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Wednesday AM December 24th, 2008

An alliance of mortgage lenders and counselors is trying to prevent foreclosures. Ed Mayberry reports.


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The privately-funded group Hope Now coordinates a nationwide campaign to reach homeowners who may be at risk of losing their homes.  About 17 per cent of at-risk homeowners they’ve contacted have followed up by contacting their loan servicer.  That’s six times the two to three per cent response rate servicers receive with their own mailings.  Former Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett is with Financial Services Roundtable, a sponsor of Hope Now.

“We started in July of ’07, and so far it looks like we will have completed about three million loan workouts since then, through 2008.  Unfortunately, we’ve needed to—it’s a big problem.  We expect the situation to actually worsen in 2009 — I wish I could tell you that weren’t the case — the economy is worsening, and so the more unemployment equals more deliquencies.  We’ve already worked through the sub-prime market, but there are additional mortgages that are going to have their rates re-set.  The best thing to do is contact ‘Hope Now’ and your lender through that, because the worst thing to do is to do nothing.”   

Hope Now provides a free HUD-certified counselor to work out loan modifications.  Bartlett says it’s in the lender’s best interest to resolve deliquent mortgages and avoid foreclosures.

“I have to tell you, this is very satisfying to me personally as well as for our lenders.  I feel awful that there’s this big of a problem, but the fact that my industry — this industry — has stepped up to the problem and setting out to resolve it one mortgage at a time, and has done that some three million times, is very satisfying.  Now, the job’s not done.  We have a long ways to go.  Not every mortgage can be saved because at the end of the day, it’s a mortgage, not a gift and so you have to design a mortgage that, with a person (who has) has payments that they (can) make.  But there’s more, more that can be saved than gonna be lost.  And that’s what we’re setting out to do.” 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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