Home Affordable Modification Plan (AKA HASP and Making Home Affordable) is really helping. Thus far the numbers are quite low for the homeowners who have successfully navigated through this long and tedious process.

Over a year ago this plan was introduced and the White House Administration claimed it would help between 3 and 4 million homeowners. Now, over a year since they introduced this plan, only about 170,000 homeowners out of over the million who have tried, succeeded in getting their modifications. It's estimated that about another 90,000 will be dropped from the plan in the next few months. Those are some discouraging numbers.

Some would have you believe that the low success rate is the fault of homeowners for not turning in paperwork, not meeting guidelines or not following through with important steps of the process. After doing this myself for a year, I have to tell you that's a load of malarkey.

In our own process, which we started at the end of March of last year, we have been told we didn't qualify to even apply after being told we did and had already applied; have been told we have to be late on our payments when the government website, Making Home Affordable, clearly states that you can be current; have been subject to lost paperwork multiple times--including the actual Trial Modification package offer--etc. In short, it has been a nightmare.

We've made it farther than many others in our shoes, but it hasn't been easy. Even with being as tenacious as I am when I'm working for something, I've thought about forgetting the whole thing multiple times. Nothing is going the way it's supposed to--the way Bank of America Corporation has told me it would go.

We signed our permanent modification agreement the second week of December, 2009. We were ecstatic. Finally we could see an end to this roller coaster ride. BAC had sent the notary, we signed the docs, then their notary took them and overnighted them back to BAC. It took them several weeks to find those docs in their system (they weren't even labeled) and let me know that they while they had been received on December 17, they weren't yet entered into the system to finalize everything. I was then told that it should be only another week or two until it was entered into the system as our new loan agreement. We were relieved to hear it, though a part of us didn't fully believe that we were just about finished.

Well, turns out, it wasn't that easy. Now, over three months after signing those permanent docs, we're still waiting for it to be updated in the system. We've continued making our payments (every one made on time and as agreed). We've done everything they've asked, the moment they asked it. We've jumped through every hoop--sometimes multiple times. What did we get for it? They reported us as delinquent to the credit bureaus on our mortgage (one thing that the government website says they aren't supposed to do under HAMP). And when I called--multiple times--to have them fix this, they tried to start us all over in the process. Obviously one hand doesn't know what the other is doing in this program.

We've been called several times to set up an appointment with another notary to sign the very documents we already signed over three months ago. It's ridiculous. Every time I tell them we've already done this. Every time they say they don't see it in the system. I tell them I have the proof here at home. It's just so exhausting.

Oh, and they transferred our case to a new negotiator. This new negotiator was supposed to have called us at some point in the last month. Has he? Nope. And believe me, I've tried to get into contact with him.

So, you tell me: whose fault is it that these modifications aren't going through? In my experience it's the mortgage company's fault. Something needs to change with this program. Until then, people are going to continue losing their homes.

I sincerely hope there are others out there having better luck than we are with this whole thing. I also hope that people out there aren't falling prey to all the scammers out there. This program is supposed to be done through your own mortgage company. Please don't pay attention to any of those third-party mailings you get from people claiming they can do this for you. This process is tedious, but it's free. Just be careful out there and don't give up.