Struggling homeowners facing unaffordable mortgage payments often consider paying a loan modification company to help them obtain a loan workout so they can afford to stay in their home. However, with hundreds of loan modification companies advertising that they can get the best results for homeowners, how do you know who to believe? Well, we decided to go undercover and speak with a local loan modification company who advertised they had the experience and positive results that would ensure us the loan modification we needed.
Posing as a borrower facing unaffordable home loan payments and in a financial hardship, we set up an appointment to meet in person with one of the employees of this loan modification company. All we brought with us was a copy of our current mortgage statement and a checkbook. The idea was to find out what kind of qualification procedure was done before we were deemed to be possible candidates for a loan workout.
After being met in the lobby of the loan modification company by one of the employees, we were shown into a meeting room where we spoke very briefly about our general circumstances-the type of hardship we were suffering, our current unaffordable loan and our need for a loan workout solution as soon as possible. We were not asked for any proof of income, bank statements or other documentation. Soon thereafter, a gentleman entered the room and introduced himself as the manager. He said he understood that we needed help and said he was sure they could help us.
I then asked him if he needed to look at our current loan statement so he could see what we now had to pay, he said OK, grabbed it out of my hand, briefly looked at it, then threw it down on the desk. He immediately said, "How would a monthly payment of $1500 work for you folks, could you afford that?" I said, "Great, but how can you get the lender to agree to that?" He said, "Simple, we'll get you a 3% loan with interest only for 10 years!" My partner asked him if he was sure we could get this, and he said, "Yes, we get that all the time", so my next question was- "How much is this going to cost us?" He replied, "Just write us a check for $3495 and we'll get started on it right away!"
Well, doing some quick math, I calculated that with the loan balance showing on our mortgage statement, a 3% interest only payment would have been over $2200 a month, so I questioned him further, asking if he thought he was going to be able to get a principal reduction on our loan as well. His response was "No, we are really not seeing any principal reductions yet", so when I brought it to his attention that his math was all wrong based on our loan amount, and he became very agitated and excused himself from the room. The other employee made some excuse saying he had another appointment, but by that time I think they were getting suspicious of my questions. We were asked again for the $3495 to start the loan modification process, but we declined saying we needed to think about it some more.
We left the loan modification company, shaking our heads in disbelief that absolutely no effort was made to determine if we were even viable candidates for a loan workout but still being quoted a new loan payment (obviously pulled out of think air) and being asked to pay a large sum in advance! This was certainly not what a vulnerable homeowner should be subjected to when reaching out for professional help to save their home from foreclosure. Not everyone will qualify for loan modification help, and certainly some type of pre-qualification would be expected by a company purporting to be experts and have experience with the process.
So, before you decide to hand over thousands of dollars to any loan modification company, please do your homework! Make sure you understand how the process works first so you will be able to determine if you are a good candidate for help. Once you understand your lenders requirements, know how to complete the paperwork properly and have a good general understanding of the process, you will have the information you need to be able to either prepare your own loan modification application or know how to determine which company will be working in your best interest and not just out to get a quick buck. An informed homeowner is a powerful homeowner and will be much harder to take advantage of.
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