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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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.


Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program to stop accepting applications Nov. 30

Keep Your Home California will soon close its Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program, a program that helps senior homeowners with a reverse mortgage catch-up on past-due property-related expenses, such as property tax or homeowners’ insurance, in order to avoid possible foreclosures.

Applications for the free mortgage-assistance program must be received by 6 p.m. Thursday, November 30, 2017. Homeowners who have a reverse mortgage and are at-risk of foreclosure should contact their reverse mortgage servicer to apply or receive more information about the program. A complete list of reverse mortgage servicers who participate in the program and their contact information can be found on the website at the following link: http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org/reverse-mortgage-assistance-program/.

The reason behind the end of the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program is rather simple – the funds allocated for the pilot program will run out by the end of November 2017. The program has helped approximately 700 households and issued more than $9 million in assistance.

Keep Your Home California allocated $10 million for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. During the next few weeks, between homeowners approved and awaiting funding and applications that are submitted before the deadline, the program will exceed the $10 million limit.

Keep Your Home California launched the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program in February 2015 as a way to help senior homeowners with a reverse mortgage dealing with a financial hardship, such as a reduction in household income, extraordinary medical expenses or even the loss of a spouse.

“It saved our lives,” Joanne H. says of the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program.

Joanne, who lives in Central California, had to close her business and pursued a reverse mortgage to help pay off bills. But she and her husband got behind on their property-related expenses and faced the possibility of losing their home.

“The weight it took off … you just don’t know. We were going to lose our home,” she said

Low- to moderate-income homeowners can receive as much as $25,000 in assistance under the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. Homeowners must meet county-by-county income limits – from about $84,000 in rural counties to more than $160,000 in the Bay Area.

The mortgage servicer must also participate in the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program. Fourteen servicers – including Champion, Financial Freedom, James B. Nutter and Sunwest – participate in the program.

Keep Your Home California’s four first-mortgage programs – Unemployment Mortgage Assistance, Principal Reduction, Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance and Transition Assistance – will continue to accept applications and issue funding after November 30, 2017.

While the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Pilot Program is the first of the five programs to end, Keep Your Home California is entering the final stretch of the program, and homeowners are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for the four remaining programs. Keep Your Home California has assisted more than 77,000 homeowners since February 2011, with about $1.9 billion issued.

Homeowners interested in learning more or applying for Keep Your Home California should call the counseling center at 888-954-KEEP (5337) and 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.

 


Keep Your Home California’s $3 billion economic effect is helping homeowners, small-business owners, local government

From the smallest cities like Albany and Weed to the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area, Keep Your Home California has had a tremendous economic effect.

All Californians – from homeowners faced with a financial hardship to small-business owners and even state government – have benefited from the free mortgage-assistance program that has helped more than 76,500 homeowners since inception, according to an updated economic impact report that analyzed program funding data from 2010 through 2016.

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Keep Your Home California issued $1.5 billion in assistance to homeowners during that six-year period, preserving an estimated $3 billion in economic activity, according to The Economic Impact of Keep Your Home California: A Statewide and Regional Analysis report from Dr. Joseph C. Von Nessen of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business. In other words, for every $1 of assistance provided, $2 of economic activity was preserved.

Keep Your Home California was fully implemented in early 2011, at a time when many homeowners were dealing with foreclosures and almost all homeowners were faced with a significant drop in the value of their homes. When the program started, more than 2 million Californians were jobless, including hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

But the program has proven extremely effective in many ways, from assisting homeowners to protecting private- and public-sector revenues.

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“A strong and vibrant housing market is a critical component of any healthy economy,” Dr. Von Nessen said. “Housing is not only one of the largest sectors of the economy, but individuals who live in stable housing environments also experience many economic and social benefits.”

The state-managed program’s $3 billion economic impact includes preserving $1.4 billion in property value, saving 9,800 jobs and $536 million in labor income, and protecting $98.7 million in tax revenue.

How does the program help preserve, protect and save?

Well, for example, preserving property values also protects property tax revenue for local government agencies, from cities and counties to school districts, and the state as well. If housing values decline, assessed property values follow – and government revenue slides.

Another example: Keep Your Home California can cover jobless homeowners’ mortgage payments, help them catch up on missed payments or even lower principal – and often reduce the monthly payments. The assistance allows homeowners to pay for goods and services, from necessities like clothing and food to health and home insurance premiums (note that many out-of-work homeowners are required to pay for their own health insurance).

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Keep Your Home California has helped homeowners throughout the state, from large cities to small towns. In fact, midsize cities – Stockton, Fontana and Moreno Valley – cracked the top 15 for those most helped by the program.

Corona finished at No. 15, with an economic impact of $30.6 million – a nice figure for a city of 166,000 residents. That means every Corona resident benefited with $184 from Keep Your Home California, regardless of whether they were approved for the program or not.

Los Angeles has enjoyed an economic impact of $180 million from the program, the most in the state and twice as much as second-place San Diego at $90 million. Wherever you live in the state — from Calexico to Crescent City, Tiburon to Truckee – Keep Your Home California has helped your economy and homeowners.

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The program will continue to assist homeowners as long as funding remains available, but consumers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible since Keep Your Home California is entering its final stretch.

In order to apply for Keep Your Home California, homeowners must have a financial hardship, such as a job loss, cut in pay, divorce, death in the family or extraordinary medical expenses. In some cases, negative equity – also known as an underwater mortgage – or an unaffordable mortgage, or both, are considered a financial hardship under the Principal Reduction Program.

In addition to the financial hardship, homeowners must meet county-by-county income limits and their mortgage servicer – the company that collects the monthly payment – needs to participate in Keep Your Home California. More than 260 servicers, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank and U.S. Bank, participate in the program.

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.


Major changes will help open the door for more homeowners to qualify for Keep Your Home California

 Keep Your Home California is always looking to improve its free mortgage-assistance program to better help homeowners, from folks dealing with an unaffordable mortgage payment to those looking for work.

Quite often it’s a minor change, a simple tweak that will affect few applicants and homeowners.

But sometimes, the changes deserve a bit more attention – including a blog post — and will help many homeowners, like those the program has recently implemented.

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The most notable changes are with the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. Keep Your Home California’s most popular program covers the monthly mortgage payment for out-of-work homeowners eligible for unemployment benefits from the state Employment Development Department.

Keep Your Home California eliminated the $3,000 monthly mortgage payment limit connected to the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. The program will now cover mortgage payments for qualifying homeowners – regardless of the amount – for as long as 18 months or a total of $54,000, whichever comes first.

For example, out-of-work homeowners with a $3,600 monthly mortgage payment could get up to 15 months of assistance from the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program.

The change will help homeowners with larger mortgage payments who previously would not have qualified and still ensures that all homeowners have the same amount of assistance (up to $54,000) available to them.

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A couple of other changes will also affect the Unemployment Mortgage Assistance Program. Homeowners can be eligible for the program if they received unemployment benefits from the EDD within the previous 60 days, double the current 30-day limit.

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. This change should give jobless homeowners more time to apply for the program, especially if their unemployment benefits are ending.

Other changes to Keep Your Home California:

  • Homeowners can now apply for and tap into the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program multiple times, if necessary. The Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program helps homeowners catch-up on their past-due mortgage payments, up to a total of $54,000. For example, homeowners could get $5,000 to catch-up on their past-due payments, then later another $15,000 – but they cannot exceed a total of $54,000. However, homeowners must apply each time for the Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program and have a new hardship.
  • Severe negative equity under the Principal Reduction Program will decline to a loan-to-value ratio of 115% from the previous 120%. Again, this will allow more homeowners to be eligible and get much-needed help from the program.
  • Homeowners with interest-only loans are now eligible for assistance from the Principal Reduction Program. The monthly mortgage payment must be affordable, per program guidelines, once it converts to a fully amortized loan, in order for homeowners with interest-only loans to qualify. Previously, interest-only loans were ineligible for Principal Reduction program consideration.
  • Keep Your Home California has increased the current mortgage balance for the Reverse Mortgage Assistance Program, from $625,000 to $750,000. The program offers as much as $25,000 to help seniors who are behind on their property-related expenses, such as their property taxes or insurance.

All of the changes are designed to help more homeowners qualify for the mortgage-assistance program. However, before homeowners can apply for 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.

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In addition to the financial hardship, homeowners must 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.

Keep Your Home California has issued over $1.8 billion – or about 85% of the funding allocated for the program – to 76,000 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.