Bankrate asked 10 top lenders — Bank of America, Chase, Citigroup, Countrywide, IndyMac, National City, Residential Capital (GMAC), Wachovia, WaMu and Wells Fargo — to outline their procedures for helping struggling borrowers save their homes.

What is the first thing borrowers should do if they are at risk of missing a payment?
The first step is to call one of the following numbers:

For customers current on their WaMu mortgage who want options: (877) 551-2736 (weekdays 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT)

For customers late on their WaMu mortgage who want options: (866) 926-8937 (weekdays 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT)

These numbers and additional help can also be found at the ”
Need help with your mortgage?” page of WaMu’s Web site.

When should borrowers call you — before they’re late with their first payment, or sometime later on (e.g., 60 to 90 days after missing the first payment)?
Our firm belief is that early intervention is instrumental to helping our customers find ways they can overcome financial obstacles to keep their home. We view foreclosure as a last resort and want our customers to know that our primary goal is to keep them in their homes with payments they can afford.

To that end, we encourage our customers to contact us as soon as they anticipate difficulty in making payments on their mortgage so that together, we can explore and discuss their various options.

Should a borrower ask to speak with someone specific?
Information not provided.

What information should borrowers have available when they call?
Information not provided.

What types of solutions might be available to borrowers?
Under our $2 billion subprime assistance program launched in April 2007, customers who remain current on their existing subprime loans and anticipate pending payment increases may apply for new, discounted fixed-rate loans or other mortgage products. We are also focused on refinancing eligible borrowers into prime loans as part of the program, which has been very well-received.

You can learn more about various workout options and other resources available to our customers by visiting the ”
Need help with your mortgage?” Web page and clicking on the “Know your options” tab.

Some of these workout options include:

Repayment plan. If your mortgage payments are past-due, we may be able spread out the past-due amount over several months. Each month you will pay your regular monthly payment amount plus a portion of the amount you are behind until your mortgage loan is deemed current.

Forbearance. If your mortgage loan is past-due and you’re overcoming a temporary hardship, we can establish a forbearance plan. This plan will allow us to suspend or reduce your monthly payments for a short period of time to help you catch up. We can also establish a forbearance agreement if you are trying to sell your home or complete a loan modification. Please contact us to discuss how we can work together.

Short sale. If you owe more than your house is worth, we can work together to sell your house to payoff all or most of the mortgage amount. A short sale allows you to control the timing of the sale. The property must be listed on the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, with a Realtor.

Deed-in-lieu. As a last resort you can voluntarily transfer the property title to the lender. This is called a “Deed-in-Lieu” of foreclosure. You voluntarily deed your property in-lieu of losing it at foreclosure. If you do not have any other loans, liens or judgments attached to your house, then we can discuss ways to transfer title. We would explore the deed-in-lieu only after we have exhausted all your other options.

WaMu is a key member of the private sector initiative called HOPE NOW and has worked very closely with the Department of Treasury, the American Securitization Forum and our alliance partners in stepping up efforts that help borrowers with the wherewithal and desire to keep their homes, but require further assistance given the challenging market conditions.

Do you accept partial payments?
Information not provided.

What percentage of borrowers can expect to get some type of workout of their mortgage?
In 2007, we helped more than 35,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes through loan modification and other forms of assistance.

Are there any fees involved in the workout process?
Information not provided.

Does the process differ depending on whether you are a borrower who is missing a regular payment or a borrower whose mortgage is about to reset?
Information not provided.

Is it helpful if they contact a credit counselor who can work with you on the process?
As part of our extensive efforts to increase customer awareness of their options, WaMu participates in monthly Homeownership Preservation Workshops organized by our nonprofit partners to assist distressed borrowers and to complete workouts on location.

Find your lender
1. Bank of America 6. National City
2. Chase 7. Wachovia
3. Citigroup 8. WaMu
4. Countrywide 9. Wells Fargo
5. IndyMac

WaMu maximizes the opportunities to meet with our customers by reaching out to them via mail and phone and personally inviting them to attend the events, which are often held in major metropolitan areas experiencing high rates of foreclosures.

We’re also supporting the Homeownership Preservation Foundation that links homeowners in danger of foreclosure to the (888) 995-HOPE hot line and local NeighborWorks organizations to receive free counseling from HUD-approved agencies.

WaMu has a dedicated toll-free number and e-mail set up for nonprofit and community outreach groups to contact us if they’re working with one of our borrowers.


How did it go? Tell us about your experience using this information to work out a solution with your lender.