THE BLOG

Hope For Homeowners: For My Next Stunt, A HAMP Loan Modification

12/27/2010 12:08 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Meet Mario and Betty

Mario has been a stuntman in Hollywood for a couple of decades and none of the daring performances that required his immense skill and involved so much danger could have adequately prepared him for what was to come from his request for the HAMP program's loan modification process.

Many people have felt that requesting a loan modification could be compared to jumping through fire rings, an acrobatic stunt, or even one of the greatest feats of your life, and for most homeowners it is very much like that. Just as one would never attempt a stunt without preparation one must never attempt a loan modification without training, courage, guts and ambition.

The movie industry, as many other industries, has taken a hit with the downward spiral of the economy, so for Mario the stunt jobs were not coming as steadily as they had during previous times. Betty, his wife, was a real estate agent whose industry was also very hard-hit. They wanted to concentrate on making a living so they enlisted the help of a loan modification company, only to be deceived and receive no help from them, as well as several other attorney based companies that disappeared with their money and left them hanging out to dry.

Betty became empowered with information to save their longtime home, and we discovered that the reason her loan modification was declined was due to numerous errors made by the loan servicer. You see, Mario did not have a conventional paycheck as the movie studios pay for his stunt-work and royalties on a regular paycheck this can be rather confusing for an underwriter because each studio provides a year to date paycheck stub, it gives the illusion that this income is ongoing when it is not and this makes it seem as though Mario makes more than he does as the underwriters kept averaging all of the paystubs multiplying and averaging the income out over the entire year when it was only a one time only paycheck.

When Betty finally was able to get the servicer to give her an approval for a HAMP loan modification, they had made a huge mistake and calculated the new payment as just $50.00 less than what her normal payment was; unfortunately, this was not only incorrect, it would not have helped them save their home from foreclosure. This approval, as exciting as it seemed when they were facing the loss of their home, was inaccurate.

The servicer had calculated the modification using approximately $3,000 per month in higher income, causing an approximately $1,000-per-month payment error. When the servicer was contacted, they said that it was the only HAMP approval they would get and they needed to take it or leave it, because they claimed it was done correctly and there was no way for them to change their decision under the HAMP rules. Wrong!

I'm sorry, but this is a huge mistake, and I know for a fact that the HAMP program has no guideline stating that it can not be re-reviewed when applications have been processed with errors in underwriting. Unfortunately, this is the type of incorrect answer is one that several thousand homeowners face and they are railroaded into accepting inaccurate HAMP loan modifications for fear of losing their homes altogether and because they cannot get someone to listen to them and correct the errors that are being consistently made, they are given a take it or leave it ultimatum.

This is not acceptable; there is a systematic failure in the processing of this program, and needs to be addressed from the top levels down to the frontline. You are only as good as your weakest link. In corporate America it is common for some of these systematic failures to fail to travel up the chain of command, although they should have a clue by now that this is happening across the board, I have seen lower level management cover up their service inconsistencies, first hand. It is up to us to get this information to the top of the corporate chain of command, if necessary, so that the breaks in this HAMP loan modification process can be fixed, and changes can finally begin to be made before many more needlessly lose their homes.

Mario and Betty knew that accurate income and expense numbers thoroughly, they knew that if the servicer followed the guidelines with these correct figure they would qualify for the HAMP loan modification which they applied for, and they were confident that the right thing for them to do was fight on and make the servicer fix their mistakes. It was key for them to have their income methodically explained in an easy to understand manner to be able to show the underwriters for the servicer how his income should be calculated. When your income is not conventional it is imperative that you know it and explain it, with a paper trail to back it up. They pressed on and escalated their case to several levels of their servicer's corporate offices until they were heard.

After what seemed like something out of an action packed suspense movie, Mario and Betty received their accurate HAMP loan modification approval and they were able to save their home of many years. What felt like an impossible mission was accomplished by not giving up on their dream of saving their home.

Once you know your income and expense figures thoroughly and you know how they fit in to the program guidelines you can proceed any escalation to management with confidence, don't let an inaccurate denial or approval cost you your home. In every situation you must become empowered with information to be your own best advocate. "To think for yourself, you must question authority."

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Anna Cuevas is an invited blogger on The Huffington Post, author of several soon to be published books including "Fight for Your Dreams" with Bestselling author, Les Brown. Anna is the Founder of www.askaloanmodguru.com a blog dedicated to empowering homeowners with free information they need to confidently apply for a loan modification and also providing the latest Do It Yourself loan modification tools to Save Your Home. Request your free copy of "Dirty Little Loan Modification Secrets You Must Know" along with free bonus materials that take the guess work out of the loan modification process to stop your foreclosure dead in it's tracks.