California’s mortgage crisis is out of control. The sub-prime lending didn’t end until late 2007 and into early 2008 when the economy collapsed. What further frustrates our sunshine state’s mortgage problems is that we were sold Jumbo loans due to our high property values. A Jumbo loan is a mortgage loan in an amount above conventional conforming loan limits and as of 2010, the limit is $417,000 according to Wikipedia.org. So, many California homeowners are in default on their primary mortgage because their “teaser” rate has ended and they’re now faced with increased interest rates and forced to pay principal and interest on a mortgage that they could not afford, with a jumbo loan that the lender is unwilling to modify.
Homeowners are being led down the primrose path of a modification offer by the lender only as a courtesy due to the HAMP program’s rules and California Law that requires the lender to contact the borrower and attempt a workout. The law, however, does not require a mandatory workout and the sub-prime lender, loan servicers, and asset-backed securitized mortgages will always be refused a modification of their mortgage because the investors don’t want it.
It may seem like we’re in a desperate situation here in California, and that’s why so many scams are cropping up. Recently, I’ve even been marketed to by these forensic mortgage loan audit scammers. They’re a new twist on foreclosure rescue fraud, so be alert to these offers. The envelope looks legitimate, but it’s nothing more than a cleverly disguised marketing piece. They generally target those homeowners in foreclosure, but they’re now starting to target the potential predatory loans too.
If you’re looking for help, avoid:
- anyone offering guarantees;
- instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer, or housing counselor;
- collects a fee up front; encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time;
- recommends that you make your mortgage payments to someone other than directly to the lender or loan servicer;
- offers to buy your home for cash at an amount less than market value; or
- pressures you to sign papers you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or don’t understand. Get Help.
You can always check out the Federal Trade Commission [FTC], the nation’s consumer protection agency for current information and scams to avoid. Contact your lender or loan servicer immediately when you fall behind on your payments. You can also get FREE advice from housing counseling agencies certified by HUD by calling 1-888-995-HOPE. Remember that filing bankruptcy will LEGALLY STOP A FORECLOSURE through the Automatic Stay, 11 U.S.C. §362.