New Resource for Struggling Mortgage Borrowersby Tim Manni
Fannie Mae recently unveiled www.KnowYourOptions.com, a website designed to target borrowers who “are struggling with [their] mortgage payment or facing foreclosure.” The website provides a host of “easy to find” information that is structured to give borrowers a sense of each one of their available options so they can either do their best to stay in their home or exit gracefully. Basically what Fannie has done is to gather all of their essential information from FannieMae.com and grouped it into one place.
Unfortunately, day in and day out, the comments from our readers continue to filter in about how the lines of communication between themselves and their mortgage professional have broken down. Too often, the only option a borrower thinks they have is the one their lender and/or servicer tells them about. We can’t say enough how important it is that borrowers, a) know all their options, b) are prepared before they speak with their mortgage professional and c) know how to speak to their mortgage professional.
For example, the June 1 change to HAMP requires that servicers collect all the necessary paperwork from borrowers before they begin the loan mod process. Borrowers need to know what these documents are and have them readily on hand.
What Documents Do I Need?
One of the things I like about ‘know your options’ is it gives borrowers action steps to take when they’re ready to approach their mortgage company. The actions steps provide a step-by-step game plan for borrowers to follow and work from. The site has created a “Financial Checklist” as well as list the documentation every borrower will need to provide their servicer (on the financial checklist page).
Keep Careful Records
We continually advocate that borrowers keep careful documentation of conversations, names and what they’re being told by their mortgage professional. Fannie’s site provides a template for doing so via their “Contact Log.”
It Doesn’t Always Work
What I think is most interesting (and realistic) about Fannie’s new website is their explicit acknowledgment that the various home preservation efforts aren’t going to work for every borrower. The “Options to Leave Your Home” tab at the top of the page provides borrowers with a couple “graceful exit strategies” explains HSH VP Keith Gumbinger. “They’re trying to convey the fact that not every borrower will be approved for a loan mod or even be successful in the one they have.”
Perhaps Fannie got tired of receiving emails from frustrated borrowers saying that they couldn’t find this or that on FannieMae.com, so that is why they decided to put everything for struggling homeowners in one place. This website isn’t going to solve the housing crisis, but it will help borrowers to become better prepared and knowledgeable about what’s available and what they can do to have the best shot at staying in their home or leaving it in the best possible manner.