Carla is a social worker for Children's Services. She was making a decent income while she did her part to help the children of her county. She did not buy a home above her means. The downturn in the economy caused furloughs in California and a loss of income for Carla who now also had to care for an additional family member in her household who came with unexpected health expenses.
Not many people are immune to the financial hardships that the state of the current economy has brought on. Carla tried desperately to hang on as her savings dwindled to nothing, she had to dip into it just to stay afloat and try to maintain her, then perfect, credit rating. Now this too is gone.
It's July 2009, Carla was excited after several months of trying to get a HAMP loan modification and she was approved for a trial payment with Wells Fargo. One trial payment later and she gets a telephone call that says they made a mistake in calculating her income and now the payment was approximately $1000 higher than the trial agreement specified, "sorry," was all they could offer up in the empathy department.
Carla was devastated, there was no way she could afford this on her reduced income and it was definitely not 31% of what her gross income was, as the HAMP program guidelines specify. You see, they were using her previous income in the new calculations vs the new reduced income that caused the hardship. It would take over a full year to get someone to listen to the errors that were made and get the problem resolved.
In September of 2009, after one trial payment was made and the next one was due with the new higher incorrect amount, Carla was able to finally get someone to listen to her story. This feat took dozens of phone calls, several emails and overnight letters but she finally got someone to listen rationally to the facts and once again she was ecstatic to receive a revised and corrected trial payment which came in December of 2009.
Fast forward to June, 2010, after the HAMP trial went on for 6 months, the permanent loan modification arrived and low and behold it was back up to the incorrect amount, approximately $1000 over what the HAMP trial payment was, the same inaccurate calculation, the one that set this whole HAMP tribulation off in the first place. Could you imagine her dismay, her disappointment and massive frustration. It took some coaxing to get Carla off of the proverbial HAMP ledge she had been perched on, for a full year, at this point. She had to learn how to take deep breaths.
The key here was in knowing what the correct payment was supposed to be, knowing that it still should qualify. Then she had to push and escalate this until someone would finally listen to her and fix the inaccuracies. Don't get me wrong, this could take some time, the road is long, and it will most definitely cause, not a little, but large amounts of frustration. Still it is not impossible. I am not saying this is for the faint of heart, but I do believe in fighting for what is right, as long as you know what is right, and are ready to back up your fight with accurate facts and go the distance.
I encouraged Carla that she could do this, to keep her faith and belief that she was fighting for her home and it was a worthy cause. There was no way she could keep her home if the error was not fixed. The values had dropped over 40% in her city, many of the neighborhoods had begun to look like ghost towns reminiscent of the gold rush days in California. However, this was Carla's home and she was determined to save her home.
Carla pressed on, this time taking this on as a challenge, the fight of her life to save her home from a needless foreclosure to do the errors caused by the massive workload experienced during this foreclosure crisis, and it is evident that there is a clear breakdown within the HAMP processing factory at many of our nations mortgage servicers. Carla, is not the only person going through this sort of issue and so many other inaccuracies. Carla is one of thousands upon thousands of homeowners suffering through this painstaking process. Some people are lucky and have smooth sailing, many others, are not quite so lucky.
The next battle for justice began immediately after reviewing the permanent HAMP modification and finding that the payment given was completely inaccurate and it was not acceptable. Carla informed the processors of her HAMP permanent modification only to be told that if she did not accept this that she would not be able to reapply for HAMP. I think most people would have either accepted this inaccurate HAMP modification at this point, even if they could not afford it, or they would raise their white flag and give up. In fact, I am positive that this is something that happens on a daily basis because people are scared of losing their homes and they also believe that their servicer, their bank of many years would never intentionally steer them wrong or hurt them, so this must be their only option, take it or leave it.
Carla chose to question authority, fight on, and fight hard. Carla fought with every ounce of strength with a sense of determination and belief that she would make it happen. Let me tell you, it was not an easy fight. This was a battle that was escalated at every level upon receiving the inaccurate HAMP loan modification in June of 2010 and this fight continued, upper level upon upper level, each department declining her request for the loan modification, saying that Carlas did not make enough to cover her debts. This even when the inaccurate HAMP approval was inaccurate because they had used an inflated income figure. This is why it is of utmost importance to know your numbers inside and out.
When you are empowered with the right information you are able to push back at all levels with the confidence of knowing your stuff, in many cases, more than anyone else does. You see, what happened is that after Carla pushed back on the inaccurate HAMP modification, her loan was flagged as if she did not accept the HAMP modification vs that she just wanted an accurate approval.
Now every escalation attempt, regardless of her explanation, her file was never re-ran for the HAMP program. They kept running Carlas loan for other programs and turning her down based off of other calculations, when all along Carla qualified for the HAMP loan modification, and that is what she was trying to get them to see. She knew something was wrong because she had the figures in front of her and could see that there was no way she did not make enough to qualify for HAMP.
After several executive level escalations, and hitting several walls, contact was made with Freddie Mac her loan's investor and she was able to get someone to hear all the facts, they understood her initial request to fix the inaccuracies, and her file was re-run for HAMP.
I am proud to say that on December 20, 2010 and over one year and a half of going through the HAMP trials and HAMP tribulations, Carla got her Christmas miracle and was approved for an accurate HAMP permanent modification, and she is going to get to keep her home.
Get empowered, get knowledgeable about your situation and all of your options. Question authority and expect only miracles!
Anna Cuevas is an invited blogger on The Huffington Post, author of several soon to be published books and 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 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.