Avoid foreclosure with help from HUD-approved agencies
WASHINGTON – Jan. 17, 2012 – In recent years, many people have turned to individual agencies, housing counselors and lenders to avoid foreclosure – but many found themselves paying scammers who took money and failed to protect them.
In a new information campaign, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is telling homeowners that anyone at risk of foreclosure can receive free counseling from HUD’s nationwide network of approved counseling agencies.
Although each agency offers specific services, each generally offers the following types of help:
• General counseling in matters related to housing
• An evaluation of a homeowner’s specific situation
• Counseling on ways to avoid foreclosure
• Help with refinancing through HUD’s various programs or with lender negotiations
HUD-approved agencies cannot charge for their foreclosure counseling services. However, they can charge a reasonable fee for other services, such as general housing education, pre- and post-sale counseling, and other services.
Preparing for a first meeting
A homeowner does not have to be in the foreclosure process to seek counseling. In fact, HUD advises anyone who thinks he might have problems in the future to contact a mortgage counselor sooner rather than later. Before a first meeting, HUD suggests having the following information ready:
• Household monthly income and expenses
• Current monthly mortgage payment amount
• Latest mortgage account statement
• Any relevant communication with your lender regarding late mortgage payments
“It is also a good idea to have a sense of what you want to accomplish with the help of the approved counseling agency – keeping your home, selling it, refinancing, etc.,” HUD says in a release.
Working with a non-approved agency
To avoid a scam, HUD advises homeowners to take the following steps if working with an agency no approved by HUD:
• Avoid paying for foreclosure counseling services. HUD-approved agencies provide these services at no cost.
• Resist any tactics that pressure you into signing documents without enough time to go over them carefully.
• Do not sign over the deed of your house to any other person or organization.
• Make your mortgage payments only to your lender or an institution approved by your lender.
To find a HUD-approved agency in Florida, visit HUD’s website.