Homeowners who work with a housing counselor when seeking a loan modification are proven to have better chances of continued success under their modified loan terms.

Many homeowners who receive a loan modification (typically of the extend-and-pretend variety) re-default on their loan within eight months of receiving the modification. However, a study of homeowners who received a loan modification under the congressionally-mandated National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling (NFMC) program parses the re-default rate of homeowners who received counseling and those who did not. The study revealed 49% of 150,000 homeowners studied who did not receive counseling re-defaulted on their modified loan within eight months of the modification. This is compared to a re-default rate of 36% among 180,000 homeowners who received loan modification counseling.

The greater success rate of the counseled homeowners can undoubtedly be attributed to the extensive experience many housing counselors have when it comes to dealing with lenders and negotiating concessions from them. Since the NFMC program offers free counseling, there is no reason for struggling homeowners to go without the much-needed guidance and expertise of a qualified housing counselor. [For more information on the free counseling services offered by the NFMC program, as operated by non-profit organization NeighborWorks America, go to www.nw.org; for additional resources regarding the free Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved counselors under the federal Making Home Affordable Plan, go to makinghomeaffordable.gov;  for more information on the frustrations of loan modifications, see the November 2010 first tuesday article, Mortgage modification showdown: Interest rate reductions v. Principal cramdowns.]


first tuesday take: The pipeline of information to the struggling homeowner begins with the well-informed real estate agent. You are the liaison to the generally ill-equipped and uninformed public.

Protect your client from scammers looking to exploit struggling homeowners by informing them they do not need to pay for loan modification services. While the scammer is interested in making a quick buck, the consummate real estate professional works to develop life-long clients who will depend on them for all their real estate-related needs, in addition to word-of-mouth marketing. [For more information on real estate scams, see the June 2010 first tuesday article, Foreclosure prevention specialists: experts at preying on wounded homeowners.]

Primed with the skill to share these valuable resources, real estate agents can simultaneously achieve their duty of protecting the public interest and creating a loyal client base founded upon a reputation of being a knowledgeable and effective advocate.

Re: “Housing Counselors See Better Results on Loan Modifications” from the Wall Street Journal