Free mortgage events connect homeowners with Keep Your Home California counselors, representatives

 Keep Your Home California is often on the road, attending events and helping homeowners with their mortgage issues, from Lake County in Northern California to the desert communities of Southern California.

It’s an effort to connect with, educate and encourage homeowners about the free mortgage-assistance program, which has helped more than 55,000 people since February 2011—or the equivalent of about half of the people in Richmond, Temecula or Ventura.

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So far, Keep Your Home California representatives have attended 93 events since the beginning of 2015, or more than 12 per month. In fact, the state program has participated in 778 events since early 2011—more events than baseball games played by any one of the Golden State’s Major League Baseball teams over the same period.

The free events allow counselors and program representatives to meet face-to-face with homeowners and answer questions about Keep Your Home California, and even help with the application process. The Keep Your Home California website offers an up-to-date calendar of events for homeowners.

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Keep Your Home California often partners on these free events with mortgage servicers that participate in the program—including Bank of America and Wells Fargo— and the dozens of housing counseling agencies statewide that meet one-on-one with homeowners.

The collaborative effort benefits the housing counselors, the mortgage servicers, Keep Your Home California, and most importantly, financially strapped homeowners interested in the program.

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Thousands of homeowners have been exposed to the state-managed program at these events during the past four-plus years. From couples who are casualties of corporate cost-cutting to families faced with hard-to-make mortgage payments, Keep Your Home California has a program ready to help:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth and/or have an unaffordable payment can cut their mortgage principal as much as $100,000 while saving hundreds of dollars every month. Homeowners approved for the program enjoyed an average savings of $216 per month, from $1,316 to $1,100 during first-quarter 2015, the latest figures available.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners who have received jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department in the previous 30 days can receive as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months for their mortgage payments.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments can qualify for as much as $54,000 to help them “catch up” on their past-due mortgage payments. Homeowners must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.
  • Transition Assistance Program: Homeowners who have reached an agreement for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or short sale with their mortgage servicer could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.
  • Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program: Homeowners 62 years or older who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure due to delinquent property expenses associated with their Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured reverse mortgages can qualify for as much as $25,000 in assistance. The program reinstates past-due property-related expenses such as taxes and homeowner’s insurance, and provides up to 12 months of additional assistance to ensure homeowners get back on their feet.

If you would like more information about Keep Your Home California and the five programs, attend an upcoming event or call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (Spanish speakers should visit http://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.


Keep Your Home California more than doubles the funding limit for Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program

Keep Your Home California is always looking at ways to improve the free mortgage-assistance program in order to help more financially strapped low- to moderate-income homeowners.

Recently, the state-managed program more than doubled the funding limit of the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, allowing more homeowners to catch-up on their past-due mortgage payments.

Under the changes, hard-hit homeowners behind at least two months on their mortgage payments can receive as much as $54,000 with the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program. The previous limit was $25,000.

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The $29,000 boost in the funding limit will allow more homeowners to be approved for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program. The average monthly mortgage payment is about $2,000 in California, according to multiple sources.

So, cash-strapped homeowners who are significantly behind on their monthly mortgage payments could catch up with Keep Your Home California. How much financial assistance homeowners receive depends on numerous factors.

In order to qualify for Keep Your Home California and the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program, homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, a death or extraordinary medical expenses – and meet county-by-county income requirements. The county limits are much higher than many think, from about $70,000 in several counties to more than $120,000 in the Bay Area.

However, homeowners approved for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program must have recovered from their financial hardship and be able to make their mortgage payments going forward in order to be eligible for the program.

Also, a homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in Keep Your Home California – and more specifically the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program. About 240 mortgage servicers participate in Keep Your Home California, with almost all enrolled in the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program. Major banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase participate.

Of course, Keep Your Home California has three other first-mortgage programs and a new pilot program for low- to moderate-income senior homeowners with reverse mortgages. More information on each program is available at the Keep Your Home California website.

If you 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 http://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.


CalHFA: Opening the door to homeownership

June is National Homeownership Month, an effort to educate consumers about the benefits and the far-reaching effects of homeownership.

Homeownership is about building roots in a community, committing to a neighborhood and gaining more financial stability.

“Owning a home is one of the best ways American families can enter the middle class,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on June 1, the official kick-off of National Homeownership Month.

But for many families, buying that first home can be tough, especially in California.

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The Golden State’s homeownership rate is about 55%, almost 10 percentage points lower than the national average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And the figure includes many homeowners who bought years ago and have been able to deal with the roller coaster-like ride known as the California housing market.

Families looking to buy today are dealing with a much different and more volatile market, with bidding wars and fast-rising prices.

But the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), the state agency that oversees Keep Your Home California, has several down payment assistance and mortgage programs for low to moderate income homebuyers in the state. CalHFA’s programs allow the American Dream to become a reality.

The state agency offers programs for first-time buyers, including the CalPLUS Conventional first mortgage loan. The program includes a Zero Interest Program (ZIP Extra) junior loan, which can help with more than $10,000 in closing costs and down payment assistance, at zero interest, for first-time borrowers with good credit and steady income.

Buyers could also benefit from the California Homebuyer’s Downpayment Assistance Program (CHDAP), which provides buyers up to 3% of the purchase price to use for a down payment. Other programs include the Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program — a special program for eligible teachers, administrators and staff in California schools — and the CalHFA Energy Efficient Mortgage + Grant Program that assists with energy-efficient home improvements.

The amount of assistance varies by product, loan amount and borrower eligibility. We strongly encourage consumers to consider CalHFA loans.

Now, if you’re already a hard-hit homeowner, CalHFA’s Keep Your Home California mortgage-assistance program could help you. It’s critical for all homeowners to remain in their homes, if possible. The stability is good for families and their communities, just as much as a new buyer.

Keep Your Home California has four main programs and a pilot program, each designed to help homeowners with their mortgage situation. Homeowners could receive as much as $100,000 in assistance through the federally funded program.

Homeowners must have endured a financial hardship — such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, a death or extraordinary medical expenses — in order to apply for Keep Your Home California. They must also meet county-by-county income limits and their mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. Don’t worry, about 230 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are enrolled in Keep Your Home California.

If you 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 http://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.


Unaffordable monthly mortgage payment? Maybe Keep Your Home California can help

Affordable mortgage payments are a big-time concern for many homeowners in California, especially for families whose income has declined in recent years.

Keep Your Home California – the free mortgage assistance program — recently changed its Principal Reduction Program in order to help more low- and moderate-income homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. Homeowners who have an unaffordable first mortgage payment may qualify for up to $100,000 in assistance.

The state-run program’s goal is to help homeowners attain an affordable mortgage payment, before they fall behind on their payments.

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Keep Your Home California will assist homeowners who have suffered a financial hardship – such as a loss of income, divorce, death or extraordinary medical bills — and help solve their mortgage troubles.

The change allows homeowners with a hardship and unaffordable monthly mortgage payments — greater than 38% of the homeowner’s household gross income — to qualify for assistance to reduce their principal balance. The principal reductions will often lead to savings of hundreds of dollars each month on homeowners’ mortgage payments.

It’s a big change for the program, which previously required homeowners to owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home, often referred to as negative equity or an underwater mortgage. Now, homeowners with unaffordable payments can apply and be approved for as much as $100,000 in assistance from Keep Your Home California, even if they have positive equity in their home.

“Despite an improving economy and job market, there are still many homeowners who are struggling every month …” California Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Tia Boatman Patterson said in a recent news release about the changes to the Principal Reduction Program. “Our goal is to help California homeowners prevent avoidable foreclosures.”

CalHFA oversees Keep Your Home California, a federally funded program.

Homeowners approved for the Principal Reduction Program must be able to make their monthly mortgage payments going forward.

Homeowners must also meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship and county-by-county income requirements (a complete income limit list is available at http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/income-limits/). Severe negative equity – a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or more – is considered a financial hardship under the Principal Reduction Program.

If you 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 http://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.


Employment Development Department, Keep Your Home California team up to connect with more than 1 million out-of-work Californians about Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program

California’s economy continues to improve, with more than 1.53 million jobs created since the recovery started in early 2010 – and the lowest unemployment rate in more than six years.

Despite the solid job growth, many Californians are still struggling to find work. In fact, there are still 1.32 million Californians looking for work – the equivalent of everyone in San Diego.

And many of those folks are homeowners.

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So, the Employment Development Department and Keep Your Home California developed a joint effort to educate out-of-work homeowners about the free mortgage-assistance program. Keep Your Home California’s Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program offers as much as $3,000 per month for 18 months to homeowners eligible for unemployment benefits.

EDD delivered nearly 1.5 million flyers about Keep Your Home California to jobless residents in the state in 2014. The campaign has been a big help in educating and encouraging homeowners to apply for the state-managed program.

The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program augments jobless benefits from the EDD. So, homeowners can collect an unemployment check and have their mortgage payments covered – up to $3,000 per month – for up to 18 months.

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The Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program allows out-of-work homeowners to concentrate on their job search, rather than worry about their monthly mortgage payment. The program has already helped more than 34,000 homeowners across the state.

To qualify, homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, and their mortgage servicer must participate in Keep Your Home California. All 200-plus mortgage servicers enrolled in Keep Your Home California participate in the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and several other large servicers. To check the complete list of mortgage servicers enrolled in Keep Your Home California, visit: http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/participating-servicers/.

If you 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 http://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.


Keep Your Home California establishes new program to help seniors with reverse mortgages

Hard-hit seniors behind on their reverse mortgage-related payments, including property taxes and homeowner’s insurance, could get a much-needed helping hand from Keep Your Home California.

The free mortgage-assistance program has announced a new pilot program to help low- and moderate-income senior homeowners 62 years and older who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure after getting behind on their reverse mortgage-related payments.

The Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, announced in mid-February, will help homeowners with Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured reverse mortgages to qualify for as much as $25,000 in assistance. Homeowners must have an FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) in order to be eligible for the program.

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Along with the financial assistance, homeowners will receive budget counseling and may receive up to 12 months of additional assistance for future property expenses to ensure homeowners get back on their feet.

Senior homeowners must meet the program’s county-by-county income limits and have endured a financial hardship – a cut in pay, a job loss, a divorce, death in the family, or extraordinary medical bills – in order to qualify for help.

Homeowners must also live in the home with the reverse mortgage and be able to make the property expenses going forward.

Thousands of senior homeowners have used the FHA HECM product, and many have experienced a change in their financial situation beyond their control. Many of these senior homeowners with reverse mortgages are in the Central Valley, the Chico/Redding region of Northern California and the High Desert of Southern California.

Homeowners seeking assistance should contact their reverse mortgage servicer to begin the application process for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. Currently, six servicers are participating in the pilot program – Champion, Financial Freedom, James B. Nutter, Reverse Mortgage Solutions (RMS), SunWest and Wells Fargo.

These six companies handle a large majority of the FHA HECM reverse mortgages in California.

Keep Your Home California has set aside $25 million for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, enough funds to help about 1,400 homeowners.

If you would like more information about the program, please call Keep Your Home California at 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://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 Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


Keep Your Home California website answers some tax-related questions, but encourages homeowners to seek tax professionals before filing their returns

It happens this time every year.

The commercials begin, the documents and statements arrive in the mail, and the clock seems to tick just a little faster.

Welcome to tax season.

tax timeIt’s also when we get quite a few calls and emails from homeowners who have been helped by Keep Your Home California. Now, we know a lot about our free mortgage-assistance program and many other mortgage-related topics, but when it comes to personal income taxes …

Well, we must let the professionals handle tax questions.

However, the Keep Your Home California website’s Frequently Asked Questions page addresses several of the most-asked questions from homeowners:

  • I didn’t receive or I lost my 1098-MA statement from Keep Your Home California, can I get another one?
  • I prepare my own taxes each year. Where can I obtain information on the 1098-MA statement?
  • Does the 1098-MA replace the 1098 tax document that I get from my mortgage servicer?

And, of course, the most frequent question that raises concern among homeowners: Do I have to pay taxes on the benefits assistance received from Keep Your Home California?

We’re sorry, but our program cannot provide tax advice and strongly urges homeowners to consult a tax professional regarding this and any other tax-related questions. Additional information is also available from the Internal Revenue Service.

Now, if you would like more information or want to apply for Keep Your Home California, call 888-954-KEEP (5337) or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org (those more comfortable speaking Spanish should visit http://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 hywards at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 


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