mortgage

Second HAMP mortgage modification?

Don TaylorDear Dr. Don,
I went through a HAMP mortgage modification just two years ago. It took more than a year of back-and-forth to finally close the loan and save the house. But after the approval process, I told them the payment wasn't low enough and we could get in financial trouble again.

Things have changed for the worse. My husband is disabled. I've since been forced to stop working to take care of him. He has dementia and Parkinson's. I've been hoping to keep him here at our house at least two more years. If forced to move him, I'm sure his health will decline much quicker than it is already.

House in foreclosure © Stephen VanHorn / Fotolia.com

The mortgage payment is 75 percent of my husband's disability payment and we are behind again on the loan. The house has no equity. I doubt whether I can qualify for a new HAMP modification unless they lower my balance.

I can afford $1,000 of my current $1,360 mortgage payment. If I send them the $1,000, would that delay foreclosure?

It is a lot of work being a caregiver. I spend so much time doing paperwork and caring for my husband that the thought of going through a modification process again without the hope of success is exhausting.

Thanks for your time,
-- Mary Modify

Dear Mary,
I'm sorry for your troubles, of which you have many. It is understandable why you're reluctant to begin another intense round of paperwork.

The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, was itself modified, effective June 2012. It may allow homeowners who received a HAMP modification and later got behind on payments to be eligible for more help.

The government's Making Home Affordable website suggests you contact your mortgage servicer to see if you are eligible for the HAMP evaluation process.

It is likely that just sending a partial payment won't delay the foreclosure process. Financial institutions are typically not required to accept such partial payments. Sometimes when they do accept them, the money is held in a so-called "suspense account" until full payment is received.

In the meantime, late payments are noted on your credit history and not in a good way. It's worth an initial inquiry with the hope of avoiding a number of negative developments that could make your life even more difficult. Good luck to you and your husband.

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