In Grays Harbor, everyone’s talking a lot about buying and selling houses lately — especially now with the housing market so hot. However, partly due to the coronavirus epidemic, we’re afraid a new housing trend may be coming our way — losing houses.
That’s a trend that we here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor have the tools, time and desire to turn around! As a non-profit organization aimed at encouraging home ownership, it is at the forefront of our mission to help people avoid foreclosure.
Foreclosure. That’s the word for when someone loses their house to the seller or lender because they have not kept current on paying the mortgage payment.
Most homeowners, don’t actually own their home outright. Most people are still in the process of buying it by paying monthly payments to a bank or other lending institution. Typically such loans are written for 15 to 30 years.
We can help prevent foreclosure
Before going too much further today, we want to let you know that if you or someone you know in Grays Harbor County may be facing foreclosure you can call us at (360) 533-7828 and ask for Julie Galligan, our HUD-certified housing counselor. She is available at no expense to you to help you avoid losing your home.
About 75 to 80 percent of Americans with mortgages have them through either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, federally backed home mortgage companies. Others have their mortgage through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) or private lenders.
“Regardless of where the loan is from, if you have trouble paying it, it is critical that you talk to your lender as soon as possible to make arrangements,” Julie said.
“Even if you haven’t missed a payment, but your situation has changed and you might struggle to make a payment, you need to contact them,” she said.
However, for those who would like assistance, Julie can even contact the lender and help negotiate a new payment schedule on their behalf.
COVID-19 moratorium ending
“One of the reasons we want to talk about this now,” said Julie, “is that with the end of the COVID federal foreclosure moratorium coming on July 31, we think that soon after some people may begin to feel the effects of that.”
Knowing that many people lost income or partial income during COVID-19, the federal government enacted a foreclosure moratorium intended to assist Americans dealing with the resulting economic crisis affected by COVID-19.
But now that moratorium is lifting, leaving people once again responsible for paying their mortgage regularly.
“Typically what the lender will do is simply add the missed payments to the back of the loan,” Julie explained.
“However, depending on the current economic situation of the homeowner, they might start paying a payment and a half. There are different options depending on what your financial status is,” she explained.
As a HUD-certified housing counselor Julie can help people navigate through where they are now financially, contact their lender and help them negotiate what they can pay now, or set up some sort of plan.
Sometimes a lot of what she does is serve as a “translator” for people who don’t work with mortgages, loans and various loan products and for whom the language can become confusing.
“So often people are overwhelmed because they don’t do this every day. Usually they don’t know where to even start. They are emotionally overwhelmed and I’m not. I know how to go through the steps and to go through all the paperwork to help them get in what they need,” she said.
She’s also aware of the timelines and steps involved in foreclosure, the rights and responsibilities of the homeowner as well as the various options to remedy the situation.
For some people, it is as simple as adding months onto the back of the loan, for others it could mean finding additional assistance or considering a pre-foreclosure sale to get out as much of the equity as possible or maybe exploring the idea of a reverse mortgage.
“The sooner people call for guidance, the more likely they will have an opportunity to save their house,” she said.
In the next column, we’ll feature more information on avoiding foreclosure.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. This is a nonprofit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about the ductless heat pump program or home repair, housing counseling for renters and landlords, homebuyer education and buying, call 360-533-7828, listen to the extension picks that will best help you and leave a callback name and number. Due to Covid-19, our office is not currently open for a visit, but we will call you back.