12/06/2010 11:30 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

More Unemployment Equals More Foreclosures: Being Prepared Can Save Your Home

In light of the latest developments regarding the loss of unemployment benefits for over 4 million Americans, it is vital for you to be prepared with this important information to save your home.

On May 11, 2010 the guidelines for the use of unemployment income changed and a new program was added The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (or UP). There have been a couple of dates since then as well. One of them being that as of August 1, 2010 unemployment benefits will only be considered for the UP program and not for HAMP applications after that effective date. The Home Affordable Unemployment Program (UP) offers eligible borrowers a forbearance plan to temporarily reduce or suspend their mortgage payments.

If you are facing the possibility of losing your benefits and you are a homeowner you must act now. You must take action immediately if you are facing a default on your mortgage. It is extremely important for the people who are currently facing the possibility of unemployment or facing the loss of your benefits to be aware of this program because once you are too late on your mortgage, you are also too late for this assistance as well. I will highlight some of the requirements of the program for you here.

Servicers are required to offer a UP forbearance plan to a borrowers meeting the following HAMP minimum eligibility criteria with a few twists for UP:

  • Must be your principal residence and a one to four unit property.
  • Must have been originated before January 1, 2009 and the current unpaid principal balance must be equal or less than 729,750.
  • The mortgage must currently either be in default or the default must be foreseeable or imminent as often called.
  • The mortgage must not have previously been modified under HAMP or received a previous UP forbearance period.
  • The additional requirements for the UP forbearance plan include that you must request before three monthly payments are due and unpaid. You can request this by phone, mail or email and servicers must document the date you requested the UP and confirm your request within 10 days via mail or return email.
  • You must be unemployed and have received at least 3 months of benefits, although this requirement can be possibly be waived by the lender if they allow it, on the date you request the UP and able to document that you will receive benefits in the month of the Forbearance Period Effective Date even if the unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire before the end of the UP forbearance period.
  • The servicer must evaluate you for the program within 10 days and if they make a determination by the 15th your effective date would most likely be the 1st day of the following month.

Do not give up hope, great things often unexpectedly come out of tough times. Some of America's best companies were founded during tough economic times. It is time to pull together and get creative, possibly renting a room to someone to help pay part of the mortgage and make up for lost income. Many other cultures do this all the time and it is an arrangement that can work if structured properly.

This is a good time to soul search and see if you can turn your life's passions into cash flow, you don't have to rely solely on getting hired, get creative and you may end up happier than you have ever been doing something you love. Think about things you are good at. Ask people if they notice traits that can be put to good use. Find a need and then go create solutions.

There is no time like the present to network. Get out and meet people at local networking meetings. Don't forget to get out in nature and sunshine to avoid any depression or anxiety. Oh yeah, breathe!

Although at this time there is no directive within the HAMP guidelines for the unemployed that have lost their benefits prior to applying for the program it is still imperative that you stay on top of key dates pertaining to foreclosure to avoid the loss of your home and if you are not in immediate danger of losing your home it may be a blessing that the lenders take longer than expected, this will give you time to find ways to increase household income.

If you know that you are losing your unemployment benefits you may wish to see if your servicer allows a temporary forbearance for a couple of months while you look for ways to bring in income. Look for opportunities to save money. David Bach the author of the bestseller Start Over Finish Rich offers a wonderful tool on his website, The Latte Factor will help you cutback on unnecessary daily spending, those coffees sure add up.

Look for ways to lower household bills. Prioritize other debt and see if there are things you can rearrange. Many times your utility companies offer lower rates when you have a drop in income and you can check for organizations that help with grants to help you pay utility bills. Shop for lower insurance, possibly temporarily increase your deductibles to lower monthly expenses. Drink more water, take shorter showers and turn off lights.

"Don't give up, you may be only three feet from gold", like my friend Greg Reid, author of the bestselling book, Three Feet From Gold the sequel to another best seller Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, says.

Remember this:

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -- Thomas Edison


Anna Cuevas is an invited blogger on The Huffington Post, author of several soon to be published books and the Founder of 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 Knowalong with free bonus materials that take the guess work out of the loan modification process to stop your foreclosure dead in it's tracks.