By Ralph R. Roberts
RISMEDIA, February 13, 2009-Understandably, homeowners who apply for a loan modification tend to get a little antsy and perhaps even annoyed when they apply for a loan modification and then fail to hear anything for several weeks, especially if they continue to receive late payment notices and nasty phone calls from collection agencies.
Many homeowners wonder, “How long will it be before I hear anything?” and “What should I do while I’m waiting.” This article should help answer those very pressing questions.
How long will it take?
The loan modification process typically takes 30 to 90 days, depending mostly on your lender and your ability to efficiently work through the process with your attorney or other loan modification representative.
Note: The loan modification timeline is not set in stone. The more complex your situation or the greater the degree of concessions needed from the investor, the longer the process takes. Borrowers with a lot of collateral issues can see their loans take longer than what has become the typical 30- to 90-day timeframe.
A professional can often reduce the amount of time required by processing your paperwork efficiently, presenting your application exactly the way the lender wants it, and knowing from past experience what the lender is able and typically willing to agree to. Although each borrower’s situation is unique, knowing the measures the lender is willing to take for similarly situated borrowers can be a real time saver.
Whether you are dealing directly with your lender or through a loan modification specialist, ask several questions up front:
How long is the process likely to take? Find out the best- and worst-case scenarios and then count out the days and mark them on your calendar.
When can I expect to hear something about my case? Mark this date on your calendar.
If I don’t hear anything by the specified date, whom should I contact? Get the person’s name, employee identification number (if available), phone number, and any extension you need to dial to reach the person directly.
What should I do while I’m waiting?
Playing the waiting game can be agonizing, particularly when you have no idea of whether your application will be accepted or rejected or what the lender will offer in terms of a workout. It feels like your future hangs in the balance, and you remain in the dark. Knowing the standard timeline for processing a loan modification can certainly help relieve some anxiety. In addition, you can continue to make progress on your own by doing the following:
If you hired a loan modification specialist to represent you, do not speak with your lender or lender’s representative. Refer all matters to the professional who is representing you. Anything you say to the lender could confuse things or compromise your representative’s ability to negotiate the best deal on your behalf.
Log all phone calls and correspondence between you and your lender or representative. Write down the number you called, the person you talked with, what the person said, and what you said – not word for word, just jot down the key points.
Keep track of important dates. If you do not hear something back on the date promised, call the next day to find out what’s going on. Lenders almost never call you back with updates. If you hired a third party representative, they will (or should) keep you posted, but the lender simply doesn’t have the time to make follow up phone calls. If you’re dealing with your lender directly, you’ll have to be the one making the calls. Mark your calendar and schedule periodic update phone calls. Consistent follow up is paramount to a successful modification.
Explore other options. If the lender denies your request for a loan modification or presents an offer that you cannot accept, you will need a plan B (and maybe a plan C and a plan D). In addition, other options may be better for you than a loan modification. Consult a real estate agent about listing your home for sale. Talk to a mortgage broker or loan officer about refinancing. Speak with a bankruptcy attorney to find out whether filing bankruptcy would be a better choice.
Don’t be surprised if you continue to receive delinquency notices or late payment phone calls. Lenders rarely put a stop on the foreclosure process until a workout solution is fully in place. You should ask your lender if your attempts to negotiate a solution will stop or at least postpone other collection actions. If they do not, you should find out what that means for you. If the lender is able to foreclose in 30 days and a workout takes 60 days, there’s a slight timeline problem. Push to have all default and foreclosure actions put on hold while your workout attempts are underway.
When your fate is in someone else’s hands, 30 to 90 days can seem like an eternity. By doing your part to keep the process on track, remain informed, and explore other options, you not only improve your chances of achieving a positive outcome, but you can also reduce the stress that commonly accompanies the waiting process.
Ralph R. Roberts is a consumer advocate, host of KeepMyHouse.com, and author of numerous books, including Foreclosure Self-Defense For Dummies and Loan Modification For Dummies (Summer, 2009). Ralph is based in Sterling Heights, Michigan and can be reached at email@example.com.
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