Keep Your Home California offers as much as $100,000 to homeowners with unaffordable or underwater mortgages

Do you have an unaffordable or underwater mortgage? If so, Keep Your Home California could help.

The free, mortgage-assistance program is offering as much as $100,000 to low- to moderate-income homeowners in California with hard-to-make monthly payments or severe negative equity.

The assistance could make the difference between homeowners having some money left over at the end of the month or even staying in their home.

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In order to help more homeowners with unaffordable or underwater mortgages, Keep Your Home California has expanded its popular Principal Reduction Program. Homeowners approved for the program have received an average of $75,000 in principal reduction and a 14% drop in their monthly mortgage payments.

But what criteria does the state-managed program use to determine if a homeowner has an unaffordable or underwater mortgage, or in some cases, both?

A homeowner whose monthly payment exceeds 38% of their household income is considered an unaffordable mortgage and could be eligible for the program. For example, a homeowner who earns $5,000 per month but his mortgage payment is more than $1,900 may qualify.

And homeowners who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth are also candidates for the program. Homeowners with a loan-to-value-ratio greater than 120% — considered severe negative equity indicative of imminent default — satisfy the financial hardship criteria for the Principal Reduction Program. For example, a homeowner whose house is currently valued at $300,000 but owes more than $360,000 may be eligible for the Principal Reduction Program.

About one of every nine homeowners in the state with a mortgage currently owes more than the value of their home, according to Zillow. But some counties and metro areas in California have a much-larger percentage of underwater mortgages.

The Inland Empire — Riverside and San Bernardino counties — has the fourth-largest percentage of underwater mortgages in the nation, at 13.9%, according to a recent CoreLogic report. And five California counties, including Imperial and Kings, have at least 25% of their homes with underwater mortgages.

It’s uncertain how many homeowners are faced with unaffordable mortgages, since many Californians are earning less than several years ago but their mortgage payments may remain the same or even higher as when they purchased their house.

Homeowners must meet county-by-county income limits, from about $70,000 in rural counties to more than $120,000 in higher-priced regions of the state.

Also, a homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. About 240 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo, are enrolled in the program.

Homeowners seeking more information about Keep Your Home California or any of its five programs should call 888-954-KEEP (5337) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays or visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org. Representatives can answer questions and take applications in virtually any language through a translation service and there is never a fee for any Keep Your Home California services. A Spanish-language version of the website is also available at www.ConservaTuCasaCalifornia.org.

 


Letter-sending campaign asks city leaders to educate their community’s homeowners about Keep Your Home California

California mayors and city managers are being encouraged to educate their communities about Keep Your Home California, a free mortgage-assistance program that has helped more than 58,000 homeowners.

Keep Your Home California— a state-managed program — has mailed several hundred letters to mayors and city managers in the state, from Eureka in Northern California to San Diego in Southern California. The letter campaign delivers a simple but very significant message to city leaders and hopefully passed along to their residents: financially strapped homeowners could get as much as $100,000 from Keep Your Home California.

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Bakersfield is being hit hard by low crude oil prices, with Kern County’s jobless rate at 9%, almost twice the statewide average. Many of the affected employees who own homes could apply for Keep Your Home California, a free mortgage-assistance program.

Keep Your Home California has issued almost $1.2 billion in funding since the program started in February 2011. At the current pace of funding, the program will end in early 2017 or possibly even late 2016, about a year earlier than the federal deadline.

So, homeowners should apply soon for Keep Your Home California, since the application-to-approval process can take from 30 days to more than 90 days, depending on the program for which they ae applying and how fast homeowners complete the necessary paperwork.

The federally funded program has helped Californians who are behind on their mortgage payments, those dealing with unaffordable or underwater mortgages (and, in many cases, both) or even out-of-work homeowners. The program has also helped cities by curbing foreclosures, reducing abandoned homes and protecting property values, a critical revenue source for local government.

Despite a better economy, many Californians could benefit from the program. For example, about one of every 11 homeowners with a mortgage is underwater and 5% are behind on their mortgage payments. And nearly 1.2 million residents are unemployed, including many who own homes.

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About 20% of Fresno-area homeowners are dealing with an underwater mortgage. Keep Your Home California recently mailed letters to city officials, including those in Fresno, encouraging them to educate their residents about the free mortgage-assistance program, including a program for homeowners with unaffordable or underwater mortgages.

Keep Your Home California has five programs, including a pilot program for seniors with reverse mortgages, to help homeowners:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth and/or have an unaffordable payment can cut their outstanding principal balance by as much as $100,000 while saving hundreds of dollars every month. Many homeowners also often save hundreds of dollars every month in payments with the program.
  • 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.

Homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship—such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, death or extraordinary medical expenses—and meet county-by-county income requirements. Severe negative equity, a loan-to-value ratio greater than 120%, is considered financial hardships under the Principal Reduction Program.

A homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must also participate in the program. More than 240 servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase, are enrolled in Keep Your Home California.

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.


A mortgage payment could be cheaper than paying rent

Some California homeowners dealing with a cash crunch could be considering difficult but necessary options — perhaps foreclosure, a short sale or even selling their home with little or no equity afterwards.

But what happens when the deal closes or the homeowner walks away? Where will the homeowner and their family live?

It’s an important and often pricey question.

California homeowners that believe living mortgage-free means more money in their pocket, may want to reconsider. In many cases, former homeowners could actually pay more in monthly rent than their previous monthly mortgage payment, according to industry reports.

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California rental rates have increased about 15% during the past year, and more in some areas of the state. In fact, the Golden State has six of the 18 most-expensive metropolitan areas in the nation for rent, including four in the top 10.

A two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco will cost about $4,650 per month — the highest rent in the nation and almost $1,000 more than second-place New York City, according to Zumper.

Los Angeles is the second most-expensive city for rent in California (and fifth nationwide) at $2,500, followed by San Jose (sixth in the U.S) at $2,308 for a two-bedroom home. Oakland finished as fourth most expensive at $2,270, followed by San Diego at $1,840, according to Zumper.

Earlier this year, the Economic Roundtable put out a report that found 13,000 people become homeless in Los Angeles County each month, due to the high cost of housing.

Even if you live in California’s midsize, inland cities, rent could cost a few hundred dollars more than a mortgage, according to Zillow. For example, the average rent for a three-bedroom home in Sacramento is $1,459, with Bakersfield and Redding at $1,374 and $1,311, respectively.

Sure, as a renter you don’t have to pay property tax and homeowner’s insurance, but you don’t have the tax benefits of homeownership, either. Keeping people as homeowners with an affordable mortgage payment is a better option than having them enter the high-cost rental market due to a financial hardship.

So, what if you could actually stay in your home?

Well, Keep Your Home California, the free mortgage-assistance program, has four distinct programs that could help. The federally funded, state-managed program has one primary goal: help homeowners stay in their homes.

For example, Keep Your Home California’s Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program allows homeowners to catch-up on their past-due payments, up to $54,000. Now, homeowners must be able to make the payments going forward, but this gives them a clean slate and the opportunity to remain in their home.

The Principal Reduction Program offers as much as $100,000, lowering their principal balance and often reducing the monthly mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars. The program is designed to help homeowners with unaffordable or underwater mortgages.

And the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program provides up to $3,000 per month for 18 months, or a total of $54,000, for out-of-work homeowners. Rather than worrying about the monthly mortgage payment, homeowners can focus on finding a job.

Of course, Keep Your Home California has some requirements, including the homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. More than 240 mortgage servicers are currently enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase.

And homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, which range from about $70,000 in rural counties to more than $120,000 in some Bay Area counties. Additionally, homeowners must have suffered a financial hardship — such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce or extraordinary medical expenses — in order to be eligible for the program. Severe negative equity, a loan-to-value ratio of 120% or more, is considered a financial hardship for 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.

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 


Keep Your Home California has helped more than 57,000 homeowners, but thousands more could benefit from free mortgage-assistance program

Keep Your Home California continues to assist homeowners who need a helping hand with their mortgage payments — and is ready to help many more.

Keep Your Home California has helped more than 57,000 homeowners and distributed nearly $1.2 billion in assistance since February 2011. About another 25,000 could benefit from Keep Your Home California.

A large majority (93%) of homeowners approved for the free mortgage-assistance program are still in their homes two years later, with only 131 total households losing their homes to foreclosure during that same two-year period. Yep, more people are likely shopping at a local home-improvement store on a Saturday morning than the number of homeowners who suffered a foreclosure after receiving help from Keep Your Home California.

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The federally funded, state-managed program has allowed homeowners to remain in their homes while providing financial and emotional stability. Keep Your Home California has also been a success for neighborhoods and the state, which suffer from lower revenue with foreclosures.

Now, foreclosures have declined the past several months, thanks to a much-improved economy and housing market. But the economic recovery has not been even across all communities in the state and there are still many California homeowners who need Keep Your Home California.

In fact, about one of every nine California homeowners is dealing with an underwater mortgage – meaning they owe more than the current value of their home. And there are some areas and counties with a much-larger ratio of homeowners with negative-equity mortgages.

The Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) has the fourth-largest percentage of underwater mortgages in the nation, at 13.9%. Five California counties, including Imperial and Kings, have at least 25% of homeowners with mortgages facing an underwater situation.

Plus, the state still has almost 1.2 million jobless residents looking for work, including many who are unemployed. Keep Your Home California offers as much as $3,000 per month for up to 18 months for out-of-work homeowners.

Indeed, the Golden State’s economic future is much brighter, but it still has a glaring need for Keep Your Home California.

The mortgage-assistance program has five distinct programs, including one offering as much as $100,000 in principal reduction. Keep Your Home California can also help homeowners catch-up on past due payments with the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program or the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program.

A homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in Keep Your Home California. More than 240 mortgage servicers are currently enrolled in the program, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase.

And homeowners must meet county-by-county income requirements, which range from about $70,000 in rural counties to more than $120,000 in some Bay Area counties. Additionally, homeowners must have suffered a financial hardship — such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce or extraordinary medical expenses — in order to be eligible for the program. 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.


Keep Your Home California helps homeowners with mortgage payments

Free, state-run program has assisted more than 55,000 homeowners

When a big bank closed a local service center, Edith and dozens of other employees who owned homes were suddenly without work and wondered how to keep their homes.

Cash-strapped homeowner Carrie and her husband got behind on their mortgage payments when he lost his construction job.

Frank battled health issues and hefty medical expenses, and, to make matters worse, his longtime employer closed the plant where he worked. His one-time affordable mortgage was now an impossible-to-make payment.

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Keep Your Home California—the state’s free mortgage-assistance program — has helped all three and more than 55,000 other financially struggling low- to moderate-income homeowners during the past four years.

Recent changes to multiple Keep Your Home California programs have made it easier than ever for homeowners to qualify for assistance. The program began helping homeowners in February 2011, after the state received almost $2 billion from the U.S. Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. To date, more than 55,000 households have received $1.1 billion in assistance. Hundreds of millions of dollars remain available to homeowners, who are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

“This is truly changing our life, changing our future and rescuing my family and our home,” said Carrie, who was able to catch up on her mortgage payments thanks to Keep Your Home California. “Words can’t express our gratitude for what has been done for us. We feel like this is a fresh start for us.”

Much has changed with the economy in recent years, but there are many homeowners who continue to benefit from the program. About one of every 12 mortgages in the state are with homeowners who owe more than the value of their home, and 1.2 million Californians are still without work.

“Despite a better economy and job market, there are still many homeowners who are faced with numerous challenges, from catching up on their mortgage payments to finding work,” said Tia Boatman Patterson, Executive Director of the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), which oversees the state-run program. “We’re just as committed today as in the first days of the program to helping California homeowners prevent avoidable foreclosures.”

Keep Your Home California has four programs to help homeowners who are experiencing struggles with their first mortgage:

  • Principal Reduction Program: Homeowners who owe more than their home is worth and/or have an unaffordable monthly payment can receive as much as $100,000 to lower their principal balance – and reduce their monthly mortgage payments.
  • Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program: Out-of-work homeowners eligible for jobless benefits from the state Employment Development Department can receive as much as $3,000 per month in mortgage assistance for up to 18 months, or a total of $54,000.
  • Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program: Homeowners who are behind two months or more on their payments could receive 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 with their mortgage servicer for a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or a short sale could receive up to $5,000 in relocation assistance.

Keep Your Home California also launched the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, which provides low and moderate income senior homeowners assistance to avoid foreclosure. Senior homeowners who are at risk of losing their home to foreclosure due to delinquent property expenses associated with their Federal Housing Administration-insured reverse mortgages could qualify for up to $25,000. The pilot program started in February 2015.

Regardless of the program used, a vast majority of homeowners are pleased with Keep Your Home California And 93 percent of homeowners still own their homes two years after receiving assistance from the program.

“My house was underwater, I just couldn’t make it,” said Frank, who battled cancer, health care bills and a handful of mortgage servicers in an effort to refinance his mortgage “I got behind on all of my bills. I had to choose every month what bills to pay. I tried to refinance, but they weren’t willing to restructure the loan.”

Then, he qualified for assistance from the Keep Your Home California Principal Reduction Program, knocking off almost $50,000 from his outstanding balance and saving him $300 per month.

In order to qualify, homeowners must meet program eligibility requirements, including having suffered a financial hardship – such as a job loss, cut in pay, a divorce, a death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses – and meet county-by-county income requirements.

A homeowner’s mortgage servicer, the company that collects the monthly payment, must participate in the program. About 240 mortgage servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase, are enrolled in Keep Your Home California.

“I was so happy, I cried,” says Edith, who was able to attend school for several months while the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program paid her monthly mortgage. The single mother recently completed a degree program and has found a county government position in Northern California. Keep Your Home California has “made my life easier, better.”

And there are many other homeowners who could benefit from the program.

Homeowners are encouraged to visit www.KeepYourHomeCalifornia.org for more information on the programs or call 888-954-KEEP (5337) to speak with a representative. 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 at no cost in virtually any language.


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.


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