Monthly Archives: May 2014

Odenis Nunez – From Tenant to Home Buyer

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In the last Annual Report published by NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire, which can be found here, Odenis Nunez Morel and her family were featured as a tenant success story.  Their compelling story follows them as they move from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico and finally to their unexpected destination in New Hampshire.  Odenis and her family began renting one of NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire‘s Merrimack Place Apartments near downtown.

That article ends with a quote from Odenis herself, commenting on how her family loves renting from NeighborWorks; “My son doesn’t want to move at all,” she said. “This is the only home he’s ever known. He says ‘why can’t we buy this place?’, but it’s not for sale.”

Though a bit melancholy at the time, now her son isn’t quite as attached to the Merrimack Place Apartment.  That is because Odenis and her family just closed on their first home, and are moving into their very own home this week.

Odenis and Edward sign for their new home, with lawyers and counselors present.

Odenis and Edward sign for their new home, with Attorney Matt Neuman of Absolute Title and Coach Ryan Tufts providing interpretive services.

Odenis and her husband, Edwin, came to the offices of HOMEteam on Elm Street to close on their home, and are now officially home owners.  With the skills they learned though HOMEteam’s educational offerings, and thanks to their coach Ryan Tufts’ Spanish language capabilities, they had the confidence and the ability to navigate the home purchase process and knew where to go for help.  Between her Individual Development Account (IDA) and her New Hampshire Housing’s Home Flex Plus loan, Odenis and her family were able to purchase their little slice of heaven in the form of a small ranch house on the east end of Manchester.

They were overjoyed to get the keys to their home and are excited to begin moving in and start painting. More details to come on this great story as they get more acclimated to home ownership!

New home owners happily display their new set of keys.

New home owners happily display their new set of keys.

Of Lambs and Lions

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Looks like March 2014 came in like a lion and out like a lamb.  Well, maybe not weather wise but definitely on the loan modification front.  In March, I received notification of eleven loans that were approved to begin a trial payment for a loan modification, one loan approved for a forbearance plan, one loan for a moratorium, and executed three permanent loan modification documents.  Could this mean that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Regulations are helping both in getting loans reviewed in a timelier manner and with positive outcomes? I hope so; here’s to new beginnings!

Why Work With a Housing Counselor?

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New rules recently came into effect which require most mortgage servicing companies send applications for loan modification to borrowers who fall behind on their payments.  Most loan servicers also let borrowers know that assistance with completing the application is available at no cost to homeowners by HUD-approved counseling agencies.  No doubt some homeowners ask themselves: “Why work with a housing counselor?”  Why not just complete the modification application on their own and send it in?

One good reason to work with a counselor is so that you are not navigating a stressful, sometimes confusing situation on your own.  Housing counselors have the training and experience to let you know what deadlines you may be facing, which letters from the bank are cause for concern and which are harmless.  They can also help hold you accountable for getting paperwork in on time.

Whatever situation you are facing with regard to your mortgage, there’s a good chance your counselor will have seen it before.  And, if he or she hasn’t, they will usually have a colleague who has.

While a housing counselor will take the time to understand your situation, they will also maintain emotional distance.   That allows counselors to think clearly about all of the options that may be available to you, to help you sort through the advantages and challenges of each option and then to assist you as  you move in the direction you decide is best for you.

Housing counselors each see dozens, if not hundreds, of loan modifications every year.  The hope is that you will only ever see one modification.  A housing counselor’s breadth of experience gives them perspective on what should be possible in a wide variety of circumstances, and what particular servicers require in the way of documentation, etc.  It also gives counselors a strong incentive to know the guidelines of the various programs you may qualify for and what rules your loan servicer can be held to in terms of handling your application.

From a purely practical perspective, housing counselors often have resources that homeowners do not.  For instance, many counselors have access to an electronic system for exchanging documents with loan servicers.  This all but eliminates fruitless cycles of clients sending documents to servicers only to have the servicers claim that the documents were never received.

Ultimately, the value of working with a housing counselor shows up in the results they get for their clients.  A December 2010 study by the Urban Institute found that clients who worked with housing counselors reduced their payments on average by $267 per month more than clients who sought modifications on their own.   The study also found that within eight months of getting a loan modification 49% of the homeowners who obtained modifications on their own had fallen three or more months behind on their new payments.  The same figure for people who worked with housing counselors was 36%.