California Home Equity is Up, But Distressed Owners Are Still Among Us

Distressed property owners have not disappeared totally.  A review of the Los Angeles County tax records today for the entire Long Beach area shows 257 residential properties in pre-foreclosure status.  Who's represented?  Property owners in all zip codes and while I didn't make an exact count, adjustable mortgages seemed to predominate.  This is unfortunate, because while many more owners are now benefiting from the upward trend in values, many are still affected by loss of job or short term jobs or lower paying jobs in the face of an upward increase in their mortgage, just to name a few reasons.

Owners who have attempted loan modifications may not have met all the hardship requirements, or they do not have enough income to refinance under today's more stringent-i.e., traditional-loan guidelines. And so, like the TV advertisements show us, they "freeze" up, unable to take action, and unable to come to the decision they might need to sell and relocate.  If you or someone you know falls into this category, short of finding a financial benefactor, the choices may be to sell, go into foreclosure, or continue to struggle if you possibly can.  One of the dividing lines for being eligible for loan modification or short sale assistance is whether or not your property value is still (much) lower than what you owe, OR you have experienced a qualified economic hardship.

Under a current California program, an owner may be eligible for up to $5,000 in transition assistance, loan principal reduction, unemployment mortgage assistance, and loan reinstatement assistance.  Also, Bank of America and other banks still offer their transition assistance programs for people in short sales. This program does not do loan modifications--for that you need to go directly to your servicer--but it does offer 4 other types of help.

For more information on this program, go to http://keepyourhomecalifornia.org, a program run by California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) with $2 billion in funds through the Hardest Hit Fund of the U.S.Treasury.  The site includes all information about eligibility, the participating servicers, and income requirements.  Over 43,000 California homeowners have been helped. 

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