A few minutes on the Keep Your Home California homepage can help save your home

Keep Your Home California’s homepage has a lot to offer homeowners interested in the free mortgage-assistance program.

We would like to take a few moments and walk you through the homepage.

In the middle of the homepage, homeowners interested in the program can answer a dozen questions and see if they might be eligible for Keep Your Home California. Just click on “Find out if you qualify” and complete the easy-to-understand questions.

Completing the online questionnaire doesn’t ensure approval; rather, it is a tool to help homeowners better understand which of the programs may be an option for them, based on their unique situation.

KYHC Website

Consider the form merely the first step in the process when deciding whether to apply. To apply, homeowners should call the counseling center at 888-954-5337.

In the upper right corner, homeowners can choose one of six languages, including Chinese (Mandarin), Tagalog and Vietnamese. Just click on the language and visitors are directed to a one-page description about Keep Your Home California and its four programs. Keep Your Home California also has a complete Spanish-language website, http://www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org.

Connecting with homeowners in their preferred language is critical, especially since applying for the program requires submitting documents and financial information. Homeowners must be comfortable and understand the process.

However, if homeowners are more comfortable with another language – one not listed on the homepage – they are strongly encouraged to call the counseling center, where a counselor has access to translators in virtually any language. In a few minutes, the counselor and homeowner can be discussing the application process with the help of a translator, just part of the free service.

Finally, the middle of the homepage offers homeowner Success Stories. Homeowners who have been approved discuss their experiences with the program. Each homeowner’s experience is different, so we strongly encourage you to read some of the Success Stories. You will learn more about the application and approval process.

Of course, there is additional information on the homepage and throughout the website. Homeowners should check the “Resources” section at the bottom of the homepage, which provides links to more pages.

Two of the most critical categories are “Income Limits” and “Participating Servicers.” Homeowners must meet county-by-county income limits and make sure their mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payment – are participating in the program. Don’t worry, almost 200 mortgage servicers are enrolled in the program, including mortgage giants Bank of America, and Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program, visit our website.

As you can see, Keep Your Home California’s homepage – and website – has a great deal of information for homeowners. We want to make learning about the program as easy as possible.

After you visit the website, call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) to apply and/or learn more about the program. The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.


Transition Assistance Program offers $5,000 to families looking for a fresh start

Keep Your Home California officials are always looking to improve the free mortgage-assistance program for hard-hit homeowners. The program has undergone many changes since starting in February 2011. This is the final of four posts that detail many of these program changes – and how they help homeowners.

From assisting out-of work homeowners to those struggling with significantly underwater mortgages, Keep Your Home California focuses on helping Californians prevent avoidable foreclosures, oftentimes helping them stay in their homes in the process.

But the mortgage-assistance program also helps homeowners who, through no fault of their own, are faced with the hard-to-grasp reality of losing their house.

ID-10052201The Transition Assistance Program offers as much as $5,000 to help low- to moderate-income homeowners move to another form of housing — enough money for covering moving costs, a security deposit and in some cases a few months of rent. Basically, the dollars give families a fresh start in a new home.

The Transition Assistance Program was established to be used in conjunction with a mortgage servicer-approved short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure to help homeowners make the move into a new housing situation as easy as possible, whether it’s an apartment, rental house or moving in with relatives.

Of course, there are some requirements, just like the other three programs in Keep Your Home California.

Most notably, the income limit – 120% of the county’s area median income.,. Before you decide that you earn too much, the income limits range from about $69,000 in several rural counties to more than $120,000 in San Francisco and San Mateo counties. You can check the complete county-by-county income limits here (URL to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/income-limits/).

Your mortgage servicer – the lender that collects the monthly mortgage payments – must also participate in the Transition Assistance Program. Almost 130 mortgage servicers are enrolled in the program, six times as many as two years ago. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Bank of the West, Chase Home Finance, and CitiMortgage are among the big-name banks that participate in the Transition Assistance Program. Check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in the program. (URL to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/)

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program offers as much as $25,000 to help homeowners ‘catch up’ on their mortgage payments

Keep Your Home California officials are always looking to improve the free mortgage-assistance program for hard-hit homeowners. The program has undergone many changes since starting in February 2011. This is the third of four posts that detail many of these program changes – and how they help homeowners.

Sometimes life can get a bit out of hand.

Maybe you’re dealing with a divorce, extraordinary medical bills or fewer hours and a smaller paycheck at work. Or – as well all know too well in recent years – you’re unemployed and looking for work.

Any of these challenges could create a financial hardship for homeowners, causing them to fall behind on their mortgage payments.

Well, Keep Your Home California’s Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program allows homeowners to “catch up” on their monthly payments, as long as they can meet the obligation going forward.

Piggy Bank Mortgage CalculatorSo far, almost 6,000 homeowners have used the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program since February 2011, when Keep Your Home California started. The program has allowed homeowners to breathe easier – and remain in their homes.

Since the program was launched, officials have increased the maximum amount of assistance to homeowners through the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program from $15,000 to $20,000, and ultimately to $25,000.

The one-time payment can cover past-due principal, interest, taxes and insurance, as well as any homeowner’s association dues. The assistance offers a clean slate for homeowners who fell behind due to a hardship, but are now able to make future mortgage payments.

The key to qualifying for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program is demonstrating you have an affordable monthly mortgage payment going forward. Assistance through this program can also be combined with a loan modification in order to achieve an affordable payment.

So, if you are behind on your mortgage payments the program can provide much-needed help. As with the other Keep Your Home California programs, homeowners must have suffered a financial hardship, such as a divorce, extraordinary medical bills, a job loss or loss of income – or a combination of factors (there are many acceptable hardships, these are merely some of the most common examples) in order to qualify.

In addition, a homeowner’s mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly mortgage payment – must be enrolled in the program.

About 175 mortgage servicers – a majority of those participating in Keep Your Home California – are enrolled in the Mortgage Assistance Program, including Bank of America, Chase Home Finance, Citi Mortgage, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. You can see the complete list of mortgage servicers participating in the Mortgage Assistance Program at http://www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating.htm).

If you would like more information about the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, visit the website (URL to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/programs/mortgage-reinstatement-assistance/).

If you have additional questions, would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org  (Spanish speakers should visit www.conservatucasacalifornia.org). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.  Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

 

 


Keep Your Home California expands Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program to help more homeowners – and for a longer period

Keep Your Home California officials are always looking to improve the free mortgage-assistance program for hard-hit homeowners. The program has undergone many changes since starting in February 2011. This is the second of four posts that detail many of these program changes – and how they help homeowners.

Much has changed with the economy and job market during the past three years.

And Keep Your Home California has expanded the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program to help more homeowners and keep in step with the times.

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Certainly, the economy has improved. About 750,000 people have found jobs since summer 2011, the equivalent of almost everyone in San Francisco. And the jobless rate has dropped to 8.1%, the lowest level since September 2008, according to the state Employment Development Department (EDD).

But there are still more than 1.5 million Californians looking for work – equivalent to everyone in Fresno, Long Beach and Sacramento, combined. About one of every three of these folks has been jobless for at least six months, and one of every four for more than a year.

In short, fewer homeowners are jobless, but those who are face a longer period looking for work.

Keep Your Home California’s decision to change the program is in response to the still-extraordinary need, expanding the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program from six months to nine months – and eventually to 12 months. Financially strapped homeowners who have collected jobless benefits from the EDD within the previous 30 days are eligible for as much as $3,000 per month for up to one year.

The free program allows out-of-work homeowners to look for a job without worrying about the mortgage. EDD has been a big help with the effort, sending flyers about the free mortgage-assistance program to more than 500,000 out-of-work Californians during the past four months.

So far, more than 27,300 homeowners have been approved for the program, with about $320 million issued, according to the fourth-quarter 2013 report, the most recent available. The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program is the most used of the four Keep Your Home California programs.

As with each of the four programs, there are eligibility requirements, including meeting the county-by-county income limits. Your mortgage servicer must also participate in the program.

All of the 182 mortgage servicers enrolled in Keep Your Home California participate in the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citi. A complete list of Participating Servicers is available at http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

You can check all of the details for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program at http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/programs/unemployment-mortgage-assistance/.

If you have additional questions, would like more information or want to apply for the program, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org  (Spanish speakers should visit www.conservatucasacalifornia.org).

The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.  Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of cooldesign / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 


Sometimes change is good, especially when it provides as much as $100,000 in principal reduction for underwater homeowners

 

Keep Your Home California officials are always looking to improve the free mortgage-assistance program for hard-hit homeowners. The program has undergone many changes since starting in February 2011. The next four blog posts will detail many of these program changes – and how they help homeowners.

California’s housing market continues to improve, with double-digit price increases every month for the past 24 months (as of February 2014).

Despite the dramatic gains, many homeowners are still upside down or “underwater” on their existing mortgage, meaning they owe more than their home is worth. In fact, according to a recent CoreLogic report, nearly one out of every eight California homeowners with an existing mortgage owes more than the value of their home. In some regions, such as the Central Valley and Inland Empire, the percentage of homeowners with underwater mortgages is much higher.

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Keep Your Home California – a federally funded, state managed program – could help homeowners reduce their principal by as much as $100,000. The assistance provided through the Principal Reduction Program can get homeowners closer to being right-side-up on their mortgage. An improving economy and housing market could do the rest to return homeowners to a positive equity situation.

Since it started in February 2011, the Principal Reduction Program has undergone many changes with the goal of helping more homeowners who are struggling with their underwater mortgages.

For example, a dollar-for-dollar match requirement from mortgage servicers was eliminated in late 2012. This change was made to attract more mortgage servicers – mission accomplished (see below) – and make more homeowners eligible for the program.

In November, Keep Your Home California officials made another major change – a loan-to-value ratio of 140% or greater qualifies as a financial hardship, opening the door for more homeowners to apply for the Principal Reduction Program.

It’s a big change since homeowners must demonstrate a financial hardship in order to qualify for any of the four Keep Your Home California programs. Other types of qualifying financial hardships include a job loss, a decrease in income, a divorce, extraordinary medical expenses, etc.

These changes have allowed the free program to assist many more homeowners. Keep Your Home California approved 1,619 homeowners for the Principal Reduction Program in 2013, a huge increase from the 940 homeowners during the previous two years, combined. The $158.4 million in total Principal Reduction Program funds that were provided by the end of 2013, represented a 384.1 percent increase from the end of 2012.

Homeowners are also being approved faster – about 70 days during the fourth quarter, compared to 110 days since the program started. The average homeowner approved for the program received $77,000 in principal reduction – and enjoyed a 23 percent drop in their monthly mortgage payment, saving about $360 per month.

There are some additional requirements to qualify, including meeting the county-by-county income limits – from about $69,000 to $126,000 – and the homeowner’s mortgage servicer must participate in the program.

Currently, about 120 mortgage servicers – including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase and Citibank – are enrolled in the Principal Reduction Program. In comparison, only 11 servicers participated in the principal reduction effort in December 2011.Change has been good for Keep Your Home California – and the thousands of homeowners who have benefited from the mortgage-assistance program. And officials will continue to look at new ways to improve the program.

If you have additional questions, would like more information or want to apply for the program, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org  (Spanish speakers should visit www.conservatucasacalifornia.org).

The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.  Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Best Way to Celebrate a Birthday? Help Homeowners

Keep Your Home California recently celebrated its third-year anniversary with little fanfare – no balloons, cake, candles, clowns or miniature ponies.

Instead, the free mortgage-assistance program’s employees focused on helping more homeowners, just like the previous 900-plus days of operation.

Why? Well, there are still more financially strapped homeowners in California who need the federally funded program.

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Keep Your Home California helps homeowners with their mortgage payments, many who are – or were – facing a foreclosure. The program has also cut many homeowners’ mortgage principal, often reducing their monthly payment and the overall money owed.

The state-managed program has assisted more than 37,000 homeowners since it started in February 2011. Keep Your Home California has approved more than $610 million in funding, and has reserved an additional $400 million for homeowners who are still in process, for a total of about $1.1 billion.

And more than 175 mortgage servicers – including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank – now participate in at least one of the four programs, a dramatic increase from the less than 10 servicers that were enrolled when Keep Your Home California launched. In fact, 140 are enrolled in at least three of the four programs today.

So, just like a 3-year-old toddler, Keep Your Home California has enjoyed tremendous growth, thanks to committed employees, dedicated housing counselors and partnerships with servicers – and some changes to the four programs.

For example, the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, the most utilized program thus far, has been expanded from six months to 12 months since the program started. Out-of-work homeowners can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to one year while they look for work.

The Principal Reduction Program has also expanded, from $50,000 to $100,000 in funding from Keep Your Home California. In addition, homeowners with loan-to-value ratios of 140% or greater on their mortgage will meet hardship criteria for the program, since a severe underwater mortgage is considered a financial hardship.  Homeowners must be able to demonstrate a financial hardship in order to qualify for any of the Keep Your Home California programs.

There have been other changes to the program, which this blog will detail in the coming weeks.

But, for now, the program wants to celebrate its third anniversary the best way possible – encourage more homeowners to apply for financial assistance and help them through such a difficult period.

If you have additional questions, would like more information or want to apply for the program, call 888-954-5337 or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org  (Spanish speakers should visit www.conservatucasacalifornia.org). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.  Translators are available, so counseling sessions can be conducted in virtually any language.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


Mario Lopez, a new website and record funding highlight Keep Your Home California program in 2013

Keep Your Home California enjoyed a banner year in 2013, with the introduction of a spokesman and a new interactive website — and a record of funds issued by the free mortgage-assistance program.

The state-funded program introduced Mario Lopez as a bilingual spokesman, with ads featuring the Extra host talking about Keep Your Home California on TV and in radio spots. A new round of commercials should appear during the next several weeks.

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Also, Keep Your Home California debuted a new website that allowed homeowners to answer 12 questions to determine if they should apply for the program. The new, easier-to-use website includes homeowner Success Stories and reports and statistics about Keep Your Home California, including county-by-county and program-specific data.

The program also greatly increased its outreach to homeowners and mortgage servicers in 2013. Keep Your Home California added 67 participating servicers last year, with the overall total topping 160 servicers.

And Keep Your Home California representatives attended 142 community events to educate homeowners about the program during the year – or basically about one every two workdays.

The above efforts are all about connecting with homeowners and encouraging more people to apply for the program.

It definitely worked.

Keep Your Home California approved 13,688 homeowners for the program with combined funding of more than $307.3 million in 2013, a dramatic increase from the $201.7 million in 2012.

Much of the boom in funding is connected to the Principal Reduction Program, which increased from $30.3 million in 2012 to more than $125.6 million last year.  Keep Your Home California approved 2,101 homeowners for principal reduction last year, almost four times more than the 563 homeowners in 2012.

The head-turning increase is attributed to some recent changes in the Principal Reduction Program, including a change to program criteria in November, which specified that an underwater mortgage with a 140% or greater loan-to-value ratio was considered a financial hardship.  Homeowners must be able to demonstrate a financial hardship to qualify for each of the four assistance programs, so making this change to the Principal Reduction Program opened the door to a lot more people.

The Principal Reduction Program provides as much as $100,000 in mortgage assistance, a huge benefit for homeowners looking to lower their monthly payments and/or outstanding principal.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program also had an increase in funding, with more than $152 million issued to homeowners last year, compared to $143 million in 2012. The program was expanded from nine months to 12 months in 2013.

About 1.54 million Californians were collecting jobless benefits in November, 233,000 fewer than a year earlier, according to the latest Employment Development Department report. Homeowners applying for the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance program must be eligible for jobless benefits.

The program provides as much as $3,000 per month for up to 12 months. Of course, if homeowners find jobs, they are removed from the program.

The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, which offers as much as $25,000 to help homeowners catch up on their mortgage payments, increased last year to $28.3 million, from $27.8 million in 2012. Keep Your Home California approved 2,066 homeowners last year for the program, down slightly from the 2,111 in 2012.

And the Transition Assistance Program, which gives as much as $5,000 to a homeowner with an approved short sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure to start over with a new living situation, helped 367 families last year – almost 300 more than 2012. The program issued about $1.34 million last year, compared to $335,000 in 2012.

So, as you can see, last year was a huge success for Keep Your Home California. But program officials have even loftier goals for helping homeowners prevent avoidable foreclosures in 2014.

If you have additional questions or would like to apply for any Keep Your Home California program, call 888-954-5337 or visit www.keepyourhomecalifornia.org (Spanish speakers should visit www.conservatucasacalifornia.org). The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.


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