Under the current NY law, every Foreclosure lawsuit that affects a residential property must be assigned to the Foreclosure Settlement Conference Part before the bank can proceed to the actual Foreclosure and Sale. The purpose of the Settlement process is to allow the Homeowner to apply for a loan modification, and to require the bank to review your financial ability, in good faith, to determine whether you qualify for one of the Government loan modification programs, or the bank’s own internal loan modification program.
The following is a basic list of documents you must provide to the bank in any loan modification application:
- Financial Statements or Profit & Loss Statements
- Personal or business bank statements
- Paystubs from each wage earner in your family.
- Personal or business tax returns
- A current utility bill proving you reside in the home.
- A Hardship Letter to explain the reason for your default and your current ability to pay the mortgage.
Attorneys skilled in the loan modification process will be able to process the documents in the most efficient manner. For example, my office has a relationship with almost every law firm that represents the banks in NY State, and my paralegals know most of the loan mod paralegals at those firms. Therefore, we always submit our clients’ packages directly to the law firm as well as the bank representative during the Foreclosure Settlement process. Readers should be suspicious of any loan modification “expert” who tells you he has a “personal connection” in the bank. No bank representative will go against his bank guidelines and risk losing his job, pension, benefits, etc.
Additionally, a skilled attorney, like a skilled accountant, must know how to prepare the Financial Statements or Profit & Loss Statements that will best represent your financial ability to qualify for a loan modification.
But remember, a loan modification is not a discount program to reward homeowners for defaulting on their mortgages. The banks will not approve a loan modification if the homeowner cannot prove sufficient income to pay his monthly mortgage. The banks are not compassionate or understanding. They are merely following their investors’ guidelines: If the mortgage can be returned to a current status, the loan will be modified. If the homeowner cannot afford to carry a mortgage plus real estate taxes, insurance, utilities, etc., then the bank is required to take back its collateral (the house) and cut its losses.
A successful government loan modification (the “HAMP” program), will lower your interest rate to 2%, extend your loan term to 40 years, and allow for lower monthly payments. Some of the banks’ internal programs may lower your interest rate, fix an adjustable rate, forgive excess principal, or place your defaulted payments (“arrears”) at the end of the loan, to be paid when you sell the house or refinance.
Whichever program is offered, the most important feature of being granted a loan modification is that your Foreclosure action will be dismissed, and you will return to a regular monthly mortgage payment. For most of my clients, this is a major step in the return to financial stability.