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IHFA can help prevent foreclosure

| June 6, 2010 9:00 PM

It's a story heard more and more often in these economic times. Responsible homeowners who would never have dreamed that they wouldn't be able to make their mortgage payments are now receiving foreclosure notices due to the tough economy. Bill Laubner of Eagle was one such homeowner. Although he was responsible about his home purchase - putting 25 percent of his home's value toward a down payment, reduction of income and the severe devaluation of his home took its toll and made it difficult to maintain his mortgage payments. Although Laubner attempted to work with his lender, he didn't qualify for their programs.

Laubner then turned to Idaho's congressional delegation, which referred him to the Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) - certified housing counseling agency. Housing counselors offer free foreclosure prevention, as well as pre-purchase and rental counseling to consumers statewide, regardless of income. Homeowners can contact IHFA toll-free at (877) 888-3135 to contact a counselor and discuss their financial situation. Their mortgage does not need to be financed through IHFA to take advantage of this free service.

Although Laubner experienced many delays throughout the negotiation process, he was diligent and maintained contact with the lender. With help from his IHFA housing counselor James Capell, Laubner was able to negotiate a temporary loan modification. This adjustment, which is for three years, provided enough of a reduction in his payments which allowed him to continue to pay on his loan. The payment on the loan will return to its original amount after the specified time period, providing him time to improve his financial situation.

Through the nearly nine-month process to reach this resolution, Laubner said persistence was the key to obtaining a satisfactory result. He hopes the extra time he received through his modified loan will allow for the recovery of the economy as well.

Laubner said he had no idea that IHFA offered free housing counseling to those who don't have mortgages financed by the association.

"I didn't know IHFA was there to assist and be an advocate for homeowners facing foreclosure," he said. "In a time where it seems like there are many companies preying on people who don't know where to turn, IHFA was ready, willing and able to help."

The vast amount of paperwork required for the loan modification application process, as well as the time it takes to receive approvals and further negotiations can be frustrating for homeowners.

"Applying for a loan modification can be a very stressful experience," Capell said. "It's beneficial for clients to have someone help them wade through all of the new information, and the misinformation that is out there."

Laubner and Capell both said that persistence was the key to obtaining a satisfactory result.

Homeowners should never have to pay to obtain housing counseling services. To contact an IHFA housing counselor, call toll-free (877) 888-3135.

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