If this is your first visit to my website, welcome! My name is Christine Springer and I'm the founder of Desert Edge Legal Services and the author of the content on this site.
Disclaimer: I’m a paralegal, not an attorney and cannot give you legal advice. Nothing on this website is meant to be legal advice, and there is no guarantee that the information on my blog will work for your individual situation. Please consult with an attorney if you have questions about your individual situation.
This post is from a contributor, my friend JD Vercett, a real estate agent in the Chicago area. JD is one of the most intelligent and heart-centered people I know. If you are looking for help buying or selling a home in Chicago, please visit his website, Vercett Presents.
Even with the shocking mortgage loan rates that have doubled since last year, we’re not at 2008-crisis levels of foreclosures. But that increase is resulting in a growing number of them.
Thanks to COVID-induced foreclosure moratoriums, lender home-repossessions were down 70% in 2022 from 2019.
As it should be, the combination of a more-regulated mortgage loan market with tighter lender and borrower standards and likely smarter borrowers has reduced the pain.
Yet, if you’re slipping behind on your mortgage payments, who cares about stats? You want to keep your home.
Servicers are the company that does most of the heavy lifting on your loan. Servicers take your payments, track your escrow, pay your taxes, send out your mortgage statements and handle the other administration tasks related to your mortgage. They don't exactly have customer-friendly reputations. But they’ve adjusted some since the crisis of 2008, and are taking a more helpful tack these days.
Most of us want to avoid the conversation, but if you’re behind on payments, or think you’re on that road, here’s some advice on how to talk to the servicer.
Make the first move: Contact your servicer as soon as you realize you may miss a payment. The earlier you reach out, the more options you may have.
Be honest: be transparent about your financial situation and explain why you're struggling to make payments. Your servicer may offer more assistance if they know the details.
Know your options: Familiarize yourself with the types of assistance programs available, such as loan modifications or forbearance plans. This helps with your confidence, and you ask informed questions and better understand the options your servicer may present. Confidence helps you be assertive and press for what's best for you.
Document everything: Keep records of all communications with your servicer, including e-mails and phone calls. Document the date, time and name of the representative you spoke with, their employee number (they may say this information quickly so you may want to ask them to repeat it) and what you discussed. This will help you stay organized and provide evidence if there are disputes later on.
(Christine here: I have seen phone call logs help homeowners in litigation! Definitely keep a good record of these interactions. You all know I don't have much faith in servicers, but it's a reasonable first start if you are having trouble with your payments.)
Follow up: If your servicer promises to take a particular action, follow up regularly to make sure they're working on it.
Ultimately, whether or not talking to your servicer results in a satisfactory response depends on many factors. There's no guarantee that they'll be able to offer you the help you need. However, being proactive, honest and informed can increase your chances of a positive outcome.
Christine here: It can be frustrating to deal with your servicer, especially if you don't get the help you need. Remember, there are other options if your servicer will not or cannot help your situation. Please check out the series Preparing for Default for more insights and helpful information.