Fifty-four cases of home foreclosures have already taken place in Montezuma County since January, with another 10 that will soon be opened, according to Montezuma County Treasurer Sherry Dyess.
Homeowners in Montezuma County who are unable to make their mortgage payments may have a few options to avoid the foreclosure process and taking a huge hit on their credit scores.
Jeanne Szczech, president of Arete Mortgage in Cortez, suggests that homeowners go directly to their lender.
The most important thing to do is go straight to the lender that they have a mortgage with, she said. We are seeing people who are able to work out plans basically loan modifications. So what ends up happening is they end up making a lesser mortgage payment.
Szczech said, however, that establishing a reduced mortgage payment takes a lot of persistence and time.
I tell people it becomes a job and you have to really stay the course because it could take six months. There is an incredible amount of paperwork and lots of hoops to jump through, and I think that discourages people, Szczech said.
Another option is available from Housing Solutions of the Southwest. The counseling agency, based in Durango, has been selected to participate in the Emergency Homeowner Loan Program. The program is designed to provide mortgage payment relief to eligible homeowners experiencing a drop in income of at least 15 percent directly resulting from involuntary unemployment or underemployment due to adverse economic conditions and/or a medical emergency, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that is offering the assistance.
The interest-free mortgage relief program covers past-due mortgage payments, as well as a portion of the homeowners mortgage payment for up to two years or up to $50,000, according to Tami Miller, Programs Director for Housing Solutions of the Southwest.
The loan is originally held as a loan underwritten to your mortgage, Miller said. After that two-year period, if the borrower stays current and pays on time every year, 20 percent of that loan is forgiven. So, if all goes well, after five years the loan becomes a grant.
Before getting too excited, there are only a total of six EHLP loans available for the five county area Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan. If homeowners meet all the requirements to be eligible, the pre-applicants will be entered into a lottery for the loans.
The pre-application screening period ends July 22. To complete a pre-applicant screening worksheet, visit www.FindEHLP.org or call toll free at 855-FIND-EHLP (346-3345). Once the worksheet is filled out, homeowners can contact Housing Solutions for the Southwest at 249-1086, ext. 22 or 15, to schedule an appointment for a screening interview.
According to Miller, Housing Solutions of the Southwest also provides counseling to those who may not qualify or dont win the lottery. She said the gamut can run from homeowners who arent late at all on their payments when they first come to them to some who are going to have their house auctioned in a few days.
Communication with lenders and counseling services seem to be some of the better options that wont have an effect on the homeowners credit scores.
Reach Paula Bostrom at firstname.lastname@example.org.