Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Fact Sheet Now Available

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center, working with our partners at the Volunteer Lawyers Network and the Housing Preservation Project, has just released a new Fact Sheet with answers to frequently asked questions about the issue of bankruptcy and foreclosure.

The fact sheet, available here, answers such questions as:
  • What happens to my mortgage in bankruptcy?
  • What happens if I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and default on my mortgage payments?
  • Can I convert a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to a Chapter 13?

These, and several other questions, are answered in the new fact sheet.

In addition... the Center is continuing to work on a fact sheet that answers questions about the complications that arise when homeowners declare bankruptcy but still need loan modifications.  Stay tuned!   

Did you know that the Center now has over a dozen Fact Sheets that can help struggling homeowners answer questions about their mortgage and foreclosure?  A complete list of Fact Sheets is here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Home Stretch Network Continues to Grow!

Home Stretch is Minnesota's premier program for first-time homebuyers that simplifies the home buying process and prepares first-time home buyers for the important choices related to home ownership.

The MN Home Ownership Center is pleased to announce the following additions/expansions to the Home Stretch network:

  • Three Rivers Community Action was added to the network through the HECAT process for the 2009-2010 year. Three Rivers Community Action serves Southwest and South Central Minnesota. They will be providing workshops and counseling with a focus on the Spanish-speaking community.

  • Build Wealth Minnesota was also added to the network through the HECAT process. Build Wealth is a nonprofit working in North Minneapolis. They will be providing pre-purchase counseling.

  • 1st Home Network was approved as a new provider through the an application submitted to the Center's Program Committee. 1st Home Network is a nonprofit working in St. Paul with an emphasis on serving African Americans. They will be providing Home Stretch workshops starting in January 2010.

  • American Dream Services was approved to expand their Home Stretch workshops to the Northfield area starting in January 2010.
Interested in learning more about Home Stretch?  Click Here.

Thinking about buying your first home?  Think Home Stretch FIRST!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Financial Help For Homeowners Displaced By Foreclosure

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is pleased to announce a new pilot program that may assist families AFTER the foreclosure of their home with up to $2,500 to relocate and secure alternative housing.  Funding for this pilot program has been provided by the Saint Paul Foundation Community Economic Relief Fund.

For now, homeowners being displaced must have owned in Dakota, Ramsey or Washington Counties during this pilot program.  Depending on need, and availability of future funding, the program may be expanded.

Funds may be used for:

          • Moving expenses
          • Security deposits
          • Up to half of monthly rent for first three months
          • Utilities (gas, electric, water)

A fact sheet with additional program details and information, is available here.
Homeowners should contact the foreclosure counselors at the following organizations:
Due to limited funding... these grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hundreds Turn Out For Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

On Saturday, December 5th, 2009... Hundreds of homeowners from Minnesota's SE Asian community came to South High School in Minneapolis seeking assistance in preventing foreclosure.

With the help of 14 non-profit foreclosure counselors from the Center's network of providers, more than a dozen additional volunteers, and several representatives from Wells Fargo Bank, more than 200 people were able to receive information about Minnesota's foreclosure process and begin working with a non-profit counselor to find a solution to THEIR mortgage issues.

The event was targeted to the Metro Area's SE Asian population, and the Center is pleased that families in those communities responded.  Of those people who expressed a language preference upon registration, here is the breakdown:

At registration, we also asked attendees to share with us their reason for coming to the workshop (the reason for their mortgage issue).  Of those who chose to respond, here is the breakdown:

Overwhelmingly... job loss or a reduction in income was the NUMBER 1 reason workshop attendees are struggling with their mortgages.

The Center will be holding a similar workshop for Minnesota's Latino (Spanish-speaking) population on the 9th of January (2010).  For more information on that workshop - or to volunteer to help, click Here.

Disappointingly... MANY of the workshop participants told counselors and volunteers that they have already begun working with (and paying for!) for-profit loan modification companies.  NO HOMEOWNER that is struggling with mortgage payments should have to PAY for help.  Non-profit Foreclosure Counseling is available FREE OF CHARGE to ALL Minnesota residents.  Be Careful.

Additional photos from the event are available on the Center's FlickR gallery... here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pre-Foreclosure Notices, October 2009

Interesting information in the October 2009 Pre-Foreclosure Counts!

The Center has compiled the Pre-Foreclosure Notice Counts for the Month of October, 2009... and some interesting information has arisen. Statewide, the number of Pre-Foreclosure Notices has DROPPED 11.6% from September to October.
HOWEVER... Pre-Foreclosure Notices have RISEN slightly in the Twin Cities Metro.
The trend lines continue to show an upward climb - and remember, these numbers are self-reported by lenders/servicers or their attorneys.
Here are the January through October, 2009 STATEWIDE Pre-Foreclosure Numbers:

And here are the January through October, 2009 TWIN CITIES METRO AREA Pre-Foreclosure Numbers:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Saturday - Dec 5 - Workshop for Struggling Homeowners

9:00am - 1:00pm (Open House)
South High School
3131 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis

The Center is continuing its preparations for a large-scale workshop for struggling homeowners in the Twin Cities Metro area Asian community. More than 12 non-profit Foreclosure Counselors will be on hand and dozens of volunteers will be working diligently to assist homeowners that may not know where to turn for help. Representatives from Wells Fargo bank will also be participating to assist clients whose loans are serviced by Wells. (Dozens of other lenders have been invited and may also participate)

The Center has conducted a direct mailing of over 15,000 letters - many signed by local mayors from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Plymouth, Richfield and Bloomington to let consumers know about the event! The event has been highlighted in local Asian newspapers and on several radio programs.

At the event, homeowners will be able to hear a presentation about the foreclosure process in Minnesota and the kinds of help and assistance offered by the non-profit network of counselors, get information about how to contact a housing counselor that speaks their language and, if they'd like, even have a brief appointment with one of those housing counselors to get some of their questions answered directly.

English, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin) Korean, Khmer (Cambodian) Japanese and even Spanish-speaking counselors and volunteers will be present!

Do you speak a SE Asian language? Would you like to volunteer to make a difference to struggling families? Contact John Reynolds at the Center ASAP to volunteer. (There will be a training at the Center on Friday, December 4th, 9:00am for volunteers)

You can still help us spread the word! Please post the flyer or share with your friends/family/clients (they don't have to be Asian!). A copy of the flyer, with additional information about the event, is available here. For copies in Hmong or Chinese, visit our website here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MN 3rd in the nation for MHA Trial Modifications

Many of our readers are numbers and data fans... so I thought I'd write a short post and link to some interesting reports that we've seen that give some numbers about housing, at both the national and state level, that our readers can dig into:

First, the Treasury has released its "Servicer Performance Report Through October 2009" for the Making Home Affordable Program. The complete report is available here.
That report shows that Minnesota ranks 17th in the nation for the overall number of Trial Modifications initiated under the Making Home Affordable program:

NOW... we've also seen the most recent negative equity report from American CoreLogic (via ... We'll be posting on the negative equity issue in a later blog post.
The interesting point, for THIS post, is that the American CoreLogic report shows the number of outstanding mortgages, by state. Minnesota ranks # 26th in the country for the number of outstanding mortgages:

This is where it gets interesting! If we look at the number of Trial Modifications initiated under the Making Home Affordable program AS A PERCENTAGE of ALL outstanding mortgages... Minnesota ranks 3rd in the country!!

Any numbers/data people want to weigh-in on my math skills? (Although trained as an economist... I'm a marketing guy... not a researcher/analyst/numbers guy :) )

As they stand, these numbers speak volumes of the work that our Foreclosure Counseling network does to assist struggling homeowners... and to get the word out about programs and assistance available to Minnesota homeowners! If you're struggling with your mortgage payment, or would like more information about the Making Home Affordable program... visit the Minnesota Home Ownership Center's website here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Foreclosure Prevention Counseling Works

"Counseling Helps Borrowers Avoid Foreclosure"... that's the headline from the Washington Post yesterday, reporting on a new study conducted by the Urban Institute of Washington D.C.

The study has found that borrowers who sought out counseling, even though they were already seriously delinquent on their mortgages, were SIXTY PERCENT MORE LIKELY to avoid foreclosure after meeting with a counselor than those who don't.

In addition... those clients that worked with a non-profit housing counselor, and received a loan modification from their lender, had their payments reduced... on average $454.00 MORE than those homeowners that received a loan modification without the assistance of a counselor.

None of this surprises us here at the MN Home Ownership Center. The Center's Executive Director, Julie Gugin says:

We've known through our extensive work with foreclosure prevention that personalized counseling is the most cost-effective way to address the mortgage crisis. This report underscores the work of dedicated non-profit counselors throughout the country.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with to keep up with their mortgage payments, or is worried about a FUTURE payment... don't delay contact a Housing Counselor that specializes in foreclosure today! To contact your local Counselor, click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Entry Cost Assistance Matrix Released

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is pleased to announce the release of its much-anticipated "Entry Cost Matrix". The Matrix outlines down-payment and entry cost assistance programs that are available to residents of the state of Minnesota. The Center would like to thank the Minnesota Assocation of Realtors for their financial support of the creation of the Matrix.

While the Matrix is available to anyone... we recommend that if you're thinking of purchasing your first home in Minnesota - and are looking for down-payment help or entry cost assistance, that you speak with a certified Home Stretch (pre-purchase) counselor. Remember, homeownership is a HUGE undertaking.

The Matrix is organized geographically, which allows readers to quickly find the area of the state that they are most interested in.

Funding for down-payment assistance and entry-cost help is FLUID. The information may change. Please contact a program adminstrator to see if funds are available, and, if not, if there is a waiting list for access to the funds.

OUR ASK OF YOU: If you are aware of an error on the Matrix... or if you know of any additional programs, funds or assistance that are NOT included in the Matrix, please contact the MN Home Ownership Center with that information. Together we can help break down the barriers to first-time home ownership!

The Matrix can be downloaded here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Homebuyer Tax Credit Extension

UPDATE: Bill has been signed into law.

The extension, and expansion, of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers is just about a done deal. The bill, H.R. 3548, now moves to President Obama's desk and is awaiting his signature. He has stated his intention of signing the bill into law, but remember... until he signs... it is NOT a law.

The Center is currently working on updating its Fact Sheet "Tax Incentives for First-Time Homebuyers" and will post the new fact sheet as soon as the bill is signed into law. For now, here's a brief overview of the contents of the bill:

  • The $8,000 tax credit is available to first time buyers who are purchasing their primary residence.* The law defines a first-time buyer as someone who has not owned, or been included on title to, a property in the last three years.
  • Buyers must sign a purchase agreement before May 1, 2010 and close on the property no later than July 1, 2010.
  • If joint purchasers are not married, at least one of the purchasers must qualify as a first-time buyer. For married buyers, both must qualify as first-time buyers. With this extension, all buyers must be at least 18 years of age.
  • There are income limits to claim the credit. The tax credit phases out for single taxpayers with adjusted gross income of $75,000 to $125,000. For married couples who file jointly, the phase-out is $150,000 to $225,000. (These are increases over previous tax credits).
  • This tax credit can be claimed on either the 2009 or 2010 tax return. You must submit a copy of the signed HUD-1 statement with your tax return.
  • NEW: There is also a $6,500 tax credit for some EXISTING homeowners who purchase another principal residence. However, they must have lived in their EXISTING principal residence for 5 consecutive years during the last 8 years.
  • For either first-time or existing (sometimes called 'move-up' buyers - but the credit allows for 'downsizing' buyers too) the newly purchased property MUST be their principal residence.
  • For members of the Armed Forces on duty outside of the U.S... the credit is extended an additional year (sign purchase agreement by May 1, 2011).

According to many reports... this may be the last time the credit will be extended... but homeowners, especially first-time buyers, should never base their home-buying decision on a tax credit. There are MANY other factors that play into whether home ownership is right for YOU or not. Before purchasing YOUR first home... take a Home Stretch class to learn what's involved, and speak with a non-profit Housing Counselor to see if you qualify for any down-payment assistance or other first-time buyer programs.

Remember - It's not a law until it has the President's signature on it!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MHA Loan Modifications and Credit Scores

An interesting article on the SFGate blog from the San Francisco Chronicle highlights new guidelines adopted by the "Consumer Data Industry Association" (the organization that represents credit bureaus - the people that track our credit scores).

Under the new guidelines, lenders should report loan modifications made under the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program as "loan modified under a federal government plan".

Until now, individual lenders reported modifications to the credit bureaus differently. Some reported them "paid as agreed" which didn't affect scores, while others reported them as "partial payment" which can have an extremely negative impact on credit scores - - as much of an impact as a short sale or even foreclosure.

If homeowners fall behind (one of the requirements for a MHA modification) lenders will still report the delinquent payments (30 day late, 60 day late, 90 day late, etc.) so there is no way to avoid at least SOME damage to a credit score with a modification - but if a homeowner is current during the trial period - banks should report those modified payments as "current."

HOWEVER... here's the catch... FICO, the country's best-known provider of credit scores (the famous "FICO Score") has said that they will, over the coming years, analyze "accumulated data" to see if there is any predictive value of the new "loan modified under government plan" on payments... which will determine how much the new category affects a credit score IN THE FUTURE. For now, the category does not either help or hurt a credit score.

Regardless of the impact on score... homeowners need to understand that a creditor might deny them credit (car loan, store credit, rental agreement, etc.) if they see the "loan modified under governement plan" on a credit report. Just something to keep in mind.

If you are falling behind in payments... and think a modification might work for you, contact a free, non-profit Housing Counselor in your area for assistance with a modification... or to see if there may be any other help or assistance available to you. For help in Minnesota, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Helpful Fact Sheets - Foreclosure Prevention

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center has worked for years to create over a dozen fact sheets, FAQ's and other flyers that can help when a homeowner is struggling with mortgage payments or facing foreclosure.

NOW... all of these fact sheets have been compiled in one location on the Center's website! ( >> Stay in Your Home >> Helpful Fact Sheets)

Feel free to print/distribute any of the fact sheets to homeowners that may benefit (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

Do you have an idea for a fact sheet or FAQ that would benefit struggling MN homeowners? Feel free to email your idea to Ed Nelson at the Center. Thanks!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Foreclosure Postponement Video

Effective June 15, 2009 Minnesota state law allows homeowners that have fallen behind on their mortgage payments to delay, or postpone, the Foreclosure Sale (also known as the “Sheriff’s Sale” or "Sheriff's Auction") of their home by five months.

Postponing the Foreclosure Sale gives homeowners five more months to bring their mortgage current. The tradeoff - is that it also reduces the redemption period to five weeks. (Standard MN redemption period for a foreclosure by advertisement is 6 months).

Previously, the Center had created a fact sheet and affidavit to assist homeowners that might be interested in postponing their Foreclosure Sale.

Now the Center has created a video (available on our YouTube Channel here), that helps homeowners understand the Foreclosure law, the steps to take and other important aspects of foreclosure postponement in Minnesota:

Click here to view video on our YouTube Channel if embedded video is unavailable.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Event Reminders

Just a short post to remind everyone about the upcoming events that the Center is either hosting or will be present at:

For Professionals:

  • Foreclosure Prevention Information Training for professionals working in Minnesota's SE Asian Communities. Last day to register! More info, click here.
  • Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative Third Annual Summit and Entry Cost Assistance Matrix Training. Space is limited! More info, click here.

For Homebuyers:

  • Before you buy... Think HomeStretch! Homebuyer education and counseling that covers, start to finish, EVERYTHING that's involved in becoming a homeowner. Understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the entire process. More info, click here.
  • Thinking of buying in Minneapolis? Join us at the City's Housing fair(s) - TWO DATES - 10/20 and 10/21. More info here.

For Homeowners:

  • Stuggling with payments? You don't have to wait for an event... you can contact a FREE, non-profit Foreclosure Specialist today. Click here.
  • Like to learn more about foreclosure in Minnesota - and the help and assistance that is available to Minnesota residents? Learn more at a confidential workshop at your local library. Additional information here.
  • Live in Minneapolis? You can also visit the one of the City's two housing fairs (Tuesday October 20 and Wednesday, October 21) to learn more. More info here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MN Housing Partnership - 2x4 Report

The Minnesota Housing Partnership has recently released its updated report (known as the "2 x 4 Report") that studies two indicators for each of four key housing areas:

  • the home ownership market,
  • the rental market,
  • homelessness, and
  • the housing industry.

The report is a great resource for housing information, and is designed to provide a concise, easy-to-digest, graphic overview of the state of housing in the state of Minnesota.

The complete report is available here.

Focusing on the "Owners' Market" segment of their report, it shows that just over 7% of primary (first lien) mortgages were delinquent in the second quarter of 2009 - up from about 6% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

When taken in combination with the increase in pre-foreclosure notices that we highlighted in our post on Tuesday (Pre-Foreclosure Notices, September 2009) we repeat can our assessment from Tuesday: MN still has a LONG way to go before we reach the end of the foreclosure crisis.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pre-Foreclosure Notices, September 2009

It was brought to our attention (Thanks, Aaron!) that we hadn't updated the numbers of pre-foreclosure notices that our counseling network has received for a couple of months.

If the number of pre-foreclosure notices are a leading indicator of future foreclosures (which is a fairly safe assumption)... MN still has a LONG way to go before we reach the end of the foreclosure crisis.

As background for new readers, Minnesota State law (MN Statute 580.021) requires that the foreclosing party provide information regarding foreclosure prevention counseling services to the mortgager (homeowner) AND provide the homeowner’s name, address, and most recent known telephone number to an approved foreclosure prevention counseling agency - BEFORE filing the notice of pendency.

Once The Minnesota Home Ownership Center's network of foreclosure prevention agencies recieves notification from the lender/servicer/homeowners association, they then contact the homeowner, and track the number of notifications received during the month in their monthly reporting to the Center.

Here are the January through September, 2009 STATEWIDE Pre-Foreclosure Numbers:

(Click On Either Image To Enlarge)

Here are the January through September, 2009 Twin Cities Metro Pre-Foreclosure Numbers:

(Click On Either Image To Enlarge)

We've added trend lines to both charts to help readers see where we seem to be heading.

Once again, we have to tip our hats to the statewide network of Foreclosure Counselors! 6,411 families received notification of their services in September alone!
This brings the annual total of pre-foreclosure notices received to:
  • Twin Cities Metro: 31,487 (!)
  • Minnesota Statewide: 49,985 (!!)
If you're falling behind with your mortgage payments... or think you may fall behind soon... don't delay, contact a Housing Counselor that specializes in foreclosure today! To contact your local Counselor, click here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Foreclosure Sale Postponement Info in Spanish

In order to postpone the foreclosure sale of their property, Minnesota state law requires that homeowners complete several steps. The first step in the process is to completely fill out an "Affidavit of Postponement".

This can be a confusing, if not impossible, undertaking for non-English speakers.

To assist Spanish-speaking homeowners that might be interested in postponing their foreclosure sale, the MN Home Ownership Center has created a "Cheat-Sheet" that helps explain the information the Affidavit is requesting.

Information about foreclosure postponement in Minnesota can be found here (in English) and here (in Spanish).

To see the new Affidavit description sheet in Spanish (The 'Cheat-Sheet')... click here.

Before deciding to postpone a Foreclosure Sale, homeowners are encouraged to consult with a foreclosure specialist to understand the pros and cons of a postponement, and to see if there are any other resources or assistance available to them. To find their local foreclosure specialist, homeowners should click here.

Third Annual EMHI Summit

New This Year: Entry-Cost Assistance Training!

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center is pleased to announce that the 2009 Emerging Markets Home Ownership Initiative (EMHI) summit has been scheduled for November 9th, 2009 at the Continuing Education and Conference Center on the University of MN Campus.

The Third Annual EMHI Summit, and the first since the MN Home Ownership Center adopted EMHI programming earlier this year, is a hallmark of the Center’s dedication to the EMHI mission of working to promote homeownership parity by leading and convening industry and community stakeholders to develop tools, resources, and best practices to increase homeownership opportunity for Minnesota’s emerging markets.

The event is designed primarily for realtors, lenders, non-profits, elected officials, and others working in the homeownership arena. The agenda will include:

  • Keynote address from St. Paul City Council Member Melvin Carter III and State Representative Jeff Hayden. They’ll discuss the impact of homeownership on their constituency base and address public policy topics that support EMHI’s mission.
  • Michael Grover, community affairs manager from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and John Patterson, director of research and evaluation at Minnesota Housing, will provide a comprehensive analysis of the current status of emerging marketing homeownership in Minnesota using the soon to be released American Community Survey data. A traditional part of the EMHI Summit, this presentation will offer thought-provoking insight into the status of emerging markets homeownership and how the current environment has impacted efforts.
  • Representatives from the industry, including Michael Haley, Assistant Commissioner of Minnesota Housing; Teddy Bagley, Affordable Housing Manager for Guaranteed Rate; Umbelina Cremer, Emerging Markets Officer for Achieve Homeownership; and Kim Quayson of MidCountry Mortgage. Panelists will offer practical insights into how their organizations have successfully emerging market homebuyers and the lessons they’ve learned.
  • Jacqueline King, Assistant Vice President and Community Affairs Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and founding board member of the Emerging Markets Homeownership Initiative, will close the agenda with a call to action and partnership to the industry to continue striving for EMHI’s mission.

CEU credits have been applied for.

To register, or for more information, click here.

Premiere training: taking the confusion out of entry cost assistance programs and affordable loan products

Following the EMHI Summit and a networking lunch on November 9th, the MN Home Ownership Center, in partnership with the Minnesota Association of Realtors, will be hosting a training and unveiling newly developed tools offering comprehensive information about entry cost and affordable loan programs throughout the state. As Minnesota begins to recover from the recent foreclosure crisis, municipalities, lenders, non-profits, and others have developed programs designed to promote homeownership. This proliferation of programs has led to confusion among industry professionals at they attempt to keep current on optimum opportunities for their clients.

This 3-hour training session will include:

  • Details about accessing and using the MN Home Ownership Center’s brand new Entry Cost Assistance Matrix, including a panel of speakers highlighting some of the most frequently used programs in the state. Neighborhood Stabilization Programs will be featured.
  • Information about accessing and using the MN Home Ownership Center’s Affordable Loan Product Matrix. Recently released to the public for the first time, the matrix includes valuable information about first-time homebuyer and other affordable loan programs. Lending representatives will be on hand to discuss their programs.
  • The Entry Cost Assistance Matrix and Affordable Loan Product Matrix are is the first of their kind in Minnesota and highlight the Center’s commitment to working in partnership with Realtors®, lenders and other professionals to enhance home buying for Minnesotans.

Space is limited and registration is required.

CEU credits have been applied for the afternoon session as well.

To register, or for more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Foreclosure Forum with Congressman Keith Ellison

Monday night October 5th, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center and its network of foreclosure prevention counselors were invited to participate in a public forum hosted by Representative Keith Ellison entitled "The Foreclosure Crisis: Identifying Problems and Sharing Solutions" that was held in Minneapolis.

The first hour of the forum included a resource fair where dozens of struggling homeowners were able to speak with the non-profit foreclosure specialists to help them determine their next steps.

During the next two hours, consumers and constituents heard from the Congressman, State Representatives, Housing Counselors and even lenders about what is being done to help struggling Minnesota families.

Here Congressman Keith Ellison introduces Cheryl Peterson from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and Ed Nelson from the MN Home Ownership Center:

(Click to Enlarge)

Here Ed Nelson speaks about the new Foreclosure Postponement law in Minnesota. State Representative Jeff Hayden is on the right:

(Click to Enlarge)

Additional photos of the event can be found on the Center's photo gallery here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Affordable Loan Product Matrix Available Online

For over a decade the MN Home Ownership Center has produced the “Affordable Loan Product Matrix”, to inform non-profit housing counselors of affordable loan programs available to their clients.

Designed to assist low- to moderate-income homeowners with the purchase of their first home, the matrix generally includes loan programs that have flexible underwriting guidelines, allow higher LTV limits, lower buyer investment and require homebuyer education and/or counseling.

Now, for the first time, the Center is making the Affordable Loan Product Matrix available to the general public - - and will be an especially helpful tool for real-estate industry and lending professionals.

The matrix can be found on the Center's website

If you are a homeowner interested in purchasing your first home... feel free to browse the matrix - - but we also recommend that you speak with a housing counselor to see which, if any, of the programs listed are best suited for YOU. A non-profit housing counselor (also known as a Home Stretch Counselor) can work with you to make sure that you are ready for successful home ownership. For more information, click here.

The Center continues to develop an Entry Cost Assistance Matrix (Down-payment and closing cost assistance, grants & programs) as well. More information will be posted soon.

Fox-9 Community Connection Focuses on Foreclosure

With the help of Roxanny Armendariz from the Neighborhood Development Alliance, homeowners Jose and Juana Gonzalez, along with their 4 children, were able to avoid foreclosure after Roxanny was able to mediate an affordable loan modification for the Gonzalez family.

Their story - including the difficulties the Jose and Juana experienced while trying to work with their lender is part of the focus of the most recent "Community Connection" segment on Fox-9.

For additional information about the segment... including links to an on-line interview with Roxanny about the work she does assisting clients, click here.

The segment will air again on Saturday, October 11th at 9 a.m on WFTC channel 29.

If you're facing a possible foreclosure... and struggling to work with your lender - - the Center's network of FREE, non-profit foreclosure counselors can help. To find your local counselor, click here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Foreclosure Postponement on Kare-11

Minnesota's foreclosure postponement law was the focus of the "Take KARE of Your Money" segment on Wednesday, September 24th on the Kare-11 news.

Cheryl Peterson from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity - one of the Center's partners in foreclosure prevention - was interviewed for the piece.

You can view the segment, on the Kare-11 website, here.

The Center is currently working on a video Q & A segment about foreclosure postponement that will be available soon!

For additional written information about foreclosure postponement, including the steps to take to request a postponement and the required paperwork, click here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Updated Fact Sheet: Mortgage Debt Forgiveness

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center has recently updated its Fact Sheet: "Mortgage Debt Forgiveness - Key Facts"

In late December 2007, Congress passed legislation changing the tax code relating to mortgage debt forgiveness. Ordinarily, debt forgiveness – including short sales, short refinances, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or other ways lenders forgive debt owed - counts as taxable income. The legislation from 2007, which was recently extended an additional three years (through 12/2012), changes the tax code, offering an exception specifically targeted for home mortgage debt forgiveness. Minnesota homeowners need to know that there are MANY stipulations in the legislation.

You can view a copy of the fact sheet here.

The Center has also produced a number of additional fact sheets on:

These facts sheets are available to the public and can be freely downloaded from the Center's website.

The fact sheets can be found here and here.

They are also available in Spanish, here and here.

Center Participates in KFAI's Housing & Foreclosure Forum

This past Saturday, September 19th, as part of their "Strive to Thrive" series, radio station KFAI and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder newspaper hosted a conference at the Sabathani Community Center focusing on issues surrounding the housing & mortgage foreclosures in the Twin Cities.

The Center, and several of our network partners, participated in the event.
Minneapolis City Councilwoman (Ward-9) Elizabeth Glidden opened the day:

(Click image to enlarge)

Cheryl Peterson, from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, one of the Center's network partners in foreclosure prevention addressed the crowd:

(Click image to enlarge)

Here's the Center's booth/stand for the day:

(Click image to enlarge)

The event was videotaped... as soon as we have access to the video and/or audio of the day's presentations, we will update this post.

Friday, September 18, 2009

MBA Highlights "Safe at Home"

In the September, 2009 issue of the "Minnesota Bankers Association News", the MBA has highlighted the Center's "Safe at Home: Preventing Foreclosures" documentary that was co-produced with Twin Cities Public Television and PRG, Inc.

(Click either image to enlarge)

The piece highlights how bankers, and others engaged with their local communities, can use the toolkit the Center has created to assist with outreach to local residents that might be falling behind in their mortgage payments.
For more information about the documentary and the toolkit that YOU can use to help us reach struggling Minnesotans, click here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

HECAT Funding Awards Announced

Minnesota is unique in that there is a dedicated pool of funds that provides financial support to eligible non-profit organizations to deliver a variety of homebuyer/homeowner education, counseling and training services to Minnesotans. This dedicated pool is known as HECAT (The Homeownership Education, Counseling and Training Fund).

Some of the services that are HECAT funded include:
  • pre-purchase education and counseling (Home Stretch),
  • post-purchase education and counseling,
  • home equity conversion counseling (Reverse Mortgages) and
  • foreclosure counseling

Funds for HECAT come from four funding partners:
Each of the four funding partners contributes financial resources and participates in the grant-making process.

Additional information about HECAT can be found here.

A complete list of organizations that have been granted HECAT funds for the 2009-2010 program year is available here. (PDF Document)

Fox-9 News Highlights Foreclosure Workshops

On Tuesday, September 14th, Fox-9 News at 10:00 highlighted the upcoming series of Foreclosure Information Workshops that the Center is hosting in partnership with Hennepin County, Hennepin County Libraries, and several other community based organizations.

You can view the Fox-9 report here.

At these workshop, homeowners and renters, can learn about the foreclosure process, what kinds of helps and assistance are available in Minnesota and nationally, including information on the "Making Home Affordable" program and meet with a non-profit Foreclosure Specialist, representatives from Hennepin County Taxpayer Services, and attorneys specializing in Renter Advocacy. In addition, attendees will be able to set up an appointment for a more personalized, in-depth discussion at a later time.

For a flyer on upcoming workshops, click here.

To view these, and other events the Center has scheduled, for both homeowners and professionals, click here.

COMING SOON: The Center is also conducting similiar workshops in partnership with the City of St. Paul, the St. Paul Mayor's office and St. Paul Public Libraries. Information will be available soon on our homeowner events page, here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Center at the MN Mortgage Association Convention

On Thursday, September 10th, 2009, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center participated in the 2009 Annual Convention and Expo “Front Row Seats for Change”.

Here's our booth at the event:

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In addition, Julie Gugin, the Center's Executive Director, partnered with Keenan Raverty of Bell Mortgage to facilitate the panel discussion with Minneapolis and St. Paul Mayors R.T. Rybek and Chris Coleman. Our previous post on the lunchtime discussion here.

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During the event the Center held a contest where new subscribers to our electronic newsletter could win a $25.00 gift certificate to Target. We've drawn the winning names... congratulations go out to:

  1. Mahendra Saraswate of Phoenix Mortgage, LLC

  2. Tom Kedrowski of Lakeland Mortgage Corp.

  3. C.J. Kurtz of Bell Mortgage

  4. Anne Carter of Summit Mortgage Corporation

Congrats! You'll be receiving your gift cards shortly!

If you don't already subscribe to the Center's electronic newsletter - chock full of information on affordable housing issues, pre-purchase programs, foreclosure prevention articles and much more, you can sign up here.

You can view the archive of past issues here.

The Center would like to thank the MN Mortgage Association for inviting us to participate in their annual event. Thank you!

Friday, September 11, 2009

GAO Report On Non-Prime Mortgages

This summer, The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the “Characteristics and Performance of Nonprime Mortgages”. This report includes the number of seriously delinquent (90+ days) in every state and every congressional district in the country.

In addition, the report has a ton of useful information about the prevalence of non-prime mortgages as well as information about borrower types and loan characteristics of the non-prime loans that were originated between 2000 and 2007. For example, nationally, between 2000 and 2007, 33% of subprime loans, and a staggering 70% of Alt-A loans were “no-doc” loans. Complicating matters for consumers who would like to refinance, 72% of all sub-prime loans, and 37% of Alt-A loans had a prepayment penalty.

The 57-page report can be downloaded free at the GAO website here.

Here are some highlights about Minnesota from the report:

Status of Nonprime Loans Originated from 2000 through 2007
by Congressional District as of March 31, 2009

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Percentage of 2000-2007 Nonprime Loans
in Different Status Categories

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Foreclosure Referral Workshop in Faribault County

The Faribault County Economic Development Authority and the Minnesota Home Ownership Center are partnering to offer a free "Foreclosure Prevention Information and Referral" workshop for professionals in Faribault County - and all of southern Minnesota.

The 90-minute training will provide an overview of the foreclosure process, where to refer homeowners and information on how to prepare them to talk with a housing counselor or loan servicer.

Who should attend? Staff from public, private, governmental and non-profit organizations who come in contact with distressed homeowners are invited to attend this training. This may include social workers, real-estate agents, librarians, clergy, etc. This session is NOT designed for struggling homeowners.

Date: Thursday, October 1st 2009, 10:00 - 11:30am

Location: Wells Community Center, Wells, MN

Additional information, including maps & driving instructions, or to register, visit:

Would you like to host a workshop for your staff or for other professionals in your area? Contact Ed Nelson at the Minnesota Home Ownership Center for more information.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Minneapolis & St. Paul Mayors to Address MN Mortgage Association Convention

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak will offer lunch-hour remarks at the MMA Convention beginning at noon on September 10 at the Hyatt Downtown Minneapolis.

Additional information about the MMA Convention can be found at the MN Mortgage Association website here:

A limited number of passes for the lunch-hour remarks are available, on a first-come, first-served basis, for organizations that cannot afford the MMA Convention admission. If interested, please contact Keenan Raverty at: 612-209-2650.

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center will be participating in the convention... feel free to stop by booth #14 and introduce yourself!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ed Nelson on KFAI's 'Truth to Tell"

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center's Ed Nelson joined Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen on their Wednesday, September 2nd "Truth to Tell" show entitled: HOME FORECLOSURES II: Homelessness is More Acceptable?

Here's the show's description from KFAI:

With the public discussion focused on health care and little else comes news that the foreclosure crisis isn't going away - at least no time soon. A relatively new study of foreclosure rates in Minnesota has been a product of a symposium presented by Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the UofM's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. Meanwhile the street battle to save Rosemary Williams and others from eviction continues to challenge the powers who would make them all homeless. The question is: what use is it to send struggling homeowners into the streets, vacating properties and blighting neighborhoods while those same owners become essentially wards of the community and shelters if they can find no reasonable alternative housing in their cities.

You can listen to the audio tape of the program:
  • MP3 Format: Here
  • RealAudio (RM) Format: Here
If you're facing foreclosure... take action NOW. There is a network of FREE foreclosure prevention specialists that are ready, willing and able to assist YOU. Click here for more information.