Officials say Clovis isn’t feeling the mortgage crunch that’s squeezing other areas of the country.
However, for those with homes that are in jeopardy, help is available.
Hope Now is a free homeowner counseling service designed to help people look at their options, according to Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Patricia Campbell.
Also, for the first time, Federal Housing Administration mortgages are being made available as a refinance option to troubled borrowers, she said.
“FHA lenders are required to work with borrowers in trouble. That’s not something that happens in the conventional market, so in many instances we’re able to save loans and borrowers are able to save their home. That’s an important safeguard because some lenders are not that eager to work with the borrower,” she said.
Campbell said borrowers must act quickly, because if they wait until they are going under, it may be too late.
“There are some people who will not be able to avoid (foreclosure), but there certainly is some help out there. (FHA refinance) is a new product that really is an opportunity for people who are behind or they know their (adjustable rate mortgage) is going to readjust this year,” Campbell said.
Judy Trimble, owner of Mortgage Home Investment, said she often sends people who are concerned about their mortgages to FHA lenders.
People call to find out their options because they are moving and can’t sell their home or they see the cost of living rising and want to know their choices if they are struggling to pay the mortgage, she said.
Trimble said she believes the mortgage crisis has missed Clovis because most local lenders did not engage in subprime lending or ARM mortgages in recent years.
Making sure people are qualified and can afford the homes they want to buy without having to rely on additional credit is important, she said.
“We don’t want to set somebody up to fail,” she said.
“I don’t want you stuck in your home and you can’t buy anything because you have to make your house payment.”
Financial Counselor Brenda O’Shea said in the last six months traffic has nearly doubled at the Clovis Consumer Credit Counseling Services branch she manages, but what worries her is that even more people are having trouble and are afraid to seek help because they are embarrassed or just not addressing problems.
Financial strain from rising fuel costs, increased food costs and homes that exceed budgets turn into growing credit card debts and delinquencies, she said.
“Everyone’s getting overextended on the credit cards and they’re getting to where they can’t afford the minimum payments anymore because everything is going up,” she said.
O’Shea said people who never thought their stability would be in question, find they are having problems.
“Even someone a year ago that thought they would never have been in a predicament like this are having problems,” she said.
“There are those who have said, ‘I should have come a year ago but I was embarrassed.’”
Court records show as of May 20 there were 151 home foreclosures in Curry County over the previous 12-month period.
On the Web:
Hope Now on the web: www.hopenow.com or phone: 1 (888) 995-HOPE
Tips if you are unable to make your mortgage payment:
1. Don’t ignore the problem.
The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your house.
2. Contact your lender as soon as you realize that you have a problem.
Lenders do not want your house. They have options to help borrowers through difficult financial times.
3. Open and respond to all mail from your lender.
The first notices you receive will offer good information about foreclosure prevention options that can help you weather financial problems. Later mail may include important notice of pending legal action. Your failure to open the mail will not be an excuse in foreclosure court.
4. Know your mortgage rights.
Find your loan documents and read them so you know what your lender may do if you can’t make your payments. Learn about the foreclosure laws and timeframes in your state by contacting the State Government Housing Office.
5. Understand foreclosure prevention options.
Valuable information about foreclosure prevention (also called loss mitigation) options can be found on the internet at: portal.hud.gov
6. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds free or very low cost housing counseling nationwide. Housing counselors can help you understand the law and your options, organize your finances and represent you in negotiations with your lender if you need this assistance. Find a HUD-approved housing counselor near you or call (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339.
7. Prioritize your spending.
After healthcare, keeping your house should be your first priority. Review your finances and see where you can cut spending in order to make your mortgage payment. Look for optional expenses-cable TV, memberships, entertainment-that you can eliminate. Delay payments on credit cards and other “unsecured” debt until you have paid your mortgage.
8. Use your assets.
Do you have assets-a second car, jewelry, a whole life insurance policy-that you can sell for cash to help reinstate your loan? Can anyone in your household get an extra job to bring in additional income? Even if these efforts don’t significantly increase your available cash or your income, they demonstrate to your lender that you are willing to make sacrifices to keep your home.
9. Avoid foreclosure prevention companies.
You don’t need to pay fees for foreclosure prevention help-use that money to pay the mortgage instead. Many for-profit companies will contact you promising to negotiate with your lender. While these may be legitimate businesses, they will charge you a hefty fee (often two or three month’s mortgage payment) for information and services your lender or a HUD approved housing counselor will provide free if you contact them.
10. Don’t lose your house to foreclosure recovery scams.
If any firm claims they can stop your foreclosure immediately if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf, you may well be signing over the title to your property and becoming a renter in your own home. Never sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD approved housing counselor.