There have been ups and downs in the federal home loan modification program over the past months and many servicers have particularly seen decreases in the number of trial modifications that are currently active when federal Making Home Affordable reports are published. However, Citigroup is one of the financial institutions that recently saw an increase in the number of active trial modifications that are currently present in their modification portfolio that may also offer opportunities for these troubled homeowners to find a permanent modification and foreclosure prevention.
Data from the Making Home Affordable Program in January of 2011 stated that Citigroup had a total of 5,897 active trial modifications, but that number increased in February 2011 to 6,033. Understandably, homeowners with a variety of servicers have attempted to make their way through a trial modification period, but have been unsuccessful for various reasons as there are both failings on the part of homeowners and mortgage servicers, as well as, the modification program as a whole.
There are issues with servicers and homeowners that have been present over the past months and many feel that these financial institutions are not properly implementing the federal Making Home Affordable Program in a way that benefits the maximum number of homeowners possible. While the Treasury Department cannot levy fines or penalties against these banks that may not properly adhere to modification guidelines, there also some indications that homeowners have simply not qualified for the program under the federal modification rules.
Homeowners do feel, in some cases, they have been unjustly denied mortgage modification assistance, but there are also failing on the part of homeowners who may not properly report financial hardships or are simply in a situation where their mortgage payment is below 31% of their monthly income. Yet, servicers like Citigroup also offer proprietary home loan modification plans and there are options that many major banks participating in through extension programs that may address underwater home loans or unemployment as well.
Understandably, banks like Citigroup, among many others, have not been perfect in their implementation of these plans despite the fact that there are some who feel that homeowners have benefited from the modification program even though the maximum number of homeowners who were originally hoped to be aided has not been met. However, despite disagreements on whether servicers have been helping homeowners or perhaps hindering these individuals and their foreclosure prevention efforts, there are still foreclosure prevention opportunities available through programs that need to be explored by homeowners in a difficult financial position.
Homeowners may contact their servicer, speak with a housing counselor, or look for options from their state’s housing agency as there are not only federal modification programs available, proprietary home loan assistance through various servicer-direct programs, but plans like the Hardest Hit Fund can also help address negative equity, unemployment, and may even help homeowners come current on their mortgage when they were previously behind. Not all of these options may be available in every state or for every homeowner’s particular situation, but exploring these opportunities can bring about the options that a homeowner may need to prevent the loss of their home by finding more affordability.