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Mods in the Mail

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Posted On: 03/03/2010

QUESTION:

Out of the blue our lender mailed mortgage modification information to us several months ago, but we did not respond at the time. Now, with a surprise job loss, can we go back to the lender and ask for a modification?

ANSWER:

Happy news. Under the federal Home Affordable Modification Program the answer is yes. The government has told lenders that "if the servicer sends an unsolicited HAMP offer to a borrower, but the borrower never responds to the servicer or makes a trial period payment, the borrower is eligible for a subsequent HAMP offer. In this instance, the servicer's obligation under the Servicer Participation Agreement to offer a borrower a HAMP modification is not considered satisfied."

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These days it makes sense to watch the mail with care. Some of the material being sent automatically by lenders can include important notices and loan options. If you get such unsolicited announcements stash them away where you keep your mortgage information -- just in case. Even if you don't use the program, the announcements can have important contact numbers and Web addresses.

QUESTION:

What paperwork will I need to get a loan modification?

ANSWER:

Amazingly, a large number of loan modification trials are failing even though people are making their payments. The problem is that borrowers are not giving lenders required income verification paperwork, so now the government is requiring the documents up front before admitting borrowers into the Making Home Affordable program.

In basic terms, if employed you'll need at least two pay stubs from the past 90 days; the stubs do not have to be consecutive. If self-employed, you'll need tax returns for the past two or three years, plus your most recent quarterly or year-to-date profit-and-loss statement. Audited financial statements are not required. There also are requirements to verify unemployment benefits, Social Security and other benefit income, rent, bonuses, tips, etc. For specifics, speak with your lender.

Peter G. Miller is the author of The Common-Sense Mortgage and a veteran real estate columnist. Have a question? Please write to peter@ctwfeatures.com.

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