Today, my mortgage company (IBM LBPS) really blew themselves out of the water. As you may know, a few months ago, I was working with them to try and negotiate a short refinance. To make a long story short, that was an epic failure. After four months of LBPS giving me the run-around and other lenders telling me they could approve me but not give me the proper documentation to show it, I’ve pretty much given up hope on the short refinance. I think what sealed the deal was this chat conversation that I had with Quicken Loans (LBPS’ recommended refinance experts!) last week:

Thank you for inquiring with Quicken Loans, we’re America’s #1 online lender and do business in all 50 states! Please hold while we connect you with the best suited Mortgage Expert.
You have been connected to James Springer.
James S.: Hello Lisa. How can I help you today?
Lisa: Hi, James. I have a current mortgage with IBM LBPS, and they recommended me to Quicken Loans. I am trying to work out a refinance with an FHA Short Refinance loan — do you have any loan officers that specialize in these short refis?
James S.: What do you mean by ‘short’ refinance?
Lisa: Have you ever heard of this program? https://www.quickenloans.com/mortgage-news/mortgage-program-underwater-fha-short-refinance
James S.: Ok. I need your full name, address, date of birth and social security number.
Lisa: I’m not giving you my social security number through a chat window.

Really? Really.

So, on to my next few options. I did some research on more of Fannie Mae’s options for upside-down borrowers, and I actually found a pretty attraction program called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA). HAFA is an extension of the Making Home Affordable options (HAMP and HARP), neither of which will work for my co-borrower and I. HAMP is the Home Affordable Modification Program, which modifies eligible borrowers’ loans to make monthly payments more affordable. HARP is the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which enables eligible borrowers to refinance up to 125 percent of their property’s current value at a lower interest rate. Unfortunately, borrowers with private mortgage insurance (PMI) on their loans only qualify to refinance 95 percent of their home’s value under HARP.

HAFA offers three additional options – a short sale, a deed-in-lieu or a deed-for-lease. All three of these options are potential contenders because all three will get the loan out of my co-borrower’s name. Although, they’ll all get the loan out of my name, too, so it looks like I may be moving soon. (Closer to the beach, of course.)

From what I can tell, the HAFA options are a little more borrower-friendly than their traditional counterparts. Normally, short sales can be tricky and involve lots of delays and last-minute negotiating once an offer is made on the property. For instance, a lender won’t even really review/approve a traditional short sale until the property is listed and the seller receives an offer. In the meantime, the lender can begin foreclosure proceedings if the homeowner isn’t staying current with their payments. Plus, in states like Virginia, the lender may pursue a deficiency judgment for the difference between what is owed on the home and what the home sells for. Same thing with a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu. That makes these options much less attractive in my state than they may be in other states.

HAFA takes a little more time up front, but the end result seems a little more defined. In order to qualify, the borrower must be reviewed and either approved or denied for HAMP. That can take 30 to 45 days, but once approval or denial is granted, the borrower can request to go the HAFA route for a short sale, deed-in-lieu or deed-for lease. It sounds like lenders will have a borrower at least list the home and try to sell it before allowing a deed-in-lieu, but if the homeowner wants to stay in the home, they’ll offer a deed-for lease. A deed-for-lease means that the borrower signs over the deed to the lender and then rents the property for the going market rate from the lender for a set amount of time. That sounds kind of interesting, huh?

The biggest difference I can see (and keep in mind, I’m not an expert on these things — this is just my full-time hobby) between traditional short sale/deed-in-lieu transactions and HAFA options is that a lot of the terms seem to be negotiated up front for HAFA. Like there’s no deficiency judgments — the lender can’t pursue any money or promissory notes after the closing. Also, the probability of the sale actually closing is much higher, and the seller even leaves the transaction with up to $3,000 in relocation assistance at the end of the deal. This Bank of America PDF about the program actually has a really comprehensive comparison chart on page 9 if you want to check out the differences side by side.

So, you can imagine my astonishment when I called LBPS over the weekend and inquired (of one of their short sale specialists) what the difference was between HAFA and a traditional short sale, and she had the audacity to tell me, “Nothing, really.” Oh, really? Okay.

You can also imagine how appalled I was when I called LBPS twice today and was told, “We don’t do HAFA short sales here.”

“You don’t?”

“No, ma’am. I just asked my supervisor. We don’t do those.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Do you have Internet access?”

“Yup.”

“Okay, why don’t you pull up this website: https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/annltrs/pdf/2010/svc1007.pdf. Do you know what this is? This is a letter from Fannie Mae to every single one of their servicers. It says you were required to implement this program by August 1, 2010.”

“Oh.”

“I dare you to tell me again that you don’t do these. Now transfer me to someone who knows what the f— is going on in the freaking mortgage industry these days.”

So, yeah. Story of my life.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: frustrated
And I’m singin’ along to: Be My Escape – Relient K

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