Q: My wife and I are 72. We are seriously upside down on our house in Canton. We need to get the bank to help us. So far they will not. I am told one has to be in serious default to even get them to look at you.
I have heard from a friend about an organization that apparently agrees to buy your property from the bank and rent it back to you at a lower monthly cost because they buy it for so much less. In 3, 5 or 7 years you can buy it back for a discounted rate. Is this too good to be true?
A: This sounds very much like a scam. I don’t know anything about the company you listed in your email (I have not reprinted the name in the column), but I do know that you do not have to be upside down on your loan to qualify for the Making Home Affordable (HAMP) loan modification program.
On the other hand, almost no one qualifies for HAMP. This is a voluntary program and the federal government does not require lenders to either forgive your debt or provide you with a lower interest rate on your existing loan.
If you can no longer afford your home, then you need to talk to the lender about what it can do, or is willing to do, for you. If the bank if not willing to do anything for you and you are running out of money, then you should consider your options: A strategic default (where you stop paying anything to the lender and wait to be thrown out), a short sale, or a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
While these three options will be detrimental to your credit, they are better than filing for bankruptcy.
If you want to give it one last try, some homeowners have had more luck by contacting HUD-certified counselors through the HOPE for HOMEOWNERS program (888-995-HOPE).
If you feel you have been given inaccurate information or if you have been denied a modification although you qualify for one, then you should file a complaint with the OCC at www.helpwithmybank.gov.
Finally, if anyone comes to you and ask you to transfer title of your home to them, you should only do that if you have an attorney helps you out in the transaction and you approach your lender to get the sale approved as a short sale. If the buyer takes title to the home and later wants to rent it to you, you need to make sure that all of the information is on the level and that the buyer is not trying to trick you or your lender into a sale that isn’t a real deal.