The documents have been signed, the moving van is fueled and ready to go, and our borrowers are mere hours from moving into their new home in Sacramento. They are first time homebuyers and the excitement in their eyes is undeniable. Then comes the call from our funding department; “we can’t approve this loan because your borrower is no longer employed”. What? You are mistaken; he is an engineer and has been with his company for over 10 years? This can’t be right? “I am sorry, his job was terminated today”.
As a mortgage loan originator in California, this is something I am becoming very familiar with. The Los Angeles Times noted last week the California jobless rate climbed to 12.5% in December (up from 12.4%) and is among the nations highest. To add salt to the already deepening wound, economist expect more job cuts as Gov. Jerry Brown tries to close our $28 billion budget deficit. Even gloomier yet is the prediction by the Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific, stating our unemployment rate will stay above 10 percent for three more years.
With all the cuts in services and jobs, there is help for the unemployed that went into effect this month, January 2011. The Unemployed Mortgage Assistance Program (UMA) will use federal funds to help as many as 60,000 homeowners with a mortgage payment subsidy of up to $3,000 a month for a maximum of six months. The program is administered by the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) along with three more programs that will start February 7th:
Mortgage Reinstatement Assistance Program (MRAP) – Limited financial help up to $15,000 per household to reinstate mortgage loans that are in arrears to prevent potential foreclosures.
Principal Reduction Program (PRP) – Provide money to cut the principal balance on the mortgage for homeowners at risk of default because of job loss coupled with a severe decline in the home’s value.
Transition Assistance Program (TAP) – Relocation help for homeowners who have determined they can no longer afford their home.
To see if you qualify go to the program’s website at www.keepyourhomecalifornia.com and click on the “Eligibility” tab where you answer 6 quick questions online. Or call the toll-free number 888-954-KEEP (5337).
Here are just a few of those minimum requirements; income limitations (i.e. you can’t make too much money), be unemployed and be eligible to receive unemployment benefits, are delinquent or at risk of imminent default on your mortgage.
As this program rolls out, the big stumbling block is you cannot receive help if the bank that services your loan has not signed an agreement with CalHFA! The list of participating loan servicers and agencies include Bank of America, Chase, GMAC, Wells Fargo, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
I am sure all of us have a loved one or friend who has recently lost their job and is fighting to stay above water. It is a devastating event, not only economically but emotionally and physically. Let them know there are programs like this to help them in their time of need.