Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Julie Gugin, Center's Executive Director, on TV

Julie Gugin, Executive Director of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center, was invited to join Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on the "Meet the Mayor" TV program.
It broadcast for the first time today, Wednesday April 29th, at 11:00am on Minneapolis Cable Channel 14 and will rebroadcast for the next several weeks on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8:00pm; and on Sundays and Wednesdays at 11:00am.

For those who live outside of the City of Minneapolis, the show is also available online:

Taped on location in Minneapolis' Willard Hay neighborhood, Mayor Rybak discusses Minneapolis initiatives to prevent foreclosures, reinvestment in neighborhoods and other foreclosure- and recovery-related issues with Julie Gugin & Tom Streitz, City of Minneapolis Housing Policy and Development Director, among others.

Star Tribune Highlights 2008 Foreclosure Report

In addition to the weekend Editorial we blogged about here... Today's Star Tribune highlights information from the Center's 2008 Foreclosure Counsling Program Report - on the front page of the business section!

The focus of the Strib article - and one of the findings of the Report, is the fact that the foreclosure crisis has moved beyond the first wave (very low-moderate income buyers, sub-prime and even predatory loan products, overbought homes) to the next wave of prime mortgage holders, suburban homeowners and others.

We'll be adding additional posts about the Report throughout the coming days - highlighting additional findings of the report - there is a LOT of great information about the face of foreclosure in Minnesota.

You can read the Star Tribune article here.

You can access the report, and other supplemental documents, here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Start Tribune Editorial: Foreclosure Counseling is Cost Effective

The Minnesota Home Ownership Center was proud to be the focus of this weekend's Editorial in the Star Tribune!

The Editorial, based on information included in the 2008 Foreclosure Counseling Program Report that will be available on the Center's website on Wednesday April 29th, highlights "Success Stories in the Housing Meltdown" as well as the cost effectiveness of foreclosure counseling.

As we've noted on the blog before, the Center's network served over 11,000 Minnesota Households last year... and was able to assist those families in avoiding foreclosure 55% of the time!

Foreclosure Conseling costs, on average, of about $500.00 per household. Those $500.00 invested per family was able to save the State of Minnesota, local municipalities, lenders, communities and, most importantly, Minnesota Families approximately $300,000,000.00!! Yes - you read that right - 300 hundred million dollars.

You can read the Star Tribune Editorial here.

As soon as the report is released, it will be available on the Center's website!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Home Affordable - First Servicer Participants Announced

While the White House announced in early March the basic outline of the "Making Home Affordable" plan, many homeowners have been frustrated by the fact that, while it appeared as though they would qualify for either the modification or refinance versions of the plan, few lenders/servicers had actually formalized their participation in the plan.

As of Thursday, April 16th... that has changed. Six national servicers, including several with substantial loan portfolios in Minnesota, have formalized their participation and now have procedures in place to accept homeowner inqueries.

Those servicers are: Chase, CitiMortgage, GMAC Mortgage, Saxon, Select Portfolio Servicing, and Wells Fargo Bank.

SO... what should consumers do next? The first step would be to visit the Center's website for a detailed overview of the Making Home Affordable Plan. You can view the information, HERE.

Next, visit the government's official website for the plan: (Don't be fooled by look-alike or scam websites! This is THE governmental website for all Making Home Affordable information).

Follow the steps to see if you are eligible (Click on the large "Find Out If You Are Eligible" button on the Making Home Affordable website).

If it appears you qualify... AND your servicer (where you mail your monthly mortgage checks) is listed above, visit the Making Home Affordable page for contact information for your servicer, HERE.

If you'd like additional information about contacting your lender or servicer, the Center has a fact sheet available HERE:

IF YOUR SERVICER IS NOT LISTED, or if it appears as though you aren't eligible. DON'T PANIC. Many servicers are accepting applications even though they haven't signed the official participation contract with the government. Moreover, the Making Home Affordable plan may be just ONE of the MANY options you have for staying (or getting) current on your mortgage! A FREE, local Foreclosure Counselor can assist you in understanding YOUR options. Don't delay, contact them today! (Link is HERE).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Telephone Seminar - Tuesday Night, April 14th

The Center is excited about tonight's (Tuesday, April 14th) telephone seminar. Working in partnership with the City of Brooklyn Park, we were able to mail INVITATIONS to 10,000 Brooklyn Park residents, signed by Mayor Steve Lampi, to join us on the call!

THE CALL FREE AND OPEN TO ANY HOMEOWNER IN MINNESOTA - Even if you don't live in Brooklyn Park... JOIN US!

Do you think you should join us on our FREE - CONFIDENTIAL telephone seminar?

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • At the end of the month, do you find yourself struggling to get ahead, or even keep up?
  • Are you questioning the future because you worry about how you will make ends meet today?
  • Are you concerned that if the real estate market doesn't improve soon, your current mortgage and home may not be a good fit for you?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, the Minnesota Home Ownership Center would like to invite you to join tonight's free, confidential telephone seminar - TONIGHT from 7 - 8pm.

Feel free to join in for as long as you like.

Toll Free: (877) 850 - 7042

We'll discuss the current foreclosure situation in Minnesota, resources that are available to homeowners from their lender/servicer and from the statewide network of Foreclosure Specialists.

Have questions? You can join in too... and ask questions of our Foreclosure Specialists from the comfort - and confidentiality - of your home!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Loan Modification Success Rate

If you have some time to kill... feel free to read through the page-turner known as the:

"Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Office of Thrift Supervision Mortgage Metrics Report, Disclosure of National Bank and Federal Thrift Mortgage Loan Data". (Full document here).

Assuming you won't actually read the whole document :-), allow us to highlight some of the findings for you:

  1. In 2008, only 41.85 percent of all modifications reduced monthly principal and interest payments for homeowners. For delinquent borrowers - - a loan modification resulted in an INCREASED or EQUAL payment amount 58.15% of the time!!
  2. If a loan modification resulted in NO CHANGE in principal and interest payments, that generally resulted in the homeowner re-defaulting 50.6% of the time after 6 months.
  3. If a loan modification resulted in an INCREASE in monthly principal and interest payments, that generally resulted in the homeowner re-defaulting 45.8% of the time after a period of six months. (Yes... it's interesting that an INCREASED payment has a lower re-default rate than a loan mod with no change in payment amount).
  4. HOWEVER, if a loan modification resulted in a reduced payment of 10% or more, the re-default rate shrank to just 22.7%. (77.3% success rate).
The national press jumped on the news a few weeks ago about the re-default rate of loan modifications (Here and Here, for example)... as 'proof' that foreclosure mitigation strategies don't work. What they DIDN'T mention is that NOT all loan modifications are equal - - some even INCREASED homeowners payments!

If you've thought about seeking a loan modification with your lender, or have already received an offer to modify the loan from them... you want to be EXTREMELY careful that the modification they're offering you is really in your LONG-TERM best interest. The Center's network of Foreclosure Counselors are ready, willing and able to take a look at the suggested modification, and help you decide if it will work for you.

ALSO... we couldn't post about loan modifications with warning Minnesota Home Owners AGAIN, to make sure that they do not PAY for any third-party loan modification service. Deal directly with your lender yourself, or with one of our free, non-profit Foreclosure Counselors. For additional warnings about for-profit loan modification companies (and scams)... visit here and here.

Hope Now Information Session - Deadline April 8

This is just a reminder that the deadline to register for the information session at the Federal Reserve Bank for the upcoming HOPE NOW Workshop is Wednesday, April 8th, 2009.

The information session will be held on Monday April 13th.

Topics include:
  • Additional information about the upcoming HOPE NOW Workshop at the St. Paul RiverCentre on June 4th
  • Information about the foreclosure crisis in Minnesota
  • Strategies to ensure that the workshop meets the needs of YOUR clients
  • Strategies to best reach YOUR clients/constituents

Remember, space is limited and registration is required. If you would like to attend the Informational Meeting on April 13, or would like to request additional information about the meeting, contact:

Jackie Gausvik at (612) 204-5869 or by April 8.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Video Question #2 - Sheriff's Sale & Move-Out Date


Today's question comes from Rebecca in Cottage Grove:

My Sheriff’s sale is taking place next week. A representative from the bank says that I have to vacate the property on that day… but I saw on your website that I have additional time to find somewhere else to live. Do I have to move next week? Do I have additional time, and if I do, how much time do I have?
Our answer via video, is here:

(Video Link)

Finance & Commerce Article - Mediation?

The Center's Executive Director, Julie Gugin was quoted in an article about a new program being debated by Minnesota lawmakers: require lenders to participate in a mediation session with homeowners before proceeding with foreclosure. As currently outlined, the program would be administered by the Attorney General's office.

Here are some of the highlights of the article:

Mike Thompson has a simple message for Minnesota lawmakers touting the idea of mediation between troubled homeowners and their lenders: buckle up

... mediation isn’t a panacea for every struggling homeowner.

“We do exactly what Michael Thompson and his group do,” said Julie Gugin, executive director of the Minnesota Home Ownership Center. “I think the remaining challenge that many of us who are working in this field are facing is, ‘What is the best way to get lenders to the table in an efficient way that gets decisions made quicker?’ I don’t believe we’ve landed on an answer to that question yet,” Gugin said.

The entire article is HERE.

As the article states, the Center does not have a position for or against the proposal... but homeowners that are struggling with payments should NOT WAIT. The Center's network of Foreclosure Prevention Specialists can help TODAY.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Word Cloud of The Center's Blog

Here's a fun 'Word Cloud' that I put together using the 50 blog posts we've published here at the Center.

A Word Cloud, according to Google's definition is:
Graphical representation of word frequency. Presents a picture of the most common words used with those used more often displayed larger.

Here's what this blog looks like in a word cloud:

(Click on the image to enlarge)

It will be interesting to see how the "cloud" develops over the coming months!

Cloud created using online generator.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mobile Blog Site - Up and Running!

The Center has optimized its blog for mobile users!


You can also send the link directly to your mobile device using the ‘Send Our Mobile Site to Your Phone’ widget in the sidebar on the right.

This is one more way the Center is trying to get as much information about SUCCESSFUL home ownership to as many people as possible!