Resources to help avoid mortgage relief scams
If you are behind on your mortgage, beware of mortgage relief scams. There is free foreclosure help. If anyone tries to charge you in advance for help or guarantees that they can stop your foreclosure, they’re not legitimate.
Knowing your rights under the CARES Act and guidance from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development also can help you avoid mortgage relief scams. If you experience financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have a right to temporarily pause or reduce your monthly mortgage payments through a forbearance. Servicers also may not be allowed to foreclose on your home. For more information on COVID housing protections and important deadlines, visit consumerfinance.gov/housing.
Contact us if you need Help Paying Housing Expenses in PA –> ALL INFORMATION HERE
Mortgages insured by FHA or owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac:
- The borrower must have a COVID-19 related hardship.
- Mortgage payments had to be current or less than 31 days behind when the COVID-19 hardship began.
- Foreclosure sales and evictions are suspended for 60 days as of May 17, 2020. The moratorium applies to the start of foreclosures and to the completion of foreclosures in process. The moratorium on foreclosures does not apply to properties that were vacant or abandoned when the National Emergency went into effect.
- Borrowers can request a “forbearance” – a suspension or reduction in payments – for up to 12 months.
- Toward the end of the forbearance period, servicers must work with borrowers to provide a permanent solution to bring the mortgage current, including review for a loan modification.
- The servicer will not report to the credit bureaus, any borrower who is in an active forbearance plan, repayment plan or Trial Period Plan (prior to a loan modification) as a result of a COVID-19 related hardship.
- Borrowers will not be charged penalties or late fees during the forbearance period.
- Homeowners must contact their mortgage servicer (the entity to which they make their monthly mortgage payment).
- PHFA is offering a 2-month forbearance to borrowers with PHFA mortgages. This is for payments due for March and April. The forbearance period can be extended for 1 month if needed.
- Borrowers will not be charged late fees and will not be reported to the credit bureaus during that time.
- After the forbearance period, borrowers will be reviewed for other options, including a loan modification.
- Borrowers should contact their loan servicer at PHFA to establish the COVID-19 related hardship.
- PHFA is also suspending evictions and foreclosures for 60 days for those borrowers impacted by the virus.. This policy will remain in effect until impacts of the virus subsided.
Mortgages held by banks:
Several banks have announced that customers may request to defer payments on mortgages, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit.
Customers must contact their bank to determine eligibility.
Some banks are also refraining from negative credit reporting and from charging late fees during the temporary workout solutions they are offering.
Link to the GUIDE TO CORONAVIRUS MORTGAGE RELIEF OPTIONS
THE FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF LIST OF OPTIONS THAT MIGHT BE AVAILABLE TO YOU TO HELP SAVE YOUR HOME.
If you are having trouble with your mortgage you should contact a HUD approved housing counseling agency like the Unemployment Information Center (UIC). Housing counselors can help you apply for programs and navigate the foreclosure process in your area.
- FHA Loans
- Conventional Fannie/Freddie Loan
- Home Retention Grant
- Emergency Petition to Postpone a Sheriff’s Sale
1. HOMEOWNERS’ EMERGENCY MORTGAGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (HEMAP)
If you receive an Act 91 Notice of Intent to Foreclose from your mortgage servicing company, you are eligible to apply for the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). You should contact the Save Your Home Philly Hotline immediately 215-334-4663.
HEMAP forwards funds to bring your mortgage current and, under some circumstances, to offer ongoing assistance to make regular payments. You repay a HEMAP loan based on your income. The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) reviews and determines eligibility for HEMAP.
If you have been denied HEMAP, contact our office immediately for assistance in appealing your HEMAP decision.
2. PHILADELPHIA’S MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE DIVERSION PROGRAM
Philadelphia residents can get help through the Foreclosure Diversion program of the Court of Common Pleas. Instituted to reduce foreclosures in 2008, the Diversion program requires mortgage companies to negotiate with homeowners prior to a Sheriff Sale or the granting of a judgment against the homeowner. The homeowner must contact a non-profit housing counseling agency, like UIC, to begin negotiating an affordable resolution to the problem with the mortgage company.
If you live in your home and the mortgage company starts the legal process of foreclosure by filing a foreclosure complaint, you are eligible for a conciliation conference in the diversion program. Contact the Save Your Home Philly Hotline immediately 215-334-4663.
5. HOUSING RETENTION GRANT PROGRAMS
The City of Philadelphia provides small grants (less than $1,500) to assist homeowners to become current and avoid the foreclosure process. You must meet with a housing counselor to screen your eligibility for the retention grant.
In addition, the housing retention grants must be matched by funds from a homeowner’s contribution.
Contact UIC at 215-557-0848 for a list of agencies. The grants are usually only available if they will, along with whatever other money you have available to you, resolve your mortgage delinquency.
In some cases a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be used to help you save your home. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be especially helpful where the default was the result of a temporary loss in income or where the mortgage is a predatory loan that can be reduced through litigation to an amount that is affordable. In some rare cases a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be helpful if your inability to make the mortgage payments is the result of large unsecured debts that you have been trying to pay.
A bankruptcy is not a magic solution and will often fail unless you are represented by a competent attorney and unless you have the discipline and income to follow the financial plan. Sometimes a bankruptcy can make matters worse. Homeowners should be very careful when selecting an attorney. Not all attorneys who hold themselves out as experts in bankruptcy have the ability, knowledge or willingness to take advantage of the provisions of the law that are available to help people save their homes.
7. EMERGENCY PETITION TO POSTPONE SHERIFF’S SALE
Homeowners may file an emergency petition to postpone a scheduled sheriff’s sale for a limited period of time. A homeowner will be required to appear in front of a judge to explain the specific circumstances requiring a delay and how the additional time will help to reach a resolution with the mortgage company. A housing counselor can assist with this process and accompany a homeowner to the emergency hearing.