Keep Your Home California will stop accepting applications June 29 – homeowners should apply immediately

Keep Your Home California, the free mortgage-assistance program that has helped over 82,000 homeowners, is entering its final weeks. All applications for Keep Your Home California assistance must be submitted by June 29, 2018, in order to be considered for funding.

Homeowners faced with a financial hardship and worried about losing their home are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Available program funding will soon be exhausted, which is why the program will no longer be able to accept applications after 7 p.m. Friday, June 29, 2018.

All homeowners who submit an application to Keep Your Home California by June 29 will have their files processed to a resolution. Closing the program to new applicants will not adversely affect applications in-process.

The federally funded program helps California homeowners who are dealing with a hardship – such as a cut in hours or pay, a job loss, divorce, death in the family, or extraordinary medical bills that are affecting a homeowner’s finances – and faced with the possibility of losing their home to foreclosure.

The state-managed program has been a big success, helping more than 82,000 homeowners – or the equivalent of everyone in Buena Park in Southern California or Redwood City in the Bay Area. The demand for the program has remained strong, even with a much-improved economy and housing market during the past couple years.

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In fact, Keep Your Home California has already provided more than $2 billion in funding to qualifying homeowners across the state. Additionally, another $67 million has been committed – basically dollars set aside – for those who have applied but have not yet been approved for the program. The program has been a huge success, helping homeowners in all 58 California counties, and will end more than two years before its mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.

If you are going to apply for the mortgage-assistance program, now is the time. All four of the Keep Your Home California programs will be available until the final application date. Assistance from the programs is available free of charge and includes the following:

  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program – Out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $54,000 or up to 18 months in assistance, whichever comes first. In addition, the program can help homeowners catch-up on their past-due mortgage payments.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program – Homeowners can receive as much as $54,000 to help them catch-up on past-due mortgage payments. However, homeowners must be able to make their mortgage payments going forward.
  • Principal Reduction Program – As much as $100,000 to lower mortgage principal and help ease the financial burden of a severely underwater mortgage and, quite often, an unaffordable monthly payment. In many cases, homeowners will also enjoy a lower monthly payment. Of course, homeowners must be able to make their mortgage payments going forward.
  • Transition Assistance Program – Homeowners can receive up to $5,000 to help with relocation costs as part of an approved deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale of their home.

In order to be eligible for Keep Your Home California, homeowners must meet county-by-county income limits, which range from about $84,450 in rural counties to more than $150,000 in the Bay Area. A homeowner’s mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payments – must also participate in the program. Almost 250 servicers are enrolled in Keep Your Home California.

If you’re a homeowner facing a financial hardship and worried about losing your home to foreclosure, apply right away. Homeowners must complete the applications and submit all necessary documents within a 30-day period.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers.

The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.

Feature photo by Min C. Chiu/Shutterstock

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Transparency helps homeowners – and Keep Your Home California

Keep Your Home California is committed to openness and transparency, educating consumers, encouraging comments, and sharing the facts and figures of its free mortgage-assistance program.

It’s been the promise from the first day of the federally funded program and remains more than seven years – and 81,500-plus homeowners – later.

The approach has allowed the state-managed program to succeed – and thrive. Comments, suggestions and, yes, even complaints have helped Keep Your Home California evolve and expand when needed.

Keep Your Home California’s website is the foundation for the commitment to transparency. The website – redesigned, in part, to improve transparency in early 2013 – offers a lot of data on the program. Online visitors will find charts, graphics, an interactive map and quarterly reports.

Some of the information available on the Reports & Statistics page include:

  • How many homeowners have been helped and funding issued by county.
  • How many dollars awarded by each of the four programs and Keep Your Home California overall.
  • How much Keep Your Home California funding remains for homeowners.
  • Federal quarterly reports and the annual audits on Keep Your Home California.
  • How Keep Your Home California has fared compared to the other states that received funding through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Hardest Hit Fund. California’s funding issued to homeowners is more than double the amount from any other state.
  • A link to the Economic Impact of Keep Your Home California: A Statewide and Regional Analysis, a detailed look at how the program has helped homeowners, neighborhoods, businesses, and local and state government. The analysis found that for every $1 of funding issued, the state’s economy benefited by $2.

Keep Your Home California also established a monthly Servicer Scorecard page, sharing information about the 240 mortgage servicers participating in the program. Data on the mortgage servicers – the companies that collect the monthly payments from homeowners – is listed, including how many transactions the servicer had each month, how responsive they are, and how they are doing when it comes to referring customers to Keep Your Home California.

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The “Success Stories” are one of the most popular pages on the website. Keep Your Home California has shared more than 100 stories from real homeowners who have benefited from using the program. All of the homeowners’ stories are provided voluntarily and only the first name and the first initial of each homeowner’s last name are used to protect their privacy.

Of course, Keep Your Home California’s commitment to transparency expands beyond the website. The program has issued almost 30 news releases and published more than 100 blog posts (this is No. 101) detailing the latest information, from changing requirements to expanding programs.

Keep Your Home California also embraced social media when the program launched back in 2011. Keep Your Home California has a Facebook account and Twitter handle, where information on the program and mortgage/real estate-related news are shared. Facebook allows consumers to ask about Keep Your Home California, which has a 100% response rate. Keep Your Home California’s YouTube channel features commercials and interviews about the program.

Finally, real homeowners and their very real stories have been used in commercials – on TV, online and the radio.

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In the never-ending commitment to transparency, Keep Your Home California is encouraging homeowners to apply for the mortgage-assistance program as soon as possible. Keep Your Home California is entering the final stretch and could stop accepting applications within the next several weeks.

In order to apply for the state-managed program, homeowners must have a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family, or extraordinary medical expenses.  Homeowners must also meet county-by-county income limits. Severe negative equity is considered a financial hardship under the Principal Reduction Program.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337), visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org, or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers.

The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.

 

 


Refinancing the mortgage, selling a home are possible after receiving assistance from Keep Your Home California

California’s economy, jobs and housing markets have improved in recent years, allowing one-time down-on-their-luck homeowners to consider their options – and even look at new opportunities.

Perhaps a better-paying job in another city is calling, or that cozy two-bedroom cottage perfect for two has become cramped for a family of four? Or maybe that one-time crater-filled credit report has become rock-solid, and you’re looking to refinance at a lower interest rate – and save some money every month?

But if you are one of the more than 80,000 homeowners who have received assistance from Keep Your Home California, you may also be concerned that your previous participation in the program will hold you back from some of the options listed above. After all, part of the stipulations in order for you to qualify for Keep Your Home California assistance is that you stay in your home for a specified amount of time.

Keep Your Home California applauds the efforts assistance recipients make to get back on their feet and move forward with their lives. Homeowners who previously qualified for assistance have some options because the state-managed program was always meant to be a helping hand, not handcuffs.

Payoffs and subordinations are possible with Keep Your Home California.

When the economy collapsed and the housing market bubble burst several years ago, qualifying homeowners were in a much different situation. Maybe you endured a cut in pay (or hours), or a job loss? Perhaps you bought at the top of the market and were dealing with an underwater mortgage and an upside-down life for a while? Or perhaps those mounting medical bills caused you to get behind on the mortgage payments?

For the homeowners who weathered the storm, Keep Your Home California recognizes that it may be more advantageous for them to refinance or even sell their home, now that calm seas and clear skies have returned.

Qualified homeowners can refinance their mortgage as long as the new loan meets Keep Your Home California’s “no cash-out” criteria. Basically, you cannot take cash out on the equity that was created or maintained due to the program assistance, until the Keep Your Home California lien has been satisfied and released.

However, if the new loan is to enjoy a lower interest rate and save some money on the payments every month, Keep Your Home California may be able to subordinate its lien in order to help make the homeowner’s refinance possible.

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What if you need or want to sell your home? Maybe you are moving for a new job or the family needs more space? This is a bit more complicated.

If you sell the home for less than you owe, Keep Your Home California may be able to approve a short-sale. Depending on the amount of equity available when the home is sold, Keep Your Home California may forgive all, or some part of, the outstanding amount of assistance owed.  The amount of forgiveness depends on a number of factors, including the amount of assistance received, amount of sale proceeds and when the homeowner received the funding.

Funds returned to Keep Your Home California are then added to the program funds and made available to new qualifying homeowners who need assistance.

Homeowners interested in payoffs, short sales, and subordinations should contact Keep Your Home California. There is a section on the Frequent Questions webpage that includes questions and answers about payoffs and subordinations. We want to make sure homeowners understand their options.

Homeowners should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers. The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.

Feature photo by Simez78/Shutterstock


How to stay in your home after the loss of a loved one

By Lucille Rosetti/Special to Keep Your Home California

Everyone copes with the death of a close loved one in their own way.

There is no manual for grief, no set time for the healing process, and no certain set of steps to get you through the heartache.

When a loved one who lives with you passes away – a parent, spouse, partner, child, sibling, or friend – every moment in the home can be a devastating reminder of your loss.

For some people, a fresh start in a new environment is a logical step. Maybe the house feels too big and empty. Perhaps too many memories are holding your recovery back.

However, for those who choose to stay, it’s important to turn your home into a place that honors your loved one’s memory without overwhelming your emotions. Here are a few tips for moving through grief while remaining in your home after the death of a loved one.

Organize your home

 For many people, a good cleaning of the home can help with healing when dealing with your loss. If your loved one suffered through a long illness, you may have medical equipment and supplies that you want to organize. If you were the primary caregiver, other responsibilities in your house may have fallen by the wayside. It’s common for some people to deal with major change by taking the time to organize their home. The following are some ways to reduce stress:

  • Organize your closet or a space in your attic to store unused medical equipment.
  • Rearrange your living room to accommodate guests.
  • Arrange furniture in your dining room so that people can flow in and out, and meals can be eaten together at the table or buffet style on the go.
  • Create a space for managing the paperwork that goes into planning a funeral and closing accounts.

 Purge belongings

Letting go of the belongings of a deceased loved one can be a bittersweet process. There is a very real feeling of closure that can come from this, which makes purging both sentimental and practical items scary and uncomfortable. However, if you choose to stay in your home after the loss of a family member, you’ll want to eventually address the situation. Take your time and be kind to yourself during this emotional period. Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Put items in storage. Don’t assume you have to immediately sell, donate or toss anything.
  • Give items to family members who will enjoy the sentimental value or could use them to brighten up their own home.
  • Take it step-by-step. Start with organizing items by categories like “store,” “keep,” “donate,” “sell” and “unsure.” Then, if needed, give yourself time and space to decide.
  • Take photos of possessions that you may want to remember but no longer have the space – emotionally or physically – to keep.
  • Keep only one or two most cherished items of a collection that your loved one put together over the years.

While it’s important that you allow yourself to move through grief in a way that makes sense to you, it’s also a good idea to avoid making major decisions soon after losing a loved one. Storing items in boxes, the garage or attic, or even renting a storage space gives you a little emotional buffer before purging.

And, of course, please remember Keep Your Home California, which can provide some much-needed mortgage assistance during such a difficult period. Extraordinary medical costs and/or the death of a family member could be considered a financial hardship, and you could be eligible for assistance if the loss of your loved one has made keeping up with your mortgage payments more difficult. The free mortgage-assistance program has helped almost 80,000 homeowners.

If you have questions about Keep Your Home California, please call the counseling center at 888-954-5337 or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org. Also, Conserva Tu Casa California offers the entire Keep Your Home California website in Spanish.

The Keep Your Home California counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.

Lucille Rosetti created TheBereaved.org to share tools to help people through the grief process.

Feature photo by Monkey Business Photography/Shutterstock

 

 

 

 


Got tax questions? Keep Your Home California has some answers, but refers most to professional tax preparers

It’s beginning to feel like crunch time.

You’ve seen the ads for the national tax preparers, the documents have arrived in the mail, and the calendar flips just a little faster this time of the year.

Welcome to tax season. Tax Day (April 17, 2018) is right around the corner.

It’s also when many soon-to-be tax-filing homeowners begin calling, emailing or posting on social media their tax-related questions to Keep Your Home California. Our counselors know a lot about the free mortgage-assistance program, but they are not tax advisers.

We let professionals – accountants, tax preparers or even software – handle tax-related questions. It’s our policy and the law. Only tax professionals, folks who have completed numbers-crunching courses and feast on figures, are allowed to provide tax advice.

However, the Keep Your Home California website’s Frequently Asked Questions page provides information on several of the most-asked tax-related questions from homeowners who have received assistance from the program:

The most frequent question among homeowners can also be found on the FAQ page: Do I have to pay taxes on the benefits assistance received from Keep Your Home California?

We’ll save you from the suspense – consult a tax professional.

The section on tax is near the bottom of the FAQ page. You can also search the FAQ page for “1098-MA Tax Statement,” which will take your cursor to the section.

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It’s unfortunate that we cannot answer tax-related questions, but our focus is on helping you save your home from foreclosure. We leave taxes to professionals. Additional information is also available from the Internal Revenue Service.

If you are more comfortable in another language, the entire Keep Your Home California website – including the FAQ page with the tax-related questions – can be translated into virtually any language through Google Translate. Just go to the homepage and click on “Select Language” in the upper right corner.

Also, Conserva Tu Casa California offers the entire Keep Your Home California website in Spanish.

If you have questions about Keep Your Home California, please call the counseling center at 888-954-5337 or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org. The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Got an adjustable-rate mortgage with a hard-to-make payment? Keep Your Home California and your mortgage servicer could help – and likely save you money

Adjustable-rate mortgages are so 2008. You know, when the housing boom went bust, leading to more than 1.1 million California households to enter foreclosure.

But guess what? As many as 10% of California homeowners still have adjustable-rate mortgages, according to industry experts.

Now, adjustable-rate mortgages aren’t necessarily bad financial tools. They allow some home-shoppers to qualify for loans and become homeowners, and much-tougher regulations have reduced their risk and volatility in recent years.

But when adjustable-rate mortgages were coupled with subprime mortgages – higher-risk, lower lending standard loans – during the housing boom, they created some major trouble. In fact, about 90% of subprime mortgages were adjustable-rate loans in 2006, compared to a historic average of only 8%, according to mortgage experts.

The combination created a hard-to-imagine and impossible-to-maintain situation. It was like bloated water balloons being tossed higher and higher, they were eventually bound to burst when they hit your hands.

And they did for many homeowners, as payments increased as part of the mortgage meltdown.

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Still, tens of thousands of homeowners in California are paying and struggling with adjustable-rate mortgages from the mid- to late-2000s. In many cases, these homeowners are not able to refinance their homes for a fixed-rate mortgage, due to a recent financial hardship.

Perhaps their income declined, they’ve been faced with unexpected medical bills, their monthly payment has increased and made the mortgage unaffordable, or they have an underwater mortgage.

Despite the predicament, help is available to qualifying homeowners. If the servicer participates in Keep Your Home California, homeowners may qualify for free-assistance from the program.

The Principal Reduction Program offers as much as $100,000 in principal reduction and often lowers the monthly mortgage payment for qualifying homeowners. If a homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment has become unaffordable due to an adjustable rate mortgage payment resetting to a higher amount, that homeowner could qualify for Principal Reduction Program assistance to bring the payment back down to an affordable level. In some cases, servicers will couple the Keep Your Home California assistance with a servicer-provided loan modification to change the loan from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate.

Rather than the roller coaster-like ride of adjustable-rate mortgages, which follow interest rates, fixed-rate loans offer the same monthly payment. Then, homeowners know what to expect and can plan their spending, while hopefully socking away some dollars in savings.

Homeowners that have an adjustable-rate mortgage and have suffered a financial hardship should consider Keep Your Home California.

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On the Participating Servicers webpage, all servicers that have signed up for the program are listed and you can see which offer modifications with the assistance. More than 250 servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and U.S. Bank, participate in Keep Your Home California.

In order to apply for the state-managed program, homeowners must have a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family, or extraordinary medical expenses.  Homeowners must also meet county-by-county income limits. Severe negative equity is considered a financial hardship under the Principal Reduction Program.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337), visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org, or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers.

The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language.


Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program now helps homeowners catch-up on past-due mortgage payments

Losing a job and looking for work is tough. Just ask anyone who has gone through the experience.

Searching for job openings online, sending out resumes – in some cases drafting cover letters – and going to interviews is often more difficult and time-consuming than a full-time gig.

Keep Your Home California continues to expand to make the experience for job-seekers who own homes much easier, more helpful and less stressful. The free mortgage-assistance program provides assistance to out-of-work homeowners so they can focus on the job search and not worry about their monthly mortgage payments.

To more effectively help homeowners, Keep Your Home California recently made some changes to the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. The program now allows homeowners to get as much as 18 months or a total of $54,000 in financial assistance, whichever comes first. The move opens the door to the program for homeowners with mortgage payments of more than $3,000, the previous limit.

For example, jobless homeowners with a $3,600 monthly mortgage payment could get up to 15 months of assistance from the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance. A larger payment over less time, but still not exceeding the $54,000 limit.

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Keep Your Home California has also adopted in recent weeks another major change to the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program – the state-managed program can now help homeowners catch-up on past-due mortgage payments, a rather common challenge for many households looking for work.

Another example: An out-of-work homeowner has a monthly mortgage payment of $4,000, but gets behind by three months as he looks for work. Under the new changes, Keep Your Home California will help the homeowner “catch-up” on those past-due payments of $12,000 and cover the monthly payment of $4,000 – again up to a maximum of $54,000. Under this scenario, Keep Your Home California can help the homeowner for as long as 10 months.

Homeowners can qualify for Keep Your Home California’s Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program if they are eligible for unemployment benefits from the state Employment Development Department – or they have received jobless benefits within the past 60 days.

Even if a homeowner’s EDD benefits have already expired, as long as it was less than 60 days ago, they can still qualify for assistance.

Before homeowners can receive assistance from Keep Your Home California, they must meet the core requirements, including a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses.

They must also meet county-by-county income requirements and their mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payment – needs to participate in Keep Your Home California. A vast majority of mortgage servicers, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, participate in the federally funded program.

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Keep Your Home California has issued almost $1.9 billion – or about 90% of the funding allocated for the program – to 78,000 households across the state.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for the program should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org or www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org for Spanish speakers. The counseling center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Calls can be taken in virtually any language through a free translation service.

Feature photo by ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.