Sometimes life throws us curveballs. Just ask Washington, D.C., resident Sherrie W.
In 2010, a storm destroyed her business and caused her to fall behind on mortgage payments. Sherrie knew she had to do something to keep her home and, after working with Wells Fargo, received a loan modification that reduced her interest rate and monthly payment by hundreds of dollars. This made her mortgage payments more affordable.
Unfortunately, too many people aren’t as proactive as Sherrie in reaching out for help, greatly increasing the likelihood of a negative outcome. So if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, take these three steps now:
- Take initiative to save your home as soon as possible. The sooner you reach out to your mortgage servicer, the more options you’ll have to avoid foreclosure. Far too often, outreach from a company to a homeowner is met with silence. Or, even worse, unscrupulous scammers reach out to homeowners with false promises of mortgage modifications for high fees.
As time passes, the difficult circumstances may become dire. As this happens, opportunities to help keep you in your home fade.
- Call your lender or a HUD-approved counselor. Contacting your lender, such as Wells Fargo, or a HUD-approved credit counselor is the most important action you can take. That’s why the work of HUD-approved nonprofits is so vital for homeowners and our country’s housing recovery. In the event Wells Fargo does not have a workshop or physical presence in a community, we work closely with HUD-approved counseling resources across the nation to help homeowners facing problems with their mortgage payments and other credit challenges.
- Gather necessary paperwork. Organize all of your home mortgage documents and recent pay stubs — essentially everything you would need to apply for a home loan. Your Wells Fargo home preservation specialist or credit counselor will answer any questions you have.Some of the specific items you should bring with you:
- A letter explaining your situation.
- A list of your assets and expenses.
- Recent paystubs and W-2s for each salaried borrower.
Last year Wells Fargo worked with nonprofit credit counseling agencies to host or participate in 224 home preservation events nationwide. These were attended by 8,003 homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. (From 2009 through 2014, we’ve met with more than 46,000 struggling homeowners.)
We’re currently working to assist homeowners through nearly 2,000 nonprofit housing counseling agencies in the U.S. and 6,000 housing counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These are many of the same nonprofits we’ve supported with $40 million in grants since 2009 to help them aid homeowners.
Our latest outreach effort not only includes working with this expanded network of HUD-approved housing counselors but sponsoring local events across the U.S. with these counseling agencies in our Home Preservation Workshop Hosted by Others program.
Following improvement in the housing market, we shifted our approach away from large home preservation workshops in arenas and other venues and now focus on smaller, more local and regional assistance offered through the counseling agencies and HUD-approved counselors.
But it also reflects our desire to serve those customers who live in communities that didn’t host workshops but wanted face-to-face contact. And this new outreach strategy better serves those who are more comfortable reaching out to a third party instead of Wells Fargo to avoid foreclosure.
The HUD-approved counselors help customers understand the loan modification process, find resources to avoid foreclosure, and address credit challenges that extend beyond mortgage payments.
Our commitment to putting customers first has served us well. Wells Fargo delinquency and foreclosure rates are significantly below the industry average, and less than 1 percent of mortgages serviced by Wells Fargo have gone into foreclosure over the past year. In fact, today more than 94 percent of our customers are current with their mortgage payments.
But while the housing market is improving, we know there will always be people like Sherrie who face financial difficulties. That’s why we’ll continue to reach out to our customers and work with HUD-approved counselors to meet their needs as America’s leading home lender. It’s the right thing to do for our customers and our communities.
Ohayon is head of community outreach and mortgage servicing for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.